Charese Fruge’ (@MCMediaonline) interviews Dominique Higdon | Women to Watch
Dominique Higdon is currently Programming Specialist and Curator of Pandora’s Hip Hop Department, and Musical Director of Pandora Now on SiriusXM. One of her biggest hits was the relaunch of the “Women in Hip Hop” station which was promoted by Cardi B on her first relaunch. This station has grown from less than 300,000 monthly listeners to over 950,000 monthly listeners since the relaunch. His curriculum vitae and his experience are extremely impressive. The only way to describe it is “Badass!”
“Since joining the Pandora team, my focus has been on breaking through with emerging artists; I love seeing artists win,” says Higdon. “As a hip-hop scholar, I work with a dynamic team that has a passion for the streaming space and makes a practical impact on current and emerging artists in the genre. I love how my position in this department always keeps me on my side From station lineups and Hip Hop playlists to weekly meetings with record label reps, we strive to bring new and intriguing content to the Pandora music brand that will resonate with our listeners.
“As Music Director of Pandora Now on SiriusXM, my primary responsibility is to assist my PD, Joshua “J1″ Raiford and APD, Melony Torres, with rotations for the station,” Higdon explains. “Alongside my programming duties, I’ve also spearheaded the growth of Pandora Now SiriusXM’s social platforms by booking emerging artists to showcase their talents and music on the station’s Instagram Live series. Artists who have been featured in this series vary from Earthgang to Lil’ Migo.”
Dominique began her career in traditional radio in college. She had her own radio show at High Point University from 2011 to 2015. From 2012 to 2015, she also interned at WJMH (102 Jamz). “During my internship at 102 Jamz in Greensboro, NC, I worked with some amazing people who helped shape me and make me the person I am today: Waleed, Tap Money, Horse Rainy, Big Mo and many more,” she says. From 2015 to 2016, she interned at Radio One DC. “I started my internship for the ‘Russ Parr Morning Show’, she says, ‘I then became the local producer of the ‘Russ Parr Morning Show’. Following my time doing this, I interned for Neke Howse, former PD for 93.9 WKYS. During my internship with Neke, I learned the basics of radio programming which included: Music Master, Rotations, Staff Scheduling, and much more. In addition to my internship, I also worked as an on-board operator for 93.9 WKYS and Majic 102.3 and 92.7 during night shifts,” she explains. “I continued to gain experience as a producer, replacing ‘The Fam in the Morning’ with QuickSilva and Lil’ Mo every show.”
“After my internship with former 93.9 WKYS PD, Neke Howse, Kashon Powell, OM and VP/Programming, promoted me to Programming Assistant for the DC Market working under him. My responsibilities consisted of assisting with multiple tasks and projects for Radio One.DC Cluster and assisting new hires PD of 93.9
WKYS, Joshua “J1” Raiford when he took over the station after Neke left. While working under the direction of Kashon and J1, we have created and produced major events such as station concerts, award shows, community events benefiting non-profit organizations, and much more.
As a little girl, Dominique always knew what her purpose in life would be. “I knew my goal was to elevate and be a game changer in the music industry. Music has always been a passion of mine,” she says. “From visiting the radio station with my uncle, Russ Parr, at the time, to watching one of my favorite movies, ‘Brown Sugar’, I knew this industry was a space I wanted to explore and thrive,” she says. “I can’t say there’s only one person who has helped champion my radio career. I’m so lucky to have a tribe of friends and mentors who have supported me. helped me become the person I am today.” Russ Parr, Waleed, Tap Money, Horse Rainy, Neke Howse, Kashon Powell, Talya Johnson-Floyd, Quicksilva, Lil’ Mo, and my current boss, J1, have all been influential in my radio journey. Their genuine advice and helpful feedback taught me countless lessons that I still apply to my daily tasks and to my productivity in my current position. Not to mention that I previously worked as a programming assistant J1 at Radio One’s Hip and R&B station in Washington, DC, 93.9 WKYS, which is how I got to where I am today.
