Reec Swiney is a popular radio host in Atlanta who used his charismatic interviewing style to create a successful career for himself in publishing, acting, entertainment and entrepreneurship.
Reec is the former voice of Atlanta’s midday radio show, “Hot” on WHTA 107.9 FM, and the host of the new hit digital podcast “REEC Radio.” He is a popular host for events in Atlanta and nationwide, including various Red Bull and Showtime Boxing. He first made his acting debut on FOX’s hit series, “STAR,” and also appeared on “Rickey Smiley For Real,” “TV One,” and CNN where his program “Clippers and Cops” was featured. Reec is currently a part of Rodney Perry’s “IMPROV Comedy Show.”
Reec Swiney was born in Montclair, New Jersey. His parents separated when he was young, so he was able to experience two unique parenting styles which Reec believes equipped him to be the successful father and businessman that he is today. Reec grew up loving basketball, and he moved to Atlanta to attend college and pursue his dream of making it into the NBA. However, during his time as an athlete, Reec was allowed to learn about sports media and broadcasting. He fell in love with giving interviews and creating space for people to share their stories.
Outside of business, Reec splits his time between his family and volunteering with the nonprofit, Positive American Youth, Inc. (PAY). It is an organization for underprivileged youth that provides educational experiences and resources for schools, students, and parents.
BLAC sat down with Reec to learn more about “REEC Radio,” PAY, and the work he does to provide spaces for other creatives to pursue their passions.
BLAC: What first drew you to radio hosting?
Growing up, my friends gave me the nickname “Listen To Him” because I would have a different perspective on a lot of things. I did not always have radio dreams. I played basketball through college, but every radio interview was always really fun and really cool. My interest in it developed naturally from there.
BLAC: Can you tell us more about the work that you do through the Lunch on REEC program with PAY?
Definitely! We wanted to show kids different avenues to gain income. When I lived with my dad, I was exposed to different things than when I lived with my mom when I was younger. My mom wanted me to focus on education, and, because of that, I wanted to do well in school. My dad showed me more about business, sports, and people. And because of those different exposures, I became a more well-rounded person.
With Lunch on REEC, we want to give kids fresh perspectives. We come to schools and work with struggling students because those aren’t the kids who are going to get to take field trips to see new things. We kind of bring the field trip to them. We’ll have a celebrity chef come in and cook a gourmet meal, or we’ll ask the class “Do you like Future?” and have Future’s A&R (talent representative) come in to teach them about that side of the business. Now you have kids who are excited about learning entertainment law or learning how to cook.
Reec Swiney handing out bikes as part of a PAY’s school fundraiser.
BLAC: You are also the author of a children’s book series called “Ice the Bully.” What made you want to write a children’s book, and why is this story important?
It started selfishly because I wanted to get my kids to sleep and I was running out of books to read my kids at night. I grew up reading, and I know that reading is a direct link to success. I wanted them to be excited about the books, so I started writing and making up stories with their names in it. I also started working in the schools with Positive American Youth, and I noticed some of the issues that were affecting the kids.
I wanted to write stories about fitness and health and how challenges with that were directly related to bullying. Ice is a bull character who is in school with a bunch of regular kids, and he has his own challenges he has to deal with. We go to schools and read it to the kids now. We get them excited about it, and we give away toys and bikes.
BLAC: How did you grow from radio hosting to being a founder of Media Campus West and running REEC Radio?
Media Campus West is a content creation hub. The reason we wanted to do it is that, before, there was a very limited amount of space for people who could be on TV or have a radio show. We wanted to build a space for creators where they could get a top-notch professional feel that was easy on your pockets.
During the pandemic, we really hit the gas. We saw that people needed space to create, so we developed five different podcast and radio rooms here. We also have a photography room and videography room. We named the radio sector REEC Radio because, whatever show I’m on, they can get reruns of the show on the app.
I also wanted to stretch myself to learn programming and how to put images in, sweepers, and all that stuff.
BLAC: You juggle a lot of different projects every day. What does a typical day look like for you, and how do you work to best manage your time?
The morning is getting up, getting myself together, and getting the kids to school. After that, I have a home project with chickens, so I’m outside feeding them and shooting content with them, which is branching off into its own program. I come to the radio station and set up for the day.
We do our show prepping, and I like to do my show prepping on the day of the show because, nowadays with social media, the pace of information has changed so much. I like to be as close as possible to what’s relevant right now when we discuss things like hot topics. I also do research on guests before they come in, and on the day they come in because their situation may have changed.
I like to work under that kind of pressure. It’s not last minute, but a calculated pressure that actually pushes me to perform a little bit better. We’ll knock the show out, and, after that, we’ll have appearances for the REEC brand, something for the books, or something for Positive American Youth.
I try to cut off my days at a reasonable time as often as I can, so I can spend time with my family and friends. At least once a month, I also try to do something for myself, even if it’s just going to the movies.
BLAC: What inspired you to want to make the move from Montclair, New Jersey to Atlanta? Why did you choose to stay and build your empire in Atlanta?
I came here because I loved the city, and I loved the weather. There is a lot of Black excellence here, meaning that people aren’t afraid to pursue their goals and dreams. There are lots of opportunities here that don’t present themselves in other cities. I came here on a basketball scholarship, went through college, stayed and started building the business from there. I even got my Pops to move here from Jersey. I don’t know, I just really like this city.
Reec Swiney on air with his father for their new podcast, “Pops Knows Best.”
BLAC: What advice do you have for our readers who may be interested in broadcasting or entrepreneurship?
Be consistent. There will be people who are more talented and people who have more money. But if you’re consistent, you’re going to win. Don’t let other people’s progress define what your successes are. You will have success, but your success may be relative.
For example, I thought I was going to play really hard and make it to the NBA, but, instead, I became the person interviewing NBA players and team owners. I could have looked at it as a failure because I didn’t play in the NBA, but I see that my consistency and drive got me to a place where I can host these events. I got the opportunity to host at the Barclay’s Center, at the Nets arena. I get to travel and go out of the country because of the media work I do.
Don’t get held down by ideas like “this is what success means.” Your success may be different.