Starstruck: Miss Thang, aka Kristy Burgess, stops to pose for a photo with American R&B singer Montell Jordan after she interviewed him for her radio show on HOTT 107.5. *Photo supplied
Starstruck: Miss Thang, aka Kristy Burgess, stops to pose for a photo with American R&B singer Montell Jordan after she interviewed him for her radio show on HOTT 107.5. *Photo supplied
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WEDNESDAY, FEB. 9: Radio personality Miss Thang is seen as a friend to many as she chats away to them in their homes, cars and places of work. Her voice is instantly recognisable as she shares with us her no-holds barred views on life. But Kristy Burgess insists she is nothing like her on-air alter ego. The Bermuda Sun’s Sirkka Huish talks to the dedicated charity worker who was recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours.

 


 

 

As soon as Kristy Burgess sits behind the microphone she turns into a “completely different person”.

Without even thinking about what she is doing she transforms herself into her radio personality alter ego Miss Thang who loves to talk, non-stop.

Miss Thang has an opinion about everything and she’s not afraid to share it with the listeners of HOTT 107.5.

This is a far cry from Miss Burgess who says she prefers to curl up on her own with a good book rather than being the centre of attention.

She was a recluse as a child who says she kept things to herself as she struggled to cope without her parents.

But even as Miss Burgess got older and found her confidence, she had no desire to be on the radio as she had her heart set on being a lawyer.

Miss Burgess says people always get the wrong idea about who she is because of “how loud” she is on the radio. She says people expect her to be “the life and soul of every party” when in fact she’s usually at home with her sweatpants on.

Alter ego

She said: “Miss Thang is definitely my alter-ego, she is a piece of work and a firecracker all in one. She speaks her mind, she keeps it real, no holds barred.

 “I’m not wishy-washy, I don’t flip-flop around, people get the truth, I’m not going to be biased, if I disagree I’ll say so.”

Miss Burgess gets people talking by bringing up controversial issues on the radio. She analyses everything from why men cheat on women to personal hygiene and also spends a lot of time “dissecting” the latest news stories.

But she probably gets most praise for being a powerful role model who believes women have to respect themselves through the way they act, dress and carry themselves.

The message she likes to get across is: “It’s all about self-respect and self-worth. Women have to treat themselves like a Queen before they are going to find a King.”

Miss Burgess, who will only say she’s over 28 but under 35, says the best thing about being a DJ is “all the positive feedback”. Girls visit the studio to ask her advice and a woman who was a high school dropout once said she listened to her show as she “learned something new everyday”.

She said: “I love what I do so much that sometimes I really don’t realize how much I impact lives.”

Miss Burgess never gets nervous before going on air but admits to “being full of butterflies” before hosting events and interviewing well-known figures. Her biggest interview to date was Minister Louis Farrakhan when she was “at the mirror doing my make-up and praying that my words would come out”.

However, sometimes she wishes she was “not quite so well known” so she could walk down the street without people yelling Miss Thang or go to dinner without being asked for her autograph.

She said: “It doesn’t annoy me but people need to remember that I am human.

“The down side to the job is that people seem to think they have rights to me as a radio personality.”

Miss Burgess says the job has made her grow “broad shoulders” but  she still finds it hard when people “mix her personal life with her professional”. She says people can be particularly “cruel and offensive” about her father.

Miss Burgess talks openly about her father, who continues to insist he is innocent as he serves a 30-year prison sentence for a serious sexual assault. Miss Burgess agrees her father has had challenges and made bad choices, but says she’ll always be a daddy’s girl. She said: “He’s my father and I will always love him.”

Miss Burgess says charity work is second nature to her as she sees helping others as “a gift from God”.

She loves bringing smiles to the faces of those in need and believes more people need to “go back to basics and be kind and neighbourly to one another”.

Miss Burgess runs The Young Phenomenal Women’s Association charity, which aims to “make a difference” by hosting annual fundraising events. Miss Burgess says this charity was “my brainchild and I will never let it die”.

She also organizes the Christmas Wish List fundraising campaign, which ensures the needy have gifts to open on Christmas Day.

On December 14 last year Miss Burgess received the all-important phone call from Government House and her first thought was: “Gosh what have I done”? She was told she had been awarded the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour for community service.

Overwhelming

She said: “I couldn’t believe it, I think I’m still in shock.

“This is one of the highest honours anyone can achieve and I’ve been awarded it at such a young age, it’s overwhelming.”

Miss Burgess is expected to pick up her award from Government House in the Spring and jokes that she hopes she is given enough notice to “find the perfect suit and hat”.

Miss Thang, who lives on her own in Hamilton Parish, enjoys reading and sleeping “as I never get enough of it”.

