Busta’s Person of the Week: Greensboro’s Tammi Mac is one of Stevie Wonder’s top radio hosts!

Busta’s Person of the Week: Greensboro’s Tammi Mac is one of Stevie Wonder’s top radio hosts!
August 04
14:17 2021

By Busta Brown

Last week I introduced you to the absolutely phenomenal Tammi Mac. Her story is so amazing, I had to do it in two parts. This is the second  part of that interview.

Tammi’s personal and professional success didn’t come without some trials and tribulations. When she moved to Los Angeles, California, Tammi had a serious battle with depression, anxiety and insecurity. We’ll get to that part later. 

From Houston, Tammi moved to Greensboro to attend Bennett College. While attending Bennett, she did an air shift on 90.1 WNAA and word of her dynamic and humorous personality quickly helped her land a job on Power 97. It wasn’t long before Tammi moved to Birmingham, Alabama, to team up with comedian Rickey Smiley to form a powerhouse morning radio show. Tammi was fired and then stepped out on faith and moved to Los Angeles, California. Finding work in radio didn’t come easy. Tammi had her mind set on working with Steve Harvey’s morning show, which was fairly new at the time. In the meantime, KJLH, which is owned by Stevie Wonder, called to offer Tammi a job, but she wanted to hold on in hopes of getting a call from Steve Harvey’s people. KJLH continued calling Tammi, though her mind was set on The Steve Harvey Morning Show. She was establishing a bond with KJLH.  When she finally received a call from Steve’s people, later on that night she got a heavy feeling in her spirit. She went to God for direction and He had a different plan for Tammi. 

“I told Steve’s producer I appreciated their offer, but decided to stay with KJLH. This is where God wanted me to be.” Shortly after she turned down the offer to work with Steve Harvey, that station made a transition and Steve’s show was no longer on the air. 

Years later, his show is now airing on KJLH, and some of his staff works there as well. Tammi Mac is the number one personality on the station. She does an afternoon show and everyone from Oscar winners such as Jamie Foxx and Viola Davis, to Niecy Nash, Vanessa Bell Callaway, Loretta Divine and more, listens to Tammi. When she’s not interviewing the A-list celebrities, they often call in on her radio show to comment on her hot topics and gossip. At times it can get hot and heavy and very personal. 

After her radio show, she hosted “The Tammi Mac Show” on the FOXSOUL streaming service. You can also watch it on Peacock and YouTube. She also wrote, produced and starred in her one woman show, starred in countless films, TV shows, and national TV commercials. 

Tammi Mac is living her childhood dream, but like most successful individuals, it wasn’t smooth sailing. “This was on my heart the other day, so I’m going to share this with you. When I did the morning radio show with Rickey Smiley in Birmingham, Alabama, it was my most favorite place to live. I truly enjoyed life there and every day was a day I wanted to wake up and go to work. When I moved to Los Angeles, I was extremely depressed and very often had anxiety, which caused lots of panic attacks. I couldn’t figure out how I could be so happy in Birmingham, a city I never dreamed I’d be in. Yet, I was so unhappy and depressed in Los Angeles. The city since I was born, I thought I was supposed to be. One day a friend of mine said, write down all the things that made you happy in Birmingham, and see if you can mirror those things in Los Angeles. So, I did exactly that, and some of those things worked 100%!” shared Tammi. 

But there was still something missing. Tammi continued feeling anxiety and having panic attacks. Then one day she realized what it was. “The difference between Birmingham and Los Angeles was my expectations. I had zero expectations in Birmingham. I was just living my life and enjoying every moment that came along. I was grateful and happy for everything. No matter how big or small, it made me joyous. The only expectation I had there is that I knew one day I would become an actress, because that was always my dream. But I wasn’t pressed to do it at a certain time. Living a life without expectations and not putting so much pressure on myself is what made me happy,” said the superstar radio and TV host. 

When an aspiring entertainer moves to Los Angeles, along with the other millions of extremely talented competitors vying for the same jobs, there’s a ton of pressure to succeed, so it’s easy to slip into a deep depression, insecurities and anxiety. But Tammi refused to lose that battle. “I remember thinking, oh God! It’s a year and I still haven’t accomplished this or that. It’s been three years and I still haven’t gotten that TV show. Oh Lord! What is my family and friends gonna think? They’re going to think I came out here and failed. One of my co-workers from Birmingham told my ex-boss to call me about a position there, because I wasn’t doing nothing in Los Angeles and would love to come back,” said Tammi. She laughed, yet I could feel her spirit of pain and disappointment briefly flash back to that moment. Then she continued, “I thought to myself, how can he think for me like that. Yet, that put so much pressure on me. The reason he felt that way is because when you move to Los Angeles, the expectation of you and everyone else is that you have to become on the level of a Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Oprah, Halle Berry, etc. And anything below that expectation is a failure. And that’s where the pressure, anxiety and insecurities came from. I almost lost my mind.  My aunt and uncle had to fly out to stay with me for a while, because I just couldn’t find my footing in this world of entertainment,” said Tammi.  

