By Afea Tucker
Paris Nicole is the program director and midday host at Philly’s Hip Hop 103.9 FM. A Richmond Virginia native who has quickly adapted to Philadelphia and its culture, Nicole has served the tri-state area through her Fly Kids givebacks and using her radio platform for three years now. As the youngest radio executive in her company and across the nation, Nicole has managed to continue to provide her listeners with interactive content in addition to survival relief kits and resources as they shelter in place.
“At the end of the day the show still goes on. So you have to find a way to still uplift people,” said Nicole. “COVID is here but the world isn’t over. Right now we have to learn how to live with it.”
Nicole shared that one of the things that motivates her during these unprecedented days are the listeners.
“I know that while I’m on the air everyday, someone is listening to me, and what I say out of my mouth is giving them hope,” said Nicole.
In the spirit of pivoting and pushing forward, Nicole currently produces and airs her midday show from home. Prior to the shelter-in-place orders, Hip Hop 103.9 had various events and concerts scheduled for this year, including its signature ‘Class of Concert’, which all have been cancelled due to the pandemic.
“We were always in the streets and hands on, but once the coronavirus [started spreading in Philadelphia] we weren’t able to be physically outside,” said Nicole.
Challenged to find new ways to provide programming and reach people during this global health crisis, Nicole started to develop content addressing the current and immediate needs of the station’s listeners. For the time Hip Hop Philly hosted a virtual graduation party on Instagram Live which featured popular Hip Hop artists Yo Gotti and Saweetie, and has since created a Hip Hop 103.9 rendition of ‘Club Quarantine’, which features live digital and social media sets with the Philly Hip Hop disc jockeys.
“We started focusing on doing things on air and on social media digitally. We’ve been basically hooking people up with everything from paying their bills to providing dinner and groceries. For instance, like Instacart, a lot of people didn’t want to come out, so we provided ways for them to get groceries using Instacart and are constantly coming up with creative things,” said Nicole. “When [the] quarantine started, we just shut down — most of us didn’t even know how we were going to operate. I was just thinking of new ways to still be creative on the station,” she added.
Nicole has offered free lunch during her lunchtimes with Paris and other Hip Hop 103.9 giveaways including free pizza parties for families as they quarantine and $100 Amazon e-gift cards.
“We’ve had some amazing partnerships with the record labels like Atlantic, Def Jam, Roc Nation and now that we have transitioned, [we] have been going non-stop,” said Nicole.
Nicole suggests that people unplug and take a moment for themselves to avoid being stressed or overwhelmed by negativity. ”It’s days when I’m like, I just need a minute,” she shares.
Paris also warns that we should still be wearing a mask especially since most folks believe that ‘outside is back open’. However, being open does not mean that we are going back to the normal we once knew.
“The coronavirus has not left, it is still here. We have to be mindful,” said Nicole.