Majic 107-5's ratings have been a lot better than its spelling. In the February PPM, the Urban AC ranked second in the market behind V-103 for Persons 6+. Majic, which has been winning the 25-54 money demo over its direct competition, Cox Media Group's Kiss 104, opened up some daylight in the overall 6+ numbers.
Majic 107-5/97-5, a Radio One station, has not been controlling its own destiny as much as Kiss, however. While both stations have syndicated morning shows, Majic with Steve Harvey and Kiss with Tom Joyner, Majic has been airing the syndicated Michael Baisden in afternoon drive while Kiss presents live local programming hosted by Art Terrell.
Said another way, 62% of Majic's prime hours (Mon-Fri, 6AM-7PM) contain syndicated product while 69% of Kiss 104's prime hours are live and local. And frankly, Majic likes it that way.
The past year has not been without scares for Majic. When Steve Harvey moved to Chicago and started a daytime TV show, respected blogger Kevin Ross predicted Majic's star morning host was not long for the radio world. Harvey quelled that idea by signing a new long-term deal with Clear Channel in January.
Two weeks ago, Michael Baisden announced his show would be ending due to not reaching new contract terms with Cumulus Media Networks. Cumulus was not happy it was Baisden and not the company who made the announcement, and reacted by locking out the host for his last 9 days.
Michael Baisden's story is one of tremendous determination. After driving across the country selling his self-published books from the trunk of his car, he did an afternoon drive show for New York's 98.7 Kiss FM at no salary. The station's ratings soared from #9 to #1, and Baisden was rewarded with syndication.
Syndicated radio host has been Baisden's bully pulpit for furthering African-American causes. He campaigned for President Obama on and off the air. His show was popular and carried on about 50 stations.
In Atlanta, Majic 107.5/97.5 routinely beat Kiss 104 in 25-54 during Baisden's shift. However, Baisden was reputed to be difficult to deal with, clashing with Cumulus brass for years. In recent months, stations in Detroit, Los Angeles and Philadelphia dropped his show in favor of local talent.
Baisden's departure forced a decision on the part of Majic 107-5/97-5 regarding the future of afternoon drive. On one hand, the station could find another syndicated show. On the other, it could go music intensive, perhaps shifting Carol Blackmon from middays or Si-Man from evenings into the slot. Both are Atlanta radio icons who successfully hosted drive-time shows in the past.
Majic opted to carry Skip Murphy, the new show being launched by Cumulus Media Networks and Reach Media to replace Baisden. Murphy, who will work with co-host Jasmine Sanders, appears to have the right pedigree. He has jocked in major markets for years and won a slew of prestigious awards. And his resume includes a hint of the activism that made Michael Baisden a household name.
So did Radio One make the right decision? My opinion is yes. Either course would come with risks. But Majic has been performing exceptionally well with a national show in afternoon drive that was more talk than music. It's a major point of difference from Kiss, and Majic's listeners expect such a show.
While Majic's local shifts are expertly programmed, they are still the bigger unknown in afternoon drive. Given the new host's credentials and the daypart's success, repairing what's broken rather than replacing it seems the better solution.
We will find out. Skip Murphy's show kicks off today, April 1.
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Rodney Ho's AJC Radio & TV blog: http://blogs.ajc.com/radio-tv-talk/.
Atlanta Radio Insider: http://atlradioinsider.blogspot.com/.