The laptop clock flashed 5:30 p.m., and laughter and playful banter echoed off of the Styrofoam walls of the 97.9 broadcast studio. The music dropped and show participants eagerly donned their headsets. Soft, cushioned, mismatched chairs and equipment lined the walls, illuminated by a single dim lamp placed in the corner, giving the room an intimate, informal vibe.
The night’s first topic: Tiger Woods divorce settlement from ex-wife Elin Nordegren. It was a familiar setting for the host of “The Jay Elliott Show: Love Grind,” a scene repeated every Friday. For two and a half hours, Elliott, along with special guests and regulars, discuss current events along with common issues in relationships.
“I wanted to have a live conversation on dating and relationships; something real, something that you could catch at any house party, pool party, whatever,” Elliott said about the inception of his radio talk show.
“It’s just mature-minded people being open about anything when it comes to dating, marriage love, sex and differences in the opinion of what women think and what men think.”
Elliott said the informality of the show is one of its greatest assets, because the discussions are everyday issues that Tallahassee citizens can relate to.
Samara Pierre, 24, a senior Nursing student from Miami and regular commentator on the “Love Grind” agreed, describing the show’s laidback setup as the reason she returned to the show as a regular.
“That’s our scapegoat. If you have a stressful day, most people want to go home and relax and have some wine, but for us it’s coming to the show,” Pierre said. “We’ll come, kick our feet up, talk, laugh and just have a good time with one another; it’s my me time
Pierre, along with several other FAMU students and alumni, has made appearances on Elliott’s show, sustaining what Elliott feels to be an interdependent relationship with his FAMU audience.
“Most of my friends go to FAMU or are FAMU alumni, so a lot of the conversations spark up from them and with them supporting my show,” Pierre said. “[FAMU] is where I had my first break.”
Chris Cooper, General Manager of 97.9 WJTZ FM, said it was Elliott’s charisma and assertiveness that piqued his interest in the comedian.
After being challenged to rally advertisers to fund the show, the aspiring talk show host secured sponsorship with Applebee’s, Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grill, and other patrons.
Elliott’s success as a published author of his novel Feeders and standup comedian, particularly at local comedy club Comedy Zone, along with his heavy sponsorship fueled Cooper to give him the opportunity to launch “Love Grind.”
Also, his multiple outlets of solicitation of new participants and commentators via text messages, Facebook advertising, flyers and mass e-mails impressed Cooper.
“He’s kind of a newbie, but I’m expecting great things from him,” Cooper said. “I think [he’s] going to be the next comedian that might be that headliner for the FAMU homecoming, or the FSU homecoming for that matter. He’s like a Ryan Seacrest kind of guy in his infancy.”
It’s other radio personalities, however, who gave Elliott his inspirations for “Love Grind,” including Steve Harvey, Michael Baisden and Wendy Williams.
“They’re big stars and they’d been stars before they made it that big, but I could do it at a local level,” Elliott said. “Why wait to become big? I just decided to create my own niche and make my own path.”
Cooper shared his confidence in what he felt to be just the right path for Elliott, and contentment in taking a backseat role in watching his success unfold.
“He’s on remote control and that’s the way I leave all of my DJs here,” Cooper said. “He’s done XY and Z to perfection, so why would I interfere with perfection?”