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Janine Davis
Girl Talk Foundation
Charlotte NC
Trend Magazine Online™
Part I of II
#janinedavis #girltalkfoundation

By Jay Whipple,

Insightful, Bubbly, Entertaining!

Janine Davis Girl Talk Foundation Charlotte NC Pic

It had been at least a decade since I bumped into Janine at the Harris Teeter grocery store off Central Avenue in the area of the Queen City (Charlotte, NC) known today as Plaza Midwood located just east of Uptown/Downtown/Center City. She stood out in the crowd because of her impeccable and tasteful style of dress. We briefly spoke and exchanged pleasantries before continuing our way. I cannot say for certain, but I more than likely was either in between or finishing up a QCT Charlotte Daily City Toursm and darted in to pick up one of the store's signature rotisserie chickens which are da bomb!

Janine was probably finishing up another shift on or behind the scenes of one of the local radio stations to which she has been employed for over three decades as a news an entertainment journalist as well as one of the top producer's in the country of the now defunct nationally syndicated "The Tom Joyner Morning Show." That store was torn down and they built a bigger one in the same spot akin to the shack in The Jerk movie starring comedian Steve Martin. Before that chance encounter, I would see Janine in passing every year in February, while conducting or directing the QCT Charlotte Pilgrimage Toursm, outside of the Imaginon children's complex along with these racks of prom dresses accompanied by young ladies scurrying about browsing through the selections. That event was part of the Greensboro, NC, native's Girl Talk Foundation that she founded in 2003, and is mentioned in the book Charlotte From A Tour Guide's Perspective.

Janine Davis Girl Talk Foundation Charlotte NC Pic!Fast forward to the end of 2020, a most peculiar year due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), and our paths crossed again via the LinkedIn social media platform to which I had not used in years. Janine was soliciting donations for her Girl Talk Foundation in conjunction with a local annual non-profit fundraising campaign. My thoughts were immediately hey, I need to interview her since she is still at it with her foundation that provides much needed support and mentorship for young girls 11-16 years old. It did not take long for Janine to respond positively which we will both attribute to divine intervention. She wanted me to contact her after the new year and I agreed considering the holiday season is the least productive, unless you are in retail, of the work year. The agreed delay also gave her time to close out her midday (10 AM - 3 PM) weekday radio show on V101.9 FM which is heard by 100,000 listeners, and to update her podcast Yasssss, hunni!; and me time to focus on creating more awareness for our sister publication CBP's Black Pages Worldwidetm in time for Black History Month 2021. I also had time to reflect on a few of the early local radio pioneers who were instrumental in paving the way for successful personalities like Janine to survive and thrive on and off the airwaves.

The now legendary Hattie "Chatty Hattie [Hatty]" Leeper embarked on her radio career at the tender age of 14 years old in 1951 when segregation was as overt as the nose on our faces. She prided herself in sounding white because that was a big plus back in those days among both races. That made her ice a tad bit colder! She is the first Black/African-American woman DJ/Radio Announcer in Charlotte and has published a book about her experiences. Wayne Brown (1957 - 2012) arrived in the Queen City in 1991 and took over the helm at WPEG-FM ("Power 98"), which was then broadcasting from nearby Concord, NC, and was instrumental in the takeover of WBAV-FM ("V 101.9"). Both Urban stations were owned by CBS Radio and today are owned by Beasley Media Group, Inc. of Naples Florida and are among the area's strongest. I recall meeting with Mr. Brown at the old Concord location and again at their South Kings Drive office to discuss the station's support of an event that I founded called The Minority Economic Summit which at its peak attracted Black radio mogul Mr. Percy Ellis Sutton (1920 - 2009), who also owned the Apollo Theater in New York and was one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen who served during World War II, as our guest speaker.

Here is what Janine Davis - "JD The Diva" had to say about her career as a radio personality and founder of the Girl Talk Foundation.

Jay -- Who or what was your inspiration for going into the radio business?

