Destined to be… The Greatest
When the microphone was invented, it was destined that comedian, radio personality and actor, Leon Rogers was meant to rise to a high level of success and leave his mark on society as a legend. The Chicago Southside native has always had a passion for comedy, which is his first love. He not only partakes in his community with his endeavors, but also supports charities and causes for the betterment of the community.
As one of the hottest comedians in Chicago, Leon has toured nationwide doing his stand-up comedy, appearing on various shows, such as Bet’s Comic View. You can tune in to the #1 radio station in Chicago, 107.5 WGCI and catch him weekdays on “The Morning Riot” show with Tony Sculfield and Nina Chantel. You can also see his live performances at Jokes & Notes Comedy Club located on the Southside of Chicago.
Balancing life as a husband and father, Leon continues to follow his vision and accomplish his goals as an entertainer. Consciousness Magazine had a one on one chat with the “Leading Man of Chicago,” Leon Rogers. Humble and down to earth, the studio room was filled with laughter and seriousness as the “Destined Legend” shared his wisdom and knowledge about the radio industry and having a career as a comedian.
[Leon Rogers is standing behind the turntable in preparation for his production.]
CM: When did you come to the realization that you had what it takes to be a comedian?
Leon Rogers: Wow! I would have to say in 1996 back in Fortville, Oklahoma. I was in the army for seven years. I used to always make my buddies laugh. They were like “you should try to do comedy!” So after all those notes of confidence, I gave it a try. I went out on a leg of faith and started doing it. The rest is history.
[He steps away from the turntables and gives us his undivided attention.]
CM: As an urban radio personality, do you feel as though there is a thin line between a comedian and a radio personality?
LR: I think comics bring…well a lot of traditional radio jocks don’t like the fact that…well let me give you an example. So…for example, Steve Harvey has an audience from the comedy side. So the powers are like – if we can put him on the air his comedic talent will shine, and he will bring everybody to the station that follows his comedy. Then you have Tom Joyner, in which people just know him from the radio. Therefore, the radio can’t make money off of Tom Joyner from hosting a comedy show; whereas Steve Harvey can do both. But it’s basically what we do as a radio personality…it’s in us! You know, being able to think on the fly, the writing aspect, etc…it’s just in us. That’s what we do! The only part about telling jokes on the radio is that you don’t know the people’s reaction on the other side until later. Steve Harvey and Tony Sculfield…these guys are great at this.
CM: How realistic is it when people may say “Leon, you’re on a mainstream radio station, all you have to do is record a comedy CD or DVD and plug it on your radio show!”
LR: It can be done. Like I said, I try to keep the two worlds separate. I’m a comedian that works on the radio. I’m a comedian first! That’s my passion; that’s my heart! I can do that, but I try to keep it separate because a lot of [crap] comes with the radio, like, what you can do and what you can’t do. You can lose your job. Even though you work here you still have to abide by the rules. The radio is cool. Actually, with Facebook and Twitter you reach even more people. With those social networks I’m reaching people outside of Illinois too.
CM: Is it hard to balance being a radio personality as opposed to a comedian, when the demand for radio allows you to be in multiple places?
LR: It’s tough, because it’s actually the other way around. I can’t tour and travel like I want to because I have to be here [at the radio station]. You get vacation days, but who wants to use your vacation days to tour? If someone offers me a college tour for two weeks…I got a decision to make. It’s tough; I do miss the road trips. I was a traveling comic, because on the road I was making money. It’s like a gift and a curse at the same time. The gift is – I get to be here with my kids and family. I’m happy with where I’m at right now. Usually radio personalities only have a couple year run; you usually be gone in at least 2 to 3 years. So, I look at this as though I’m very blessed that I’ve gotten the run that I’ve had for 5 years.
CM: Who are some of the individuals that you’ve interviewed who left an impact on your life?
LR: [Pause] Ah man! I might become boring on this side. [Laugh] I’m not impressed by the average cat. Jay Z and Lil Wayne – that’s cool and all, but that don’t move me. The person who really left my jaws dropped was Dr. Cornel West. That’s the kind of interviews I like…like Mos Def. Some of these celebrities come in here…you know for one, it’s early in the morning, so they don’t really want to talk. Some are much different than what most portray. For example, Plies…from the way you hear him speak on records, he is totally different in person. It’s kind of funny to hear him talk intellectually. [Laugh]. But my favorite person I’ve ever talked to is Dr. Cornel West!
[A serious expression comes over his face]
CM: What advice would you give to someone going into your line of work?
LR: I would say be prepared to hear ‘NO’ way more than you’re going to hear ‘YES’! But be prepared for the time when you hear that one ‘YES’! Mike Butler interned for us for like 1 ½ to 2 years. He never complained, was always here, did what we asked, etc. His intern ended; I felt so bad because WGCI didn’t have a spot for him. He didn’t get a job; I felt terrible! Even outside of radio he was just a good kid. This kid loved radio so much that when his intern was up he went to take more classes to try to get back on the radio as an intern again. You know everybody wants to be on air…but get in where you fit in. There’s nothing wrong with working the street team and doing other things other than being on the air. The key is getting your foot inside and then you can move around. Just be prepared to hear ‘NO’ a lot! I hear ‘NO’ and I work here. Always be ready to do what you got to do!
CM: Do you have any words of inspiration for our readers?
LR: At the end of the day don’t bullshit yourself! Don’t get into something because everybody thinks it’s cool or because you think you can get into all the clubs free. Don’t let status be the reason why you take this job. Do it because you love it and because you have a passion for it! If you do it for status, you are taking away from someone who does have that passion. At the end of the day, be about what you’re doing. Whatever you get into – immerse yourself in it. If you do that and always work on your craft, you can’t fail! You won’t fail!
CM: Do you have any advice for Chicago artist?
[Leon seems to be disappointed about the artist who has not stepped up their game.]
LR: Here’s the thing with Chicago artist…STOP making your music for your block. Start making your music for everybody! Stop putting out [crap]; I’m not gone honor no [crap]. I want your best work. You give us crap, then they’ll [artist] say we don’t support them. You have to give us something first. I wish Chicago artist would see the business side of the game and understand that there’s a business side to this.
CM: Would you like to add anything else before we conclude the interview?
LR: I hope all of your readers get a positive light and a positive spin on the entertainment industry and don’t join it for status! If you always change up your swagger to be with the in-crowd you won’t have nothing in the end. Therefore, when the season changes you remain the same. No matter what, I’m always Leon Rogers!
CM: Leon, I really appreciate you giving us the opportunity to interview you.
LR: Thank you. It’s all about support. We have to support one another.
Last modified: April 16, 2023