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Is Tom Joyner and Steve Harvey the BEST we can do in Urban Radio?

As I watch try to get his show back on in , I ask myself one question… have we truly forgotten how to groom NEW talent?

Why is there such a great need on the urban side (and to an extent as in Rick Dees) to keep recycling old(er) talent??? Tom Joyner is 60 and is 56, Keith Sweat is 48. Are you telling me there is 24 year old out there who shows great promise as the big thing in urban or are we still playing by the dated rules of “pay your dues and someday you will be great” that’s the biggest crock of sh… I have ever heard of and I wish I wouldn’t have fallen for it for the few that I did. That’s the WORST advice anyone can give or get in this youth driven industry. Out of all 3 of the above mentioned, Tom is the only TRUE radio vet.. but I personally can’t listen to either of them. Tom’s show, the last time I heard it was just a myriad of forced laughter, dead air and 70’s humor. The show is terribly dated and needs and giant youthful swift boot in the ass. Why isn’t there a 23 year old on the show being groomed? I will give Tom credit however as an EXCELLENT community activist and aggressive component for community issues but we have a black president now, we need a bit more than that when it comes to radio.

Steve Harvey… Once again, the show is also dated, I have laughed a couple of times but I have never set my alarm to a station running the show or listened to it in the car. Most of the people on that show have been around for 15 or 20 years too (except Steve who still has limited radio experience).

Keith Sweat, I have never heard the show but EVERY programmer I have talked to said it’s horrific and that Keith is horrid as a host. In addition, they have all also said the show is TOTALLY marketed for women and that men would have little or no interest in it and most of the programmers I talked to about the show…. were men. So that may or may not be fair to Keith.

Today’s hosts or “opportunists” have jumped on the syndication band wagon and they are obviously enjoying the financial ride. I can’t blame them for that. They have done it because comedy or is no longer working, they say ‘HEY, I’ll be a syndicated radio host and put 100 black professional announcers out of work!’ (laugh). You would be AMAZED (and sickend) at how much these syndicated urban radio people make for appearances and the deals they are offered.   I truly feel for the REAL vets who have paid dues for 20 years just to sit on the sidelines now and watch Hollywood’s rejected urban comics and singers take over our helm.

I am a hardcore advocate for professional announcers QUICKLY rising through the ranks and for the past 15 years, that seems to have become a thing of the past. I have heard horror stories in the early days of urban syndication about promising talent being relegated to board oping for Tom and Steve’s shows instead of building their own careers. While those shows are now automated in many markets, what was the final price to the announcer who once dreamed of rising through the market ranks who is no longer even in radio. I also remember the syndicated hosts using the pu..y excuse “if you do your job you will still get promoted at radio” (laugh).   That was a pile of boiling hot and smelly mule sh….   While urban radio scrambles to survive and prevent layoffs, dwindling staffs and budget cuts, how about promoting and grooming some new talent? Just about everybody who is in pocket in the industry today is around my age and while I am very connected to my peers, it’s like there’s a freeze on developing new talent. I applaud WGCI for taking a chance with 3 (national) unknowns and to develop them to be the NEXT Tom Joyner and Steve Harvey. I also applaud stations like and Stevie Wonder who no matter how many times he has been approached to run Tom Joyner and Steve Harvey or how much they keep sweeteing the deal, he flat out refuses because he believes in live on-air talent.   Stop bitching like babies when your shows are dropped in certain markets and think about how many announcers you put out of work by taking that show on the station in the first place. With all due respect to Tom, I thought was supposed to be a company that would develop new talent… too? Did I miss something? There JUST comes a time when it’s time to move on and groom the next generation. GENERALLY SPEAKING, It’s hard to be 176 years old and convince the audience that you are still connected to today’s music industry especially when you keep talking about music and the good old days from the 70s… Who gives a sh…?   I don’t like all the music from today either but there was a lot of crappy sh… produced in the 70s too. Stop looking back and plan ahead but I guess when you are stuck in the past, what else can you do? We’ve got some AMAZING talent making strides, or at least trying to, in today’s industry who are basically being ignored. As long as old hosts are at the helm of urban radio what else do we have to focus on but the “good ol’ days” and the 70s? Am I wrong for this (comment anonymously if you wish) or are you dying to hear something or someone new too?

