With over half-a-million listeners and growing, Tony Sweet’s radio show, On Air with Tony Sweet has spearheaded online radio. An entertainment talk show with a twist, On Air with Tony Sweet recently celebrated it's 200th show and continues to be the #1 source for the latest in Hollywood and buzz-worthy news. Set in a “Reality Radio” format, Tony Sweet strives to bring raw news and feature guests that include celebrities, politicians, and religious figures. Tony’s charming and heartfelt country vibe is a favorite amongst listeners and guests. Tony Sweet never judges and strives to bring a show where listeners can relate and unite with guests and topics.
A self-proclaimed "country boy from Kansas," Tony was the youngest of four in a musically inclined family. He dreamt of pursuing a career in professional singing, but struggled with shyness. Still, Tony had a competitive spirit, excelling as a Track and Field State Champion in high school, an All-American athlete in college, and a competitive body builder. Tony began a modeling career in his early twenties, and did a national ad campaign with a fitness magazine, hoping to build up his confidence. In 2002, wanting to be where creativity was, Tony moved from Kansas City to Los Angeles. He still dreamed of singing professionally, but was unsure about how to start his career. Tony auditioned alongside thousands for the Gospel Music Channel’s "Gospel Dream" in 2008 and was selected as a stand out candidate to move onto Nashville as one of the top sixteen contestants.
Tony’s first chance to inspire others came when The Advocate, the national LGBT magazine, asked Tony to be featured in their publication, effectively making him the face of Gay America. He told The Advocate, "If I can use [singing] to cross bridges between the gay world and the mainstream, then I think I’ll be doing what I’m supposed to do."
After receiving thousands of supportive letters from fans all over the world, Tony took to the airwaves, realizing that his opinions were valued and he was indeed inspirational. He formatted his own show for internet radio and on November 14, 2008, On Air with Tony Sweet made its debut and continues to bridge people together to love themselves and to pursue their dreams. In May of 2011, he moved his #1 show from LA Talk Radio to Global Voice Broadcasting, where he is not only an On-Air Personality but also Chief Operating Officer.
Tony’s roster of guests ranges from television, film, recording artists and acclaimed authors. Some of the talent that Tony has had the pleasure of interviewing have been Academy Award and Emmy nominated actress Debbie Reynolds, Academy Award winning actress Mo’nique, Grammy winning singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge, Academy Award winning screen writer Dustin Black, Emmy winning actress Rue McClanahan, Daytime Emmy nominees Carolyn Hennesy and Jennifer Bassey, comedian Margaret Cho, Disney star Debby Ryan, TV personality Sherri Shephard, acclaimed singer/actress Mya, Reality TV star Bethenny Frankel and Twilight star, Jackson Rathbone. In addition he has had guests who have been featured on such hit shows as Glee, True Blood, American Idol, Awkward., So You Think You Can Dance, Smallville, America’s Next Top Model, Drop Dead Diva, Hot In Cleveland.
1. Who or what inspired you to become a radio host? It wasn't a who, it was a what. I actually started a radio show after I was featured in The Advocate because I kept wanting to help and reach people who were struggling with their faith and being gay. I wanted to show them that no matter who you are or where you're from that you can do whatever you want to do if you set your mind to it and surround yourself with supportive friends and networking with people. I felt with a radio show, I would reach more people instantly than going around to churches or various events.
2. How did you decide on the format for "On Air with Tony Sweet"? The format started out as a gay Christian format which there hadn't really been one with that pairing that I know of. After a while, it evolved into more entertainment. The reason I did that was because I wanted to be known as Tony, the guy who has a great entertainment show, who just happens to be gay, not as the gay, Christian host Tony. I just wanted to be like, "I'm just a country boy from Kansas that just wants to make a difference and I happen to be gay." That's really how it transformed from a gay Christian show to more of an entertainment based show. I also feel more people can relate to the guests on my show with the entertainment format.
3. You recently celebrated your 200th show, which is fantastic. What does this milestone mean to you? That's a good question. It allows me to really look back at just how many shows I've done and how many people I've interviewed. This milestone, for me, is my beginning. I feel my career in the entertainment industry is just beginning. The 200 mark has built my foundation. My foundation is built. Now I got the lumber and I need to build my career in this way and that direction. Now that I have foundation and I'm getting more respect and being taken more seriously, I can definitely start building my career the way I want it.
3a. When you talk about your career, do you feel that you want to stick with radio or are there other aspects of entertainment you might want to get into? Oh no, radio is just the beginning. It's been a blessing, I didn't even know I wanted. There's a saying, well, it's a line from the song "more than I ask for, but less than I dreamed" meaning I never dreamed of being a radio host, I never dreamed of being in the entertainment industry other than singing but it was more than I ever asked for.
