“Black promoters will pay a celebrity $5,000 to $10,000 to make an appearance for an hour and only pay the DJ $250! And there are many DJs that will take that $250 per night!”
A few years ago, Frank Ski walked away from a job that he had held for more than a decade: The morning show host at WVEE (V103-Atlanta). There were no prospects as far as jobs. Ski just wanted to make a change that would move him closer to his goal of doing syndicated radio. He ended up doing a stint in Washington, D.C., at WHUR while still living in Atlanta. He then returned to Atlanta to reboot. He sold his popular restaurant, went through some personal life changes, and returned to V103 this time to do part-time and fill-in work. However, while not disclosing his current deal with V103, Ski says he’s as busy as ever, appearing all over social media, traveling, and being involved in many events in, around and outside of Atlanta.
When you left the morning show at V103 some time ago, a lot of us were scratching our heads. You were determined to get a syndicated show without another prospect when you left. Why did you make a move like that?
Faith! God was speaking to me. My number-one feature had always been the “Inspirational Vitamin.” And for a very long time, I had been telling listeners they needed to trust God and walk in faith. I knew God had more for me.
We had been number one in all the major demos for almost 15 years straight, and we were doing this in the most competitive Urban market in America. Atlanta had Tom Joyner, Steve Harvey, Rickey Smiley, and Yolanda Adams. Our double-digit ratings at the time were double each of their individual numbers. I knew we had a great product. I honestly thought the syndicators would see that. Many did. I had several meetings, but my timing was off. Other politics and business moves were already in motion.
Do you miss doing mornings after so many years?
I honestly miss being on in the morning and afternoons. There is so much information that is not being disseminated in the Urban community. My job as a radio host is not only to play music and make people laugh but to give them the knowledge, inspiration and the tools to help them become better. Our show changed people’s lives. I miss helping people.
You have made the absolute most out of doing a part-time shift at V103. I see you on social media and I have to admit, it doesn’t look like you even have time to do a morning show. What are you working on right now?
I stay engaged with the community. I host events several times per week. That is my job, LOL. Too many jocks today are just voices that go home after their shifts. As an on-air talent, you are campaigning for ratings every day. That means being out with the people, serving and investing in the community we serve. Right now, I’m finishing my book series and campaigning for my next radio job.
We have talked about Black DJs not making a lot of money in today’s music industry, yet you see many non-Black DJs making millions for one night playing in Miami or in Vegas. What happened?
Black folks will pay to see a celebrity stand in VIP. White folks won’t. Black folks are about hype. White folks pay for the experience. White folks dance! Black folks don’t. Black promoters will pay a celebrity $5,000 to $10,000 to make an appearance for an hour and only pay the DJ $250! And there are many DJs that will take that $250 per night! Many are only getting $75 to $100! In turn, Black promoters get what they pay for. White promoters pay for talent, and they pay for DJs that have a following.
Black folks got too “Cool.” Our younger generation doesn’t dance anymore. We gave away our Soul. R&B was Soul Music—now it’s Bruno Mars. House Music was soulful—now it’s Calvin Harris. In most schools, we don’t teach our kids music anymore. As a result, many of these new Black artists make their music on computers, or they buy their music from studio producers. Many producers reproduce the same tracks over and over and sell it to different artists. It’s all starting to sound the same. In turn, our audience doesn’t respect the talent.
You still like to DJ, and you’ve always been an entrepreneur of sorts making sure you were always involved with other aspects of the industry. What are the top five records you have been on and/or produced?
Ha! I produced a lot of music and remixes for a lot of artist after my first hit, “Doo Doo Brown.” Many I never got credit for.
- “Doo Doo Brown”
- “Whores In This House”
- “Tony’s Bitch Track”
- “99 1/2 Remix” (Hezekiah Walker)
- “I Wanna Rock Remix” (Luke)
- “Breakdown Remix” (Luke)
- “Scar Remix” (Luke)
What is your advice to vets in the industry who still want to work but think the industry is done with them?
Stay ready. Always remember why you got into the business. Never be afraid to press “reset” and start over. Except that when you press “reset,” you start over with experience! Don’t be afraid to embrace technology. Podcast, podcast, podcast! If I wasn’t signed to CBS, I would be doing my own show and podcast online. You can always do an online show after your 9-to-5. All you need is a laptop and an Internet connection. Shit, Facebook Live is the bomb! LOL.
A good friend, consumer adviser Clark Howard, told me how much the industry has changed. He said his on-air show used to have a staff of 10 people, with one or two handling Social Media. Now he has one producer for on-air and 10 to 15 people handling web and social media! Check out Clark.com. You’ll see.
I think radio is about to change again. A few of the major radio owners are about to sell their stations. There will be some new owners. Programmers are going back to local. New opportunities are on the horizon. Let’s hope I’m right.