This one literally came out of nowhere!
At approximately 3:45 p.m. in the New York City area, Longtime WQHT-FM Hot 97 afternoon DJ Angie Martinez announced via her Twitter and Instagram that after 20-plus years on the Urban station that she was resigning from Hot 97.
“Today I resigned from Hot 97. I am grateful to the Emmis family for my time with the company and the immeasurable way that it has shaped my life. We made history in so many ways and I will cherish those memories and my friendships forever. This was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make, but ultimately it is time to move on, to grow, and to be challenged in new ways. Saying goodbye is always emotional and bitter sweet, but I am extremely excited about the future. Thank you Hot 97 and most importantly…the listeners…for an unimaginable journey. Today will be my last show. Stay tuned….Love, Angie” –Angie Martinez via Instagram, June 18, 2014
Along with her Instagram post was a photo with the words “Life Has to Move Forward. Everything Has Its Time and Everything Ends.”
Such a move could not have come at a worse time for Emmis’ Hot 97. The company is expected to close on its purchase of Urban AC 107.5 WBLS and Gospel 1190 WLIB by the end of the year, but it is coming at a time where Hot 97 is in the throes of a perceived identity crisis inside the Tri-State area, among aficionados of Hip-Hop, and radio listeners.
In the May PPMs, Hot was still leading Power 105.1 by a margin of 3.5 to 3.2, but R&B WBLS (buoyed by the fact that it has had no real competitor since Emmis LMA’ed 98.7 Kiss to ESPN) is near the top of the NYC PPMs at a 5.6—ahead of both Hot and Power.
As far as Hot’s perceived identity crisis among hip-hop heads goes, it is said that while Power caters to more “hardcore” fans of hip-hop & R&B (The Breakfast Club—DJ Envy, Angela Yee, Charlamagne the God probably helps a lot as well), Hot has seemingly become too “Hot” for its own good. Critics contend that Hot has drifted too much into the territory of other stations that typically play the “hits” like WHTZ “Z-100”, WKTU “103.5 KTU”, WPLJ 95.5, and WNOW 92.3 Amp Radio.
Let’s call a spade a spade for just a second—in many ways, Angie Martinez CARRIED Hot 97. She was #1 in afternoons in market numero uno. In radio terms, that is an accomplishment, to say the least. That’s why I wouldn’t want to be an Emmis executive.
There’s no doubt about it that with Martinez leaving Hot 97 that their slim lead they have (per the May PPMs) over Power 105.1 will shrink or even evaporate completely. By how much is anyone’s guess, but I guess we’ll have to wait for the July PPMs in August for a clear picture on how that goes.
It’s also the second time that a major Gotham radio personality has taken an offer from “across the street”. Radio legend Scott Shannon (formerly from the True Oldies Channel and the “Scott & Todd” Morning show on ‘PLJ) left to become the new morning jock at heritage Oldies/Classic Hits 101.1 WCBS-FM.
Now, “The Voice of New York” will find a new microphone for said voice to be heard all throughout the Tri-State. But where?
Immediately, speculation ran like a flood of subway trains that Angie had also accepted an offer from across the street at Power 105.1. Already with The Breakfast Club and the perception that they’ve unseated Hot 97 as The Big Apple’s Hip-Hop station, for them to be the new home for “The Voice” would be huge…like, the Empire State Building.
In addition, there seems to be another wrinkle to this story that is not even being provided by Emmis or Clear Channel.
Think…Atlanta. More specifically, the Dickey Brothers.
Cumulus Media already were the owners of PLJ and Conservative News/Talk Information station WABC-AM 77. Plus, when Cumulus bought WFME 94.7 from Harold Camping’s Family Radio, they used it as the launching pad for the first of their many “Nash-FM” Country radio stations. Nash has since set up its state-of-the-art studios at its “Nash Campus” in Nashville at WKDF 103.3 and is emphasizing the Country lifestyle as well as the music.
Cumulus also happens to own a radio station in Westchester County at 103.9 WFAS that airs an Adult Contemporary format. There has been plenty of speculation about if Cumulus may move the 103.9 tower from White Plains and into The City.
That looks like it is about to happen as Cumulus seems to want to move the 103.9 out of the pricy NYC suburbs of Westchester and into The Bronx to target more of the Boroughs.