Yes, I want to get into television and host shows, I would love to produce, I have some ideas for writing film and television shows, and I want to promote concerts. Co-owning Global Voice, which hosts my radio show, "On Air with Tony Sweet," has given me a voice not just to my radio show, but given me a voice for the whole entertainment industry as a whole. I can then take it any which way I want.
4. Who haven't you interviewed that you would like to? There are many people I would love to interview, but one person in particular I would really love to interview, is Betty White. There is something about Hollywood legends, people who have been in this industry 30 years longer than I've been alive that just puts a whole new perspective on where I need to go and need to learn and need to pay my dues. I would also love to interview Fran Drescher because of the struggles she has gone through and came out on top.
5. What made you move your show from LA Talk Radio to Global Voice Broadcasting? Growth, independence. I'm a person that doesn't take "No" for answer. As my show was growing, there were people who thought they knew what was best for me, which is great, but I'm very proactive in my career. I go outside the box a lot and I felt more in a box, a limitation to my growth while at LA Talk Radio, so nothing against it, it's a great station and that's where I got my start, but I just felt Global Voice idea of being unique and bringing a lot of old school talk and live theatre to giving hosts the opportunity to do other things outside their show were very important to me. It's not all about making money. The things I've learned and the people I associate with now, I can pass that along to my hosts. Starting my own radio station has given me a lot of opportunities.
6. What do you get from being a co-owner of Global Voice Broadcasting in addition to being a host? Having a show, I've learned a lot about the industry. My father and grandfather both owned their own business and I always knew I wanted to own one too. There's the good and there's the bad. I'm on call 24/7. There's no, "I'm on vacation." The good thing about it is the freedom of making decisions quickly, trying new things without having to get approval, and it does bring a new respect of people looking at you as someone who had their own show and now owning your own station. It has brought respect from the industry and great relationships with PR people, management, talent agents, and the talent themselves. It has given me great friends and opportunities that would not have been given to me as just a host because people really take you more seriously as the owner of a media company than just a host because you make the decisions. It can be overwhelming sometimes, but I like it, and it shows me growing as a person.
7. One of the things I especially like about Global Voice Broadcasting is that you do have the live theatre section of it. What made you want to have that as a component of the station? The biggest reason is that it makes the station unique. The other reason is it gives an opportunity for actors. There are performers I interview for my show and tell them about the live theatre and they get so excited about doing it. It also gives opportunities for our own hosts as well as original writers and playwrights to show their plays to thousands of people, where as if you had it in a small theatre, not as many people would go because it's I have to buy ticket or I have to get dressed up. Here, they can just sit in their home and listen. It brings that old school radio back to the air. I love that. It makes the artists and listeners use their imagination as well.
8. I read that growing up you struggled with shyness as a child. How did you overcome this? What was it like to be featured in The Advocate and what was it like to do this feature considering where you came from with the shyness? There is still some shyness to me, which always surprises people, but I am now very good at hiding it when I need to. Back in the day people would either not talk to me or my head would be down because I was so shy. In my early twenties I became an aerobics instructor and did some fitness modeling to help me get over my shyness. It was really, really hard to do. To this day, I can still be somewhat shy in a crowd, unless the spotlight is on me. I don't know what it is, but it's like a switch. It's a struggle to this day, but not as bad as it used to be.
The decision to do the feature in The Advocate came after I got back from Nashville, which I went to to audition for the Gospel Music Channel's "Gospel Dream." I actually approached The Advocate, thinking they would just do a little article, but then it became a feature. I did the article to tell my story that you can be religious and gay and be okay. I never struggled with anything thinking God hated me. I was very lucky to have supportive parents, at least they never told me anything negative face to face about being gay, so when I did the feature, it was to reach out to those people struggling.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? My aunt said, "Never trust a man with a mustache and a beard." Hahaha. Seriously, the best advice I've ever received was from my best friend. When people compliment me, it is hard for me to say, "Thank You very much I appreciate that." So, my best friend said, "Believe you can not wish you can. I wish you could see you through my eyes." It took a while for that to really make sense to me, but I need to believe in myself because so many other people believe in me and if I can believe in 50% of what people believe in me, I'll do it. If I put mind to something, I'll do it, even if I get resistance.
10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? For those people who believe in re-incarnation, I would love to dream about one of my past lives to see what I went through or what I did that may have carried over to make me the person I am today.
11. Favorite way to spend your day off? Hiking up in the mountains.
12. Favorite way to stay in shape? Besides hiking, I love group fitness classes.
13. Boxers or Briefs? Briefs.
14. Favorite website? Faith websites and seeing when my favorite singers will be in town.
15. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? To fly. Everyone once in a while I fly in my dreams and that was such an amazing feeling.