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Phoenixx Ugrilla

Four years into his prison sentence, Phoenixx Ugrilla decided to throw himself into the world of business. 

He felt he “was smarter than the people doing business,” he said — and three years later, he’d devoured any business-related book he could get his hands on. He left prison determined to start his own company.

Today, Ugrilla runs the only independent, minority-owned radio station in Colorado Springs — he’s host and producer at Family Flavors: The Slide on 95.7 FM. A nonprofit, social impact organization, Family Flavors: The Slide is a mass media platform that hosts a smorgasbord of voices — from burlesque dancers to a Department of Defense training manager, all are given the opportunity to speak.

The Slide goes beyond radio, regularly posting content on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Mixlr. It even has its own app on the Google Play Store. Though best known for its music, podcasts and personality shows, The Slide is also heavily involved in community outreach and philanthropic programs across Colorado Springs.

In July 2020, three months after launching the station, Ugrilla secured 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and transformed the station into a mass media platform for community-oriented activism. “I chose nonprofit so I could actually feel like I’m a clean business person,” he said.

Ugrilla wasn’t always interested in social activism and ethical business. A native of Fort Myer, Florida, Ugrilla spent his teenage years involved in gang activity, which snowballed into felonies. From 2007 to 2014, he was incarcerated in a Florida prison for home invasion. Four years into his sentence, Ugrilla faced a traumatic experience that ultimately shaped his future for the better.

“In prison — about 2011 — a couple of my partners died; a whole bunch of nonsensical stuff [happened],” he recalled. “Warfare, a couple crazy incidents with the police … it was just hectic. From that point in 2011 all the way up to [my release in 2014], I just studied business. I lost myself to the books, to the studies. I decided when I came home, I was going to build a corporation of some sort and make my way out.”

Through The Slide, Ugrilla leads a small team of radio and video technicians, social media coordinators and media personalities. As his organization continues to grow, he expects that his radio “family” will extend to Denver in the near future. Ultimately, Ugrilla aims to launch a coalition of like-minded, nonprofit mass media organizations around the world.

He spoke with the Business Journal about his journey into radio, his family- and community-oriented business philosophy, and The Slide’s four cornerstones of health, wealth, education and faith.

How did you get into radio?

Colorado Springs was my gateway into radio, period. …That’s on my brother, Frank White. His older brother lived out here in Denver, and originally we were musicians. We had gotten some buzz from 2014, 2015, when I first got out [of prison], and he was out here doing his thing. The music was taking off. Actually, how I got to Colorado, it was a couple of fans. Shout out Felicia and Kimmy; they actually loved our music so much, they hit us with a message saying, ‘You can come out here six months free and make a go of it. See what happens.’ It was just something different — try your hand at something new. Sometimes you got to roll the dice. I rolled the dice. ... The rest is history.

The radio business crunk up in 2016. When I started with 98.5 Blazin’ — they’ve been a whole bunch of different things — but I crunk up with them when they turned into Blazin’ in February 2016 when I got here. And ever since then, it’s just been a route of the radio world — 98.5, 96.1, doing spots on 90.9. Just a roller coaster of being a host with other people. 

I got real close with ownership over there at 98.5 [Blazin’]. There was a business move that was allowed to be made, actually in 2020, and I took the chance. We became 95.7 FM, Family Flavors: The Slide, World Broadcasting Network … and we rolled that out for a little bit. Business switched up, things changed, and I decided we’re just going to become the mass media platform for everybody.  

What exactly is The Slide?

We are the go-to, nonprofit broadcasting mass telecommunications station in the city, period. … Basically, social impact broadcast. We got jammin’ music, we have all your flavors and whatnot. Hence, ‘family flavors.’

The twist is we went nonprofit with it. Now, we can actually focus on social impact and social change. … We want to have the message. There’s four cornerstones here: health, wealth, education and faith. If it doesn’t coincide with that, we probably can’t do nothing with it.

Tell us about those four cornerstones. 

With health … we just want to go the right route about health. Just being your best and most healthy self. We have different people who specialize in that, and they have their segments and do what they do. 

Wealth, we’re heavy on that because if you can [understand] generational wealth, and teach that to people, it’ll keep them from those bad behaviors, from going back to their old habits. Wealth is important because it’s sustenance, but wealth is a means to an end. You can do more with wealth. 

With education, it’s just about educating people on right and wrong. Literally, right and wrong. Being book smart and all that is cool, but we educate people on how to be better people, how to be better people around different people. We all grew up how we grew up, but if you educate people on how the world really works, and how diversity really is, [that’s] a plethora of different angles on education.

Faith — we’re going to move together and find that common space and faith. … If we come to different conclusions, we shouldn’t allow belief systems to ruin us and kill harmony. ... Faith sector, that’s one of the heavy flavor parts. Just trying to be harmonious on what we believe and whatnot. We can agree to disagree. Relativity and belief in faith is a beautiful thing because it’s something that we’ve been bad at as human beings in this world for a long time. 

Can you explain the name?

Family: Obviously, we want to have a team and a network of people that are familiar with how they move. We don’t want those people that are just out for self. We want people that know how to demonstrate selflessness, but at the same time, we’re working towards getting better. We’re all trying to build each other up.

Flavors: That’s the diverse part. We know we’re not the same for certain, and we have to be OK with that. So when you become familiar, and you have different flavors, you’re diverse with your family … that’s period.

The Slide: We’re trying to go across the planet with this. We’re trying to come together. It’s hard for big movements to stay together and keep on rising. It’s hard. You’ll see it all across history. The biggest empires fall because of some infighting. We’re trying to make it all the way across the globe and stay together; keep that vision. Keep that mindset of unified movement, positive movement, at that. We’re not trying to fall from the gold. We all want to be successful. We all want to do what we’re doing. But we know it takes a village, and we want to move together and just keep rising. But take the message all across the planet. That’s the plan.

How do you do outreach for your network?

Through word of mouth. It’s, ‘We need this. And we need this.’ We’re a resource center as well, since we are that broadcast place for everybody who’s trying ... to build themselves and build their community. So somebody will say on Facebook, ‘Oh, we need this.’ Well, we probably have the network for that. We’d reach out to them. We’re not shy about it, and we’ll definitely get out there and jump off to assess the situation. We [stay] proactive in going to find our leads. 

On top of that, we use the angle of being immediate — so we want to know what’s going on. If there’s something bad that happens in the city, or if there’s a tragedy or something like that, we reach out to the families. That’s how we’ve been gaining traction.

What’s in store for the The Slide?

We’re here in Colorado Springs now. I’d love for us to have a situation in Denver, if possible, but it’s kind of not even needed because we can be heard everywhere. We got listeners in Russia, Dubai, Dublin, Australia — we can track all those stats and everything. So we know where we’re being listened to, and we’re trying to just go to the mega-centers, and bring this format to different spots across the country and have different engineers and have different flavors. …

We’re the gumbo. We are the gumbo, and as long as there’s good values, good principles, integrity involved with it … we can affect the world in a better sense, in a positive fashion.

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