NEWPORT NEWS — Rochelle Boyce might have gone to school for criminal justice, but through experience and pure curiosity, she’s learned how to build her own radio station from the ground up.
Almost two years after she began broadcasting, Boyce is expanding her vision. The Newport News station is no longer just a vehicle for sharing grooveable tunes written by national and local artists alike.
The station is opening its doors to other creatives who need a little guidance to chase their own dreams, Boyce said. Think of the station as a one-stop-shop for aspiring artists, she said.
“I’ve always been the kind of person that wanted to see my friends succeed,” she said. “I wanted to build a platform for the community because there are not a lot of people out here that actually open their doors to indie artists and small businesses.”
She first got the idea in 2012 when she was looking for an office space for her first business, The Boom Squad Cleaning Services. When she found the right spot, the landlord offered her a 2-for-1 deal on rooms.
Unsure of what to do with the extra space, a friend suggested Boyce set up her DJ equipment. All it took was heeding the suggestion for Boyce to see the bigger picture.
“I put my equipment on the desk and wired a microphone on each side of the table. The room started to look like a radio station. That was it,” she said.
She had been a radio DJ previously on South Carolina’s Hot 98.1, and she learned everything else she knows about the artform while touring with rappers Future and Ca$h Out, marketing with Missy Elliott and shadowing 103 Jamz DJ Rick Geez.
When it came to running a station’s computer system, though, that’s where Boyce still had some learning to do.
“I stayed in the library,” Boyce joked. “I read nonstop.”
After a test run in 2017, Boyce’s 94.7 The Link officially went live in 2018 after Boyce — or DJ Ro as she’s known on-air — learned all the tools of the trade. Aside from tuning in on an FM radio, you can listen to Boyce’s station on a number of streaming apps and Live365.
The Link spotlights local music as often as possible between Top 40 records, contemporary R&B and hip-hop. The station has bolstered its on-air entertainment with talk shows about crime, pop culture, art and more — a little something for everybody, Boyce said.
With just under 100,000 monthly listeners, Boyce said operations have grown so much that the same landlord moved them into their own building nextdoor to where it all began.
Now, she’s looking to help creatives learn how to navigate the business of music, including artist development, teaching them how to copyright their music, register with publishing companies, create marketing campaigns and more.
She’s also working on adding a recording studio to the space so she can teach others how to record and engineer music, or DJ if that’s what they’re interested in.
Boyce said seeing musicians slinging their demos and CDs on the streets made her realize that there had to be a way to help elevate them.
“I just want to give them a place to be themselves, to showcase their music,” she said.
Boyce is eager to help anyone interested, and if you can’t afford a lot, that’s alright. She’s willing to work within anyone’s budget.
There’s just one requirement: Be ready to put in work.
“Sometimes I’ll head out at 10 p.m. and stay out all night putting up fliers and doing whatever I can to get the word out. I want to go to sleep and wake up with opportunities,” she said.
Aside from helping the community, Boyce said she wants to help others avoid tough lessons she learned when she was just starting out in the music biz.
“Traveling around the world helped me learn what I know today, but I did stuff without contracts and didn’t really make any money. I got burnt on a lot of deals. I want to help others by sharing everything I’ve learned and what I know now. We’re here, we’re paying attention and we really want to help Virginia succeed. That’s what we strive to do.”
For more information about the station, visit it online at 947thelink.com.
Amy Poulter, 757-446-2705, email@example.com Via Virginian- Pilot