West Up. WestCoastRydaz.com has always been proud to be a source for all things related to West Coast culture and music. We’ve been fortunate to work with some of California’s best and brightest through more than a decade of front-line coverage. The West Coast is home to a wide array of talented people, far beyond just rappers and producers and with that in mind, we’re excited to start a new WestCoastRydaz Spotlight series, dedicated to showcasing the countless entrepreneurs and creative minds in the Golden State.
Given the emphasis on local talent, it makes perfect sense that our first feature is on a rising company known as HomeGrownRadio. We caught up with HomeGrownRadio founder Chuck Dizzle for a special look at the company’s beginnings, the present and their bright future.
The music industry is notoriously tough to navigate, a fact that hasn’t changed even with the seismic shift the Internet created. As the traditional structure scrambled to adapt, an opportunity opened up for aspiring entrepreneurs already fluent in the language of the digital age.
Why struggle to conform to old ideas and scarce opportunities on the corporate side of music when you could take your talents online and maximize your efforts, guerilla style? That’s where Chuck Dizzle and Home Grown Radio (HGR) enter the picture.
The upstart company is a promotional one-stop-shop, an independent 24-hour streaming radio spotlight on today and tomorrow’s rap stars. From breaking new music to their exclusive interviews, their list of guests includes names like Kendrick Lamar, Julio G, Murs, Problem, and many more.
This success story started about three decades ago in Carson, California, home to established heavyweights like Ras Kass and rising stars like Ab-Soul, Bishop Lamont and Roccett. That’s where Chuck – born Charles Dorsey, II – first remembers dreaming of getting in front of the microphone.
“The moment I knew it was something I wanted to pursue took place when I was 13,” Chuck said. “Up to that point it was normal for me to record any and everything that was happening in my little world on a tape recorder; from mimicking songs off the radio to creating skits. I remember playing a tape for my neighbor and he asked to borrow it so his sisters could hear it…the fact they all were entertained by something I created left a lasting impression on me.”
It was the beginning of a passion that would not only lead him to the same places that his radio idols once broadcasted from, but to new and exciting heights.
Spend some time with him and it’s clear he has a fierce dedication to his dream, but he also exudes sincerity and humility both on and off the air. When asked to share his professional inspirations, he’s quick to tip his hat to those who came before him.
“I give all the credit to 92.3 The Beat throughout the mid 90’s for sparking my interest in radio altogether,” Chuck said. “Growing up I’d constantly listen to John London and The House Party, Theo and of course Julio G.”
Building upon the success of pioneers and creating new lanes is how the industry evolves, and Chuck is no stranger to the business, having put in nearly 15 years across college and professional radio, including Los Angeles mainstays like The Beat and KDAY.
He credits his time at Cal State Long Beach’s “K-Beach” student-ran station for introducing him to the inside workings of radio production, networking and building his confidence as an on-air personality. From there he jumped right into professional radio life, first working at The Beat for three years – which he called a “dream come true” – and then the legendary KDAY.
“Working for KDAY was major…it allowed me to develop my craft on a grand scale,” Chuck said. “I worked just about every shift they had available and jumped on the opportunity to interview the likes of Rick Ross, DJ Quik, Naughty By Nature, Slick Rick and more.”
He combined the lessons he learned at each station with his love for music to take the next step of his career. With music playing such a huge role in his life, he also credits the impact of artists that influenced him; from Tupac teaching him the importance of standing for something and being vocal about it to the adaptability and longevity shown by Snoop Dogg to DJ Quik’s versatility. No longer satisfied with traditional radio and eager for the freedom to chase his vision, he teamed up with some fellow hustlers and came up with Home Grown Radio.
“The decision to start HGR came from actually working at radio and seeing the lack of support for local artists. I just felt the balance was needed, even if it didn’t reach as many people the outlet was important to me,” Chuck said. “Home Grown Radio is strategically designed to bridge the gap between independent and mainstream; providing a platform for artists, producers, DJs, radio personalities, and other brands serving the hip hop community. Although our perspective is from a West Coast standpoint, we’re fully open to support those from other regions.”
Success never happens overnight and it isn’t possible without the help of others. Chuck teamed up with talented and ambitious people to make it happen, including DJ Hed, Miss Bliss and Sparkle Lynn. All it takes is one look at each member of the crew and it’s easy to see why they’re on the rise.
