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Pattaya Personality - Tino Valentino

By Kevin Cain


This month’s Trader Pattaya Personality delves into the exciting world of live radio. Although many of our readers may be familiar with our personality’s voice over the airwaves on Kiss FM, we thought it was time to expose the man behind the voice.

Sipping my water at the Pattaya People’s offices, where our interview was going to take place, my musing was interrupted when a large hand was thrust in my direction, owned by a dreadlocked gentleman sporting a big welcoming smile.This was my first meeting with Tino, although I had seen him perform many times in Pattaya at the Candy Shop. The eloquent American southern drawl was quite hypnotic and I thought it was just perfect for the airways.

Tino hails from Atlanta Georgia, and was born into a musical family with a fine pedigree. At an early age he took up the trumpet and was regularly playing in the school choir or as American’s like to say “The Chorus”. His parents were big inspirations in his musical upbringing, his father Jo Jo Benson regularly sInging in local clubs solo and in bands. But it was Tino’s mother, Lil’ Dot that was the real star of the household.

Even in her early 20’s, Lil’ Dot was regularly singing alongside great luminaries of the time, such as Millie Jackson and Clarence Carter. She would be away for long periods on tour and Tino got used to the life of a musician’s son. Lil’ Dot’s voice was deeply soulful and sometimes it was compared to the great Betty Wright’s. Further on in her long successful career she appeared with, James Brown, Prince and Michael Jackson.

At the tender age of eight all this did not mean very much to a young Tino, but music was very much in his blood and would continue to shape his life in future years.At the time Tino did not really wish for a future career in music and would rather have taken up law studies but karma, opportunity or chance seemed to take a hand and to point him back onto the musical road of life.So it was that Tino graduated from the Performing Arts High School which he was enthralled by. Everywhere he looked: down corridors, in doorways, on stairwells people were singing, dancing, playing all manner of musical instruments and generally enjoying life.

It was around this time that Tino got together with a pal and entered a talent show as a singing duo. Although they did not win the competition they were encouraged by the reception the audience gave them. Tino entered further competitions by himself and by this time was starting to attract a great deal of attention. In fact a life changing opportunity came along when a man called J C Jason, who was a member of the immensely successful S.O.S Band, approached Tino after a gig. He was blown away by Tino’s vocal performance and wanted Tino to join him in Japan where he had a contract to play with his own band.

Tino refused the offer but after consultation with his girlfriend and consideration of the lucrative offer of actual pay, Tino’s first foray as a traveling musician took place. The amazing culture of Asia and the lifestyle of a musician suited him down to the ground. After roughly eight years singing in clubs around Japan, a Thai entrepreneur happened to catch one of the shows, and in 2010 Tino was invited to Pattaya. The destination was the infamous Walking Street and the venue was one of the best clubs in town, Candy Shop. The musical genre of Hip Hop was perfect for Tino as it was the theme music to his youth. Tino loved Candy Shop and in return the Candy Shop punters loved Tino. Everything about the club, it’s style and atmosphere suited him down to the ground and a great partnership was formed.

It was whilst playing at the Candy Shop one night that Dan Johnston of Kiss FM watched him perform and not for the first time in his career, Tino’s awesome vocal performance prompted fate to play another hand. A few weeks later Tino was on the airways as a Kiss FM presenter, radio was something that Tino had been fascinated with since being a kid in Atlanta and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

Since then Tino has not looked back. The genial American smiles when he imparts that he has just founded his own record company here in Pattaya. Gott Money Entertainment is Tino’s latest venture and is really the driving force behind Kiss FM. Tino Turnup can be heard on the Drive Time show on Kiss FM every day between 4pm-7pm and he also hosts the Saturday Street Vibez Hip Hop show with fellow presenter D-Kut from 7pm-9pm.

Tino explained that Radio is just as much about business as music, in fact more effort is involved in the commercial side of running a successful radio station than actually planning the musical format.Surprisingly from a musician’s standpoint, Tino really enjoys the commercial side of the business which intreagues him greatly. And all this effort and sacrifice is for a reason, the money he is earning goes back home for his son’s education. Another chip off the musical block is formulating as we wonder whether he too will follow in his family’s footsteps ? What grand steps he has to follow in !

Tino feels that he is in a position to influence the younger generations growing up due to the informative platforms at his disposal. His dream of working with radio has come to fruition and he wants to push kids as much as he can to achieve their goals.So what is in store for the future? Tino wants to concentrate on his current projects and to build up Gott Money Entertainment to be a successful record company. His gigs at the Candy Shop will still continue and his regular forays over the airways will be broadcast loud and clear.