Meet Ryan Drake, the DJ who’s spinning urban hits in Dayton

Ryan Drake is an on-air personality and program director for the Dayton-area radio station Hot 102.9. CONTRIBUTED
Ryan Drake is an on-air personality and program director for the Dayton-area radio station Hot 102.9. CONTRIBUTED

If you love urban music (hip-hop and R&B), and you live in the Miami Valley, you’ve probably tuned in to radio station WDHT, otherwise known as Hot 102.9.

We recently talked with Ryan Drake, an on-air personality with the popular Dayton-area radio station. Drake is the guy you hear spinning songs and talking with listeners from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. He’s also the program director of the station, so he decides which hit songs get played on the air daily. When you hear your favorite song on Hot 102.9, you can thank Drake for that.

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Drake shares with us how he got his position, what he thinks about the music he plays, and what he really thinks about Dayton.

Tell us about yourself.

I grew up in southern Columbus, Ohio. I chose radio because I always loved radio, growing up. I always thought it was something I was destined to do. I went to college at the Ohio Center for Broadcasting in Cincinnati . My current job title for WDHT, Hot 102.9 is program/content director, programming the music and imaging for Hot 102.9, and handling the afternoon show on the air from 2 to 7 p.m. I’ve been working in radio for 18 years, and I’ve had my current position for nine years.

How did you end up working in this market?

I was an intern for iHeartRadio in Dayton. I worked my way to a part-time position running the home-and-garden show. Then I became a part-timer for 94.5 KISS FM, the overnight shift. Then, I was asked to become the night show host and eventually the assistant program director/afternoon host on 94.5. This led me to become the program director for Hot 102.9.

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What do you love about Dayton, and by extension, the Miami Valley?

So, I really love the loyalty Dayton has, and I love how hard people work for what they have. When you gain people’s trust, they accept you here forever. And it has become a part of my heart, and always will be. The most important thing, it is its own place — it has its own identity. This is not a “go-with-the-trend” type of place. This is a “set-the-trend” type of place. Dayton has its own way.

According to the most recent Nielsen Ratings, 102.9 is the third most listened to station in the Dayton area. That’s an impressive feat, considering that this region’s musical tastes tend to lean more toward classic rock music and country and western. Why do you think the Miami Valley’s citizens have been so receptive to the station?

Let’s put it like this: Hot 102.9 is two decades old. That means pretty much everyone has come up with it. We have always remained true to our city, we are reliable, and you can always count on us to be there. I think the people of Dayton recognize that, and that’s why they ride with us.

Ryan Drake is an on-air personality and program director for the Dayton-area radio station Hot 102.9. CONTRIBUTED
Ryan Drake is an on-air personality and program director for the Dayton-area radio station Hot 102.9. CONTRIBUTED

Who are the most popular artists 102.9 plays currently? The ones who get the most spins (plays on the radio), and the ones who spark the most discussions?

The popular artists are: Megan Thee Stallion, Post Malone, Drake, Bad Bunny, Ariana Grande, Saweetie, Cardi B and DaBaby. The artists that spark the most discussion: Megan, Cardi B, and all the female figures in the game because right now, a woman’s movement is really happening in hip-hop, and I’m all for that. It’s about time!

Where do you see urban and urban pop music going in the next few years, artistically and commercially?

Right now a major female movement is going on, and I think they are going to propel a voice for women for years to come.

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What artists do you feel are on their way to “blowing up” in the next few months, or years?

A young artist named Clever — you’ll hear from him soon. NF because he is bringing lyrical rap back. YBN Cordae, another lyrical monster. H.E.R. Who is yet another voice for the ladies.

Can local Dayton area artists send you music? If so, how?

Of course. They can go to Hot1029.com and upload on the site, or hit up my APD Kev Nash. We encourage local artists to have a voice, but just know this, if it ain’t good, we ain’t gonna play it!

What would you tell someone who’s reading this interview, and then gets interested in your job position, how to be a program director/content director?

You can go to school and get a degree, that’s all great. But, get your foot in the door, make those connections, work hard, and if you’re meant to be here, you’ll be here. Radio has a way of filtering out the ones that shouldn’t be here.

If you had something to say to Dayton citizens, and 102.9 listeners, what would you tell them?

Fact number 1: We are not where we are without you. We are for equality, we are for the BLM movement. Thank you for growing and learning with us like we do every day. Our support is with you 100%.

Fact number 2: I am thankful every day for you listening and supporting and even when you’re hatin’!

Fact number 3: Dayton is gritty and real and doesn’t take (crap) from anyone. I’m proud to be a part of this city. Thank you for letting me be.

Lastly, what do you hope to ultimately accomplish with your career?

We want to be Number 1 when it’s all said and done. We want to make people of Dayton proud, we want to be there for them and our community. If something major happens we want them to know they can count on 102.9.

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