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Waving goodbye to the airwaves


Next month, Pat Prescott is retiring from her morning show host position at 94.7 The Wave. She started there in April 2001 and on Friday Sept. 30, Prescott will host her final show, ending a 47-year career on mainstream radio that began in New Orleans.

“It’s meant a lot to me to be able to come here and establish myself,” she said.

A native of Hampton, Va., Prescott received her degree in English at Northwestern University, which is ranked among the most prestigious academic institutions in the world and known for its Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications.

“You know what’s funny?” she said in her interview. “The fact that I went to Northwestern and never went in that building.”

Prescott moved on from there to New Orleans to begin her masters, but got sidetracked and  taught middle school for five years.

“I’m proud to say I talk for a living,” Prescott said. “It really started when I was teaching middle school, talking to kids who sometimes could care less about what I was telling them. If you can talk to those people you can to anybody.”

Prescott believes it was more than happenstance that led to her career.

The inspiration

“What happened was I was taking some grad school classes at the University of New Orleans and I met a girl who was coordinating hostesses for a disc jockey convention,” she said, noting the job entailed meeting people at the airport and shuffling them around. “If I had not gone there, I would probably never have gotten into radio. It’s nothing but God, you know.”

Seeing all of the nation’s Black DJs at that convention was inspiring.

“I’ve always loved music,” Prescott said. “In high school, I used to be the DJ at parties.”

Next thing you know, Prescott enrolled in broadcasting school, got a part time job at a local radio station and took a sabbatical from teaching.

“Being an English major and a teacher has been helpful to me in the broadcasting field,” she admitted. “Doing news, public affairs and interviews – I think that English training was good.”

After a brief stint at New Orleans rock station WNOE, Prescott moved to New York to host the midday show at former heritage jazz station WRVR. She also worked at WBLS, as a newscaster and public affairs director at WLIB, as a news anchor for The National Black News Network; and as a morning show host for contemporary jazz station CD 101.9.

During her time in New York, she also served as the voice of Nightflight, the acclaimed late night weekend cable television program.

Prescott spent 23 years in New York doing just about every on air job there is including news, talk shows, public affairs and even an on air workout program.

“My good friend Dave Koz is responsible for convincing me to join him as co-host of the morning show on 94.7 The Wave in 2001 and I thank him for that every day,” Prescott said. “He’s one of my best friends and we remain very close. “We were friends before we started working together. He’s awesome.”

After six years, saxophonist Koz left the program.

“I have been totally embraced by the city of LA and all of the Wave family,” Prescott said.

Prescott spent three years co-hosting with Brian McKnight and today, she is the only woman to lead a morning show in the LA market. she is also the producer and host of Making Waves, the Wave’s annual Black History Month tribute, as well as the 20-part social justice series “Justice Now,” created in response to the murder of George Floyd.

Over the years, she has completed a number of interviews with musical celebrities, political names and sports figures and admits there has been a favorite.

“I think my favorite interviews have been with Stevie Wonder, because I’m such a fan,” Prescott said. “He did so many things with us. He played with Koz. We once did a “Week of Wonder. Every day I got a chance to sing background with Stevie Wonder!”

Favorite interview

The radio host remembers Wonder visiting a number of LA radio stations to promote his “House Full of Toys” event during the holidays.

“Such a giant musician and such a great guy too,” Prescott said. “I gotta say Stevie is way up there.”

Jazz aficionados, R & B and smooth listeners have appreciated her work over the years.

“I had the great pleasure of working with Pat at The Wave where she co-hosted the Morning Show for more than a decade with two different celebrated co-hosts, one was Dave Koz and when Dave left the second was Brian McKnight,” said Paul Goldstein, who is now the executive director/chief content officer at the Foundation to Advance Jazz.

“No one works harder than Pat — she tirelessly helped bring these two acclaimed recording artists into the radio industry,” he added. “Pat, with her extraordinary talents, from her captivating on-air persona to her high level voiceover capabilities, played a key role in helping The Wave as well as WQCD in New York achieve top Arbitron ratings.”

Prescott is active in the community and has won numerous awards and citations for her contributions. She is also an in-demand voiceover artist whose voice can be heard on public radio station KCRW in Los Angeles and on promotions for the Hollywood Bowl and the LA Phil.

She was chosen as Radio & Amp Records’ smooth jazz personality of the year for six consecutive years, and in 2015, she received the prestigious Genii award from the Alliance of Women In Media.

Last December, the National College Resources Foundation (NCRF) hosted a fundraiser gala at the California African American Museum honoring Prescott. Each year, the organization selects community leaders who have made a difference in the lives of students pursuing their college degrees.

“That’s the organization that puts on the Black College Expo,” she said, noting that she has worked on promoting that event for several years. “I support what they do. I believe education is the key for everything. If we could get education — for life and work — that would improve everyone. That would take care of a lot of the problems we have in society. I don’t know why people don’t understand that.”

Although her schedule put an end to her teaching at Santa Monica College, Prescott is still on the advisory committee there, assisting with the broadcasting curriculum.

“The future of broadcasting is changing in a lot of ways,” she said. “Podcasting — these are the kind of skills required to do what is needed now. Things are changing so rapidly now.”

Goodbye for now

When asked about her retirement plans, it doesn’t sound as if Prescott will be slowing down much.

“I’m not retiring from working, I’m retiring from having to work,” she said. “I’ll be doing a number of other things. I already host on a lot of the music cruises. They’ve gone from one week a year to three weeks a year.”

Additionally, Prescott started a podcast from her home in March, “Straight Ahead Jazz,” which is broadcast on WBGO, a public radio station on the East Coast.

“That’s my music, that’s where I started,” she said, noting that she has enjoyed her career on the airwaves. “It’s been a lot of work, and I look forward to taking half of it off my plate, but I’ve got stuff to do. I’m retiring, not dying.”

Prescott anticipates watching more sports, another passion.

“I’m a huge, huge sports fan, and I’m looking forward to watching Wimbelton from start to finish,” she said. “I’m still here… just not getting up at ‘0 dark thirty.’ I think it’s time. I’ve had a great job and it’s time for somebody else to get it. There’s such a thing as succession.”

As for all the accolades, Prescott is thankful.

“I feel the love and I appreciate it,” she said.

Our Weekly coverage of local news in Los Angeles County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.