Adai Lamar wakes up all of Los Angeles every weekday morning as the local voice of the nationally syndicated “Steve Harvey Morning Show”. She is funny, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and the consummate professional. But, for her interview with the Sentinel she told me she was a bit nervous. “I am used to being the one asking the questions. To be the interviewee is very different for me,” she said. That is probably the best example of who Adai Lamar really is. A small town girl from Tatum, Texas, who is willing to embrace the adventure everyday to find her voice in this world and is willing to take a leap of faith and just “Go For It”!
I asked Ms. Lamar to describe herself in 10 words or less. “A child of God, daughter, servant, adventurer, freedom lover, one that is in love with people,” she responded. What she didn’t mention is that she is a workaholic. Not in the sense of always being at the radio station doing things, but a workaholic for the people. On any given day you can find Lamar mentoring young interns from the radio station, speaking to a group of high school girls at a Black history assembly or welcoming community members at the UNCF Walk for Education.
Yes, Lamar is truly an advocate for the people. Growing up having family, friends and a sense of community was a major part of her life. She says that her environment is what created her love of people and sense of community. The town was so close nit that everyone had a sense of accountability when it came to helping one another out.
“ People say you are born with one purpose. I always felt like God wanted to use me in many areas. I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoy what I do as a broadcaster. I come into contact with so many different people that have wonderful things going on. All of them are doing things in the community and I have an opportunity to be a voice,” said Lamar.
Her love of working at KJLH aligns perfectly with the “kindness, joy, love and happiness” vision Stevie Wonder built for the station. She believes KJLH gave her a sense of family in her workplace. Prior to working at KJLH, she worked in the legal department for Tracy and Kenny “Babyface” Edmunds’ business. It wasn’t until she sent a promo tape to one of her friends that Program Director Andre Russell came a calling.
“I did fill in work and I have been there ever since. Everyone goes into a job and has a plan, but once I got here I realized everything that I wanted to do as a broadcaster I could do from that seat. Probably more than I could do at any other station. I have the freedom to do so many things. At some jobs you’re locked in to one thing [and] you don’t have the ability to do many things,” she said. At KJLH she can follow her passion, wherever that may lead. “So many causes come across my desk, but there is not just one thing that is near and dear to my heart. So, I get to be of service to many of them.”
DAUGHTER Lamar described herself in a lot of ways. But nothing brought a light to her face like when she talks about her mother. She moved her mom here five years ago and her mother lives with her full time. “My mommy lived in Tatum her whole life. I went home one holiday and I could feel that something wasn’t right. I took her to the bank and one of the tellers said ‘you came to get your mother?’ The community could see things weren’t quite right,” Lamar said. “So I told her, ‘mommy it’s time for you to become a Cali girl.”
She said her mother fought tooth and nail not to leave Texas, but in the end it all worked out. “It has been a very different experience. Challenging but yet so rewarding to have her with me. Even through the challenges I know where she is–I can get to her. It changed my lifestyle, because I have lived on my own since I went off to college. But, now I have her in my home and she reminds me all the time she is still the momma,” she said.
On social media and on her website she is described as a “stiletto strutter”. So few would have believed she loves to race stock cars, ATV’s, ride horses or even has a plan to skydive this year. “I think God created a huge world and I only have so much time to see it. I am the cautious daredevil. I will say ‘I am not doing that’ then I watch and evaluate, but eventually I do it,”.
“I travel a lot by myself, it’s easier to get around and you move when you want to move,” On one trip to Beijing the adventure got a little scary. “I learned how to negotiate a taxi ride, but in a foreign country late at night I suggest you don’t try and negotiate a taxi ride,” she explained. “I was riding and I kept asking the driver ‘where is the hotel?’ I started getting nervous. I got my wallet out of my bag and I was preparing to jump out of the cab. I put my hand on the knob and then we came around the bend and there was the hotel. Come to find out the cab driver didn’t have our version of a Xpress pass so he went the long way to the hotel, but I certainly learned my lesson on that adventure.”
LOVER OF PEOPLE “What I Love about Los Angeles is you have so much diversity, so many different cultures and you get a chance to experience them all. I use to catch a lot of flack from friends who would say “why are you listening to them?” But for me “I am so deeply rooted in my faith, why would that bother me?” I just wanna know why they think what they think…If your deeply rooted in your beliefs why does what others believe matter.
The Jenesse Center, The Brotherhood Crusade, UNCF, senior care are just a few organizations that align with the passions that Lamar has. She gives her time and talent to most of this of these groups within the community. Many celebrities lend their name to projects some even fund them. But very few get in the trenches and put in the work that the communities darling of the air waves does. “When you meet so many people that inspire you and you see a need–you want to help fulfill those needs. Because of my mom I am passionate about caregiving and about women’s health; which, I support through our [KJLH] health forum each year. Every year the show gets bigger and bigger, but that shows [there is] a need. Women need far more care than they realize,” she explained.
She also loves talking to young people inspiring them to do and be more. “If you want me there, tell me kids are going to be there. They help keep me young. I have a 21 year-old niece and 13 year-old nephew who keep me up to date on what is going on in the world, what pressures they are dealing with and as an auntie I can tell them ‘relax, it’s just not that serious and that it will all workout.’”
Her day begins somewhere between 4 & 4:30 in the morning and every day she says she starts the day by asking the question “What great is going to happen today?” She says her day can be quiet or as busy as she wants it to be. “Somedays I am working with an organization, talking to kids, or doing something else in the community. I get off at 10 so other days I’m riding my bike by the beach or having a nice quiet lunch”. She has the freedom to decide what and where she spends her time. But, she does at times have to work late into the night depending on the event and commitments of the station. “One time, I lost my voice doing nightly events until midnight. I went to the doctor and he said Adai you need to take a month off, I was like NO WAY”. She tried giving him a three-day weekend, but that just was not enough. She took it easy and she even drove to Texas. After 2 weeks her voice came back. This experience she says taught her a big lesson. “Sometimes I have to really relax. Not having my voice was a moment when I felt very vulnerable. My voice is my power,”.
Having that power does not come without worries. She worries about our community and the place society is in today and the injustice she sees on a day-to-day basis. She says she has serious concerns about the care for our seniors. Medicare, doctor appointments, the paperwork, they really can get the run around. “My mother can’t navigate it, but she has me. I see seniors all the time at the doctor or at the pharmacy struggling to just understand what is going on. We have to make the health care system easier for them,”
She is also concerned about our young people. “Police brutality is scary. I am so afraid between our young people and the police, the relationship is so tarnished that we can’t fix it. They are going to think this is the norm. That they’re always going to be misunderstood. I want the police to reach out to the young people to bridge those troubled areas. It concerns me if it is so corrupt that it may not be mendable.”
The truth is Adai Lamar is the complete package. She is funny, smart, adventurous, and she has a strong sense of family and community, which is all driven by her faith. The only thing we don’t know is if she can cook? Oh well, next time!