At 10 years old, Cd Palmer set out to become the “youngest black billionaire.” He started a fertilizer company, which was followed by a successful real estate run in his 20s. Palmer—who’ll be 45 on Dec. 29—doesn’t yet have that first $1 billion, but he found his groove as a businessman in 1999 when he created the online radio site XRadio.biz.
The station, originally headquartered in Los Angeles, is dedicated to providing a home to indie music, training new broadcasting talent and breaking down traditional barriers to entry in both music and broadcasting. In 2007, Palmer moved to Las Vegas to assist with his brother’s event-planning company. Soon after, he brought the XRadio operation to town.
Palmer has since opened three more stations on the site: a variety station, a kids’ station and one station just for house music. He now has 40 stations online with a monthly total of 20 million listeners tuning in from the U.S., Europe and Australia. “I’m not the kind of guy you put something in his lap and it falls beneath the cracks.” Palmer says. “I have to develop it. If I gave my word, I do it.”
XRadio started with Palmer’s promise to get a friend’s music on the radio. Palmer enrolled in Southern California’s Cerritos College and began training in broadcasting, making his way onto the airwaves and featuring artists from rock ’n’ rollers to Snoop Dogg. The school’s station began experimenting with Internet radio, and when Palmer’s listenership maxed out the station’s online capacity, thoughts of a new venture tugged at him. “I hired an engineer and we stayed up 23 and a half hours every day till it was up,” Palmer says. “I remember thinking about the endless possibilities of what we could do.” The team began with five people and rapidly expanded. Palmer set a goal to obtain 40 online stations by the fifth year—he had 30 within just the first. He started setting up stations around the country and sold franchise stations to DJs and friends who were involved since day one. Before MySpace.com offered its own music pages, XRadio served as the official Internet radio linked with the site. It was around that time that underground artists from all over the world became involved in the station, making it a truly global enterprise.
Palmer pulled an unforgettable publicity stunt in XRadio’s third year, shutting down the Hollywood Freeway during morning rush hour for a convoy of what should have been about 50 but turned out to be as many as 150 vehicles plastered with large XRadio.biz stickers, including five station-owned Hummers and many of his DJs and artists. Predictably, the highway patrol fined Palmer $3,500 for his little vehicular flash-mob.
Palmer’s operation is not just a radio portal—it’s also a hands-on, no-cost media school. XRadio.biz has grown into XRadio Media Corp, and Palmer has enlisted his friends, experts in various fields such as film directing, concerts and event-planning to teach under his supervision.
“Anyone who is serious about learning these fields can come learn,” Palmer says. “It’s about being a fly on the wall the first month, then we give courses: how to develop tonality, delivery—things that DJs need to have, more than just spinning the wheel.” Once trainees feel confident, Palmer takes on the role of agent, booking them DJ gigs or giving them their own show on XRadio. From there, DJs and on-air personalities have the opportunity to reach XRadio’s listeners. Those who have trained in event-planning put it to use during one of XRadio’s weekly events around the city such as We Love House Wednesdays at Blush, Yen Thursdays at the Artisan and Wednesdays at Cathouse.
Palmer says his business success and his interest in helping young artists come from an upbringing that encouraged both spirituality and individuality. “Just do you,” his grandmother told him. “Get close to God and do you. Leave no air between there.” Palmer has followed Grandma’s wisdom well—he’s created a unique site and an iconic public image (sleek suit and a black 10-gallon cowboy hat) to match. But individualism only gets a guy so far—at some point even a trailblazer needs a community he can rely on.
“I got a team here,” he says. “They protect me and I protect them 100 percent, and that’s how XRadio grows. I couldn’t have done this without people. Everyone around me has done a little bit to get where we are.”
The Cd Experience
“We’re reaching audiences all over the world. Our fans become our friends. XRadio has taught us to do our own engineering and sound; we’ve interviewed everyone from national figures, local politicians, authors, musicians. We celebrate folks that love this country. Plus, we’ve gotten to promote a lot of people’s businesses.”
– Maria and Mick Bailey, hosts of XRadio’s conservative talk radio show, Success City Radio.
“XRadio and Cd Palmer gave me a platform to help shape Las Vegas’ dance music scene. That was kind of my dream, to influence Las Vegas’ music scene with a more European sound—house music with vocals. They didn’t really have much of that, and my dream has come true. Now if you go to the clubs you’re hearing vocal dance music.”
– Damien Jay , XRadio’s first house music DJ.
“I learned a lot at XRadio. I got to learn how to run a show on my own without any board operators or producers, how to formulate a show, how to interview people, how to speak, to be heard more enhanced on a microphone, etc.”
– Jeremy Womack (pictured), radio personality, DJ, photographer, blogger, former host of The Jeremy Womack Show on XRadio.
“Because of [Cd Palmer] I’m probably the most widely educated program director at least in the city because I know the technical side and the production side, and that’s just because he had faith in me. He let me figure it out myself. I commend him because it takes a lot to do something like that, to let somebody make mistakes and still stand behind him.”
– Rejj Morris, a.k.a. DJ Rejj Smooth, XRadio MediaCorp general manager and host of XRadio’s jazz program.