CEO of RF Focus, Radio and Music Industry Veteran. Radio DJ, Programmer, Musician and Voice Talent. Graduated from Performing Arts in Buffalo, N.Y. and worked at the legendary KKBT (92.3 The Beat) during its nationwide heyday in the early 90s. Also worked for Stevie Wonder at KJLH.

8 COMMENTS

  1. YES IT IS TIME FOR CHANGE JUST LIKE OUR NEW PRESIDENT IS CALLING FOR. I AM SOO TIRED OF PEOPLE OVERHYPING BURNT OUT TALENT, I KNOW THERE ARE SOME UP AND COMING TALENT THAT WOULD MURDER THE ABOVE TALENT MENTIONED…RADIO STATIONS NEED TO REALLY REALIZE THEY DONT NEED TO HIRE WASHED UP RECYCLED TALENT JUST FOR NAME SAKE, PROGRAM DIRECTORS NEED TO LET THIER NUTS HANG AND DONT BE AFRIAD TO HIRE AND PUT ON LOCAL TALENT AND DONT BE AFRAID TO GIVE THAT STREET TEAMER THAT YOU CAN CLEARLY SEE HAS TALENT A CHANCE TO DO OVERNIGHTS, BY THE WAY BRING OVERNIGHT SHIFTS BACK, IT WAS A GREAT BREEDING GROUND TO NATURE NEW TALENT

  2. Kevin,
    As the saying goes you “went in”..Like most trendsetters you said what others wont or are afraid to say.
    Although i agree with you on certain points.I think at the end of the day it’s about competition.Case in Point my radio partner Dave Sanborn and i went up against Joyner (radio one) in Philly in 2004 and after 7 months we beat him,only to have iHeartmedia (formerly Clear Channel) replace us with Harvey.BY THE WAY i’m 51…To me age aint nuthin but a number but thats me.
    The “new”talent”is out there but most of it is UNTAMED.There are a few hitters but not many.It seems like companies are afraid of challengeing Tom or Steve i agree from our standpoint those shows dont seem like much but the audience has NOTHING to choose from.(with some exceptions like ATL or DC and even NYC where i am right now)
    Once you put new talent on you gotta coach them properly and promote them as well those things NEVER go out of style

  3. I don’t agree with much of that–seems to me talent rises to the top regardless of age/experience and that if you don’t hear/see it–it ain’t there. It’s a tad disingenuous to say Steve Harvey is inexperienced–last I looked he was a morning personality in Chicago for about 3 years, about 5 in LA and now, about 4 in NY. Seems to me that 12 years doing mornings in the top 3 markets–with #1-2-3 demo rankings is pretty experienced. And I’m pretty sure Tom Joyner was under 30 when he started at WJPC in Chicago, right? So talented youth rises. What it is, is, that our new President proves you can speak our fucking language, act and dress like a good family man and still be Black and real. Some ignorant misognistic punk with his goddamn pants hanging half down his ass barely covered by a too-big white T shirt and an arm full of self-hate and mutilaition in the form of tatoos carrying some stupid fuckin jug of Patron ain’t what mainstream Black America wants for its progeny. Music? C’mon, what music? Moans and groans through a keyboard? One hit wonders singin’ about the pu..y they can’t get and wouldn’t know what to do with if they ever met a REAL woman? Bullshit. Hats off to Stevie doing what the fuck he wants with his own station, shit after 20+ years it’s paid for–and I’m one of Guy Black’s biggest fans but he clearly ain’t young. When great talent arises they star. When great music pops up we play it, you hear it and go buy it. But the rest of that shit’s romance, not business. Oh yeah–don’t get it twisted–I’m Black and been around as a pro for a lot more time that I care to share in the circumstance. And I get paid big money for that free opinion I just gave you.

  4. The most talented and rising stars are in Rhythmic radio not in Urban radio; I like Julian Nieh and J Niice. Julian was funny as hell in DC. Both are very entertaining without the thug swagga pimp hustler style.

    Where’s the traiing ground? Board Op’ing is not going to get you there, you got to crack the mic.

  5. After reading the comments, especially the last one, I can’t help but to wonder if our refusal as industry vets to connect with the younger generation will ever end and is it part of the problem? I agree, I have come across some of the most IGNORANT, uneducated, no good, young black folks but I have also come across some of the most greedy, selfish, inconsiderate, backstabbing dirty ass vets too (laugh). NONE of us are perfect.

