Shorty Mack might be the shortest woman in radio, but she has a big voice on air. From Minnesota, Shorty Mack (born Feleg Abraham) was determined to make it big in the world of radio. Nowadays, she hopes to pursue a bigger name in several industries including the film and music industry. Shorty Mack discusses her start in radio, why she chose to leave Streetz 94.5 and return to Hot 107.9, being a single mother, and much more. Check out her exclusive interview below while she was live on air on Hot 107.9.
Sierra: How and where did you get your start in radio?
Shorty Mack: I got my start in radio in Minneapolis. I had an urban entertainment TV show that I was doing on cable access. So I was at a lot of events that were like put on or promoted by the radio station. And they saw what I was doing, and they saw my movement. So they recruited me in.
Sierra: Being from Minnesota, would you say that it was hard making a name for yourself in Atlanta? If so, how did you overcome that?
Shorty Mack: It was a little bit hard making a name for myself but I just made sure that I aligned myself with people who I knew had big brands and I started my school tour in an attempt to give back to the community and also to make sure that I was putting myself in front of as many young people as I could.
Sierra: What is a typical day like for Shorty Mack starting from the time you wake up?
Shorty Mack: It varies from day to day. My days just go around my events, around work, around my son. So I might wake up in the morning, check all my emails, probably have a couple of meetings set up during the day. Then I go to work. I might host an event after work. Then in between, you know I’m a mom, so picking my son up from practice. You know I might cook some food during the day, so he has something to eat when he gets home cause I’m already gone to work by the time he gets home.
Sierra: How do you usually prepare for a show ?
Shorty Mack: First, I just get up to date with everything that’s going on. I’ll get on social media or go on some of the different blogs and see what’s going on in the entertainment world. I might read the newspaper or watch the news, go online to figure out what’s going on as far as like local, city, national, and even international events.
Sierra: How did you get the name Shorty Mack ?, we all know you’re short, but can you explain, where the Mack part comes from ?
Shorty Mack: I used to work on a morning show back when I was in Minnesota, and the guy that was the lead person for the morning show, he said that I had a lot of game, that I always got what I wanted, and that I had a lot of charisma, and the ability to really articulate myself well and talk to people, and just kind of get in where I fit in and get what I needed. So he was like, oh, what you think you Shorty Mack or something? You think you “macking” out here? And I was like yeah I like it. So everybody else had two names to their radio name, and I was only going by Shorty but everybody else I noticed in radio, you know had like two names. So then, when he said that I was like yeah, I like that, so then I kind of adopted the name Shorty Mack.
Sierra: What do you like most about being a radio host?
Shorty Mack: I like that I get to get paid to do what I love. Like I love talking. I love interacting with people. I love music. I love being out in the community and partying. And you know, those are a lot of what being a radio personality consists of. So I like all those things. It doesn’t feel like work.
Sierra: How do you balance work life and being a mother ?
Shorty Mack: It can be difficult at times because I’m a single mother, so I don’t have another parent that’s in the household, or really in the picture at all. So, it can be tough, but I think the main thing that I do is, from the time that my son was really small like, he’s always known what my goals were, what my visions were. So he gets that, he gets me, so he’s like team me, you know what I mean? And then, a lot of times I incorporate my son. I’ll bring him to work with me a lot, I bring him to a lot of events with me, he’s a photographer, so I bought him a camera, so he’ll come out and take pictures at events. I don’t take him to events where he’s got to be 21 or older to get in or whatever, but, I try to incorporate my son into what I do as much as possible by just bringing him with me and letting him be involved with what I do. But it can be difficult to balance it at times, for sure.
Sierra: Why did you choose radio?
Shorty Mack: I went to school for broadcasting, television, and radio. So I started out in television. Like I said, I had the show that I was doing on cable access and then when I got recruited into radio; it was just something that I hadn’t done like hands on yet. And then when I got involved with it, it was just so much fun that I just fell in love instantly, and I was just like this is for me.
Sierra: If you weren’t doing radio what would you be doing?
Shorty Mack: I’m kind of open to the networks, but I would like to be on some daytime talk show, like The Real or The View, something like that would be cool and a good fit for me.
Sierra: Name some of the struggles you have had to deal with being a woman in radio. What advice do you give to aspiring radio hosts?
