DJ Khaled Honors ‘Idol’ Timbaland at Variety’s Miami Entertainment Town Event: ‘His Music Will Play Forever’
Rain or shine, the city of Miami showed up and showed out to celebrate the “megalopolis” they call home at Variety’s annual Miami Entertainment Town, presented by CN Bank, on April 13. This year’s Legends and Groundbreakers award was presented by 2022 honoree Emilio Estefan to Raúl Alarcón — the chairman and CEO of Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS), otherwise known as the largest Hispanic-owned Spanish-language radio chain in the U.S.
The second iteration of the event also saw the addition of a Music Pioneer Award, which went to songwriter-producer Timbaland. DJ Khaled bestowed the inaugural award to his “idol,” whose work spans decades of chart-topping songs with artists like Missy Elliott, Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake.
“He broke down doors for brothers like me to do what I’m doing today,” Khaled told the room of industry giants, most of whom were featured in Variety‘s Miami Entertainment Impact Report. “Because I look at Timbaland, not just as a producer, but he’s an artist. He’s a CEO, he’s an amazing father…Timbaland is what you call the definition of being timeless. His music will play forever.”
Timbaland expressed his gratitude to Khaled and Variety’s executive editor of music, Shirley Halperin, before adding, “I really wish my sister was here…Missy [Elliott] because this is why I’m in this beautiful city. It was because of her. And I made a lot of hit records here.”
He listed Elliott’s 2002 banger “Work It” and Jay-Z’s instant smash “Dirt Off Your Shoulders” as examples. “Miami has always been my home and to get this award at my home, man, it’s such a blessing,” he said.
Before leaving the stage, Timbaland also gave flowers to Tainy, who he called “the biggest producer, I think that’s out here…he’s teaching me the [Latin] culture.” (Tainy participated in last year’s Miami Entertainment Town panel.)
When Estefan took the stage to welcome Alarcón, the room erupted in thunderous applause. From his seat, Khaled exclaimed: “That’s a legend right there!”
Estefan started by thanking the seasoned radio exec for believing in his music “when labels didn’t…you always welcomed us with a smile to promote our culture.” Alarcón’s late father, Pablo Raúl Alarcón, launched the first Spanish-language music FM outlet. That spot on the dial, 97.9 FM, is now the home of Spanish Broadcasting System’s flagship WSKQ-FM, which Raúl Alarcón bought 18 years later and is now Mega 97.9 FM, the nation’s No. 1 most-listened-to and most-streamed station in any language.
“You and your father and your family — what they’ve done for music is an incredible thing to develop and live a legacy of pride,” said Estefan.
“Everything that you mentioned about me, I throw back and I mention about you 10 times more,” responded Alarcón. “Because you are the epitome of the Latin entertainment industry and also of Miami.”
He continued, “I’ve been at this for 40 years and this Miami was a very different place, obviously when I first got here all those years ago…Standing here today, I would have to tell you that there are two enormous things that are happening in this country now, which is the Latin explosion of course, of which Miami is the preponderant example…And at the same time, the explosion of Miami as a megalopolis — as a city that can be the city of the future in terms of entertainment.”
That same ideal was shared earlier that morning in the Spotlight Conversation between Mayor of Miami-Dade County, Daniella Levine Cava, and Nelson Albareda, CEO of Loud and Live.
“Our greatest asset is our diversity,” said Mayor Cava, “and that includes the homegrown diversity. And so I’m fully committed to equity in all that we do and lifting up our local talent…we’re going to be working to make sure the pipeline is there to lift up all of our local talents.”
Albareda and Mayor Cava spent some time chatting about the city’s economic impact in relation to ticketing and live touring, pointing out that Miami’s live music events often attract tourists “from South America, Central America, Mexico, [and] all over the United States.”
That point was proven by Mayor Cava, who said the city was in talks with the Latin Recording Academy about potentially moving the Latin Grammy Awards to Miami.
“We’ve got sound stages, we’ve got the schools, the universities, we have to take advantage of those. The Latin Grammys — they are coming and checking out all those facilities,” she revealed. Albareda also spoke about Miami’s “first country music festival,” which will see acts including Thomas Rhett, Sam Hunt and Lainey Wilson.
Ronald Day, president of entertainment and content strategy for NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises (who was later referred to as the “king of Hispanic reality TV”), and Karen Barroeta, executive VP of production and development at Telemundo Global Studios, also participated in a keynote conversation with Rodrigo Nieto-Galvis, entertainment banking team leader at CN Bank Miami.
The three discussed Telemundo’s evolving music and original programming strategies, including the investments made to cater to “200 percenters,” audiences that are 100% American and 100% Latin.
“It’s not only the Spanish speaker that immigrates into the U.S., but most of the Hispanics now have been born here. So they not only speak English but speak Spanish, but they care about their culture, they care about their parents’ culture and that has changed,” Barroeta said. “We have to work very closely with our stations. We have more than 45 stations across the country…and we do pilots, we test them, we test the stories, characters…’El Señor de los Cielos’ is a testament of that. After 800 episodes, I think we know that we created something that people really like.”
Day also mentioned Telemundo’s goal of amping up their music-related productions and teased an upcoming collaboration with SBS and Alarcón.
“We have a couple of projects that, unfortunately, I cannot tell you [about] because they are in the process of development,” he teased. “But I can tell you that Miami will continue as our main focus.”