Mac eventually found her footing when she and good friend and actress Vanessa Bell Callaway started an open mic mixer for aspiring actors to come perform their monologues in front of their peers and local casting directors. Word began to spread and it became the hot spot to find the most talented up-and-coming Black actors. The likes of Tyler Perry, Spike Lee, Bill Duke, and other A-list producers, directors and casting directors would show up scouting actors to hire for their films and stage plays. “When I saw the success of the young lady who starred as Toni Braxton in the Lifetime movie, and KJ Smith who’s in most everything now, and others, and they gave me credit. I was pleased with what I was doing,” Tammi shared with a humble spirit. 

The open mic mixer worked for Tammi Mac as well. She’s definitely made a name as an actress in Hollywood. She continued, “I immediately gave the credit and glory to God. Because it wasn’t my work when I did the open mic mixer, it was God’s work. That was something he put in me to manifest into something to help his children, not just me. When God puts something in your life, it’s to help his children, not his child. You know it’s from God when it benefits more than just you,” shared Tammi. Her strength and confidence came when God spoke the words, “I got you and on my time,” said Tammi. 

Shortly after that comforting word from God is when the anxiety, insecurities and panic attacks stopped and Tammi began living her best life. It was the beginning of one the reigning queens of Los Angeles radio. When you move to the City of Angels, it’s expected that you must meet the right movers and shakers in order to get into the business. But God revealed to Tammi how to make her own way, “When you do that, people seek you, and you don’t have to worry about seeking them. You also have to be creative as well. The way I got into the radio stations, I would mail one shoe to all of the program directors of the radio stations in LA. That way I had one foot in the door. Then I would leave a voicemail saying, I will be in the city Monday; if you’re not available, give me a call and let me know. If not, I’ll see you at 11 a.m. on Monday. So that’s how I would schedule my own meetings with the program directors. In order for me not to show up, they have to call me, right? So, if you don’t call me, that means you’re cool with me showing up,” said Tammi. 

When Tammi would show up at the radio stations, she came with some dynamic talent as well. The day she walked into the lobby at KJLH, fate was on her side. “I told the receptionist Miss Verdine I wanted to give my air check to Andre Russell and at the very moment Andre walked out the door. She said, ‘There he is right there, you can hand it to him yourself.’ He asked if I was a DJ and I said yes. Then he said let’s go take a ride and listen to your air check. Here’s the thing, I got the job that very day and God made it work in my favor,” said Mac. 

We already know how that turned out. Tammi Mac said that she was born to do radio and acting. “When I was a child, every Christmas I would do The Tammi Show for my family, and my great grandfather would make everybody sit down and watch me. And I’m sure everybody was mad,” she said as we laughed. She has a hilarious and compelling way of storytelling. It’s extremely captivating. “I started doing The Tammi Show for my family at the age of six, so as my work progressed, I would bring my brother in and make him rehearse and he would get mad, because I made him work hard. I would be like, you better rehearse! You wanna look stupid in front of Aunt Tootie and Granddad? I went Joe Jackson on him, Busta. I took that thang serious, and that’s what prepared me to be successful today,” said Tammi as we laughed for a few minutes. When she said Joe Jackson on him, I cracked up laughing. Tammi is hilarious! 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tammi’s mother Deborah McCall had gotten sick. She went back to Houston, Texas, for two months to take care of her mother. As she shared the story, I could hear the trembling in her voice, and saw tears begin to gently flow from her eyes. Tammi’s a tough woman. She gathered her composure and continued, “My radio station and TV station both allowed me to do my shows remotely from Houston. My mother lives in my great-grandfather’s house now, and when I realized I was doing The Tammi Mac Late Show in his house, the same house where he would force the family to watch me do The Tammi Show as a child, I could barely contain myself. He was in the military, so his flag was in the background of all of those shows. I believe that every child is born with something in them, and if the parents nurture that gift, it will manifest,” shared Tammi as she continued fighting her tears. It was extremely heartwarming looking at how she would glow as she spoke of her family. “I have a jar that I call God’s stuff. Once you put something in the jar, I release it to God. My uncle was extremely sick a while ago. He even flatlined, so I put his name in the jar and he survived. He didn’t die. That jar represents my unwavering faith in God.” 

My phenomenal Person of the Week (for the last two weeks) is Tammi Mac. 

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