Janine -- Honestly, I wanna say it was unintentional yet intentional. It worked out as divine intervention, but I wanted to be an actress. In high school I did a lot of theater, a lot of competitions statewide and regionally; I won all these contests for my acting ability, so I really wanted to get into acting. So, when I was getting ready to go to college, I had known some friends who went into acting in professional theatre and they were sleeping in their cars which was a requirement that clearly, I was not willing to participate in. So, I went to my high school counselor - shout out to all the high school counselors out there - she kind of set me on that path to getting into radio. So, she said to me what do you like doing and I told her theater; I like acting, I like being in front of people and all that.

So, she said well you may want to consider mass communications that way you get the best of both worlds. I was like nah; you know a lot of people did not know a lot about mass communications at that time. But she broke it down and explained that it was radio, TV, production, promotions, marketing, its law; it's all that stuff. So anyway, I went to college and majored in mass communications with a concentration in broadcast journalism at A&T (North Carolina, Greensboro) - Aggie Pride! They had a phenomenal mass communications program because they actually had a radio station that was very well respected; even though it was a college radio station, it was still respected in the commercial radio space.

Janine Davis Girl Talk Foundation Charlotte NC Pic! Jay -- Was it FM (Frequency Modulation) or AM (Amplitude Modulation)?

Janine -- It was FM, 90.1 (still operating); it had a pretty decent signal too. At that time I didn't know about signals and stuff like that. So I got my start by working at the radio station and what I loved about it was that it was really hands-on and I got to do what it is I thought I wanted to do because even then I wasn't sure I wanted to do radio. My mind was not set as with most mass-comm majors we wanted to be on TV; I wanted to be on TV. So, we had a TV production department that was beginning but it wasn't really where it needed to be, but the radio thing was done. So I went to the radio station and actually just said hey to the program director I really want to be on radio, blah, blah, blah. And she told me to read this, and I read something; some copy, and she said that "you'll never make it in radio, you sound like Minnie Mouse." [Jay and Janine cracking up!]. I was offended and could have taken it to heart and gotten discouraged, but I said [to myself] no; I am going to show her, I can do this. I actually went back to my dorm room and practiced reading out loud.

I listened to Barbara Walters, I listened to Oprah; then I would read out loud on the public access channel and they would show the menu for the day. I would read out loud the menu, and I would record myself and go back and listen. Anyway, I did that for a couple of months and went back to the radio station and to make a long story short; she said okay you have improved. So, she gave me a show; it was called Consumer Corner. I will never forget; all I did on that show was read public service announcements [LOL]. I know it was called Consumer Corner, but it was my show honey! [LOL]. I was on the radio and people would listen to me and they knew me. And everything that I wanted from the acting thing I got it.

Janine Davis Girl Talk Foundation Charlotte NC Pic! Jay -- So as far as the Girl Talk Foundation, what was your inspiration in getting that started?

Janine -- My niece; I don't know how old she was at the time [2003] but we had a conversation about life and what she wanted to be and, blah, blah, blah; and she said her one dream was to be a dancer in a rap video. There is nothing wrong with that but my concern was that that's all she knew; she made the decision based on not knowing anything else. So I thought [to myself] I need her to be exposed to other opportunities like why can't you be the owner of the studio that creates the video? Because she didn't know to think that way, I thought to myself wow how many other little girls think like she's thinking right like I can just be the video chick rather than the maker of the video. So, that kind of really inspired me and then things just kind of grew from that you know still being in radio at the time I was exposed to that opportunity to always be in front of young ladies; and just teenagers in general - and working at an urban hip hop station we would go out and speak to these kids in middle school and high school and just talk about the importance of education and answering their questions and things like that.

There was this one school that I was assigned to where my co-workers were not and it was all men on the show, except for me, and so I went by myself and it was about 20 young ladies that we were talking about again what you wanna be when you grow up blah, blah, blah. So after the session was done, ten of the girls stayed around and they started opening up to me about all of their problems; everything that was happening on the school bus, things that were happening at home, in the boys locker room the girls locker room; whatever it was they brought it up because it was kind of like a venting session.

