On a weekly basis, millions of people from the tri-state area listen to Philadelphia radio personality Tiffany Bacon on WRNB/100.3FM & WPPZ/Praise Philly 103.9FM (Radio One owned stations). But what many people don’t know is that Bacon is more than just a radio celebrity. Bacon is a proud Christian who is redefining the role of a modern day renaissance woman - she’s a scholar, stage actress, youth sexual health advocate and producer of a weekly performing arts showcase!
Bacon, a North Philly native, grew up in a working class home; her mother retired as a city administrative manager and her step-father worked for the U.S. Postal Service. Bacon was a brilliant young scholar, she graduated with honors from Friends Select School, one of the top private schools in the state. After graduating from Friends, Bacon matriculated and graduated from Temple University as a Radio/Television Broadcast major. While attending Temple University, Bacon worked at the school’s public radio station.
“I started in radio at WRTI, formerly Jazz FM/Temple University, in public radio, in 1990,” said Bacon who also worked production at Fox News.
As a radio personality at WRTI, Bacon excelled in popularity and parlayed that opportunity to work in promotions at B-101 FM as the station’s mascot.
“I wore the Bee costume just to break into professional radio,” said Bacon.
Always the go-getter with a plan, Bacon excelled in promotions and was eventually given an opportunity to work as an on-air personality. Philadelphia’s adult contemporary listeners embraced this new voice in the marketplace immediately.
“I positioned and petitioned myself for that position, so I was on air at B-101, working at Fox News, and on air at Temple at WRTI, simultaneously,” said Bacon.
She admits that this grinding scheduling became a little overwhelming. Her break would soon come.
In 1997, Bacon’s broadcasting career took another upward jump, as she was invited to apply for a position at Power 99FM, Philadelphia’s top hip-hop/urban contemporary station.
“Helen Little [WUSL Power 99FM’s operations manager) was looking for new talent, and she suggested that I apply. I said, ‘I work for B-101, people think I’m white, I don’t know how I’m going to fit in at Power 99.’ But I loved Power, so I would be a fool not to apply for the position, and I did.”
And Bacon’s career has jettisoned from there.
Bacon quickly became the beloved young, smart, hip-hop voice of Philly’s urban landscape, America’s fifth largest broadcast market. Bacon worked during an era when Power 99FM was the urban radio juggernaut in the tri-state area. Bacon joined the station when it had the legendary duo of “Carter and Sanborn in the Morning” – Brian Carter and David Sanborn were ratings giant killers during morning drive, helping to buttress Power 99FM (a Clear Channel radio station) as ratings king of hip-hop/urban contemporary radio in Philadelphia. Bacon credits her success in broadcasting to one of her radio mentors, Brian Carter, who died in April.
“He was a consummate professional,” said Bacon.
Many would have been satisfied with enjoying the fame as a local celebrity within their own hometown, but not Bacon. As a Christian, the fame and celebrity status was never the goal for her, Bacon was motivated by the creative aspect of radio — the writing, the production work, the creative on-air performance, these things appealed to her.
After a successful eleven year on-air run at Power 99FM, in 2008, Bacon made another career leap to join Philly’s new upstart hip-hop radio station 100.3/The Beat. Her R&B show, “Cooking with Bacon.” can be heard Sundays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Always motivated and never complacent, Bacon has expanded her broadcasting career to express her religious persona. She is the host and co-host of: “Praise in the City” on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and “Marriage Beyond the Vows” on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., respectively, on Praise Philly/103.9FM. Bacon is a longstanding member of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church where the Rev. Dr. Alyn Waller is senior pastor.
Baconalso works as a certified HIV/AIDS educator, for the Philadelphia SIHLE Project (Sisters Informing Healing Living & Empowering). SIHLE is a program funded by the Center for Disease Control, via Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC). According to Bacon, “SIHLE provides monthly healthy lifestyles workshops designed to reduce HIV sexual risk behaviors in teen girls.” It also promotes healthy relationships and gender and ethnic pride among African-American girls between the ages of 14 and 18.