Shorty Mack: Some of the challenges that I faced is like they don’t want women to host stuff a lot, they say that women don’t have strong voices on the mic or that their voices are annoying. So a lot of times, they might let us be on air or run boards, stuff like that, but when it comes to like stuff that makes money, like really hosting night clubs, that can be a challenge. When you initially go in to apply for a job, a lot of times they don’t want you to negotiate your wages and your salary, they just want to give you what they want to give you and expect you to be happy with it. It’s a male dominated industry, so you gotta like compete, and you gotta be better at what you do than guys, or they might try to box you into one day parts like only mid-days, you know what I mean? And a lot of times, they won’t let us do the day parts that are real popular and make a lot of money , you don’t see many women leading morning shows, and you don’t see very many women leading afternoon drive time shows.
Sierra: How and when did you start your career at Streetz 94.5?
Shorty Mack: I started my career at Streetz in late 2013. I moved to Atlanta because I wanted to do radio. So I didn’t have a job when I moved down here. I just came down here because I knew that I wasn’t going to get a job from far away. I knew this was one of those markets where I was going to have to get in front of somebody. So I just took a chance. I moved down here, and I gave myself a goal . I was going to give myself an amount of time you know where I was going to try and get on the radio, and if I didn’t meet it by that time I was going to go ahead and move back home.
Sierra: What was it like working with Young Joc and DJ Mo Quick?
Shorty Mack: I like Young Joc, he’s cool, and he’s a friend of mine before he came to the radio station. Mo Quick was somebody who worked at the station, so I knew who she was. We had a causal relationship, we weren’t like best friends or anything, but we were pretty cool. But it was difficult being on that show with them because I felt like it was a new show, and it wasn’t announced to me. Nobody told me that it was going to be a new show, so I just walked in one day , and it was a brand new show. I didn’t feel like I was a part of it. They had me you know, doing low content. So really I felt slighted to be honest with you, because I had already been in that morning show position for three years. So being that they just started a new morning show without me, didn’t include me in it, and didn’t tell me that it was going to happen. It was a very weird dynamic, i’ll say. I was cool with Mo Quick and Joc, but I was not happy with the powers that be and that I wasn’t considered to be a part of the show on a real level.
Sierra: What made you want to become a radio host at Hot 107.9?
Shorty Mack: I got my start in radio with Radio One, who owns Hot 107.9. When I was living in Minnesota, that’s where I got my start, and it was a great company. I liked the company a lot. Then the company that I was working for had got sold, but even while I was in Minnesota, it was like a lifelong dream of mine to work in the Atlanta market and particularly for Hot 107.9. So when I came down here, I interviewed actually with Hot 107.9, but the position that I was interviewing for wasn’t an on-air position… And so, after I interviewed with them, I ended up getting a call from Streetz 94.5 ,so I went over there to see what they were talking about and they offered me a position on the spot, and it was on-air. I went over to Streetz 94.5, but then with everything that happened with the morning show, I just didn’t see a promising future for myself there. At that point, I reached back out to my contacts at Hot 107.9, and I think that they were a little bit regretful that they had let me go in the first place … they welcomed me with open arms. They were like real happy to bring me over here, and give me a try. Like I said, it was a lifelong dream of mine to be at Hot 107.9, so that’s what made me want to come back over here. I always wanted to be in Atlanta, and I always wanted to be at Hot.
Sierra: What has been your favorite part about working at Hot 107.9?
Shorty Mack: I would say the best part is being able to work under Hurricane Dave, which is somebody who has a reputation for helping mold and grow people. He had three people that worked under him who have developed into assistant program directors and then moved on to become full blown program directors or operation managers for stations in different markets that are also owned by Radio One. I wanted the ability to work under him cause I knew he had a reputation for growing people and helping them get to that next level in life. So, I would say working for him has probably been the best part, and then also working for a company that’s a cluster station, where they’ve got four different stations … So, it’s like I see the ability to grow within the company here. Like there’s so many options for growth. I feel like if I age out of Hot 107.9, I feel like there’s the ability to go over to you know Magic 107.5 or you know Boom 102.9, or even if it doesn’t include being in Atlanta, there are so many radio stations that are owned by Radio One, that I could grow into a bigger position and even leave here and go to another market, so I think the fact that it’s a bigger station, a bigger company, and that there’s just tons of room for growth has been my favorite part.
Sierra: You mentioned that you often go to schools, rather its middle schools, elementary schools, to speak to kids or host their pep rallies. How important is it for you as a radio host and radio hosts in general to be involved in the community?