Hed is a veteran of the Los Angeles music scene, having been the tour DJ for Mack 10 and Glasses Malone while also spinning in clubs, on HGR and more. He recently started his own clothing line – titled DCS for “Doing Cool Shit” – and is well known on social media for his unique and comedic views on everything from relationships to sports.
Miss Bliss is a rap artist herself and Chuck’s co-host. She keeps the show balanced, sharing stories on the hot topics in hip-hop and more on every episode. Another vital link in the HGR chain is general manager Sparkle Lynn, who keeps the show booked with the guests that keep listeners coming back every week. It’s a hectic job, but one they’re happy to have.
“To produce the live streams and keep the network fully functioning are two separate tasks in itself,” Chuck explained. “Both consist of staying current on new music, artist submissions, researching guests, attending events, marketing (on and off social media), and keeping our site updated/maintained on a daily basis. There are no set hours but [there are] many restless nights to ensure the job gets done.”
Chuck is quick to point out the importance of everyone working together.
“One thing I do want to make very clear is that it takes a team effort to keep Home Grown Radio going at the pace it is,” he said. “I have to send a huge thanks to DJ HED, Miss Bliss, Sparkle Lynn, Carmen, who handles all of posts on the site and the whole Take 5 Sports crew. Also big ups to Bryan Sallis who takes care of a lot behind the scenes in terms of making sure HGR gets the best looks possible, our interns Cousin Rob and Andrew Delgado, plus my bro Zacc our web designer/online tech.”
Looking back, a show that started out of an apartment has grown into something considerably bigger. Back then, artists like Kendrick Lamar and the entire Top Dawg Entertainment crew were hungry locals working hard to make their mark. Today they’ve gone on to platinum success and worldwide acclaim. The example and opportunity isn’t lost on the HGR team.
“I’m just glad the world is able to see what I saw in those artists early on,” Chuck said. “It’s a blessing. There is still so much more I want to do, but to be able to accomplish what I have with HGR and my personal brand, to literally have a dream, create solid goals and to attain them [is] the most fulfilling feeling in life for me.”
Success is sweetest when you’ve worked hard for it and you can feel the way Chuck and HGR believe in their work. From the free flowing and off the cuff interviews to on-air jokes, they sound more like a group of friends having a good time than an artist, a DJ and two hosts going through the motions. When asked to recall a favorite memory, he takes us back to a moment just like that.
“Having the whole TDE crew in my living room for one of our very first shows back when we were broadcasting from the infamous apartment in Inglewood,” Chuck said. “Only person who wasn’t there was Top himself, but Punch, Rock, Dot, Soul, Q, Sounwave, Ali, Dave, A-Mack, BeDogg and a few others at the time [were] just posted. Funny part is the footage is out there somewhere because a few cameras we’re rolling but it has yet to surface. I would love to see that again.”
It’s fitting that a station that pledges to “Bring Radio Back to Its Roots” would shed unnecessary filler and get back to the basics; good music, interviews and some fun for the crew and listeners. With their spotlight rising and new opportunities ahead, Chuck and HGR are adamant about forging forward.
“The main focus is to expand the network with other shows, DJs and personalities throughout our 24/7 stream,” Chuck said. “We’ve also been exploring ways to compensate artists we play that are registered with ASCAP, BMI and/or SoundExchange.”
They recently began a grassroots “GoFundMe” campaign that allows listeners and fans the chance to support their growth through donations, with a goal of continuing to grow.
“We relocated to a new facility so the campaign serves the purpose to help with equipment upgrade, promotional items and other costs,” Chuck said. “It’s exciting to see something that started as a hobby evolve into a legitimate business. This is just another form of support the people can get behind. Any donation is appreciated; however we have levels of incentives based on the amount donated. Visit our GoFundMe page for more details.”
Progress can be addictive and if their past is any indication, fans can only expect even greater things to come for Home Grown Radio. Even as he continues down a path toward his own goals, Chuck offers up a few words of advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs.
“Be open to constructive criticism, yet stay true to your brand,” Chuck said. “Instead of being the ‘next’ somebody, be the ‘only’ you. Stay positive, constantly set goals and if this is what you really want, don’t let anyone stand in your way of achieving it.”
Donate to HomeGrownRadio’s GoFundMe Expansion Campaign.
HomeGrownRadio on the TuneIn app for smart phones.
–Words by Will for WestCoastRydaz.com.