ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Atlanta’s homegrown radio personality Ryan Cameron is the voice of America, having trademarked the title given to him by Atlanta Magazine. He’s won two local Emmy Awards, been nominated for two National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Radio Awards and the young man who once had a speech impediment is in the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame.
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Cameron was raised mostly by his grandmother in southwest Atlanta’s Bankhead community until his mom moved him to Smyrna.
“The only time we saw white people was when they came down the street to try to sell us insurance,” he said. “So to go from that to an east Cobb middle school was culture shock.
“I was at Colliers Heights elementary school in a group and we all had speech impediments,” Cameron recalled to Peachtree TV’s Monica Pearson. “So they took eight of us to Clark Atlanta University. And they did what was basically hooked on phonics. After six weeks, they played the before and after on WCLK radio. So this is what the kids sounded like then, and this is what they sound like now.
“The first time I heard myself in my grandfather’s living room with those headphones on, I heard myself on the radio. I was like, that’s it. So it goes from a speech impediment to a hall of fame career, it’s just God.”
In 2001, Cameron joined the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks to do contests with fans between plays. Then in 2004, he became the first Black person to be the on-court announcer. Back then, the Hawks were losing games and attendance.
Cameron was their biggest fan and cheerleader, so good at hyping up the crowd, he became part of a video game. But after 20 years, Cameron lost his job.
But while he no longer works for the Hawks, one thing that is not lost on Cameron is his need to give back to the community. His 20-year-old Ryan Cameron Foundation is a little different from most.
“If I start a foundation, I’m not going to have it be based on grade point averages,” he recalled. “It’s going to be based on interviews and effort. If you’re going to prepare yourself, if you want this money, if you want this college scholarship, if you want this book type, you’ve got to come come back and keep giving back, like my grandmother made me give back. It’s all about the giveback, not about the academics.”
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