Everyday from 6pm to midnight Earl Easton, known through the airwaves as DJ Ya Boy Earl can be heard on Baton Rouge’s urban radio station Max 94.1FM, mixing the most popular hip hop and hosting the market’s No. 2 radio show. But success hasn’t come easy to the 28-year-old Shreveport native.
For many college students, the last semester before graduation is the happiest and easiest times of their college career, but for Easton that is when things became the hardest. Touting a 3.9 grade point average, in his last semester, Earl, who was called to serve the National Guard in Iraq.
“I had to drop all my classes and prepare to go and serve my country,” he said; but he was soon honorably discharged for medical reasons.
As a veteran, he returned to Southern University ready to complete requirements to earn his batchelors degree in arts.
The honors, graphic design student was told he did not have financial aid.
After hearing that news many students who depend solely on financial aid would have been discouraged and even given up on their education, but, not Easton.
“I was so far away from home…The only person I had to depend on was myself. Since, I couldn’t get financial aid I had to pay out of pocket.”
Easton marketed his graphic design skills to help him earn income but it wasn’t enough to cover all the expenses that come with being a full time college student.
“I couldn’t get an apartment because as free lance graphic designer I had no proof of income. So he lived in a hotel in Baton Rouge.
“I had to pay almost $200 a week and sometimes I did not have it. So I would just have to sit in my room all day because if I left the hotel would turn my key card off,” he said.
Even with set backs, he was still determined to continue his dream of being on radio which he started his freshman year at KNMJ 99.7FM in Shreveport.
“I would take a bus to Shreveport on thursdays and would be the night host for a station and be back in Baton Rouge by Saturday night,” said Easton. He also worked at WTQT 94.9L-FM in Baton Rouge, but was still earning very little money.
“After just being a voice on radio (as an intern), I knew that actually dejaying would be the next step and another way to earn money,” said Easton.
Once he won more than $2,000 at a casino, Easton decided to make an investment in himself and in his career by purchasing dejay equipment with his winnings.
Then, his hussle began. He wore any of his three professional hats to earn income.
From radio host to dejay Easton said he realized that catering to the music industry was more lucrative than trying to be a part of it. He doned his business hat and decided to put all of his talents together and open a music store, Earl’s Music and More, located at 7873 Greenwell Springs Road.
“A lot of people thought I was crazy because music stores around the country are closing down,” said Easton. He said his vision and ideas for expanding provides a different experience to it’s customers than other music store.
“At my store we don’t have national artists,” he said. “Baton Rouge has such a unique local music scene so at Earl’s Music and More, you will find independent artists who really need help getting their music out.”
True to his radio name, Easton is “ya boy,” when it comes to providing exposure to untaped artists, encouraging school pride on air, motivating students during visits, or helping a client find the perfect sound or imagery to launch their product or business.
After facing many set backs DJ Ya Boy Earl said he is still grateful for them all, because without them, he would not have developed in a media personality with the No.2 urban radio show during 6pm-10pm.
“There were some rough times in my life and I had noone to depend on during them, (but) it’s nice to know now that I am in a position where I know that I can be someone who others can depend on,” he said.
As an dejay and business owner, Easton’s popularity is on the rise and shows no signs of slowing down. He said this year he is focusing on helping independent artists get their music to fans.
He also plans to open a teen center in Baton Rouge, as well as continue hosting an annual celebrity basketball game in the fall.