She loves watching movies, especially Tyler Perry movies and anything with Denzel Washington in it. She also likes Sylvester Stallone and “anything romantic”.

She names her favourite music as 50 Cent, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and “old soul” such as The Stylistics. She also likes a little bit of rock, could listen to gospel all day and is getting into house music “with the bassline blaring out of my apartment”.

Miss Burgess, who is a Boston Celtics fan, said: “As an only child I’m used to spending a lot of time on my own, I don’t mind being by myself, I like the quiet time. I’m my own best friend.

“People think who they hear on the radio is what they are going to get all the time, they couldn’t be more wrong.”

Miss Burgess was born early, at 27 weeks, at King Edward Memorial VII Hospital weighing just 2lb 6oz.

She was an only child for parents Kingsley and Patricia Burgess and grew up in Bailey’s Bay. But her childhood “was far from easy” as when she was seven years old her mom died of cancer while her dad was serving a prison sentence.

She remains “eternally grateful” for being taken in by aunt and uncle Vickie and Anthony Simons.

Miss Burgess said: “It was a very hard time for me, I was a little girl who was going through a lot, I had to deal with things in my own way.

“I became a recluse, I didn’t say much to a lot of people.

“I had lost my mom and I didn’t have my dad around, I was angry with the world.”

It wasn’t until she attended Sheila Ming’s modelling school at the age of eight that she said she started to “really evolve and come out of my shell”.

Miss Burgess said: “That’s when Miss Thang was really born! I learned about self esteem, self respect and self worth and I wasn’t going to stand for anything else.

“The confidence was probably always there, but it took someone to bring it out of me.”

She attended Francis Patton Primary School then went on to the Bermuda Institute, describing herself as a student “who had to really put my mind to studying”.

Her favourite subjects included English, history and social studies but she said “math and I were never good friends.” She said she loved singing and acting, but during sports lessons she’d “always be the one on the side putting on lipgloss”.

Miss Burgess said: “At Bermuda Institute I can remember coming into my own, I was loudest on campus. You would hear me before you saw me.”

She became Miss Thang as a 17-year-old student who won an acting competition for her one-woman show about a young girl who was forced to get an abortion after falling for the most popular guy in school. The play was called ‘Miss All That’ and was written by fellow student Shawn Crockwell, who is now a lawyer and BDA MP. Miss All That was shortened to Miss Thang.

Miss Burgess then got a job as a ticket agent for American Airlines and worked at law firm Milligan, White and Smith for about a year.

She said: “I always wanted to be a lawyer, that was the only thing I’d thought about doing.

“Julian Hall was a good friend and a mentor and I loved going to court and following the cases.

“But I just lost the passion for law. Watching the guilty walk free and the innocent go to jail made me realise it wasn’t the job for me.”

She went on to work for CellularOne for about seven years as an administration and personal assistant, as well as on the front desk at the Sonesta Hotel.

Miss Burgess then started begging Keevil ‘The Captain’ Burgess on Power 95 if she could be his side-kick. She started to help him out on a voluntary basis before it became a joint morning show. She said: “We had so much fun together, it’s something I will always remember.”

Miss Burgess was now hooked to being on air and she was determined to get her own show. She heard about new radio station HOTT 107.5 and sent in her demo tape. She said: “They heard it, they liked it and here I am.”

Career take-off

Miss Burgess started on the Bootsie and Company Morning Show, before having a Saturday show then an evening slot. She is currently on air six days a week, from 3-9pm Monday to Thursday, 3-8pm on Fridays and 10am to 6pm on Saturdays.

She also works part-time on the front desk at the emergency room of King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.

Miss Burgess has two older brothers and an older sister through her dad’s previous relationship; Keenan and Kingsley Burgess and Danielle Dublin. Her aunt and uncle went on to have daughter Antonia Simons who she calls “my little sis”.

She says her family “get a kick” out of hearing her on air and they remain her biggest critics as they tell her when she has “crossed the line or is sitting on the fence”.

Miss Burgess — who is currently dating “someone special” — is studying for her life coach certification. It is her ambition to travel to schools overseas to coach young men and women to “reach the next stage in life”.

She also hopes to travel to Africa and Bali, to learn how to speak Italian and she’s determined to get her own TV chat show “just like Oprah”.

Miss Burgess hasn’t ruled out a future in politics as she knows that’s a way she can “make a difference to so many”, although she said she’s unsure “about the protocol of politics as I’m such a free sprit”.

But what she’d like most is to own her own home with a waterfront view and to have her dad round for Christmas dinner.

She says it is important for everyone on the island to: “dare to be different and never stop dreaming”.