Bacon parlayed her radio career to pursue an acting career in stage productions. “Recently, I was in the play ‘The Repast’ written by Bryana Michelle, ”she said. “We had an awesome time, the cast was amazing.”
Bacon will also star in the upcoming stage play “Girl He Loves Me” on Oct. 14 at the Adrienne Theater, 2030 Samson St.
Bacon’s favorite actor is Meryl Streep.
“She owns every character she’s ever played,” said Bacon.
Every Tuesday, Bacon helps promote other performing artists (i.e., poets, dancers, singers, musicians) during, “The Resurgence.”
“It’s family friendly entertainment,” said Bacon, who describes it as, “Harlem Renaissance meets the Philly Soul Movement.”
“The Resurgence” is held every Tuesday at Sole II Soul, 6139 Ridge Ave.
It was standing room only at City Hall’s Conversation Hall last Thursday where members of the Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) at the University of Pennsylvania held its Eighth Annual World Aids Day Red Ribbon event.
West and Southwest Philadelphia organizers were well represented during the ceremony.
Every seat was taken as attendees stood in the rear to observe festivities as organizers, community leaders, AIDS activists and concerned citizens packed the hall — many wearing red in honor of the occasion.
This year’s mistress of ceremonies, radio personality Tiffany Bacon, engaged the audience into lively participation as those who fight against AIDS were recognized for their contributions.
“We are trying to get to zero — that is zero infections — and it is really important that the power of zero be represented be represented by the power of one — and we are that one,” she said.
Bacon is no stranger in the struggle against the disease and is active with her own efforts to raise public awareness about the disease especially among youth.
“Aside from radio which, I have been doing for 21 years, I am also a SIHLE (Sisters Informing Healing Living and Empowering) project specialist,” Bacon said. “It’s a social skills training and healthy lifestyle workshop for Black teen girls ages 14–18.”
During these workshops, Bacon said she instructs the girls how to care for themselves and make healthy decisions. She also helps them understand that they have personal power.
Among the speakers at the event was Jordan Harris of the Philadelphia Youth Commission who took the opportunity to disclose his own story of a relative who was diagnosed with the virus and its impact on him.
“If we want our children to be self-sufficient citizens, then we must first see that they grow up,” Harris said.
AIDS activist Julie Davids, a member of the group ACT-UP, served as the keynote speaker of the event and received a standing ovation as she walked behind the podium to encourage the audience to continue pursuing the theme of the event “getting to zero” and outlined some steps she believed could be taken to help make that theme a reality in the future.
Linda Blunt, founder of the Youth Adolescent Community Awareness Program (YOACAP), a Southwest Philadelphia youth program formed in 1989, was also given a protracted standing ovation when her name was called to receive her Red Ribbon Award trophy acknowledging her work to fight the spread of AIDS in the community.
It was Blunt who encouraged then-Director of Social Services of Philadelphia, Julia Danzy, to organize a community-based effort with YOACAP to seek a better understanding of issues related to public health.
From this effort emerged the Southwest Community Advisory Group (SWCAG), a coalition of community organizers and stakeholders whose mission is to improve the quality of life for Southwest residents.
Blunt, the recipient of numerous awards such as Ebony Magazine’s Unsung Hero in 2010, the NAACP’s Outstanding Citizens Award and others, humbly gave credit to the members of YOACAP who she says work tirelessly to engage local youth.
Many of them, including Woody Beale, executive director of the organization, were youths themselves when they met Blunt.
“We’ve come such a long way, thirty years of fighting, thirty years of losing those that we loved and cared about, of using fellow soldiers, fellow workers,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking because of the people that we lost, but it is uplifting because of the people that we saved.”
Others receiving Red Ribbon Awards included: Lisa Bond, Ph.D., senior research associate at Public Health Management Corporation; Scott Burris, JD, professor of law at Temple University, where he directs the Center for Health Law, Policy and Practice; and D’Angelo D’Ontace Keys, a senior at the University of the Arts who has addressed the problem of HIV/AIDS through education and community organizing.