Ryan Cameron

Be Ready for Your Moment

Ryan Cameron – affectionately known as "The Ryan King", Cameron is king of the Atlanta airways. For two decades, Cameron has made entertaining the citizens of the largest city in the southeast look easy. The Ryan Cameron Morning Show has become notorious for its ability to turn much-dreaded morning commutes into hilarious, enduring trips down memory lane.
Written By: Adam Higgins
Interview By: Edmond Bobb

"When you encounter people, you have to be ready. I always tell people you have to be ready for your Jeremy Lin or Cardale Jones moment."

It is a cold Wednesday night. Phillips Arena is unusually sold out. A dapper, Ryan Cameron, the PA announcer for the Atlanta Hawks sits courtside between the two team benches.

As the Hawks battle to keep their historic win streak alive, Cameron yells through the PA system for everyone to get on their feet. Like a game of Simon says, in unison the entire arena stands to their feet and the chant “Let’s go Hawks” permeates the arena.

Ryan Cameron has the power to control moments.

Along with being the voice of the Hawks, Cameron is the voice of Atlanta, and arguably the number one radio personality in the southeast with The Ryan Cameron Morning Show with Wanda Smith on WVEE, V-103.

Whether making an arena stand to their feet, pacifying the dreaded morning commute, or helping young men and women through his foundation, Cameron’s voice is a tool to move people.

Radio historically is an important medium for the black community. The first black owned and operated radio station, WERD was housed in the same Atlanta building as Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference on Auburn Ave. The WERD radio DJ, Jack ‘The Rapper’ Gibson broadcasted civil rights leaders and calls for marches.

For Cameron an Atlanta native and the voice of the ninth largest metropolitan area in the United States, there is a responsibility to not only entertain but also uplift and inform with honesty and the ability to genuinely connect with his audience.

Although Cameron has comedic roots, throughout his two decade career he finds the balance to educate and entertain at the same time, and adds the term Edutainment in America’s vernacular.

Each morning, Cameron has a segment “Make Time To Be In The Right Mind”, and delivers a message to renew minds of his listeners.

"Everybody that is listening to the radio has their own bag of problems, issues and things that they are going through. Listeners come to radio to get away from that.” Cameron continues, “Of course topics such as Mike Brown and Ferguson have to be brought up as well. But it has its own perspective, and you deal with it, and get people to take action.”

Interesting enough the two decade career almost did not transpire.

"When people start to recognize you more for community service than for the other thing you do, it puts everything in perspective --for me."

At an early age, Cameron had a speech impediment. As part of a program similar to Hooked on Phonics to improve his speech, instructors recorded before and after success commercials.

“My first time hearing myself on the radio was in my grandfather’s den. He had it on the speakers on WCLK. I heard myself on the radio, and I was like that’s it. I’ve been doing what I wanted to do since I was a baby,” says Cameron.

In 1990, Cameron was a store manager at Blockbuster, and performing comedy shows at night. At a Labor Day comedy show, he connects with Mike Roberts, at the time the top-rated morning host at V-103.

Roberts offers Cameron an opportunity to interview as an intern. Ryan arrives three hours late to the interview. Cameron almost lost his Cardale Jones opportunity, but persuades Roberts to give him the intern gig. Cameron quits Blockbuster, and works the entire year for free as an intern.

“This generation now has a sense of entitlement. You think just because you go to college you are supposed to get this job, and it’s really about who you know. When you encounter people, you have to be ready. I always tell people you have to be ready for your Jeremy Lin or Cardale Jones moment,” says Cameron.

Cameron does not immediately win a Championship like Cardale Jones, and start hosting a morning show. However, Cameron’s career begins to slowly roll. He begins as a fill-in host on weekends, and leads to a full time night jock position.

In 1995, Mary Catherine Sneed, who hired Cameron at V-103 starts a new radio station, Hot, Atlanta’s first hip-hop station. Cameron was the first jock to play hip hop on V-103, a primarily R&B station. So, Cameron was well-suited to kick start the hip hop station with Sneed as the morning host.

Cameron dominates mornings amongst the younger demographic, and becomes a strong competitor to his former employer V-103. In 2005, CBS offers him an opportunity to host the afternoon drive for V-103.

Then, the Jeremy Lin moment happens. Frank Ski's 14 year morning show run comes to an end. Cameron not as far down on depth chart as Lin, but Cameron hungry and ready to dish dimes becomes the new 6th man to host mornings on V-103.

Although having been inducted into Georgia’s Radio Hall of Fame, Cameron feels his biggest accomplishment is his Foundation. In 2002, Cameron and his wife Kysha Cameron founded the Ryan Cameron Foundation to empower the youth of Atlanta to become future leaders.

Cameron had humble beginnings in the Bankhead area of Atlanta. As a kid, he often go to the soup kitchen with his grandmother to feed the homeless. Through the process of handing out sandwiches, he learned everyone deserved a chance.

“Everybody deserves a hand up not a handout, and the foundation has done that with the number of kids that we have that are in college right now. We have Gates scholars that started in the foundation. They would not have had the opportunity if it hadn't been for the foundation. It all started with my grandma taking me somewhere, and having me give back. I'm very proud of that,” says Cameron.