If you’re in Chicago or its suburbs, you might feel like you already know Candace McCollum, whose voice graces the early-morning radio waves daily. But this News, Traffic & Weather Anchor doesn’t just stay behind the scenes in the booth. She balances gigs on two stations ( 106.3 Chicago’s R&B and Power 92.3 Chicago) with center-stage appearances such as hosting fashion castings, emceeing local events, making media cameos and blogging. Read on to hear what drives this up-and-comer and how she plans to make her dreams a reality.
Candace McCollum Steps Outside the Radio Booth
When this Chicago radio personality turned thirty in February, she was spurred to put her plan to pursue dual careers in radio and fashion into full force. Read on for her styling tips, motivation and industry-domination plans.
Candace McCollum starts her day at 2:30am. She drives to work under moonlight so that she can be one of the first voices Chicago locals hear from 5-9am when they wake up and start their commutes. She shares that it’s not uncommon for strangers to stop her on the street and say, “You help me get to work, girl!” To her fans, she’s known for her soothing voice and familiarity with the area, the third largest radio market in the country. To those of us outside the Windy City, she’s known as a rising star who’s making a name for herself as a blogger, emcee and radio personality.
As someone who wakes up before dawn, Candace admits fashion isn’t always her focus in the morning. “My style is very casual, very laidback,” she emphasizes. Still, she tends to favor statements such as bold color, flared skirts, and – her favorite – off-the-shoulder tops.
It’s no wonder she felt immediately comfortable on set in this shoulder-baring, striped number with a patriotic pleated skirt.
"I advocate for myself. I believe in myself. That’s why, whatever dreams I have, I go out and try to reach them, whether that’s reaching out to brands I want to work with or people who I admire most."
"My dad always says, ‘We often miss our break because we’re not prepared.’ When that break comes you have to be prepared. That’s what will get you to the next level."
Her favorite of the day, however, was the equally relaxed chambray dress. “I was really feeling that outfit. It’s the most ‘Candace’ I felt. That’s something I could really rock in Chicago,” remembers our model, who also gushed about feeling amazing in front of the camera. “I just channeled the Beyoncé on the speakers and it helped that [the stylist] did a bomb job. I’ve never felt so welcomed and beautiful and encouraged than I did in that moment.
Like her job and side gigs, this on-set moment was entirely manifested by Candace herself.
Last year, she discovered ELOQUII when she wore the Lace Insert Fit and Flare dress to an appearance on “The Steve Harvey Show.” She also direct messaged the brand via Instagram to learn more about how she could work with them. “I advocate for myself. I believe in myself. That’s why, whatever dreams I have, I go out and try to reach them, whether that’s reaching out to brands I want to work with or people who I admire most.” This initiative has also proven effective in other facets of Candace’s life: initially, her first radio internship (which led to her current job), and recently, hosting gigs at community events, emcee roles at casting calls, presenter-status on panels at her alma mater Columbia College, and a new blog, Curves In Radio. Needless to say, for a woman with the confidence to put herself out there, her approach hasn’t failed her yet.
“The worst someone can say is ‘No,’” she continues. “My dad always says, ‘We often miss our break because we’re not prepared.’ When that break comes you have to be prepared. That’s what will get you to the next level.” As an intern, she took this advice and had an audition tape prepared in case her program director ever asked for it.
“Now, I love being the local connection on the well-known national shows like The Rickey Smiley Morning Show and The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” Candace cheers. Never one to complain, she can be heard giving twenty live, on-air updates during the morning time slot. In each update, she makes a point to share that she’s one of the listeners – a neighbor, a friend. This is best represented by how she weaves locals into her updates:[
“Good morning, Naperville. Hello, Hyde Park. How are you doing nurses at Northwestern Memorial Hospital? Good news: It’s smooth sailing on I-55.”
She also focuses on the good in the community, surfacing lighthearted stories such as new community centers or new job alerts. Her zeal for her work will no doubt help her to reach her long-term media goals of having her own radio show and parlaying that show into television, her dream since she was a middle-schooler imitating local newscasters she saw on TV. Until that eventual reality, she signs off from our shoot as she does each day, “Take care of yourself.”
Who Are Your Style Icons?
Queen Latifah: We’re shaped the same way and everything she wears I can see myself in. Also, Jill Scott: She’s on fire every time she hits the red carpet.
What color are you most excited to try in 2017?
Both: Red. I don’t choose it often and I didn’t think I could pull it off on set but it helped me step out of my comfort zone.
What was your first Eloquii purchase?
Two dresses: The bonded pique dress in yellow and a dress in hunter green.
What advice has stuck with you?
“Don’t worry what someone else has going on. What will be for you, will be for you. We’re always looking at the other person. Thinking ‘She has this and I don’t’ or ‘I’m not going to tell them about what I’m doing.’ But, at the end of the day, you have to focus on yourself. What happens for you, no one can take that away.
What is one of your proudest moments?
Being on three Chicago radio stations only a year and a half after graduating. It’s a competitive market and doing that so early and on so many stations (including one gospel station) was a proud moment for me.