After 16 years on Chicago’s V103, “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” was replaced by “The Steve Harvey Morning Show,” causing an upset to Joyner’s loyalists. As a result, Harvey has received backlash about Clear Channel’s impromptu decision. The New York Times best-selling author, comedian and actor talked to ESSENCE.com about what really went down.
Tom Joyner is a radio legend, so I don’t blame his fans for being upset about his leaving. But here’s the deal: I spoke to Tom about it in depth as friends and as men; he knows I had nothing to do with this. I was told on Friday that it “might” happen and I was out on Monday and didn’t think anything more about it. Tom found out on Monday. On Monday, I get a call from my manager saying we are leaving WGCI to go to V103, which are both owned by Clear Channel. I say, “That’s Tom’s station,” and he simply tells me that Tom’s leaving.
I immediately called Tom and he knows as well as I do how the radio business goes. I’m a syndicated radio host for hire. I didn’t ask to go to V103. My services were no longer wanted at V103 because they planned to return to a hip-hop format and not continue with an adult contemporary program. Don’t get me wrong, I was treated nicely by the staff, but at the end of the day, this was the corporate boys squeezing what they could to make sure their corporation stays tight.
When all of this went down I got a call from Donnie Simpson and he said, “I know how it goes, it’s not your call but you’ll be the blame, so keep your head up.” I know people like to point fingers, but neither Tom nor I own or make radio stations. We’re just the hired guns who go where we are needed. I’m sorry, but I’m just not that powerful of a man. It’s a really difficult position to be in because I’m getting hated on all over Chicago, getting all these calls and e-mails asking me, “How could you do that to Tom?” Believe me when I tell you: I don’t have that much power, but I wish I did because I’d be on every radio station. Tom has more power in radio than I do. He’s in 112 markets; I’m in 64, and even he couldn’t prevent this from happening. Also, let me clear something up before I’m accused of trying to take over Chicago. When WGCI let me go, they hadn’t filled my vacancy with a new host so they did a simulcast of my show on both stations. Now that right there is crazy!
But what’s more confusing to me, and the one thing that I don’t like about radio is that there is no public announcement about the switch and the devoted listeners just wake up and the change has been made without any forewarning. Then the ousted team doesn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to their fans. Again, I understand the upset and why they want to write petitions, but it’s not going to change anything. I don’t know what Tom is going to do. I have a hunch that he’ll be back in the Chicago market before we know it—and I’ll be listening when he does.
Check out Steve Harvey’s New York Times best-selling book, “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man,” available online and at bookstores now.