Warren Ballentine: The Candid & Diplomatic Face of Media.
Warren Ballentine is no stranger to controversial news reporting. In fact, he’s widely known for frank commentary and guileless truth regarding politics, worldly affairs and community reform.
Impressively, the Chicago native graduated high school at 15-years-old. Not wasting time, the wunderkind attended Chicago State University, and graduated at 18. He attended Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law in Ada, Ohio, and finished with a Law Degree at 20-years-old.
He loves occasional challenges just to shake things up a bit, which is how he infiltrated Urban radio sometime in late 2000.
As destiny would spin it, Ballentine broke up a bar fight, and interceded on a hammering that would’ve sent a stranger to the hospital. For whatever reason, Ballentine remained in contact with the guy, who ended up being a guru, working at a radio station in Chicago. Ultimately, he asked Ballentine to come in and talk a little legal gab on-air. That turned into the opportunity of a lifetime.
Radio execs from Clear Channel offered the prestigious counsel a show called “The People’s Attorney.”
“The show ratings were so high,” says Ballentine, “They ended up putting me on the whole cluster for Clear Show. I was on V101.3, WGCI, Kiss 103.5, and I was on AM 1390. Lee Michaels was driving through Chicago and heard me on the radio. Each station that he turned the dialer to, he heard me.”
Warren Balentine with late civil rights activist, poet, actor and comedian, Dick Gregory
Basically, Michaels phoned Ballentine and offered to syndicate his program. However, it would be on Radio One, but Ballentine needed to meet with Founder, Cathy Hughes among other notables first. After getting his foot in the door, he did what he needed to do, by validating his position as a broadcaster against preconceived notions surrounding his age. Indeed, Ballentine was the youngest radio personality there, but as a surrogate for The Ballentine Show, he led Radio One on the national voter registration campaign, and covered both the Democratic National Convention and the Republican, as well as the Congressional Black Caucus.
He steam rolled political affairs, and welcomed high-profile guests on The Ballentine Show such as former President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Al Sharpton, and Allen Gravitt.
Warren Balletine/ Fox News
If he could change any parts of his journey with Radio One, he’d enjoy the twinkles more.
“I had so many things going on that I never took the time to just enjoy the moments. I had lunch and dinner in the White House. I interviewed Michelle [Obama] in the White House. I got to sleep at the White House. I didn’t soak the moment up the way I should’ve soaked it up, by doing Essence Festival, CIAA, BET Awards and stuff like that. I was in there but part of me was like, ‘Why do they even want me here?’ The other part was like, ‘This is a job. Let me do a job.’
The overachiever is listed as Ebony Magazine’s Power 100. New York Times penned him “One of Black Talk Radio’s New Stars.” He even served as a recurring guest and correspondent for CNN and Fox Business News.
“It’s funny,” says Ballentine. “It’s not what I thought my life would be. I’m one of those people who even at the highest of my career, I never rolled with security. People asked me to do stuff, and I’d just do it. It was never about being a celebrity. If there’s something going on in the community, I was trying to figure out how to get our people to support each other more than anything. Even while doing my show today. In my opinion, radio isn’t about being a celebrity. It’s my platform to create change in our community. Honestly, once I lose that passion. I’ll stop doing radio. I know that we have so much in us that we don’t tap into. There is so much beauty in our system and in our nation that we don’t tap into. If I can see that, and I can tap into it, I want to help,” he finished.
Currently, Ballentine is leading light for 72.9 The Voice, with his program The WB Show, where he talks about politics, relationships, religion, economic growth, and economic development in 22 markets. He’s working on a documentary about the traditions of HBCU’s.
The WB Show 9/10 Fantasy Football Potus and Hurricane Flo
Adding author to his portfolio Ballentine published The Truth About Black and White as well as his lastest quest called The Business of Love, a collective about economics with a personal twist. The leaflet is available on all digital networks including The WB Show.
“I got the book out. I got another book I’m doing called “The Business of Child Support.” I’m doing a series of books that will all start off as “The Business of…” I’ve picked up a five new stations, so the show is steadily growing. We have a podcast coming out as well. I’m working on a TV show right now called “Urban Eats.” We will travel across the country and speak to people about the areas. We are going to their local restaurants and establishments. It will be like late Chef Anthony Bourdain meets Guy Fieri.”
