When he's asked to speak to journalism students at the University of Oklahoma or elsewhere about his career in communications, Kevin Perry, president of Perry Publishing & Broadcasting, usually opens with a story from his childhood.
He vividly recalls a day his dad, founder of The Black Chronicle, a 33-year-old weekly statewide newspaper, walked into his bedroom where Perry was listening to hip-hop music on the radio.
“Oh that music is terrible! It will never last,” he recalled his dad saying. “Pops didn't then recognize the power of radio, or that hip hop was up-and-coming. I like to tease him about it all the time.”
Today, Perry works alongside his father, chairman of the board, in the family business, which ironically now includes 16 radio stations, most of which play hip-hop. Four are dedicated to the genre.
The media company employs 430, about two-thirds of whom work in Oklahoma, at the Chronicle or one of 11 radio stations in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Lawton.
From his offices at NE 23 and Prospect, Perry, 30, recently sat down with The Oklahoman to talk about his personal and professional life. This is an edited transcript:
A: I grew up in northeast Oklahoma City. My father, Russell Perry, founded and ran The Black Chronicle after a decade with The Black Dispatch. My mother, Ranola, worked 20-plus years with OGE. All I remember them doing is working and being responsible. I have two sisters, who are 10 years and five years older than I — Velvet Perry of Augusta, Ga., who oversees our radio stations there and in South Carolina, and Shannon O'Stricker, a public school administrator in Atlanta.
A: In the second grade, I convinced my dad to let me help him and, on Thursday nights, we'd work until 2 or 3 in the morning, folding newspapers, labeling those that were to be mailed and delivering the remainder to households. It was OK with my mom, as long as I got up and went to school. Grades came easily to me and sports, too. For the Millwood Falcons, I played them all, starting on the varsity football team as a freshman. I was starting quarterback my senior year, and had the opportunity to play under the legendary coach Leodis Robinson.
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• Position: Perry Publishing & Broadcasting, president and chief operating officer
• Birth date: Oct. 15, 1971
• Family: Tori, pharmaceutical sales representative and wife of 11 years; sons Miles, 9, and Sebastian, 7.
• Education: Morehouse College, bachelor's in banking and finance.
• Community involvement: A graduate of Leadership Oklahoma City, he currently serves on the boards of First Security Bank, the All Sports Association, Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Foundation and deadCenter Film Festival and, for the city of Oklahoma City chairs the Eastside Reinvestment Committee and serves on the Tax Increment Financing Committee.
• Pastimes: All sports events, from his sons' games (he coaches one of their basketball teams) to the Thunder, OU and Oklahoma State, tubing and water skiing from a longtime Perry family vacation home on Grand Lake.
• Favorite music: Old-school hip-hop, including Run-D.M.C, Fat Boys and EPMD.