Over the past three years, Power 105’s The Breakfast Club morning show has gone from regional program to national sensation. Its hosts—Angela Yee, DJ Envy and Charlamagne Tha God—have harnessed the power of their distinctive personalities and the reach of new media to take their four hours of daily radio to the next level.
The trio’s interviews with stars like Kanye West, Jay Z and Nicki Minaj seem to always light up the Internet. And the show has become such a media mainstay that when President Obama wanted to get the word out about Obamacare, he sent his senior advisor Valeria Jarrett to mix it up with radio’s most raucous crew. (Naturally, they asked her if there was any truth to the rumor that she’s dating Ahmad Rashad.)
Today the Breakfast Club take their talents to television with a morning show on Puff Daddy’s new Revolt TV network. EBONY.com sat down with the firebrands to talk about their new show, worst guest, and the art of the interview.
EBONY: What opportunity does TV present that y’all don’t already have on other platforms?
Angela Yee: I think it’s the opportunity to have our show out there visually. It just gives it another dimension. Also, just the reach that we’ll have now to be in different households that might have not ordinarily heard us on the radio or on iHeart or whatever, they can now turn on the TV and see us.
DJ Envy: Absolutely, and I think we’ll be in, what, 33 million homes? Do the math. If we get just 10 percent of that, that’s amazing!
Charlamagne: And [being on TV] just sets you apart from everything else. Like, if you look at the history of radio shows that have had their actual show on television, whether it was Howard Stern or Wendy Williams or Tom Joyner, those are the elite. It’s not like we’re doing a corny-ass reality show. It’s us.
EBONY: What is it about the three of you that works so well together?
Angela Yee: I think the main thing is that all three of us are very hard workers. It’s not like anybody in here slacks off. Even if we come to work and we’re not feeling each other one day, or people aren’t getting along necessarily, we all tolerate each other. [laughter]
Charlamagne: Like when Yee and Envy get their period at the same time. That is the worst.
Angela Yee: That’s because we’re together every day and that’s what happens. We’re on the same cycle. Charlamagne is on a whole different cycle. [laughter] But seriously, we all work hard. We all go above and beyond what’s expected of us, and we all respect each other and respect our show. I gotta make sure I do what I gotta do because I don’t want to let them down.
EBONY: What would you say goes into making a successful interview?
DJ Envy: A lot of times, it’s asking questions that people don’t ask. Talking about things that make it uncomfortable and awkward for people. When you can ask somebody about her fake breasts or talk about their favorite sexual position, or Charlamagne trying to suck a fart out of Jennifer Lopez’s butt, or him calling Mary J. Blige “vintage vagina.” Like, these things are things that make somebody think, “Damn! They really asked! I can’t believe it!” I think that’s what separates the Breakfast Club from everybody else.
Charlamagne: I don’t even think we give interviews. I think we have conversations. I think that’s what separates us: the fact that we actually have conversations with the artists. It feels like you’re in on a conversation that you shouldn’t really be in on, you know?
Angela Yee: We definitely have an edge. When people come up to the show, they expect that it’s gonna be different. So they come in there ready to talk about things they may have never said anywhere else. We get that all the time. “I’ve never said this anywhere.” Or, “this is my first time talking about this.” People really want to come on the show because they know they’re going to get the exposure, they know the interview is going to end up everywhere.
EBONY: On that note, has it ever been a problem having to manage a guest’s expectations of what the interview is going to be like?
DJ Envy: No. Like [Charlamagne] said, we just do conversations. We don’t allow you to come here and tell us what we can talk about and what we can’t talk about. We’d rather not do the interview.
Angela Yee: But we’re still respectful. Like, if you say, “hey, such and such just happened, so I might catch a case, I can’t talk about this right now.” We’re respectful of certain things.
Charlamagne: But we’ll still ask them and let them explain it. Like, there won’t be anything that we won’t talk about.
DJ Envy: That’s what artists don’t know. We can ask the question, but you don’t got to answer it! No one can make you talk.
EBONY: Now there’s your show, Vlad TV, Myspace’s CRWN. Why do you think people are into watching conversations at this moment in time?
Charlamagne: People love content. You gotta think everything is one big conversation nowadays. Look at the social media world. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, those are just one big conversation. Even with Instagram, it’s just pictures, but a picture says a thousand words and it causes a conversation. Everybody likes to talk nowadays, everybody like to have their opinion heard, and they like to hear the opinions of others so they can comment on those opinions.
Angela Yee: Also, I think people like to see what your personality really is. You see who a lot of performers are publicly, but it’s nice to see a glimpse into their personal life too.
EBONY: What do you all hope to do with the show? What do you hope it achieves, beyond ratings?
Charlamagne: Just to keep moving the cultural forward, man. Stuff like this gives other radio personalities something to aspire to. When I was coming up in radio, that’s what it would do for me when I would see a Wendy Williams on television or Howard Stern on television, or when Ed Lover and Dr. Dre did Who’s the Man? It just made me like, wow, radio personalities can do that kind of stuff? To me, it just gives the next generation inspiration and something more to shoot for. There are no limits when it comes to radio. You can take this wherever you want to take it.
Angela Yee: Yeah. I do hope it makes people realize that aside from just doing radio and being on television, there’s a lot of avenues, things that you can do to be involved in the entertainment business. And I also want people to see what it takes to do a radio show. People sometimes think that we just come up here and get paid to talk. It’s not just talking. It’s a lot of preparation that goes into our show every single day. There’s so much work that goes on behind what you hear on the air. If it sounds easy and it sound like it’s just talk, then that just means we just did a great job with our preparation. I want people to see it really is a grind.
REVOLT TV will broadcast The Breakfast Club live weekday mornings starting today. Visit REVOLT.tv to confirm local channel listings.