Carla Marie was 10 years old when she decided she wanted to work in radio, excitedly listening to her favorite radio station on the drive to and from school in her native New Jersey. Since then, the now-32-year-old, who doesn’t use her last name but goes only by Carla Marie — like Madonna but “not as cool or important,” she laughed — has worked her way up in the world of radio, hustling hard early on as an intern, then as a producer, and now based in Seattle as the host of the Carla Marie and Anthony Show on 106.1 KISS FM Seattle.
In the past two years, she’s also launched her own podcast, called Side Hustlers, on which she interviews people about the projects they pursue and monetize on the side. The podcast has since evolved into Carla Marie’s own side hustle, which she balances with the demands of being a radio personality and supporting the Western Washington community she has come to know and love.
When you were young, what drew you to radio? How did you go about pursuing that career early on?
It just seemed like the best job — the people just got to sit in a room and talk. Nothing else ever appealed to me. In college, I pursued communications and journalism and worked at the radio station at school. I liked being able to be creative: There’s no script.
Then I got an internship at that same station I grew up listening to, and that internship turned into a job. I worked there for six years in New York, and while I was working there, I started a podcast with my coworker Anthony called My Day Friday, just to practice. iHeartRadio heard it, liked it, and asked if we wanted to move out to Seattle to have our own show. And we did. And here we are.
You moved up the ranks pretty quickly — what would you credit your success to?
I just said yes to anything anyone asked me to do. Even if I didn’t know how to do it, I would say yes. And then I would figure it out. If I couldn’t, I asked questions. Anthony always says we got so far because we just picked up the crumbs that other people dropped. My dad always said to me, “Make yourself invaluable.” So, I did. I said yes to everything and also went above and beyond the work that was asked of me. And that’s really worked wonders in the long run.
When you’re saying yes to everything, how does that translate into any kind of work-life balance?
The easy answer is that it doesn’t. But I also think that a lot of what I do, I don’t consider work. I’m not sitting in a cubicle; I’m not handed assignments. I get to be creative. Earlier in my career, I had more balance because I had less responsibility — I wasn’t the host of my own show. Now, there’s not a lot of balance, but I’m learning how to delegate more to help with that.
On top of the hectic schedule that is being on air every morning, you also have a side hustle. Can you talk more about your podcast?
I started Side Hustlers because I wanted to have my own thing. With the morning show with Anthony, it’s great to be able to do something with your best friend, but I still needed my own thing. I started realizing that kind of everyone had a side hustle, and I wanted to talk to people about it. Then, eventually, talking to people about their side hustles became my side hustle.
I am so lucky to have the platform that I do, with radio and social media, and I love being a voice for these entrepreneurs and connecting them and lifting them up. Every person I talk to, they spend so much time on this one thing because they love it, and it’s just so cool to hear about.
What’s a recent conversation you’ve had on Side Hustlers that has impacted you?
In June I shared two episodes (where) I brought back a few of my former guests to discuss what it’s like being a Black female in America, specifically a Black female business owner. While I had spoken to all of them in the past about their businesses, we never dug into what they struggle with as business owners or employees in corporate America just because they are Black. From not using their face as part of their brand out of fear people won’t shop from them because they are Black to deciding to launch their own business because they knew they couldn’t reach their full potential in the corporate world — I learned so much from (these) women, and it honestly changed me forever.