Having worked in both traditional radio and now satellite/streaming, I of course had to ask him the obvious question: “What is the advantage of satellite signals over traditional signals?” Higdon told me: “The advantages of satellite services are that they are easy to listen to. Satellite services are ad-free, mainly focus on music and are more aggressive when it comes to discovering new music and new artists. Traditional radio is more content driven. They have frequent commercials and breaks for jocks to talk during stop sets etc. as the music evolves.”
Dominique admits that business has been good for her so far. “I’ve always had a passion for breaking artist records and seeing them succeed. During my tenure in the industry, I’ve helped break records for major artists such as Lil’ Baby, Moneybagg Yo, City Girls, DJ Khaled, etc.” she says. “Not only am I constantly learning new programming skills, but I’ve also worked alongside a successful team during my time on the radio creating events ranging from concerts and award shows to experiential meet-and-greets with major artists,” says Higdon. “In the realm of streaming and satellite radio, one of my biggest successes so far has been the relaunch of our station ‘Women in Hip Hop’ in which Cardi B was one of the artists who helped promote the station. This was a huge win for me, as his relaunch promotion would contribute to significant growth and viewership for the station. Lastly, being selected as a member of the Recording Academy Class of 2021 was a simple reminder that my hard work is being noticed and recognized.”
Higdon admits that nothing worth fighting for comes without its challenges. “As we all know working in this industry can be a thankless job and at times in my career
I struggled with feeling neglected and not being properly compensated, she says. Persistence and a strong work ethic helped me realize that hard work will pay off. As my career continues to evolve, I am grateful to have gone through these hardships because they have helped me become the career woman I am today. It’s important to remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
“We can also all agree that the pandemic has had an emotional and mental impact on us for the past two years,” she adds. “Although we continue to go through this period of uncertainty, I feel like the pandemic has had a positive impact on my life. I have prioritized creating healthy fitness goals and normalizing self-care. Yoga and daily meditation have been key exercises that have helped me manage my stress and anxiety,” says Higdon. “Although I’m a perfectionist and put a lot of pressure on myself, during these times, I take time to talk with my family and friends, volunteer in the community, and stay active with my health and fitness goals to help with balance in my daily routines. I also like to dress up in my favorite pair of heels and go to restaurants because #selfcare. Self-care is one of the most important principles for balancing mental peace in a fast-paced industry.
As a programmer, Dominique understands the lack of gender equality in management, especially on the programming side. She sees a great need to encourage more women to take on these kinds of roles in the future. “Women are the biggest consumers of music, and we need to capitalize on that,” she says. “Artists and their teams rely heavily on the feedback and musical insight of women. We play such an important role in this male-dominated part of the industry, so I think it’s important to have more female programmers and curators. In my experience, the women’s program, and curated mostly on the R&B side, so I would like more women to join me in Hip Hop.”
As for what awaits Dominique in 2022, “While we are still in the midst of a life-changing pandemic, I am extremely optimistic and excited for what lies ahead this year,” she says. “I want to continue breaking more emerging artists while gaining more traction and recognition for the Pandora/SiriusXM brand. I have also made it a personal goal to give back to the community and share my journey with women who want to get started in this industry. On March 5, I have the pleasure of speaking at the 6th Annual Women in Radio Conference about my background in music. I am so grateful for this opportunity and look forward to providing some insight to women who are hoping to get their start in this industry.”
Higdon added: “Major kudos to Cathey Hughes for leading the way in black radio and my time in her business. Russ Parr, J1, Kashon Powell, Colby Cob, Waleed, Tap Money, Horse Rainy, Neke Howse, Sherri Warren, Akil, Kelson, DJ Gemini, Wilt Wallace, Keinon Johnson, EZ Street, Monique Davis-Cary, Chris Green, Jackie Paige, Paris Nicole, Leah Bekele, Amir Boyd, Brittany O, Jaosn, Troy Marshall, Danielle Lott, Damon Lott, Lorel, Angie Ange, Geo Bivens, Madelne Woods, Janine Brunson-Johnson, Talya Johnson-Floyd, Quicksilva, Lil Mo , Melony Torres and many others have all been influential in my radio journey.
Follow Dominique Higdon on Instagram: @fancydomo