On Monday, entertainer extraordinaire Nick Cannon launched his newest endeavor: a radio show called Nick Cannon Mornings on Los Angeles-based hip-hop station Power 106, airing weekdays from 5-10 a.m.
The multi-hyphenate known for hosting television shows such as MTV’s Wild ‘N Out and Fox’s The Masked Singer finds a sense of fulfillment with his new role, all while carving out time to release new music with hip-hop group NCredible Gang, manage entertainment company NCredible Entertainment, pursue a master’s degree from Howard University and raise three kids.
Billboard sat down with LA’s newest voice in radio right after his inaugural morning broadcast on Monday.
How does it feel now that you’ve officially taken the helm on Power 106’s morning show?
It feels really natural. It doesn’t feel like work, so that’s a good thing.
How did the position come about?
It all came together pretty quickly. That’s what happens when it’s family-oriented and you just know all the players; you just put it all together. It was more of an organic conversation between myself and [program director] E-Man. It wasn’t even that they were looking for a new host. I’ve been in radio for years and have obviously hosted a bunch of different stuff. And [Power 106] really is home to me. … It might have been the universe trying to tell us something. So we followed suit and jumped right in.
Do you feel you are the right person for the job?
I’m right for every job. There isn’t a job that I’m not right for. I always tell people, “I don’t turn down nothing but my collar. If it’s an opportunity, I’mma pop it.”
Your new career as a radio host introduces an entirely new set of obligations into your already busy lifestyle. How will you balance this new workflow?
I honestly feel like, whatever you have a passion for, you’ll figure it out. I always say that time is manmade and energy is God-given. Wherever you put your energy, time will make way.
You take on a big role as morning host, someone whose job it is to inspire and entertain the morning commuter. What traits make for a successful host?
Authenticity, more than anything. That’s what radio is all about. To be able to crack the mic and be as vulnerable as possible. And to be authentic to both the culture and to yourself. I think that’s what speaks to an audience the most.
You have some big shoes to fill. Your predecessor Big Boy hosted the Power 106 morning show for 18 years before departing for rival hip-hop station Real 92.3 [back in 2015]. Now the two of you are direct competition for morning drive time listenership.
Competition isn’t even in my vocabulary. I talk to Big every day -- he’s like an older brother to me. I feel this is an opportunity for us to show LA and the community that two kings can coincide for the culture. My goal is to be my number-one competition -- for myself. I’m here to do something different and I think my mission will go far beyond that.
I’ve heard you mention that this new position will allow for a greater connection with the local community. Do you have any long-term goals that you would like to see through?
I think people have always known me for the give-backs, charitable events, and for all of the nonprofit work that I’ve done. Now I have a platform each and every morning to exude that energy. And to really be an example, more than anything. I’m not always going to make the moves that everybody would agree with, but I think at the end of the day, when someone knows that you have a good heart, it resonates.
Over the years, Power 106 has been a leading station for breaking new artists of the hip-hop scene. What is exciting to you about what’s hot in music right now?
The fact that you can be so independent and still be successful. These young people can do it all on their own. You don’t need a giant machine to get a No. 1 record anymore. I love the fact that the power is back in the artists’ hands.
But do you feel that radio is equally as important a gauge of success as it had once been?
I think of it as a solidifier. Radio makes stars and it plays hits. Once you get on the radio, you’re a star and you make hits. Since the playing field is so vast, sometimes you need that curator to let you know who to really pay attention to. I don’t think that will ever go away.