John Koutsakis lives a double life as J-Kruz, an on-air radio personality at 97.9 The Beat, a popular urban radio station in Dallas, TX and as a rapper in the group Mano y Mano. Whether on stage rocking a crowd or behind the boards at the station, he consistently brings his “A” game. A natural born entertainer, the same charismatic delivery on-air resonates on his raps songs as well as in his stage performances.
Born in Queens, a New York community where Hip Hop is a major influence, J-Kruz developed a love for the culture at a young age. He didn’t know exactly how, but he was determined to make a contribution to the movement. His radio career began at WAMO 106.7, an urban station in Pittsburgh, PA. He was with the station eight years, but for the first several years he pushed buttons as a Board Operator. It took four and a half years before he was able to get on-air, but within the first year, accolades began rolling in for J-Kruz. He was voted best on air personality for three years in a row at the Pittsburgh Hip Hop Awards and his show was named the best night show on radio in Pittsburgh.
As his radio career took off, J-Kruz began to foster his passion for rapping. Remembering the MC’s he admired growing up in Queens, he devised a plan to emulate them while adding his own style. Penning lyrics from real life experiences and true reflections of his personality enabled him to grow a fan base and raise the bar with each new recording. J-Kruz and his talented younger brother Sossa Smoth, who he names as an inspiration, began working together and after several successful song collaborations, the dynamic duo decided to join forces and form the rap group Mano y Mano. They dropped a mixtape and due to rave reviews from their hometown fans, they opted to record a full studio album, which was recently released. Current singles on the project include the urban smash “Hero” and the pop infused “Stuck on U”. Their music has an east coast vibe, but they strive to create songs with a universal appeal.
Eight years after joining WAMO, news that the radio station was being sold gave J-Kruz the motivation to seek work outside of Pittsburgh. With aspirations to reach a larger audience and expand his reach in radio, J-Kruz didn’t hesitate upon getting the call from the Program Director of the popular urban station 97.9 The Beat. In 2010, he officially joined the station as a full-time on-air personality. In less than a year, he’s given listeners a reason to tune in weeknight evenings from 6 - 10pm with his distinctive voice and dynamic personality. In addition to entertaining listeners, J-Kruz uses his influence to motivate students in the DFW area to stay in school and strive for greatness. In the spirit of Hip Hop, he’s also committed to working with local artist to help get them to the next level with an upcoming Raizing the Bar competition and mixtape series. His loyal listeners will also be rewarded during his upcoming 97.9 The Beat one-year anniversary celebration this September.
J-Kruz is on the rise and intent on raising the bar every step of the way. Check him out on Dallas-Fort Worth’s radio station 97.9 The Beat, and keep up with him and his activities around the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Facebook and Twitter.