The craziness ends here

Robert Feder in today’s Sun-Times is reporting that “Crazy” Howard McGee will be dropped as morning host at Clear Channel urban contemporary station WGCI-FM and being replaced by Steve Harvey’s syndicated morning show.

The move is expected to take place sometime around August 1.

Harvey’s program had been airing on Crawford’s Urban AC outlet WSRB-FM, but Premiere Radio Networks, a division of Clear Channel, has pulled the show from the station, in part because of the poor ratings performance and WSRB’s weak signal. WSRB has not announced a replacement.

Meanwhile, Tom Joyner’s syndicated morning show at Clear Channel’s WVAZ-FM is expected to be dropped from their lineup later this year, in a move that could potentially cripple one of radio’s most popular shows.

In 2003, Joyner’s show lost New York – the nation’s largest African-American market – and hasn’t been heard on terrestrial radio there since. Joyner’s show was also dropped in Los Angeles last year.

Harvey meanwhile, airs on Urban AC WBLS-FM in New York and Urban rimshotter KDAY-FM in Los Angeles.

A loss of Chicago -the nation’s second largest African-American market – could hurt his show and his standing with national advertisers. Joyner brought his Sky Show to the Chicago Theater last week to a packed house. Joyner’s show constantly ranks in the top ten among morning drive-time shows in Chicago.

Names that have surfaced to replace Joyner would be former WGCI morning man Doug Banks and McGee.

Howard McGee’s departure comes despite the fact that his morning show ranks third in the Chicago market. Harvey’s show ranks 28th. McGee has done mornings at WGCI since January 1998.

Analysis: While this move seems stupid, it actually makes sense – from a business standpoint. For them. WGCI’s move to acquire The Steve Harvey Morning Show would essentially be getting a program from a sister company – both Premiere and WGCI are owned by Clear Channel. They would pay little or nothing to get the show.

On the other hand, Harvey’s show is more older-skewing than most hip-hop stations the caliber of WGCI. Harvey was local morning man on KKBT (now KRBV) in Los Angeles several years ago and his show did not mesh well with the station’s then- hip-hop format.

Harvey also had an earlier stint as morning man at WGCI in the mid 1990’s, which did not work out.

Meanwhile, Clear Channel may have a revenge factor against the TJMS in dropping its Chicago outlet. When ABC originally syndicated the show, it cleared a lot of Urban AC stations owned by Clear Channel and its predecessors.

When Radio One took over syndication of the show from ABC through Reach Media (which is part-owned by Joyner) two years ago, Radio One took TJMS off of its Clear Channel Urban AC outlets in Philadelphia (WDAS-FM), Detroit (WMXD-FM) and St. Louis (KMJM-FM), and put them on rival Urban AC stations owned by Radio One.

The Philadelphia and Detroit stations have since replaced Joyner’s show with Harvey’s; The St. Louis station replaced Joyner with a local effort.

Joyner’s show could resurface at WSRB. But that station is planning a local show to replace Harvey.

As noted here last week, TJMS airs on the largest non-Radio One station in the country, a station owned by Clear Channel. But their corporate rivalry has gotten in the way of the listeners’ best interests. If NBC Universal’s House can run on Fox, why can’t TJMS run on a Clear Channel station?

Perhaps WVAZ should take a look at how many people showed up for that Sky Show last week. Joyner, who worked in Chicago radio for more than a decade, has a huge following here, and the numbers back that up (admittingly, TJMS has become more homogenized in the past year, and those numbers have slipped somewhat.) McGee has a loyal following too, and has the numbers to back that up.

But the only numbers Clear Channel are only interested in are those in the accounting ledger. They’ve certainly earned the “cheap channel” nickname. After all, they did replace WLIT-FM’s local morning show (with Melissa Foreman) with a syndicated Whoopi Goldberg, whose show is also syndicated by Premiere.

As for Harvey, he clearly does not connect with young listeners. Don’t be surprised if some of them (if any) flee to Power 92’s (WPWX-FM) morning show or even Eddie & JoBo & Erica on WBBM-FM (B 96.) The latter already has a significant African-American audience and co-host Erica Cobb is African-American. Others will just simply plug in their iPods. Radio has pretty much become irrelevant to today’s younger generation and stupid moves like this are the reason why.

As for Joyner’s Chicago listeners, if WVAZ goes ahead and drops the show, they may have to listen to the show online, if they want their TJMS fix. Unfortunately, that may not be for long if those internet radio royalty rates go into effect on July 15 as planned.

There is no doubt that with McGee’s and Joyner’s departures will anger a lot of listeners. But hey, if the CTA angers its customers on a regular basis, and the CTA doesn’t care, and the RIAA and Sound Exchange piss off listeners, and they don’t care, why should Chicago’s radio stations care about theirs?

What a wonderful world we live in. Might not have internet radio later this month , and now might not have Tom Joyner and Howard McGee, either. Consumers aren’t king. Big companies and the RIAA are. No matter what color your skin is, we’re nothing but slaves on their plantations. Except nobody’s singing Swing Lo, Sweet Cherry. It’s copyrighted.

What do you think? Post your comments (as always, keep it clean…)


1 thought on “The craziness ends here

    • I heard Steve’s show this morning and it put me to sleep. He is not interesting and has nothing intersing to say. It would be better if the station would just play the music instead of Steve. At least Mcgee was tolarable.

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