Are Urban Radio Vet DJs Closing the Door on New Talent?


Yesterday, I wrote a piece on Donny Simpson and I have to admit, I felt that perhaps I was a little hard on Donnie. There are times when my passion for Black radio might go a bit too strong to get a point across but sometimes I feel like the entire Black radio industry is on a sinking ship and the bottom of the boat is flooding while we keep patching up the deck or waiting for someone to come out to sea to save us.

Shortcuts to save money can undermine our financial success in the long term. Donnie Simpson, Steve Harvey, Tom Joyner and Michael Baisden will be on their death beds with the mic live if they could but are any of them doing it for the LOVE of radio or for the LOVE of MONEY and GREED?

The heads of the Corps(e) may say… ‘I don’t give a sh… WHAT they do it for, they are our saving grace right now and they save us money.’ I would agree… they are the saving grace RIGHT NOW but why is it that no matter where I go and who I ask, even with PPMs ratings… NOBODY listens to radio anymore?

If our collective ratings are good with the plethora of syndicated shows we are running now, could they possibly be GREAT if we hired young, local talent that could connect with the trendsetters in our markets. Would local and national advertisers be more apt to advertise the latest cell phones, soft drinks, local colleges and trade schools etc?

I hear to get Tom or Steve to make a local appearance, you better dig DEEP in the station’s pockets and come out with thousand s. I’ve seen LOCAL morning show Radio DJs pull JUST as many people with a local remote who were paid much MUCH MUCH less.   On the subject of overpaid vets who are not effective, where does our loyalty end and our brain activity begin?

There is nothing wrong with having vets on the team as long as they are forward thinking at the same time, when I used to talk to big New York ad agencies about a magazine I did a few years back (a magazine outside of the industry) I would always stress, the person on the cover of the magazine resembles the target of who the magazine is trying to reach.  

It’s the same with radio. While we may all love him, from his days as a host on BET’s Video Soul, who is Donnie Simpson reaching THESE days? He did a great contest not long ago to find a new sidekick and the sales team at WPGC did a great job of selling the concept to advertisers but after all was said and done and the winner was picked… we’re right back where we started.

Donnie may not want to face the fact that his illustrious career in the Black radio and TV industry may be over but the listeners are screaming it and WPGC has ignored it for too long out of loyalty. WPGC is now forced to FINALLY make a decision they should have made 2 years ago but it’s better late than never… (maybe).

A vet sent me an angry email saying I was against vets and that I am wrong and the music out now is pure crap. … Yadda, yadda fooking yadda. Rappers and R&stars are not making their songs for ME to like them as a middle aged man, they are trying to reach THEIR generation. As you get older in this industry you have to rely more on your skills and experience than you do your taste, out of the 3 that’s the one thing that makes the most drastic change.

As an on air host, if you are not into the music, there is an element that is missing and the audience will pick it up. I can’t applaud Donnie for refusing to play today’s hits because he deems them unworthy of airplay. He’s not the PD and perhaps we will eventually return to the days when Black announcers can have their own shows and play the type of music they want to play.

I can understand how that would make radio more exciting. Sh…, with the way the radio economy is going, selling time to local churches (some of the WORST on air presentations, preaching and singing I have EVER heard. Do we really have to let these people DESTROY the quality of our stations? Would someone tell them “You SUCK, Praise the Lord,” “Gloraye Hallelue.”

Give me a check (that will cash) and I’ll go to the Sunday Service and tell the whole congregation…. YOU’RE FIRED!) Anyway, I’m willing to bet there are some radio people out there willing to buy time on the air, provided they can sell that slot too. Maybe people who don’t like today’s music can buy their own on the air and play the music they like, but why should radio pay them when they already have a PD?

I think there are some Black radio people who are truly passionate about radio. Who love the craft and who are willing to work hard at developing their talent. That can be at any age and I can’t stress enough the importance of “forward thinking.” I don’t think those people are Tom Joyner , Steve Harvey, Michael Baisden etc.

There is a difference between “passion” and “payday.” It is distinct, you can hear it on the airwaves. Mentally, I’m trying to put myself in their shoes. Would I want as many stations as Tom at his age? No, I would take 1/4 of the stations and demand those other opportunities be given to young, fresh talent. Would I have the team that Steve or Tom has?

There are some good quality vets on both shows but I’m not sure but I would want people who are afraid of me or who would fear telling me when I’m wrong about something. That’s the one good thing about Robin on Howard Stern. She is the ONLY sidekick I have ever heard who stand s up to Howard and challenges him.

I also have to give the comedian on Tom Joyner (I don’t listen to Tom’s show.. is it J Anthony Brown?) credit for the time he stood up to Tom when Tom was moaning and groaning about Tavis leaving the show. A BRILLIANT move on Tavis’ part, that show was SO beneath him but it served its purpose to make him a star… get in and get out. J Anthony told Tom

“Get over it man, Tavis is gone, can we please move on?”   J was right, Tom’s bitching was annoying but his response to Tom damn near had me drive up a tree. I am often so accustomed to sidekicks on Black syndicated shows being so meek. Tom told J Anthony to go home. What kind of sh… is that? (laugh) Somebody should tell Tom to go home.

I talk to a LOT of radio people from both Black and CHR each week and when CHR people admit Black radio people are underutilized and that the ENTIRE industry is run by too many old, fat, bald guys (and we won’t even get started on the men)(laugh, whew, I just kill me) something is wrong (laugh).

No disrespect to Donnie, Tom, Steve or anyone else who has made a LOT of money from Urban radio over the decades… But when do we open the door and allow the opportunity for others in to start their careers. You know, like the opportunity that WE were given?

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  1. SCREW “urban radio,”it’s just a bunch a (c)rap B.S. and popinjay
    “mis-leaders”(Dyson,Jackson,Farra-Con-Man,etc.)attmpting to cash in by “interpreting” African-Americans to “sympathetic”whites for loot which enriches them and their boys,NOT other blacks.That’s why I’m a Country
    music fan.(Oh,and the babes are 25 times hotter than the fat,fugly,b***hy,
    rap/R&B/Gospel/soul broads!!!


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