Earlier this month, HipHopDX spoke to MTV’s Sway Calloway, as he began his tenure as head of Shade 45’s morning show. During that conversation, Sway was also asked about his various duties, for MTV and otherwise, since the days of he and King Tech’s seminal Wake Up Show.
Many Hip Hop fans might know Sway for his role in introducing artists like Crooked I and Eminem to the mainstream, or see him interviewing Jay-Z and Nas together, or Solar after Guru‘s death. However, Sway, who recently contributed to The Source magazine and co-executive produced Saigon‘s The Greatest Story Never Told is involved in plenty. We asked him how he manages.
HipHopDX: I have always wanted to ask you, how do you find time to sleep? Going coast-to-coast how do you manage to do so much?
Sway Calloway: That Wake Up Show [bi-coastal era] was pretty crazy back in the day. When you brought that up I almost cringed. I used to jump on a plane on Saturday at 6 a.m. out of JFK [National Airport] to land around 9 and then [King Tech and I] would go do The Wake Up Show and sometimes we would record for hours – the whole weekend, and the next day I’m flying back to New York to get back to MTV. But then there was a point when I was doing HOT 97’s morning show so I would fly out, do The Wake Up Show on the weekends, catch a red-eye Sunday nights, land, go straight to HOT 97, do that everyday and then do MTV during the day. That was crazy.
[My obligations now are] a labor of love, so it’s a little different in that sense, for one. [Secondly], MTV and Sirius XM are only four blocks away from each other [in New York City], but the show is from 8 a.m. to 12 noon. Eight a.m. isn’t a hard make, and I get up early anyway, and so I don’t think it’s going to be hard to manage because it’s a time in my day when I will be active anyway. Plus, it’s not the same pressures as conventional radio because it’s not a ratings system or anything like that; we just get subscribers. They haven’t figured out how to rate that, so I don’t have to necessarily prove anything, and so in most cases if you take care of the physical, it’s the mental exhaustion that you have to be more worried about. I’ma sleep right, I’ma eat right, I’ma jog, I’ma exercise and it’s really not too much to handle. Nick Cannon got a way heavier schedule than me [laughing] so I’m not going to worry about it. I’ll be fine.
DX: I was watching something on MTV recently, and you were backstage hanging out with the cast of the Jersey Shore and Life As Liz, and you were clearly up on what was happening in both series. Can you tell the Hip Hop audience out there a little about what you do that goes above and beyond “Hip Hop Sway”?
Sway Calloway: Phew. [Laughs] I think it’s fair to say I’ve become the face of MTV and with that, I’m also the liaison between what MTV once was, what MTV is, and what MTV is moving to become. So I accept the liaison between all these worlds so a lot of times I’m the spokesperson. Like for example, we’ve got our VMA press conference for the 2011 VMA’s [coming up]; I’ll be hosting that. When we did our town-hall meetings during the mid-term elections with President Obama, I moderated that. If we do any award show, I’m always on the red carpet conducting that. When we do our up-fronts where we are spelling our channel to the advertisers, where we tell them what we plan on doing coming up next season or what we are have planned to make sure that the advertising bucks are being well-spent on programming, I’m the guy hosting that event. When it comes to breaking news or when something happens or when someone passes away or something big happens, I’m the guy who may deliver that. When it comes to doing interviews, just to kind of give some sort of new players that’s on the channel like Jersey Shore or [Life As Liz] or Teenwolf or whatever it may be, I’m the kind of guy they call on to introduce them to the audience as well, as to the staff and to the advertisers. And then we have the shows that we create with my team with Rahman Dukes and Rob Markman and our Hip Hop team here, like RapFix and Mixtape Mondays and “The Fab 5” thing we do on MTV Jams and a lot of the synergy we do with MTV 2 and Sucker Free.
Sway Calloway now hosts Shade 45’s morning show, from 8 a.m. EST to 12 p.m. EST on weekdays.