Jared Boyd




As a journalist for the Daily Memphian, a DJ, a co-host of Beale Street Caravan and the program manager of WYXR, Jared Boyd wears many hats in Memphis. Whether it’s through his voice, his pen or his music curation, Boyd is leaving his mark on Memphis media.


Photos by Houston Cofield


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When I was growing up being on the radio wasn’t something I wanted to do, it’s just something that just sort of happened. I don’t know that I could say I wanted to do any of the things that I’m doing now when I was growing up.


As a kid I had a lot of different interests. I definitely loved music and thought that I would be involved with music in some way. I thought that I might be an artist in the hip-hop realm. I wanted to skateboard. But, for most of my young life I wanted to play basketball. What I’m doing now is definitely not what I saw myself doing as an adult.


So, I knew I wanted to go to college. I knew I had to go to college. So when it came time to choose what I was going to do, I chose journalism. I used to like to read “Complex,” “Fader,” and “Pigeon and Planes.” The stories I read about musicians inspired me and I thought, if I could, if I had to go to college for something, then I might as well go to college to tell stories about music.


Then I’d always sort of be in the music culture. And if I want to be an artist then I’d have some contacts already.


The summer before my freshman year at Ole Miss I worked for Bridge Builders. I had gone to the parties as a student and thought they were so cool. I wanted to know how to do that, how to DJ a party like that. So, I started learning from the guy who was deejaying them at the time.


I went over to his house and he taught me how to essentially deejay. He taught me about MP3’s, transitioning between songs, BPM and how it works, so on. I just thought it was all super cool. I started practicing and then when the first party came up, he was 30 minutes late. They people throwing the party were looking at me like, ‘You said you know how to do it? Do it.’ So I got up and deejayed for 30 minutes. He finally showed up and he kicked me off. He worked the rest of the party and got all the glory for having a real cool party.


The next week, he’s an hour late, so I deejay for an hour and he shows up and kicks me off. He kept coming in later and later, until eventually it was just me deejaying the entire party,

Once I had deejayed a whole party on my own I was like, ‘I got this shit.’ So once I got to college I realized I could deejay on my own at parties. Well, that didn’t happen right away.

I went to The University of Mississippi, Ole Miss, and I wasn’t a great freshman. I fucked up so much that first year, that my second year was just about getting back in a good education standing. I really had to bust my ass so much that I didn’t really have time to be social. The second and third year I was there I was really just trying to clips and experience. I was doing TV, had a column in the newspaper and was doing radio at Rebel Radio 92.1, ‘The Voice of Ole Miss.’


For the radio I was really using the skills I had developed from deejaying those parties back at Bridge Builders and was just killing it on radio. I was really in my element. Nobody was calling me telling me what to do.


There also weren't any other rap radio mix shows in town. Really for that whole part of north Mississippi, if you weren’t close enough to Memphis to get Hot 107 or K97 you didn’t really have anything. So, I started to get a bit of a following.


But also, any new artists who came out of that part of Mississippi were trying to get their music to me. One day one of my friends that I took classes with was like. ‘I’ve got some friends from back home. They got a song they’re about to come out with produced by Mike WiLL. Who at the time seemed like he had already his run. They sent me the song and I didn’t play it. Then I didn’t play it the next week. Eventually my friend called me and was like, ‘Dude! Are you going to play that song I sent you? My friends are listening.’


I still hadn’t even listened to it, but I took a chance. I knew if I didn’t do it then, I would keep forgetting about it. So I got the mic, introduced the song, and said on the air, ‘Listen, I hear this song’s clean, it’s from new Mississippi artists. If y’all like it call in and let me know. It’s the first time I’m hearing it. it’s the first time you’re hearing it. It’s the first time the world is hearing it.’


The song was Rae Sremmurd’s “No Flex Zone,” and I was the first one to play it on the air in 2014.


I just kept playing songs for the rest of the semester and when we came back from summer break that fall, the song was two times platinum. It’s really cool to be apart of something like that.


