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Nikea Randolph joins WGUC as new afternoon host

Afternoon host Nikea Randolph debuts on WGUC later this month.
Courtesy Nikea Randolph
Afternoon host Nikea Randolph debuts on WGUC later this month.

Nikea Randolph loves playing music. She loves to compose music, and to talk about music, too.

So after teaching college classes and private music lessons, the North Carolina native will be paid to talk about classical music as WGUC's new afternoon host later this month.

"I'll basically be talking about what I love," says Randolph, who has bachelor's degrees in music and Spanish from Columbia College in Columbia, S.C., and a master's in music and composition from the University of South Carolina. She's working on a Ph.d. in musicology from the University of Birmingham in England.

Randolph, who started playing drums in church at age 6, has an extensive background in musical composition and piano performance. She has written 15 compositions and had five of those compositions premiere at universities, including Columbia College, University of South Carolina, University of Michigan and Manhattan School of Music.

But she's never done radio.

After moving here in June with her partner, a musician studying at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Randolph noticed Cincinnati Public Radio's opening for an afternoon drive host while looking for a job.

"Originally I was just looking for a professor's gig and I saw the opening at WGUC. This sounded like it could be really cool. I'd get to talk about classical music, which I love," she says. "I thought that maybe it's not for me because I don't have tons of formal radio training or experience. Then I thought, 'Why not?' It was one of those things where I could see how far I could push myself."

She sent a cover letter and her resume. She was surprised to be asked to send a "demo," a recorded audio sample.

"I'd never done a demo. So I went to YouTube real fast. I looked up how to speak, how to project," she says. "It all boiled down to me being myself. I acted like I already had the job."

And soon she had the job — beating out "applicants from around the world" in a "highly competitive nationwide search," says John Clare, WGUC classical music director.

How did that happen?

"Nikea is incredibly well spoken and musical," Clare says. "I appreciate her curiosity and fresh perspective. She has a passion for music and, while is highly knowledgeable, doesn’t come across academically or with pretense."

Growing up in tiny Dudley, N.C., she composed music and dreamed of conducting an orchestra one day. (That's still on her bucket list.)

"My mom actually said, 'I think you're going to be a teacher.' And I said, 'Absolutely not!' But the more heavily I got into music, I realized I loved spending time talking about music."

In 2014, during her senior year at Columbia College, Randolph began teaching at the Lexington School of Music in Lexington, S.C. She did that for seven years, then opened her own Randolph Music Studio to give private lessons. She has taught piano, violin and guitar. She also taught music history and music appreciation at Columbia College while getting her master's degree.

Her broadcasting education started Tuesday, her first day at Cincinnati Public Radio. She will make her debut later this month, Clare says.

"We will introduce Nikea in a variety of ways — on air, online and in person," Clare says.

Randolph replaces Andy Ellis,who left the afternoon shift in June to take a sales job after two stints at the station (2003-2011 and 2019-2022). Former WGUC host Naomi Lewin filled in some while spending the summer in Cincinnati.

Ellis left a week after Sunday night host Lloyd Bryant,81, retired Memorial Day weekend after 40 years at WGUC. He had hosted Sunday nights since 1996. The position will not be refilled for now, says Jenell Walton, Cincinnati Public Radio vice president for content.

"Currently there isn't a plan to hire a replacement for Lloyd but nothing is off the table," Walton says.

John Kiesewetter's reporting is independent. Cincinnati Public Radio only edits his articles for style and grammar.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.