In January, 93.7 The Beat announced itself as the newest force in Houston radio with a private meet and greet session that instead sent shockwaves around the city. With a new format change and plenty of power names filling up jock seats, The Beat has shown in its few months on the air that not only competition is a good thing for Houston but that they're coming with a certain edge 97.9 The Box may no longer employ.
One of those power names manning station hours is UB Rodriguez. In a testosterone filled arena such as hip-hop, Rodriguez stands as his own man, a hardworking jock splitting time between Chicago & Houston but also a trailblazer. To date, Rodriguez is the first openly gay jock on urban radio and while it isn't the only thing that makes him unique, the Latino transplant figures there's even more on the horizon for him. After shuttling between Chicago & Houston, we caught up with Rodriguez to gauge not only how his sexuality has been treated in the community but also how he plans to advance his career without being defined by it.
Houston Style: You originally come from a journalism background, how did you make the transition into radio?
UB Rodriguez: As a kid I wanted to be a hard news anchor, still do. My parents got me a video camera to practice with- oh I'm hiding those tapes! Making the transition was easy for me. I was always a huge lover of good music and radio. My background in journalism actually helps me research and deliver information for radio. I use some of the same practices I learned in journalism.
HSM: You've previously made comparison between Houston and Miami; how are you adjusting to life in Texas and what prompted you to move here?
UR: Texas has always been a place I wanted to work in. I worked in Dallas and San Antonio til 2007.But Houston was the city I'd come to Houston on the weekends for concerts, restaurants, parties. I love the vibe and hospitality as well. I'm from Miami so those things make me feel like I'm home. I've always loved big cities. Houston gives me the big city feel with the small town hospitality. That's an awesome combo!
HSM: Some were surprised when you brazenly came out, what were your initial hesitations in doing so and how has your career been affected by it? (If at all)
UR: I was afraid of what people would think. I didn't know if the industry would accept it. The first openly gay man on Hip-Hop/R&B radio. So that's why I kept it quiet until 2 years ago when I rolled out a plan to come out- which included a new attitude: "I can't worry about what every single person thinks. That's just way too much on my plate". But it wasn't just about me - I also wanted to come out so I can become a mentor or example of a professional man, who also happens to be in this industry.