Shorty Mack: It’s really important to me. I’m a community oriented person anyway. Radio is one of those industries that’s also like that; it’s very like community-based, and it’s community oriented. It’s all about being grounded in the community. And then like I said, personally I’m a community oriented person, I’m very interested in politics, bettering neighborhoods, bettering communities, bridging gaps. It’s a very important part of what I do.
Sierra: Do you believe it is vital to achieving longevity in this business?
Shorty Mack: Oh yeah. I mean, if you look at the greats like Greg Street right. Greg Street, everybody knows Greg Street because he’s so embedded in the community. Like he will be on-air and shout out the entire football team for West Lake. Like, name every member of the team. You know what I mean? If he meets you one time, he’s going to remember your name. If he sees you out, he’s going to come and say what’s up to you. So, I think that an absolute important part of being in radio is being out in the community, and being approachable.
Sierra: Who is your favorite celebrity you have interviewed or met and why?
Shorty Mack: Probably Snoop Dogg. I was supposed to do an interview one time with Snoop Dogg, and we ran out of time, and I wasn’t able to do it, and he could tell that I was upset about it, so he flew me out to Los Angeles, California. He paid for the ticket, he paid for the hotel, and he let me follow him around with a camera for three days, and he let me follow him around in his personal life such as coaching his son’s football team, and being in the studio recording music. He was accommodating and made sure that I got all the content that I wanted and that I needed along the way.
Sierra: By doing a little bit of research, I see you do acting as well. You’ve been on set with 2 Chainz and 11 Alive. What made you want to act?
Shorty Mack: I think probably the Atlanta influence. I come from a TV background, but it is a TV news background. So I never really considered doing acting you know what I mean?
Shorty Mack: I think being in Atlanta with the influence of the market and seeing all these other TV personalities that have gone on to do shows such as Love and Hip Hop or The Rickey Smiley Morning Show kind of opened my eyes to the fact that there was another lane that I could be involved with and then the film and acting industry here in Atlanta is also big. So I think I hadn’t looked into it before, because of the market that I lived in. It just wasn’t an option, the option wasn’t there.
Sierra: Do you enjoy radio and acting equally or do you prefer one over the other?
Shorty Mack: I think nowadays I’m pursuing them equally. Maybe even acting even more. I feel like it’s a bigger platform. TV is a bigger platform.
Sierra: If you could act in a movie or a show, what show would you want to be on ? or what’s your ideal movie that you would like to be in ?
Shorty Mack: I don’t know cause I think that whatever movie I would want to be in I don’t believe that there’s one that’s already been done, I think that it would have to be something up and coming that I might not- you know, necessarily think of. But I would like to do some type of biopic where I play a role of somebody else’s life, a great person; I think that would be cool.
Sierra: How long have you been producing videos? You played a part in the Rae Sremmurd video.
Shorty Mack: In 2014 Akini got me into it. When I came down here, I met him, and he was doing a lot of music videos and I expressed to him that I wanted to do that. That was another thing that I had wanted to do ever since I was younger. I wanted to do music videos. So then when I got down here, he put me on a couple of sets, and I built relationships with the production companies and directors, so then I branched out getting my gigs and doing my things since then. But I’ve been doing that since 2013 actually.
Sierra: Any other hidden talents ?
Shorty Mack: I use to sing. I don’t sing anymore. But now I’m getting more involved in the music industry. I’ve got an artist that I manage, and I’m getting more into artist development and the music industry. I’m trying to work my way to being an A & R for a label.
Sierra: So have you got a chance to work with Jay Tek at Hot 107.9 so far? And what has that experience been like if you have ?
Shorty Mack: It’s been cool working with Jay Tek. Jay Tek is the one that hired me over at Streetz 94.5. It’s been cool. It’s kind of like a comfort level. Like you go to a new school, or a new company and you don’t know anybody. So, it’s cool that I know him. He gave me my start in radio in Atlanta, and then also the fact that he’s new over here too, you know what I mean? And he’s a boss over here too. So it’s not like he’s just another person working. He’s in a position of power, but it’s been cool, I haven’t worked with him hands on but we see each other all the time, we’re in constant communication.
Sierra: It a new year. What are your goals for 2017?
Shorty Mack: My main goal for 2017 is to get on TV. Like, I really want to pursue this TV thing. I don’t care if its reality TV, daytime television, news, or scripted television. I’m trying to get on that.
Sierra: Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like people to know about?
Shorty Mack: Just my artist. I mean, I can’t really say a whole lot about him, but I’m trying to get him a deal with a major label and introduce the world to him. But, I would like to get him signed.
Follow Shorty Mack on Instagram: @ShortyMackATL