They say the years fly by when you get older, and apparently they know. It seems like yesterday when V-103 threw a client party at Sambuca in Buckhead to welcome Frank Ski and give a send-off to departing morning man Mike Roberts.
When I moved to Baltimore in 1988, Ski was doing evenings on CBS Radio's Urban station, also V-103 (WXYV-FM). He had come there from his first radio job at Baltimore AM Hip-Hop outlet WEBB. I did not care for Ski, but someone smarter than I saw something in him and moved him to mornings, alongside current V-103/Atlanta newscaster Jean Ross.
Radio One's 92Q, V-103/Baltimore's Urban competition, went on the attack. V-103, long the market's #1 station, started eroding. CBS Radio fired Ski, who immediately was picked up by 92Q. It was not long before 92Q dominated the Baltimore market and pushed V-103 out of the format.
That will not happen in Atlanta, where V-103 has deep roots in the community, a mammoth signal and an air staff the likes of the New York Yankees. The enormously-talented Ryan Cameron will slide into Ski's chair, and V-103 will not miss a beat.
The station will replace Cameron in afternoons with Big Tigger, said to be a favorite of V-103 PD Reggie Rouse. Big Tigger worked for years at sister Urban WPGC in Washington but was fired last year. Rouse has proven a skilled programmer, but hopefully Big Tigger has substance. Another Rouse favorite, Osei the Dark Secret, did not fare so well in middays on V-103 several years ago.
Talent manifests itself in different ways. When Ski left Baltimore for Atlanta, I read of the emotional bond that his 92Q audience had with him; that he did his final broadcast outside the building, where listeners expressed their love and wished him well. When he first opened the mic in Atlanta, I thought V-103 had lost something in the way of talent.
I've always felt Mike Roberts, Ski's predecessor, had much more natural radio talent, meaning voice, delivery and sense of timing. But Ski more than made up for that in a number of ways. He was passionate, opinionated and inspirational, and had a work ethic second to none. He was always out in the community. Frank Ski touched many lives during his days on V-103.
Ski was both loved and disliked. And his co-host, Wanda Smith, who started during Mike Roberts' tenure, added hilarity. That all translated to #1 ratings.
So what's next for Frank Ski? He reportedly decided to leave V-103 because he felt the time had
arrived for the next step in his career, a syndicated morning show. One thing is for certain: No one station is going to give him the huge platform and salary that he enjoyed at V-103.
How realistic is syndication for Ski? With the Urban and Urban AC landscape filled with Steve Harvey, Tom Joyner and Rickey Smiley, breaking in could prove difficult. Some have predicted that with the recent addition of a daytime TV show, Harvey will find doing his radio show a bit of overload. But I have heard nothing about the subject from Harvey himself.
Tom Joyner is getting older along with his audience. Yet I am unaware of any retirement plans. If either Harvey or Joyner did step down, Frank Ski could prove an excellent replacement. If they did not, Ski's best hope would be replacing Joyner on stations in a number of markets. I am unaware, however, of the contractual obligations of Joyner's current crop of stations.
Whatever the future holds, I wish Frank Ski the best. He made a mighty contribution to Atlanta radio and to the Atlanta community.
Merry Christmas and happy New Year. We will be back in January.
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Link to Rodney Ho's AJC Radio & TV blog: http://blogs.ajc.com/radio-tv-talk/