Anabelle Torres was sitting outside the PantherNOW office, phone in hand anxiously waiting for the Media Board to make their decision. Her phone buzzed: a text from Alex Candia, the GM at the time, it read “:).”
After celebrating with her friends and chopping off a good portion of her wavy black hair, she rolled up her sleeves, cuffed her high-waisted pants and got to work.
The station was struggling, it was (and still is) financially crippled by multiple budget cuts and, when Anabelle took over, it was almost void of personnel.
“It was one of my most difficult challenges as GM.” she says. “I started with absolutely nothing.”
Well not entirely nothing, eight Djs remained. But for Torres who spent her four years at FIU climbing from DJ to GM it wasn’t what she came up knowing. She had seen the rotation schedule on the white board in her office, which is neatly organized into a grid with painters tape, filled up with names of shows and over 80 DJs.
“The station just wasn’t growing anymore. And it’s kind of like the analogy of a plant. You’re supposed to re-pot it every now and then when they get too big. And I was just like, you know, all the leaves have died and I was just sitting there in a station with no one.” Torres says recalling her first few days as GM. “So I was like, okay, now I really have to work.”
She leaned on two deejays that had been around almost as long as she had “Duzi” Gomez and David Horman. Together they built up a staff and brought in over 40 new DJs.
“I definitely had help from my team. They were definitely there when I needed them to be, especially over the summer. Summer was really a building point for the Roar.”
Torres hosted a live music show every Wednesday bringing in local bands who she would interview before they played a live set. She hosted the show with current GM Maximillian Harris.
“I enjoyed giving people that space to showcase their art and their music. That was really important to me and that’s kind of why I kept it going.”
Torres says the show brought out local artists who usually wouldn’t get exposure in Miami.
“I had noise bands, I had all kinds of people coming in. And that was interesting, I probably lost a lot of listeners not gonna like because it was like just straight up noise static. But I was able to give them a space and I was able to interview them. And it was interesting to see that part of, the community that people don’t really showcase because it’s not mainstream.”
Max, who co-hosts the show, will take over in Anabelle’s place starting later this month. The former Urban genre director plans to take the station towards digital streaming to increase their audience.
“I think he just has a very welcoming aura, I guess. And he’s not afraid to put his foot down when he needs to, but he’s also very likable. No matter what, no matter who he has on his team, or no matter what comes his way. I think he’s going to be fine,” says Torres.
Her time at the Roar also introduced her to people from walks of life she wouldn’t have met otherwise.
“It really helped me gain perspective of how different everyone is and how not different we all are.”
Torres says being a leader taught her how to communicate with different people and how to stand her ground.
“It taught me how to be a leader and stay organized, how to meet deadlines, how to communicate with people correctly and how to deal with people who might not be on the same wavelength,” she says. “I was a woman, people didn’t take me seriously, people just didn’t think my job was important or that I was qualified. So I had to constantly assert my voice in a space where nobody stood up for me.”
Looking back at her time in the station, Torres says it’s the people she’ll miss the most.
“We were just one group of giant friends who were just brought together by this one thing, it was so strong that we all just really loved hanging out with each other and we would do favors for each other, we would help each other out,” she says.