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BEAT WILL GO ON FOR DJ EKIN

DJ Ekin may still be known as Tampa's "most connected DJ." But these days that connection doesn't extend to WBTP-FM 95.7 the Beat, where he has worked for the past six years.

Last month, Ekin, whose real name is Bobby Hack, was fired. Without much explanation, he said.

"We're going in a different direction," is the line Ekin said he got from the Beat's program director Ron "Jomama" Shepard.

Shepard, who does a midday show for the station, said it was the truth.

"We got a female-targeted radio station and we wanted to have a female-targeted voice personality," he said. "We saw an opportunity to grab one so we had to make that move."

Female radio personality "La Loco," can now be heard on the station's week day 6 to 9 p.m. time slot.

Ekin, 32, isn't bitter.

"I'm always going to be thankful for the opportunity," he said.

Before coming to the Beat, the University of Central Florida graduate's resume included Street Team work for rap label Def Jam and spinning records for events including the BET Soundstage at Walt Disney.

Even after being hired at the Clear Channel station, Ekin maintained DJ work outside the beat - somewhat out of necessity, he said. As a mix-show coordinator at the station he worked about 10 hours a week.

Two years ago he started Conn-X-ions, a nonprofit focused on teaching youth the importance of setting goals and networking. Several of the events were co-branded with the Beat, which he thought was a win-win situation.

But things changed when he turned down a promotions director position with the station last year to further pursue his own promotions work.

Management seemed disappointed in his decision, he said.

"I wasn't the guy at the door saying 'Please talk to me,' anymore," Ekin admits. "It was a learning experience for me."

But the separation hasn't stopped his grind.

Friday morning, he fit in a quick breakfast at Pach's Place in South Tampa. It's a calm moment in an otherwise rowdy day as Ekin puts the finishing touches on the second-annual "Athletes vs. Entertainers Weekend Bash."

The two-day event, which ends today, includes a motivational brunch for youth, celebrity basketball game at King High School in Tampa and nightlife events. Proceeds will benefit Conn-X-ions.

Last year 50 children from Eckerd Youth Alternatives attended the motivational brunch.

"The entertainers and athletes shared their stories of how they got to were they are today, many of them had a rocky road to success much like the youth that we serve," said Karen Bonsignori associate vice president at Eckerd. "The kids learned that through hard work and perseverance they too can accomplish their dreams."

And at the end of the day that's exactly what Ekin says he'll do despite his recent job loss.

"When I get up in the morning, I just want to work," he said. "I'm a hip hop kid, you can give me this much and I'm going to take it and make something out of it."

Nicole Hutcheson can be reached at nhutcheson@sptimes.com or (813)226-3405.

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FAST FACTS

Weekend Bash

For information on Conn-X-ions and the second- annual "Athletes vs. Entertainers Weekend Bash," go to: connxions.org/ or theavse.comor call (813) 426-3546.

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