    Any announcer who has not started from scratch and paid dues, in my opinion as a radio pro, is not a REAL jock.. Steve Harvey is a comedian BEFORE he is a jock I dont’ give a shit if he’s been doing it for 30 years… and I guarantee you if a major network offered him a multi-million dollar TV show, which is likely with his best selling book, he’d drop radio or at least consider it (then again shit, so would I) The point I am trying to make is, radio is a profession, and it’s one that many people have worked very hard in.. to see so many doors open and so much money thrown at people who are doing it FOR the money only, I’m sure, bothers the true pros. To see so many doors close and opportunities dwindle for the TRUE pros bothers me and I’m willing to bet Keith, Steve, Rickey and even Tom to a certain extent, would find it more important to watch an egg boil and could care less (laugh). In the end we will have to adjust and make our own money but it would have been great if many of us could have seen this train coming when we started.. Shit, perhaps WE could have been comedians too! (laugh). I’m not mad at the syndicators for making money but don’t block the fucking door for others… ESPECIALLY RADIO PEOPLE who want to come in and join the party either.

  6. For the record, on the national level, I’m a nobody that realized after 30 years of radio (commercial and non-commercial) I would not get to the mountain top. But I saw the other side 13 years ago when Bill Clinton signed into law the dagger (Telecommuications act of 96) that has created this mess we now call radio.
    Radio doesn’t provide breeding grounds for new talent because it is too expensive. I’ve had owners tell me why pay some young hotshot all that cash + benefits when I can go get Tom, Keith or Ricky for half the money, not worry about them calling in sick and taking weeks of vacation time (which I have to pay for). I can get a computer to run my overnights and be programmed to sound like I have a person right there in the studio. Plus I can get some kid to voice track overnights in several markets for the price of one.
    And at the end of the day, people will still listen to the radio no matter what weak crap is on the air. Companies will still buy radio because, well there are sales people telling them radio is the way to go.
    That savings allows owners to create the iHeartmedia (formerly Clear Channel)s, Radio One’s, Cumulus, Citadel’s and other radio giants of the world.
    Kevin you wrote in your response that radio is a profession. I don’t disagree, but I used to teach my students and those I mentor that radio is a passion, not just a profession . If you’re doing it for the money, the majority of you will be more disappointed than two hours of bad sex with a fine woman.
    So why does Tom, Ricky, Keith, Don Imus, Mike & Mike in the Morning & these other cats get morning shows that are putting people out of work? Well, they are name personalities/comedians. It’s like taking a rapper and making them a movie star. If they were a rapper, woudl they get a movie role? Probably not. We are a fast paced world that no longer has time to groom anything. Why pay some local morning guy 100 grand a year to satisfy audiences in a top ten market, when I can get Tom J for around that amount and he will do the same thing? Even if he is 60, his jokes are dated, music is tired and he has more dead air than can fill a cemetary? People still listen. To a owner, that’s all that matters.
    Radio vets (I know what I’m about to say is controversial but it needs to be said) are not without blame in this mess. We should have put in our years and then learned how to buy and own these stations, instead of letting the sales people of the world in corporate America figure out this gold mine we had in the industry. How many programmers actually make it in sales? or better, how many programmers came from those ranks to become General Managers. I bet there are not very many.
    Corporate America bought radio stations, stripped them down and made serious cash from them until recently. Now they are trying to get out cause the money has dried up, leaving a shell of a business/industry with just a few talented jocks on the air and nobody around to replace them.
    So how do you fix this problem? Give it time; it will fix itself. I said it 10 years ago and I still believe radio will evolve again back to new ownership that will bring the local/regional back to radio. The station may only be 5,000 watts, but it will be local and influential again. I love Cathy Hughes and respect her (and one day woudl like to meet her) but we need more people like she was in the beginning with WOL. Start with one station and build accordingly your programming, promotions and community involvement. That’s your breeding ground for young talent. When they move on, find another person to take their place for a few years.
    Go back to how Donnie Simpson got his start in Detroit, Peety Greene in DC and others. They had a local following that allowed them to grow. It was their passion of radio that helped the station. Not the money.
    When you breed young announcers like that, you may see a ripple effect that can pull up pants, reduce crime and give people hope in communities we haven’t seen radio give in a long time.
    Think about it. If a riot were to happen in DC today, you think Tom Joyner and the crew could stop it they way the announcers at WOL did? Nope.

  7. I am so glade that Guy Black is gone. He was washed up rude to celeberties and others. He was a no body from the start , i don’t even know where he came from he just was not a good fit here in LA he had the short man complex he took things to serious.

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