Monday, April 11, 2011

As The V-103 Turns

If a diamond is forever, the on-air time span of a radio personality is the polar opposite of that gleaming jewel.  Even at #1 rated V-103 (WVEE-FM), things evolve over time.  It seemed like award-winning morning host Mike Roberts would be there forever, but he eventually yielded the seat to Frank Ski.

Ever since Ryan Cameron signed with the station for afternoon drive 6 years ago, many have predicted he was the future replacement for Frank Ski.  Yet Ski, along with co-host Wanda Smith, has kept the ratings up.  He has signed two contracts since Cameron arrived, the first a 3-year deal and the latest rumored to be shorter.

Many are still placing their money on Cameron as the morning host in the not-too-distant future.  Other rumors are swirling about the makeup of the V-103 air staff in the coming years.  The striking thing about these rumors is that they sound logical.  And that makes me wonder whether logic or something more is behind them.  One person told me that he had inside information.

Rumor #1 is Ryan Cameron taking over mornings with Elle Duncan.  This cogent little theory makes some but not total sense.  Ski has been in mornings for 13 years, and the show could be ready for some fresh blood.  Moreover, Cameron has always been perceived as a star, and his afternoon drive show has the elements of a successful wake-up program.  However, Frank Ski, the lightening rod that he is, still has huge ratings.  And Cameron is not much younger than Ski.  The station could save some money depending on how they filled Cameron's current shift, but as the economy comes back, that might be a moot point.

Rumor #2 has evening jammer Greg Street being pushed out in favor of Lil Bankhead and DJ Infamous, now heard on weekends.  It's been 6 o'clock and time for Street to rock for many years now.  In fact, hiring him in 1995 was considered a stroke of genius from former Program Director Tony Brown, who saw the direction that Urban music was about to head.  Street left after several years for Dallas' K104 but returned to V-103 in 2006.

Street's leaving in the short-term future seems the most reasonable of the rumors.  When he arrived, he was the young Hip-Hop guy.  Now he's entertaining the kids of his original listeners.  Just how long can somebody maintain Street's frantic on-air pace?  If Street did leave, I don't know that Lil Bankhead and DJ Infamous would necessarily take his slot, but it's possible.  After all, Hot 107-9 (WHTA-FM) has the Dirty Boyz, who do a slam-bang job in evenings.

Rumor #3 is the most intriguing to me.  It says that Kenny Burns, make that "Lifestyle Specialist" Kenny Burns, will move into afternoon drive after Ryan Cameron replaces Frank & Wanda in the morning.  Like the first two rumors, this one has some logic behind it.  Burns recently started a show on V-103 airing Saturdays and Sundays from 2-6PM.

Burns is displaying some talent and competency on his weekend shows, but he doesn't sound quite ready for prime time.  And while he could be coached into a star personality, I wonder about the true logic of this one.  For one thing, why would Burns want a full-time job at V-103?  He's already accomplished so much--introducing the Notorious B.I.G. to the world, promoting acts such as Jay-Z, founding a visionary clothing company.  For another, would he have time for afternoon drive and its inherent obligations, including appearances?  Furthermore, would Burns be willing to be critiqued and coached?

True or not, the rumors are interesting.  Rarely does a station's talent lineup allow a glimpse at its possible future like V-103's.  Based on V-103's history in the Atlanta market, one thing is for sure.  The station knows that resting on its laurels is not in its DNA.

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