About TT Torrez
The road to success is often paved with obstacles. But for women in a male dominated entertainment industry, those obstacles are often covered in spikes. TT Torrez is familiar with the journey, figuring out a way to navigate through the rough terrain. The multi-media personality and music business executive has created her own path, and continues to effortlessly walk through challenges to reinvent herself and maintain a position of power in the ever so competitive world of the music industry.
Now sitting as a Multi-Media personality, the Vice President of Artist and Label relations and Music Director at New York’s HOT 97 radio station, TT is a shot caller at Hip Hop’s oldest running radio station and one of the most powerful women in the game. “I came from a space of being an underdog. No cliques, no associations, no helping hand, so I’m used to having to figure out how to maneuver in a place where people don’t expect you to rise to the top,” she offers.
At HOT, TT wears many hats, and is the gatekeeper for the radio station. She oversees the station’s music by deciding what to play and put in rotation, making sure FCC regulations are being followed in the process. As Music Director, she is responsible for managing the day to day operations of the staff, as well as the touch, feel and the fabric of the station. As the VP of label and artist relations, she manages the relationships with artists, label reps, or anyone on the outside. And of course, TT is also a multi-media on-air personality. Needless to say, TT does it all, understanding that diversifying her talent and business sense is necessary to survival in the game. Coming from where she’s been, there is no other way to handle her business.
“You can’t be a one trick pony. We now live in a world where distractions are dominating and people think everything comes easy,” she begins. “But if you want to have longevity in this business, you have to work. Longevity comes with consistently putting in the work. But it also comes with building relationships along the way. That combination has kept me here for twenty years,” she says.
Born in the Bronx to a single mother who had eight children to raise, TT was taught to hustle at an early age. Around the time she attended college, TT took a waitressing job at a nightclub in Charleston, South Carolina that showed her the rewards of radio personalities. They were getting paid to party (or at least, that’s what it looked like). Soon after, she became curious about a career in radio, so in the early 2000s, she took a job at her college radio station at Norfolk State University, hosting a college morning show on weekdays from 6-10am. “This was back when college radio really mattered,” TT explains. “At the same time, I was also running with a college rep for Atlantic Records, and I saw how college radio really worked, watching the artists go from station to station, doing interviews and promotion.” TT started aggressively building her relationships back then, and soon became entrenched in the business of radio. “When I was in Virginia, I used to help with building music festivals, building artists, managing artists, coming up with dope ideas, there was a lot to juggle and it always helped me stay in tune with what was going on.”
Thriving in that position helped motivate TT to keep going, and she soon after landed a part-time gig in Charlotte. She decided that it was time to start betting on herself, so she turned the wheels on, making a name for herself on the radio and making connections behind the scenes.
“I came after Wendy Williams, Angie Martinez, Miss Jones—they were amazing beasts and talented at radio. There weren’t a lot of us really making those power moves, so the bar was set really high for women,” she says. “I had to start from the ground up, without a co-sign, so I knew that as much as I enjoyed the lifestyle, I still had to do the work. You can’t ever negate the work, so my hustle grew along with my name.”
With her first commercial gig located in Charlotte, North Carolina at WCHH 92.7, she found herself going back and forth from her college to her part time gig in another state every day. After Charlotte, she landed in Charleston, South Carolina at WSSP 94.3 as the morning show producer for the esteemed radio vet Russ Parr—hosting her own midday show in the 10a-3pm slot. When the station decided to flip and go in a different direction, TT found herself back on her grind, landing in the DMV at WKYS as a part time street team rep in a much bigger market.
From there on, TT’s career became nonstop, until she eventually found her way back home in NYC. Holding down jobs as the midday host and Music Coordinator at Power 104 in Hartford, Connecticut, the Music coordinator at Music Choice in New York, and even a slot in Philly, TT followed opportunity wherever it was. “I used to have to be in an office at 9am in New York, and then go to Philly. I wouldn’t get home until 3am. It was definitely a grind.” After that, she interviewed to be the midday personality in Richmond, Virginia. While there, she became the music director. “The DMV market was a big market, I figured out how to brand myself and use the internet as a branding tool. I became the number one personality in the market.
“It ended up working out for me. I gambled on myself, kept working, and something just clicked.” By 2014, TT Torrez was at Hot 97, in an executive role.
“All of it works hand in hand. To be on the air, I can feel the vibration of the artists, music and people. I’m in the studio, in the streets, at the videos, and everywhere I need to be. It keeps me in tune with the culture,” she says of her diverse role.
Managing relationships between artist and label reps, choosing music for the station and creating motivating content, it all falls on top of TT’s lap. Motivated by passion, the multi-talented exec still does what she loves, and she loves doing it. “If I don’t have passion behind it, it’s going to be just a job for me.”
Her passion for the culture continues to drive her hustle and work ethic. “Even if I didn’t have the title, I was doing the work. I’ve always operated, work first. I came up working all the shifts that nobody wanted to work. I gambled on myself because I knew it would pay off.”
Now continuing in the tradition of diversifying herself, TT is tapping into the worlds of TV, film, podcasting and books. With the mission of growing her brand, TT sees this expansion as the only option for her. “I think it’s always about growth. A lot of us were forced to do multiple things at one time in the household. We were forced to step up to the plate. I have to be able to do it all, because I learned over time that I can get the job done, no matter what it takes. I think people understand now that women of color are the ones who keep the machine going behind the scenes.”