After I graduated college in 2015 my laptop and all of my hard drives broke. I lost all of my music, so I stopped deejaying.


I felt that I had a good enough run and was ready to get a job.

I ended up moving to Mobile, Alabama and got a job at AL.com, which is a statewide online news site that also owns some of the state’s newspapers.


If you’ve ever seen “It’s a Southern Thing,” I was kind on the ground floor of working with that. They do those online surveys that tell you how southern you are based on the desserts you like or whatever. It’s kind of like a ‘southern BuzzFeed.’


It wasn’t only a news company but also a marketing company for Alabama. I had started working in the news sector, but kind of transitioned in the more creative and marketing sides of the organization.


I had moved to Mobile to do local news, but most of the marketing work was in the headquarters in Birmingham, so I was mainly working remotely and had to travel back and forth. So, I was kind of faced with a decision, do I move to Birmingham, stay in Mobile, or move somewhere else entirely?


Now, I was working remotely, and really I was the only one working on the creative side. So, as long as I was churning out content it didn’t really matter where I was. I could just disappear for months at a time.


‘Its a Southern Thing,’ was really about all things going on in the South. So it didn’t really matter where I was. I would go to Memphis, Nashville, Oxford, and just sort of tell people about ‘It’s a Southern Thing.’


But, at the same time, I was also kind of scoping other places out. I wanted to be in Memphis, but there wasn’t any work here. So I checked out Raleigh, Jackson and so on. I was making content, writing stories, meeting other professionals and scoping out places to maybe move to.


I kind of stalled long enough to figure out what my new move was going to be. During that six-month window my dad was progressively getting sicker with cancer. I knew I needed to come home. I had gotten an offer to work on the Beale Street Caravan, but It was a part-time job, which wasn’t really enough for me to be able to come home. But, the Daily Memphian also had just launched and they needed a weekend reporter. So, I took both jobs and came back to Memphis.


In Alabama I had gone from being a breaking news reporter chasing around ambulances and cop cars to being a statewide arts and entertainment reporter. So, I kind of had to start over in Memphis and repay my dues.


In Alabama I had gone from being a breaking news reporter chasing around ambulances and cop cars to being a statewide arts and entertainment reporter. So, I kind of had to start over in Memphis and repay my dues.

The “Daily Memphian” didn’t really have plans for much entertainment reporting early on. Since, I was only really reporting on the weekend I had some free time during the week. So I started pitching some music ideas and the editors ran with it.


Eventually, Alex Turley, Jim Thompson, Chad Weekely, who were sort of behind the listening room at Central Station got to talking about me. I guess they thought, ‘This guy knows about Memphis music and records. He is sort of aligned with the scene and can open us up to all these different styles and genres of Memphis music.’ So that’s when they reached out to me and were like, ‘Hey, have you deejayed before?’ I was like, ‘Kind. But, I had done all of my stuff on a computer. I do have a ton of records, but I don’t really know how to…’ They stopped me and said, ‘Don’t worry about it. We’ve got all the equipment and the records. Just come in and do your thing.’


I was a DJ again. It was a fake until you make it kind of thing. For the opening party in October of ‘19 for Eight and Sand, which is the bar inside the Central Station Hotel, they had DJ Spanish Fly performing, and they told me that I was going on after Spanish Fly. I was just like, ‘Shit.’ I had to get good quickly. So I started practicing and working with other DJs. I was listening to what they were playing, then trying to include the songs I didn’t know into my repertoire.


I ended up collecting a bunch of records. When I moved to Mobile I had a lot of records and when I came back I had even more records.


My cousin Andrew Love was a saxophone player for the Memphis Horns, who also recorded on a lot of Stax songs. When he died in 2012, my freshman year, I inherited a lot of his records.


So, I had all these damn records. And when my family saw I had a lot of records they started giving me more records. If you include 45s along with LPs, I have well over 5,000 pieces in my collection. Easily too many for a 1 bedroom apartment.


Around the same time, I started hearing about the possibility of the WYXR. The University of Memphis and “The Daily Memphian” already had a partnership with their investigative journalism program. So I started hearing from our leadership that they were entertaining about having a partnership with the radio station as well.


