Turning Pain Into Laughter Since 2011
In 2010 Gary Bills went to one of the local radio stations in Jackson, TN in an effort to get his music played. Unsuccessful, he never gave up. He returned to that same station every week, determined to get his music played. His determination earned him an internship at the station. Not quite what he was expecting, but at least he now had his foot in the door. After learning how to work the ‘boards’, he eventually landed a position working with radio personality Mr. Richard Donnell Sr. during his Community Feedback show that aired on Sunday mornings on 96 KIX. While grateful for this opportunity, Gary was still very focused on getting music played.
For as long as I can remember, Jackson, TN has only had one R&B station that appealed to the younger generation, and the not so younger generation that enjoyed R&B and the sometimes hip hop music that this station played. We really had no other options, unless we popped in a CD or streamed music from an online outlet such as Pandora or iHeart Radio or had satellite radio. This particular station didn’t really play a lot of up-to-date music, but if you were into ‘old school’ music then this was definitely the station for you. However, in 2014 Jackson was introduced to a new Hip Hop station, Hot 96.1. This created a lot of buzz and excitement, because Hip Hop fans now had another option for music. Well, at least that’s what we thought, until this station started to sound very similar to the old station that we were all accustomed to hearing. The same music and the same radio personalities came through the speakers. What the freak?! Back to my CDs and Pandora. Then one day I tuned in and a heard a new voice…Gary Bills, a.k.a. G Billa was now rocking the mic! No disrespect to any of the vets of the Jackson airwaves, but it was refreshing to hear new talent, which hopefully meant a whole new sound. So I had to have a one on one conversation with G Billa.
Now G Billa always had dreams of being on the radio, not just behind the scenes pushing the buttons on the tech board. Even as a kid, not fully recognizing this passion, he would record his own live radio broadcasts. After mistakenly taping over his mom’s Patti Labelle tape, she went out and bought him a stack of blank cassette tapes. He would record himself doing live commentaries to all of the San Francisco 49ers football games…his favorite team I’m guessing. After working at the radio station for about 3 years the program director finally gave him the opportunity to fill in for DJs when they were out or if they were at a remote location doing a live broadcast. He was a natural behind the mic. After only one time on the air, he knew that being behind the mic was where he was meant to be.
Recently the people of Jackson were shocked when one of the local radio personalities posted a video on Facebook announcing his departed from radio. Richard Dee of 96 KIX and Hot 96.1 was stepping away after being in radio for many years. His voice was very recognizable and the people of Jackson and surrounding counties had become accustomed to hearing his voice when they turned on their radios. I tip my hat to Richard Dee because he definitely made his mark in radio and left a lasting impression on all that listened to him. His departure now made room for new talent. G Billa finally got the call he’d be waiting on. He’s now the new midday, early afternoon voice of Hot 96.1. When asked about what he’s going to bring that makes him different from the rest, “You never know what to expect from me. I’m all about having fun, bringing the excitement and making people laugh. I have a lot of ideas It’s go time! Expect the unexpected!”
I admire the determination and passion that G Billa has displayed. His journey to radio hasn’t been an easy or fast one. For anyone who’s interested in being in radio or anyone who has dreams G Billa has a few words of advice: “Be persistent and don’t quit. Don’t ever stop chasing your dream. Don’t ever say, I’m done with this. You may feel like giving up but DON’T DO IT! One day it’s going to be your time. People are so impatient when it comes to getting their shot, their time to shine. I’m 35 years old, it’s been a long freakin time coming. Throughout my 20s I’ve just been cooking in restaurants. And don’t get me wrong, I love to cook. I went to culinary school also, but I love the radio. I knew in my heart that’s where I belonged. I never gave up. I continued to work other jobs while still working in radio. And now it’s my time. I finally got my shot.”
You can catch G Billa on Jackson’s Hot 96.1, Monday – Friday from 12pm-6pm.
Hot 96.1 is a division of Thomas Media, which also includes 96 KIX, STAR 107.7, WYN 106.9, and 102.3 THE ROCKET.
As always…Keep Laughing!