Cerritos student DJ rises to ‘power’

In any career, when a person starts from the bottom up, it can sometimes be a tough road to travel on. But sometimes hard work and persistance can get a person to a place where they never thought they’d be.

21-year-old Armando Ponce, communications major, is an example of how humble beginnings can turn a person into a city-wide phenom.

He hosts his own radio show on Power 106 , from 12 a.m.-5 a.m. on weekdays. He is one of the youngest people in the station’s history to have his own show.

Ponce also attends Cerritos College as a part-time student. He is currently taking courses to finish his Associate’s Degree in radio and television broadcasting. He hopes to transfer to UCLA in the fall ’07 semester to pursue a bachelor’s degree in communication.

During his tenure at Power 106, he has interviewed hip-hop artists such as Nelly, Pharrell, Pitbull and The Game.

But before his voice filled millions of radio stations across L.A., his voice was exclusively found on www.wpmd.org , working on Cerritos’ radio station, WPMD.

One of his first classes at Cerritos was radio production. “I never thought about it as a full-time career. I just came in and started messing around with some equipment,” he said.

Before he knew it, he was hosting his own show, called “The Mando Show” where he played music from genres such as hip-hop, R&B and Reaggaeton.

“I remember him being very funny and very creative. He was also a hard working person,” said Craig Breit, theatre arts instructor. “He’d stay at the radio station until 10:00 pm when it closed. I’d have to kick him out!”

“I had a feeling that (working at WPMD) would launch his career.”

About his time at WPMD, Ponce said, “Of course I learned technical skills, like how to run the (mixing) board and how to set up the microphone, but more than those things, working there helped me to gain confidence.”

After spending time working at WPMD, he built his confidence high enough to apply for internship at different radio stations. He saw an advertisement on the Internet that said Power 106 was looking for interns. He sent his resume and letters of recommendation with hopes of getting the job.

“When they called me back the first time, they told me they had everyone that was needed at the time,” he said. “But I’m a persistent type of person, so I kept inquiring about any open positions.

He was hired at Power 106 as an intern in June 2005. He worked with the promotions department, where he would go to high schools, colleges and do other promotional work.

But he wasn’t content with just doing behind the scenes work; he wanted to fulfill his dream of having his own show.

“I always gave it my all when doing (promotional) events. I caught the eye of the program director. He asked me had I thought about working on the air.

“I was excited, because there are thousands of people who want to have the same position. A lot of people come and go.”

He sent in his demo (air check) to the program director twice, but was asked to work on it. Before he got a chance to give him a third air check, the program director asked him if he wanted a time slot.

Ponce has now been working at Power 106 for a total of a year. He has gone from being an intern to working on different time slots.

“That’s a sign of success. I tell all of my intern students to ‘come early and stay late’ when in any internship,” Breit said. “I also tell them to ask the right questions and to work hard. And he was the perfect intern.”

Working the shift so early in the morning tends to take a toll on Ponce. With his day full between work and school, sometimes he doesn’t have as much time to settle down.

“I don’t know where my day starts and where it ends! It’s normal for me to have sleepless nights or to walk around like a zombie drinking Red Bulls all day! But it comes with the job,” he said.

“(Working that early) is a lot of fun. At first it was difficult to get your body into the vibe of being up that early in the morning.”

In the future, Ponce has plans to become a video jockey and host a television show on a network similar to MTV. He feels that his work ethic will get him to the places he wants to be.

“You have to go into things confidently and give it your all. Everything that I’ve set my mind to has been accomplished,” he said.

“Even when I’m at work, it doesn’t feel like it. I’m having the time of my life doing what I love!”