SB: For those that never heard of Pretty Lou Ortega, tell us where you’re from, where you grew up, and a little bit about yourself.
PLO: Originally born & raised in Park Slope. I’ve been in Brooklyn all my life, even though I’m in Williamsburg right now, Park Slope is where my roots are and I’m gonna be a Brooklyn boy til the day I die.
SB: How did you get the nickname “Pretty Lou”?
PLO: Oh wow, “Pretty Lou” was actually my boxing name. Before I ever got in to this business I actually used to box. I came from a boxing family; me, my brothers and my dad. We did the circuit, the Golden Gloves, etc., we were really into the boxing thing. So at the time of being a boxer I was coming up and I always left the fight unmarked and had the “pretty boy” style and always made sure my face never got damaged.
Also because I always dressed well since high school so I always had “pretty boy lou” and had that pretty boy status. So when I boxed and never got any marks on my face etc and I remember Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather was also up and coming at the same time as I was. In my mind I was going to be someone big in boxing and my brother was being creative and called me “Pretty Lou” instead of “Pretty Boy Lou” and it just always stuck.
SB: When did you start working in radio and how did that come about or did you always want to work in broadcasting?
PLO: Actually being on radio just fell into my lap. I never really thought that I would do radio it was never even in my mind. A couple of years ago I had a management company and we managed and handled bookings for djs and I managed this one radio guy. He worked at Sirius/XM and working and watching him I learned, and then I would get on the air with him and that’s how it all just started from there. Eventually I stopped managing so I could continue radio.
SB: Which do you prefer and why among being heard over Sirius/XM, Terrestrial (FM) or over internet radio?
PLO: People don’t understand that it was a great experience being on Sirius, they are more professional to me. It’s just that your audience isn’t as broad as online radio. I can have someone in Japan listening to me for free by just logging on.
I feel that online radio is working for me more because I won’t be one of those radio personalities where you have to pay for a service and subscribe to listen to me. Of course people have access to internet everywhere so I can have more people listening to me and instead of just being tri-state I can be heard worldwide.
SB: What did it take to get where you are and what have you learned going from like the “DTFRadio”, “GoomRadio” and “Streetwire Live” days up to “Front Stage”?
PLO: I’m not gonna lie, I learned a lot … from radio broadcasting, to staffing, and I also learned a lot about business and especially about bein loyal. “Loyalty”, that word means a lot to me and in years of doing radio I have been backstabbed, left out in the cold, people take advantage of me etc.
You learn from your mistakes and you wanna get bigger and better so going from show to show, and by the way those past shows, I wish them the best of luck no matter how we ended, but I learned my lesson of who’s gonna be loyal and who’s gonna be there for me in the long run.
And to this day, being on Front Stage im on my 3rd generation staff and a lot has happened from the first staff until today. I thank the people that helped me out because I didn’t have to go to broadcasting school or anything, everything just came to me and I learned a lot and I appreciate that but I see radio now more professionally and I now have a much better loyal staff then when I first started.
SB: For those that don’t know, Jorge E. Cano-Moreno founded Urban Latino magazine which eventually led to Urban Latino Radio. What’s the goal of Front Stage and how did that show first come about?
PLO: When I was hired at an AM Jersey station things didn’t work out well and Urban Latino Radio was cooperating and I had to leave AM radio to shop the show around and I sat down with Urban Latino Radio when it was first starting out and so we sat down and we knew that I could take the show and run with it and make it what it is now.
And I was the only hip hop person on internet radio, not just another Spanish show and they hired me and they knew that I could make it what it is today. Urban now has a large following and respecting it more knowing that its not just another urban Spanish station.
SB: Do you think more people (dj’s, artists & listeners) will leave mainstream terrestrial FM radio and turn more to internet radio?
PLO: Sooner or later it’s going to bound to happen because I feel that more people will see that … FM radio is cool and it is my goal for my tri-state people to hear me one day and what I have to say. I feel I am the next voice for NYC but people have to understand that things change; who would’ve thought that vinyl would change to cds, that’s how I feel that online radio will be the next tool for music.
FM radio is going HD now. When online radio started, no one took them seriously and now they do and they see it’s a challenge and you even see that FM radios now stream live too. What’s great and I pat myself on the back is that I am a pioneer with online radio and I was one of the first ones to take it there. When I started online radio there were like a few online stations besides AOL Radio and Pandora.
SB: Would you cross over from radio to tv if there was any talk of Urban Latino the cable show or would you prefer to stay on the air waves?
PLO: I love the air waves because when you do tv, everything is cut up, it’s edited. You’re told what to do and say etc. Now, on radio, everything is live, current events, media, life style, entertainment, you can express yourself and say what you wanna say. TV gets edited and cut up too much and stuff gets taken out. Radio itself nothing is cut up everything is live and straight and that’s what I love about radio. I would love to do tv though I wanna do everything in my career but my baby will always be radio, because it’s my place where I can always express myself.
SB: What advice would you give someone who wants to do what you do and get into radio and hosting and being on the air?
PLO: My advice honestly to do radio, you have to have a gift, you have to know when to speak. I don’t think everyone can do radio. People say I can do this and I can do that, but it’s not like that. You have to know how to use that mic and use it to a level that people are actually listening. I mean anyone can get on a mic and talk, no big deal but can you entertain people? THAT’S radio … and a lot of people that are on the radio NOW don’t have that gift … a lot of people on FM radio and internet radio don’t belong on radio. If you feel that you have that gift of gab and you can entertain a crowd and know what you’re gonna say without a script in your face, then you can do radio.
SB: Where will Pretty Lou be in 5 years?
PLO: Oh wow! Pretty lou in 5 years wants to be at the level that Howard Stern is right now! I wanna walk to the corner and have people tell me “your crazy but I love it”, “Lou, you’re real, but I love it” “Lou I hate you on the radio but I love it cuz I still listen to you” that’s where I wanna be in 5 yrs. I wanna be like “Achilles” in Troy when the boy looked at the big giant dude and said “see how big he is, I would never fight him” and then the Brad Pitt character “Achilles” said “that’s why no one will ever remember your name”. I’m ready to go against a giant and even if I lose, they will respect me and remember who Pretty Lou was; and wasn’t scared to do what he did on radio. I’m here to entertain and satisfy my listeners ears.
PS from Pretty Lou: “I do a lot of things for my family. My wife for 8yrs has been through a lot with me. We were actually seperated for 2yrs and this industry can take a toll on a relationship. Having a strong woman like my wife, and supporting me 100% makes me grow and makes me better. Besides having a great staff, I have great support at home with my wife and my kids and her being my other half made me better. If I’m not around anymore I know my family will be good cuz that foundation is there so my kids and my wife won’t have to worry in the future and they deserve it since being with me since day one side by side.”