Would you believe that the straight-faced broadcaster had a groupie moment when he met Rapper, Writer, Producer and Director, Ice Cube? Well, he did.
“I had to go in the bathroom and talk to myself. I had to go in the bathroom and calm myself down,” laughed Ballentine. “I had a couple moments. I was in LA. I was at UNCF Night of the Stars, and Lionel Richie walked past.
‘When Aretha [Franklin] passed, Cathy Hughes had done an interview with Aretha [prior]. Cathy asked her who she liked to listen to on the radio and Aretha [Franklin] said me. I remember when that happened, my mom called me. She was prouder of that [moment] than me going to law school or me graduating early,” Ballentine chortled, because he knows that in black households, Aretha Franklin is larger than life, even after death. Nothing trumped a shout out like that.
As a charismatic commentator, he isn’t afraid to verbalize his certitude or fight for people who aren’t otherwise savvy or knowledgeable enough to battle for themselves.
“We get into this industry, and instead of lifting each other up, you get in the position where you try to stop everybody else from being successful or you’re cutting everybody else down, so you’ll look like you’re at the top of the heap [Unfortunately, we saw that with Nicki Minaj and Cardi B]. It’s enough room for everybody to grow. It’s enough room for everybody to be successful, to do something and really change something. If I can do anything, that’s what I would do. I would change black radio in a sense that we would make a conscious effort to change what’s going on.”
Ballentine claims that radio is programmed for 18 to 25 years old who don’t listen to terrestrial radio. The millennial's are on their iPad's and iPod's.
“This whole generation is 25 years older, who are educated, voters, that’s politically conscious, and mainstream isn’t giving them anything. Then, they wonder why radio isn’t making money in advertisement or anything else. They are targeting an audience that is not paying attention. They need to target the audience that’s 35 plus. Give them music, but also give information. In-between that morning show and that afternoon drive, put a show in there that’s talking about politics, that’s talking about different races. People will tune-in to that. They only want the music when they are driving to work and when they are coming home from work. The remainder of the time, they are trying to get empowerment. They are trying to get information, but radio doesn’t think like that, at least black radio. White radio does, and they make money because they think like that. Even out of the 22 stations I’m on, 18 are white.”
Recently, Warren Ballentine interviewed Omarosa Manigault Newman. It really doesn't come as a huge surprise that he'd be utterly dismayed by our bumbling POTUS calling Omarosa a “dog.” Can you imagine the President of the United States of America, directly calling your mother, daughter, sister, cousin, aunt or grandmother a dog? How low can our head of state go?
When asked about his thoughts surrounding the salacious scandal, Ballentine said… “Omarosa is my girl. That’s my homegirl. We’ve been friends for years. I’m just glad she recorded everything because nobody would’ve believed her. The reality is that she had to do it to protect herself.”
He went on to share that there is more to Omarosa than what blacks, Trump and media painted her out to be. “They don’t know what she did for these young black girls at Howard University or what she’s done in her ministry. You have to judge somebody from the whole thing—and that’s what we do in our community [blacks], we will get a little piece of information without knowing the whole story,” he denounced.
Ballentine wants to open a Trade School in Chicago as well as other communities like Charlotte and Raleigh, NC.
This wouldn’t take away from the already established Beatties Ford Road Vocational School in Charlotte, NC. It would be a secondary institution for all that want to master a profession.
“To be great is your destiny, [and] to fail is your choice,” says Ballentine. “God gives us free will. That’s the greatest gift He gives us.
I grew up in Chicago. I grew up in the very bad part of Chicago. Before I was 11-years-old, I saw three people get their brains blown out. I saw someone get their throat slashed, and they died. I have family members and friends who were on BET’s Americas Toughest Gangs. I had pictures of people who grew up with me, that were on that TV show.
Growing up like that, and having family members like that—I grew up in a bad place. I learned at an early age that where I grew up, there was much more to life than that, and I just needed to find a way, to get to much more than that. I kept it in mind that I can be much more than this.”
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