Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe was made for this. Not just because she has 20 years of experience in broadcast radio under her belt. And not only because she’s a devoted lover of Black music, but also because of the way she has been able to elevate past the numerous obstacles that have come her way. Tetteh-Wayoe’s bounce back game is strong, much like hip-hop’s resilient roots. From rejection letters and company reshuffles to combatting racism as a Black woman in a predominately white industry. Tetteh-Wayoe has gone through the fire and reemerged wiser and better each time.
It’s also apparent that Tetteh-Wayoe is made for radio when she joins Urbanology for her phone interview with a smile that radiates through the phone and a warm, confident voice that captivates and disarms with ease. “How are you?” she asks exuberantly, turning interviewer into interviewee and quickly breaking the ice. She’s a natural.
This natural skill in Tetteh-Wayoe was identified at an early age by her friend’s father who told her that she had a pleasant speaking voice. This, combined with a love of music and hopes to become a musician one day herself, led her to study radio and television broadcasting arts at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.
“I got into the program with actually my sight set on becoming a producer, a very good producer,” says Tetteh-Wayoe. “I was just like killing it as a producer. I was also killing it as a host, but I didn’t actually want to be on the radio because I didn’t want to post music that I didn’t like and there was no music on the radio that I liked.”
That was until one day when Tetteh-Wayoe’s friend Kara let her know that an urban music station would be coming to Calgary. Tetteh-Wayoe jumped at the opportunity.
“I think I sent them my resume like probably 20 times,” she says, with a laugh. “I got a call, and it was the most hilarious call from this man named Harris and he said, ‘We’re getting ready to launch the station, could you send me your resume,’ and I’m like, ‘well I sent [ya] 20 but I’ll send it again, it’s coming at ya!’ ”
Despite being out of school for just a year and a half and having only a few hours of on-air radio experience, Tetteh-Wayoe earned herself a radio host role at Vibe 98.5 FM. Her primetime show shot to #1 in the market and eventually led her to pick up DJing as well. In 2010, she took on a midday hosting role on Flow 93.5 FM where she went by Miss Ange. Later in 2016, Tetteh-Wayoe joined CBC Music as a host and producer, guest hosting on shows like “q” and “As It Happens.”
“Sometimes I feel like I’m meant to do this just by how things have happened … to allow me to continue to survive in such a hostile environment.”
Tetteh-Wayoe’s trajectory towards her current role as host of CBC’s “The Block” feels like fate and she knows it. “Sometimes I feel like I’m meant to do this just by how things have happened … to allow me to continue to survive in such a hostile environment,” she says.
“The Block” producer Judith Lynch echoes a similar sentiment about the radio host saying, “She’s perfect for the show. Period.”
It took a collaborative effort to make “The Block” a reality. Lynch was the mastermind behind the show concept, but it took some years to come together. Pitches for hip-hop programming often stayed in development stage in the past – that was until the broadcaster’s new Senior Director Steve Jordan came onboard and backed the idea. Lynch, Tetteh-Wayoe and associate producer JJ Laborde then worked together to bring the show to life.
The end result is a thorough serving of Black music that spans across genres from hip-hop and R&B to soca, jazz and more. Described as the “home for music of Black origin,” “The Block” pays homage to both new and old school as the show digs deep in the crates for classics and also provides a platform to up-and-coming artists.
“The real magnitude of it is huge,” says Tetteh-Wayoe and she’s right. Programming centered on Black music is limited to a tiny selection on Canadian airwaves. This has made it incredibly difficult for Black Canadian artists to find massive success at home.
Tetteh-Wayoe says that by giving the new generation of Black Canadian creators this major platform, she aims to break the cycle that held previous generations back.
“In 1994, it didn’t blow up because there was no support for it,” she says. “But there was mad talent and mad music being made in this country and [there are] probably so many lost gems out there that only maybe David “Click” Cox has … There was magic being made and I don’t want that to happen to this cohort of young creators. I don’t want them to go out there, put their heart out there and not have it blow up into a thing. ”
“In 1994, it didn’t blow up because there was no support for it … I don’t want that to happen to this cohort of young creators. I don’t want them to go out there, put their heart out there and not have it blow up into a thing.”
Of her new undertaking, Tetteh-Wayoe says, “It’s a big heavy lift for me. So I do it day by day, research and write and record and research and write and record, but it’s love, you know what I’m saying?”
She also says it’s the moment that she’s been training for her entire career. “Like everything about my life. This is it,” she says.
Tetteh-Wayoe’s journey this moment at CBC hasn’t been an easy one. She has faced adversity and racism as a Black woman in radio where there weren’t many people who looked like her. “It’s hard to give yourself credit,” she says. “Especially when you’re being treated in such a way that makes you feel like you’re not good enough ever. And that not good enough piece was actually nothing you could control and that was your Blackness.”
She has also had to learn to be adaptable to unexpected changes like when the urban radio station she was hired at turned into a full pop radio station seemingly in the blink of an eye. “They even told me straight up, ‘we were going to fire you,’ ” she says, with a laugh. “I was like, ‘OK,’ and then they said, ‘but then you said you liked a Green Day song, so we decided to keep you on.’ ”
Staying adaptable is the biggest lesson that Tetteh-Wayoe says she’s learned and carried with her over the years. “You have to be able to change, you know?” says Tetteh-Wayoe. “You have to let go of some stuff and just control what you can within it … do the best you can possibly do with the ingredients that you’ve been given.”
When it comes to what listeners can expect to hear on “The Block,” Lynch says they’re “going to hear some bops.”
“You’re going to hear some classic tunes you’ve [maybe] never heard before. You’re gonna hear hopefully something familiar,” she adds. “I mean “The Block” has room for everybody.”
The show includes historical segments like “Story of a Sample” and “Way Back When” during which some of the biggest songs in history are given a closer look. The two-hour long weeknight show debuted on CBC Music and CBC Listen at the beginning of February and Tetteh-Wayoe says the highlight so far has been, “the sheer joy of people reacting to the music in such a positive way.”
“You know any time you do something new you just want people to like it,” she says. “And so I think people are enjoying it and we’re going to continue to put in the work.”
For up-and-coming artists looking to have their music played on “The Block,” Lynch says the show is always accepting submissions. “We want this to be an authentic home for Black artists and specifically Black Canadian artists who haven’t had that space,” she says.
Artists are asked to submit a clean version of their song, a short bio and photo of themselves to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tune in to “The Block” here.
Editor’s Note: This story was written as part of a promotional partnership with CBC’s “The Block.” CBC nor “The Block” did not have any editorial say in this content.
Photos supplied courtesy of CBC.