RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – For decades, Clovia Lawrence has been taking over Richmond’s air waves.
The on-air broadcast journalist and Radio One community outreach director has more than 30 years of experience in the business but says her first passion is her community.
“It’s one thing to inform, but to go out in every pocket of the community, to help them along, to assist to bring all of us on the come up if you will,” Lawrence explained.
Lawrence was born and raised in Richmond’s Fulton neighborhood and is a proud alumnus of Armstrong Kennedy High School. She says it was during her childhood where she first learned the meaning of giving back.
“Fulton was a community all in itself at the time,” she said. “We saw grocery stores, we saw a lot of black businesses, we saw a lot of Black-owned businesses – folks just doing it for themselves.”
Lawrence studied at Virginia Union University, a private historically black college in the City of Richmond, where she majored in broadcast journalism. She also became a sister of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Lawrence says it was there, where her passion for people blossomed.
“Just being on the hallowed grounds and the walls – to really learn about our greatness,” she said. “It taught us more about us as black people that we are educated, and we can become educated, and again, we can start our own businesses. Those are things we rarely talk about.”
She adds the teachers and lessons she learned at VUU were unmatched.
“I had a teacher from Tanzania,” she said. “I had a couple of teachers from India. Just to learn the cultures of the way that they taught – it was amazing to learn about urban studies. To learn about our real history that wasn’t told in the books. It compelled me to be the best person I can be – to tell really what I learned all about us and our greatness.”
In 1987, Lawrence landed her first on-air job at the South’s first soul radio station.
She then moved to contemporary hits in the late 80s. She explains while working at Q94, a mentor told her to audition for a new radio station that was coming to Central Virginia, Magic 99 in Petersburg. She worked there until 1997 and continued to dabble in a number of other media roles, like WTVR Lite 98 and K-95.
She eventually landed a job with Urban One in 1999. The challenge then became how to attract an even bigger audience.
“In the City of Richmond, you have lots of on-air announcers,” she explained. ‘Why would you listen to this on-air announcer when you have a majority of radio stations to listen to? Why you as the announcer?”
She decided to bring everything she learned at VUU to change the on-air conversation.
“So, when I’m on air and I’m playing your favorite Jay-Z song…And I’m like, ‘Yeah that was Jay-Z, throw your hands up if you’re a registered voter!’ I just kind of incorporated all of the community stuff into it.”
Lawrence says she wanted to bridge the gap between radio and community affairs.
“I think we had those things before, but to incorporate into radio,” she told 8News. “The general manager at the time was like, Clo, you want to do what? No, I don’t want just to community affairs and get everyone to write in and post their events. I want to be a part of the event. I want to get trained to be an advocate for voter registration.”
She now uses her platform to give back to the community – hosting fundraisers, advocating for formerly incarcerated youth, and keeping her neighbors informed.
“To learn about our culture and what it means to all of us. At the end of the day, all we want is respect and love.”