Jay -- Okay, so they felt comfortable enough to disclose these issues to you?

Janine -- Yeah, absolutely they did and so I don't know why but I was like okay and so from there I was thinking why don't we just have a girl talk session? I was just casually saying I'm not trying to start a nonprofit I was just saying hey this would be something cool to have an opportunity for girls to be heard. And so, I went back to my boss I came up with that idea driving back to the radio station and she liked it and she said okay; find a venue and then we will help promote it. And so the idea was to have just a girl only event; no parents, no adults other than some counselors, we would have food, we would have entertainment, blah, blah, blah; no boys for sure. Our rap sessions started at one of the museums [Old Afro-American Cultural Center, Uptown Charlotte, in 2004] and I was thinking that I was going to have maybe 50 or 60 girls to show up and we almost had 200 girls. It was standing room only and we could not get everybody in. Parents were dropping their kids off left and right.

That just showed me that these girls had something to say because they were talking; they were talking about everything like brutally honest. In some cases, it was about how a male relative abused them and about how they were afraid to talk to their parents about certain things. We talked about relationships, we talked about boys, we talked about you know just being a young lady and all that comes with that so anyway at the end and what I saw in that was that wow these girls do have something to say; they just wanna be heard, they have problems but the thing that was even more beautiful I saw them being empowered by hearing other stories that were like theirs. I think they felt like I'm not the only one that's going through this! So, thinking of that, it was a good night, but I was done; I was like okay it's a great project, keep it moving - but that's how it all started and then of course it grew from that and the rest is history.

Janine Davis Girl Talk Foundation Charlotte NC Pic! Jay -- Now you have one of your participants in your program that is heading it up?

Janine -- Yes, she [Alyssa Shepard] is a J.C.S.U. [Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, NC] graduate and it's amazing how God works. She expressed to me that she was interested - this of course was some years later - and I was thinking to myself that I need to pass the baton and at that point I had been doing this thing for 17 years. I was just you know tired to be honest and there is a lot to it and for the most part she and her mom were helping me out with another event that her mom was sharing; another event that Girl Talk was having called Prom Project. Tanya [Mahan-Roberts; her mother] and I were talking at that particular event and Alyssa was volunteering and she overheard our conversation when I said I'm really looking to step down in the next year. She then told her mom later "hey I wish I could run Girl Talk," and so you know God was just kind of setting it up then and so we had a few conversations and worked out some details, and the board approved it; they were like this is the perfect story. Who else to run it than someone who's been in it, experienced it; knows what these young ladies need and can put a different spin on it!

So, Alyssa was the perfect choice, the board approved it and now she and I have been training since I officially resigned in December of 2020. She and I have been having our weekly meetings you know helping her to get through everything that is expected of her. Alyssa has renewed energy and it's been rewarding in that sense because wow I used to feel like that because you know you can feel a little down because you don't have the same excitement anymore; but, she has renewed it even in me - not to the level I once had it because I have been through it and I already know what it takes to run the organization. So she's there and I don't discourage her she's hype and she has new ideas and I am helping her to build her new team and I've already laid the footprint out for her, the blueprint is there so that's the best part for Alyssa because unlike me she didn't have to start from scratch.

Janine Davis Girl Talk Foundation Charlotte NC Pic! Jay -- You are the trailblazer, and you got all the scars and the battle wounds?

Janine -- Yeah; bullet wounds and all of that but Alyssa gets to start out fresh and she has the support of her parents; her stepfather works on our board and again she was part of the Girl Talk family in the beginning and so it's just now morphed into her leading the organization and of course I'm gonna still be nearby I will always be the founder but just trying to set her up for success right now is my primary goal.

Jay -- I read where the Prom Dress program is in Huntsville now?
Find out in Part II >>>
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