So they talked to me and Christ Herrington about it, because we’ve both been involved with arts and culture. That asked us if we thought it might be worthwhile, what the content might look like, how the “Daily Memphian” might exist in the radio world.


In November they were ready to make an announcement. And they wanted me to be the person to write it like, just like I would any other story.


I had a contact with the Crosstown Concourse, which I did because Beale Street Caravan is based in the building.


I wrote a story to make that announcement, so that we break our own news. I kind of got everybody’s perspective for the story — The Daily Memphian, Crosstown Concourse, The University of Memphis.


That’s also when I first met musician and Archer Malmo veteran Robby Grant who had been signed on as a consultant for the station.


After that story we kind of had a town hall meeting with all of the involved parties, musicians and fans of music to talk about what a new community based radio station in Memphis should look like.


Right before the pandemic I was walking through the Concourse with Pat Mitchell Worley, who is the primary main host of Beale Street Caravan, the Executive Director of the Stax Music Academy and had already been established as the president of the board for WYXR.

We were walking together and we saw Robby and started talking to him. He told us the station was still looking for a program manager.


That sat with me, so when I saw him maybe a month later, I stopped him and said, ‘Hey I know you’re trying to hire somebody to manage the radio station. I don’t know if it’d be appropriate. But like… could I sort of put my name into the hat?’ He was just like, ‘Between you and me, your name has already been brought up.


I didn’t know it at the time but Robby had already left Archer Malmo to become the executive director of WYXR. So we went to grab a drink and talk about it. When I got home that night I checked my phone and the world had changed. The NBA had been cancelled, Tom Hanks had COVID and we were in the midst of the Pandemic.


So we started having meetings over Zoom and on the phone to try to figure out exactly what this station was going to look like. On May 1st it was official and I signed my name on the dotted line.


And on October 5th, 2020, the WYXR went live.


I don’t I don’t want to disparage anybody. I think one misconception early on we were trying to rip-off other community based stations. I just wanted to be a part of making this radio station.


I remember something that my pastor said at church when I was a kid, ‘A thoroughbred runs its own race. It’s got blinders on so that all it can do is look ahead toward its own goal.’

I didn’t get into this, because I felt like I wanted to displace or outdo anybody or anything like that. I got into it, because I had, like an urge in me to do something different. This lane opened up and I thought, ‘Here is this opportunity for me to take a step back from doing things just for me.’


My goal is to cultivate other leaders and be proactive about that. I want to see other kids who like me want to be journalists and be in the media. I want to showcase something that is relevant to them and give them a platform that they didn’t know they could have,

I want to bring them all into one house where they’ll be visible by working with other folks who already have a following.


I wanted to just sort of create and curate a product and project that was representative of all types of people in the Mid South.


I want to celebrate music and artists that you wouldn’t hear elsewhere and highlight the conversations that you wouldn’t hear elsewhere. I don’t want to shy away from things because they’re uncomfortable.


I wanted to take a step back from breaking news and invest in empowering people.

By partnering with the University of Memphis I have the opportunity to get to know these college kids and what their strengths are. They get a chance to learn first hand about the media before they even step into the job market.


They’re learning how they can plug themselves into the Memphis music and entertainment community. We’re just continuing to build this talent pool of people who care about Memphis music and entertainment.


We’ve got 70 volunteers already in a pandemic and most of them haven’t even had the chance to meet each other or be in a room together. But you know, what, I’m deploying them out to do this work that I kind of care about.


I just want this station to be authentic and I felt like every radio station was doing their thing really good. But, what about a radio station that has no format? Friday nights they’re gonna get rock ‘n’ roll and punk. You’re gonna get blues. You’re going to get hip hop.

Memphis is our format.


I appreciate that people love my writing, but I never thought of myself as a writer. I never thought of myself as a DJ. I never thought of myself as a radio personality. I just really love Memphis and if I kind of express my love in a way that makes other people love, then that makes me happy. It’s not the delivery, it’s the result.


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