The days begin early for the radio DJ known as Sweet Cheeks, but she doesn’t seem to mind. As a member of the Morning Show on Denver’s KBPI, this radio darling has one of the sweetest gigs a recent college grad could want.
Tune your dial to 106.7 FM from 6am-10am in the morning and the self-proclaimed “softer side and female perspective,” on an otherwise boisterous morning show, is a Denver Public Schools grad (South High School) and a former CEC Middle College career student. Sitting side-by-side with veteran DJs Willie B and Scoop, many young professionals might find it hard to keep up with this dynamic co-worker duo, with their sarcastic banter and dry senses of humor. But not Sweet Cheeks. Recognizable by her lively and cheerful laugh this young woman is hard to intimidate.
As a high school and college student, Alyssa Bell aka Sweet Cheeks, never imagined herself behind the microphone, broadcasting to the city she calls home, but sometimes career paths don’t follow a straight and predictable line. Alyssa’s dream has always been to open her own recording studio, and that is still the plan, but for now, she is enjoying the opportunity to learn as much as she can at a major Denver radio station.
Alyssa’s appetite for learning is the main reason she landed her job in the first place. As a high school student, Alyssa took her academic classes at South High School, and spent the rest of her school day at CEC taking career classes ranging from culinary arts to medical careers to audio engineering. She didn’t know what she wanted to pursue for her future profession, but her career classes helped her navigate and make that decision. What began as aspirations in nursing, took a drastic turn and landed her in the audio world. How did she make that choice? Simple. “Following your heart and sticking with your passion,” she says as she shares her keys to success. “I was deciding between going to school for nursing or doing audio engineering and I’m so happy with the choice I made. I have been in love with music since day one and I knew that’s what I needed to do for a career. I couldn’t have it any other way.”
Realizing her passion, she took two semesters of CEC’s audio engineering class and followed that with two semesters of an internship at the Gothic Theater. That internship opened the first doors to her future career. She was hired on and worked as an assistant audio engineer and stagehand for nearly three years.
At the same time, Alyssa enrolled in the audio engineering program at the University of Colorado—Denver, and although she heard many discouraging stories about the difficulties she would face as a female in her chosen career area, she continued to believe in her dreams.
Those dreams finally came true her junior year when she thought she was falling behind in credits, prompting her to apply for an internship at KBPI. The station needed someone in the morning and Willie B and Scoop found an immediate connection with Alyssa.
With his instant admiration and adoration, Willie B came up with her on-air name. “She has a real infectious laugh and smile,” he says with a grin. “It was something as soon as I saw it, it reminded me of my ‘ma-maw,” he says explaining with his hands how his grandmother would go up to someone, call them “sweet cheeks” and give them a squeeze on the cheek. He said Alyssa’s outgoing, bubbly personality was a reminder of that gesture. And so it was. Sweet Cheeks was perfect for their morning show chemistry and after a semester of an internship, she was hired on full-time.
Now she adores her job and the perks it gives her. “It’s basically like I’m getting paid to have fun. I just get paid to hang out with my friends for four hours in the morning and I get to find funny stories on the internet while I’m doing it. It’s nothing I can complain about, and the perks are awesome. I get to go to all the shows I want to and meet all the musicians. It’s pretty amazing.”
This former CEC student has earned herself a pretty sweet gig, but it didn’t come merely from her smile and laugh. Willie B turns serious when he mentions why she was hired. He explains that Alyssa had the whole package—the knowledge of the equipment from her classes at CEC and UCD, practical experience and above all confidence.
At 24-years-old, Alyssa is already living her professional dreams and she gives much credit to having the opportunity to participate in real life experiences as part of her high school education. Her internship opportunities through CEC proved most valuable, she says. “Having the internship first and foremost changed my life. I don’t think I could have had that experience any other way.”
So the next time you’re listening to the radio first thing in the morning, turn the dial to 106.7 and know that behind that cheery voice and the confident demeanor, is a combination of preparation, practical experience, hard work—and above all passion.