Friday, March 27, 2009

Tom Joyner calls firing from Clear Channel's WVAZ-FM 102.7 in Chicago different from the others

Thanks Jackie! Tommie some insight please.....
Radio host Tom Joyner is based in Dallas but roots are in Chicago
Phil Rosenthal | Media
March 27, 2009
Monday's edition of "The Tom Joyner Morning Show" was typical, as far as Joyner was concerned. There were laughs, some solid information and encouragement. "And I talked a little bit about people who get laid off," he said. "Because every day there's a story about people getting laid off."

Four hours or so after he got off the air, he got the call. One of that day's stories would be his: Clear Channel pulled the plug on his show in Chicago, where his radio roots reach back to 1972.

Joyner's Dallas-based syndicated program, while continuing to be heard in dozens of smaller markets around the country as well as online, was replaced immediately on WVAZ-FM 102.7, his outlet here for the past 13 years, by comedian Steve Harvey, whose show has been airing on WGCI-FM 107.5.

"I've been fired a bunch of times, but this was up there," Joyner said by phone. "You know, I worked every radio station in Chicago, including as a cab dispatcher. I didn't walk from one station to the other, I got kicked. But I haven't been kicked in a long time, so this felt a lot different."

Suddenly, Joyner was off the air in the city he still considered home long after he returned to Dallas.

"Tom has been a great partner," said Earl Jones, president and Chicago market manager of Clear Channel. "This wasn't about that. This is about the direction we have to move."

Replacing Joyner, 59, on V103 with Harvey, 53, whose show is syndicated by a Clear Channel subsidiary, opened a slot for a new local WGCI morning program the company plans to launch Wednesday. The thinking is it will pay off long term.

Arbitron's switch from diaries to Portable People Meters to produce the radio audience estimates used to set ad rates has been accompanied by rating declines for almost all urban formats. But it has produced new data on listening habits.

With Tony Sculfield, 42, backed by WGCI evening co-host Leon Rogers and WKSC-FM 103.5 midday personality Nina Chantele, the company believes its new morning show will be more consistent with the rest of WGCI's programming.

"It's business," said Joyner, whose show's biggest markets are now Philadelphia and Detroit, where his syndicator, urban-focused Radio One, owns outlets. "If I were Clear Channel, I'd probably do exactly the same thing because you're in business to stay in business and, strategically, it's what they should have done."

Even if it ticks off listeners?

"Well …," he said, chuckling as his voice trails off. "I can't answer that one."

One need only check the Internet message boards to find resentment. Disgruntled Chicago fans have been pointed to BlackAmerica Web.com, where his show can be heard online. Joyner said there has been a surge in Web traffic, but online ad money simply doesn't match the broadcast numbers.

"I need the commercial-radio Chicago market," Joyner said. "I'm very concerned. Chicago, for all practical purposes, is the flagship. It is the mother ship. It is our largest market.

"Back in the day," he said, "whenever I got fired, there were options. And if there were no options, somebody who was not doing well in their format might flip to the urban format, and then that was an option. Now, [the Portable People Meters format] has made it so no one would think about flipping their signal to an urban station."

Chicago is where Joyner became a star, arriving at WVON-AM from Dallas in 1972. When new ownership cleaned house there six years later, he briefly went to old WBMX-FM. One fan was Johnson Publishing founder John H. Johnson.

"Mr. Johnson called and said he listened to me and he didn't listen to his own station [WJPC], so he wanted me to come there and I did," said Joyner, who eventually went back to Dallas only to make radio history a few years later by simultaneously signing contracts for a morning job in Dallas and afternoon gig here on WGCI without telling either station ahead of time.

For eight years, he was the Fly Jock, jetting back and forth daily. National syndication came later.

All the while, he never forgot what he was taught by Johnson, publisher of Ebony and Jet, who built a media empire by not only appealing to African-American audience but proving its value to marketers. Over and over he has said his philosophy is "to superserve the African-American community."

Little wonder his Chicago listeners feel a void, and that Joyner, ever-grateful for their loyalty, feels one too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
The words in your article seem to be running off the screen
in Firefox. I'm not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I thought I'd post to let you know.
The design look great though! Hope you get the problem resolved soon.
Cheers

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