Not even half way into Women’s History Month and Xavier University is showing how well girls run the world. First the women’s basketball team won their 2016 conference tournament. Then Xavier’s Women Studies program marked a week of events dedicated to empowering women.

Angela Watson, better known as Uptown Angela, spoke about the highlights of her career in radio and her rise to becoming the vice president for programming for iHeartMedia, New Orleans. Watson, the on-air radio personality for WQUE FM 93, the city’s premier hip-hop and R&B station, oversees 8 radio stations with assets at $22 million. Her lecture not only captured the spirit of Xavier, which pushes students to make your mark in society, but it provided an example of the strength and potential that women have. “Don’t let them put you in a box and make you feel unintelligent,” Watson said, recalling advice given to her by Xavier’s Mass Communication instructor Monica Pierre, her first mentor at Q93.

Uptown Angela with Dr.Tia Smith, Monica Pierre, Dean Kim Vaz, and Dr.  Waldron Moore

This advice came after Pierre noticed that some of Watson’s male coworkers mocked her. Watson said her skills as a radio personality were put down because she was female. But she and Pierre, the only two women working in their department, proved their ability to excel in radio by becoming some of the best radio personalities in the city. Pierre went on to act as a mentor for Watson throughout her career, helping to bring out Watson’s potential. “The good of mentorship is that, you have someone with you that can see what you may not be able to see,” Pierre said.

The mentors in her life, Pierre said, are one of the biggest reasons that she was able to succeed in her career. She enjoys being a mentor now to Xavier students, because she understands the importance that mentors play in the lives of their mentees. Watson said she used Pierre’s guidance to build her confidence for her first solo assignment: a movie-screening event for “Poetic Justice.”

But even though Watson made a name for herself in the radio industry, she said that she still has to be careful to make sure that she doesn’t become too vulnerable, especially when it comes to dealing with her emotions.“[Women] get it so hard when we’re emotional,” Watson said. “Men can be emotional too, but it’s not treated the same way… I’ve worked with several [men] who would yell and scream…but it’s not treated the same,” Watson added.

Student Allana Barefield Speaks with Uptown Angela
Student Allana Barefield Speaks with Uptown Angela

She said that she had to always make sure to keep her emotions in check because showing her emotions would be taken as weakness from others. She said that her superiors didn’t believe in her ability to work alongside her ex-husband professionally, who she was managing at the time. Her superiors initially demoted her from program director to assistant program director. However, she said that she was able to still excel because of her dedication to her job and her drive to succeed.

“It’s all about putting in the work making sacrifices, and feeling driven about it,” Watson said. The radio personality said she started her journey in radio when she was attending the University of New Orleans. Originally wanting to work in entertainment, she did research on Oprah’s legacy and followed in her footsteps by starting her career in radio first. From there, she landed an internship with Q93 radio, where she still works today.

While an intern, she juggled a job at McDonald’s and went daily to the radio station at 2 a.m. to learn how to operate the boards. She also went to class at 8 a.m. all while caring for a child. After some time, she earned her first job as a board operator at Q93. She later moved up through the ranks to become the music director for Q93 before becoming the assistant program director and then finally the program director. Watson’s successful career energized students at Xavier and gave them hope for their own career in the media.

“I think the really cool thing about [Watson’s career] is the fact that she came out of Ms. Pierre’s shadow,” said Blair Lyons, a freshman at Xavier who attended the lecture. “Which is really cool, because Pierre is teaching us,” Lyons added.

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