NAIT alum receives honorary degree for spotlighting Black music and culture
Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe is using her voice to revolutionize radio, and she’s doing it with heart and soul.
A graduate of NAIT’s Radio and Television – Radio program (class of ’00) and a 20-year radio veteran, Tetteh-Wayoe has created a unique space for Black music artists on CBC radio’s The Block – Canada’s first national radio show dedicated to Black music and exploring cultural contributions of artists across genres.
Described as a trailblazer in Canadian radio, Tetteh-Wayoe has built her career around showing by example what is attainable for people from communities that have long struggled to find a space and place that reflects their culture and identity.
Music has played an intimate part in fostering Tetteh-Wayoe’s identity too. Growing up as the youngest of three siblings, she’d find her own space by retreating to music – the likes of artists Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and the Pointer Sisters.
“We had records and people loved music, but nobody was as obsessed with it as I was. That was a place for me,” recalls Tetteh-Wayoe. “All I did was listen to music, and sing, and write down the lyrics to songs.”
Now, the 2022 recipient of an honorary Bachelor of Technology degree has turned that obsession into a career that is putting her in a spotlight in Canadian media – one she’s eager to shine on deserving musicians and artists.
A path to empowering others
As she got older, Tetteh-Wayoe started writing her own music, lyrics and raps. But it wasn’t until she discovered hip-hop shows on college radio that she, as a Black woman and first-generation Canadian in Edmonton, found a space where she felt she truly belonged.
“It’s unfair to grow up where you’re told that certain things are off limits to you based on the colour of your skin, or certain spaces are off limits to you,” she says. “So that was an epiphany moment for me. I’m like, ‘I’m allowed to be here, I belong here. I spent my whole life being ostracized.’”
That feeling dovetailed with her early career aspirations – or at least with her parents’ desire for her to choose a direction. Tetteh-Wayoe said she eventually became aware of the NAIT program through a course calendar her dad gave her.
“I didn't even want to go to post-secondary,” she says. “I was like, ‘I need to live my life.’ My father, more than anyone, was pressuring me to just do something – anything. He was like, ‘Could you just take something, please?’
“I started flipping through it and my eyes bulged out of my head when I saw the [Radio and TV] program at NAIT. I was like, ‘This is a thing?’”
That discovery put Tetteh-Wayoe on a path on which she could use her voice – and music – to empower others.
“Developing initial skills as an announcer and programming music was really a dream come true,” she says. At NAIT’s student-led campus radio station, NR92, Tetteh-Wayoe fondly recalls being able to express her creativity and “break all the rules.”
After graduating with honours, she began her radio career at small local radio stations in Alberta. She also spent time writing and producing her own music, lyrics and raps. Now, through The Block, she is creating space for other Black artists, including those from Alberta.
The magic of radio
Edmonton-based community arts leader Arlo Maverick (a.k.a., Marlon Wilson, Marketing ’02) says that this spotlight is not only helping create awareness of these artists but also helping to legitimatize Alberta’s burgeoning music scene. That Tetteh-Wayoe chose to create The Block says a lot about who she is, he adds.
“She could have taken an easier route and just been a radio personality, but trailblazers see when change is needed and they figure out how to bring progress,” says Maverick. “One’s education and work experience speak to work ethic; however, one’s willingness to create opportunities for future generations speaks to their character.”
Tetteh-Wayoe has done this at a national scale beyond what she accomplishes nightly with her show. In 2021, she hosted the Juno Opening Night Awards, which recognize emerging talent and industry veterans who help to define the course of Canadian music. In March, she hosted the 2022 Juno Nominee Announcement.
Tetteh-Wayoe has also taken time to mentor and educate young people interested in a radio and television career. Starting in 2017, she spent two years at Toronto Metropolitan University, where she worked with students as the Allan Slaight Distinguished Broadcaster-in-Residence.
Underlying her passion for amplifying emerging or under-recognized voices is her passion for her medium of choice, and her belief in its ability to bring people together.
“I still have faith in the power and magic of radio."
“The comfort of the human voice, the healing power of music, a connection to the world you live in, stories, humour, information … all of it – an adventure at the press of a button or the turn of a dial.
“Radio will be there for you when all else fails. When the power goes out, it will be the signal in the dark.”