That would seem like it would be a perfect place for a new Alternative or Active Rock station in NYC, wouldn’t it? Especially since Gotham has been starving for a Modern Rocker since 101.9 was bought by (now defunct) Merlin Media and changed into an FM News Radio station—a move that turned out to be one of the biggest failures in New York City radio history.
101.9 is now owned by CBS Radio and is simulcasting 660 WFAN.
A random Twitter account was spotted under the tagline @radio1039NY. Does this mean a stunt, or the actual rebranding of the station? The brand “Radio” is more commonly used for Alternative, Active, and AAA Rock stations as well as CHRs. But given Amp’s struggles vs. Z and the fact that Cumulus already owns ‘PLJ, it is unlikely Cumulus tries a Q-100 (Atlanta) clone in Gotham.
As for the 103.9, the news regarding Angie Martinez broke at the exact same time that many observers and radio pundits remembered in the back of their collective noggins that Cumulus has plans for its 103.9.
And reports say that they do not include amps and electric guitars.
Rumors are running rampant that 103.9 may change its format to some variation of Urban and is a possible landing spot for Angie Martinez. Format wise, it would automatically be an assumption that the best fit for her would be Power 105.1.
103.9 could also go Mainstream Urban, but Cumulus would seemingly be only flipping said station to a Mainstream Urban outlet solely to market Angie Martinez as the face of the new station. Such an outlet would garner ratings in a New York minute given how popular she is around New York—and around the country.
But the station does not necessarily have to be Mainstream Urban to fit Martinez. Cumulus could change 103.9 into an Urban AC station ala ‘BLS and the old Kiss FM. When Kiss flipped to ESPN Radio, Martinez tweeted about her fandom of Kiss FM.
In addition, Urban radio disc jockeys regularly transition to Urban AC and Urban Oldies stations later in their careers. This is partly because being a 40+ or 50+ year old on a Mainstream Urban station is not exactly a good fit. In addition, they do it themselves for the sole purpose of reconnecting with their audience that listened to them early on in their Mainstream Urban days, that thanks to age and the changes in the music business, were probably no longer listening to Hip-Hop and were transitioning themselves to R&B/Urban AC/Oldies stations.
Rick Party was a popular DJ on Chicago’s WGCI 107.5 (Urban) for many years. Now, he does afternoon on WHQT Hot 105 in Miami—an Urban Oldies outlet owned by Cox.
Ed Lover (of Yo! MTV Raps and “C’mon Son!” fame) had stints on Hot 97 and Power 105 before accepting a weekend DJ gig on 98.7 Kiss FM as the host of “Friday Night Flava”. He now does a show six days a week on Sirius XM’s Old School Hip Hop channel, Backspin.
So it would not be unusual if Martinez went the same path—to an Urban AC on a 103.9, if Cumulus flips 103.9 to Urban AC and if that’s where Martinez ends up.
But such a move would come at an almost unbelievable time for Cumulus. They would flip a 103.9 to Urban AC—a second Urban AC. The Tri-State has not had a second Urban AC since the Kiss flip.
Also, Cumulus seemingly wants one major Urban personality while making life anything but a smooth broadcast for another. They are suing former nationally syndicated afternoon drive-time host Michael Baisden for an estimated $1 million according to reports. The suit alleges that Baisden and his production company were paid for over a year after he left.
There is no market that Baisden coveted more than New York City, even as a native Chicagoan. As time drifted closer and closer to the cancellation of his show by Cumulus Media Networks, Baisden was hemorrhaging affiliates, including a Radio One station in Dallas at 94.5 K-Soul that shifted its format from Urban AC to Urban Oldies “Old School 94.5” (that has since reverted back to the K-Soul name). A Clear Channel outlet in Philadelphia (105.3 WDAS) also stopped airing his show.
When Kiss flipped to ESPN, Baisden began an on-air and social media campaign to get WBLS to pick up his show. Some of Kiss’s hosts were successful in moving over to ‘BLS, including late-night host Lenny Green, but ‘BLS never tapped the syndied Baisden for afternoons.
Baisden was let go without even being allowed to do a week’s worth of shows to say goodbye to his audience. He has since been replaced in afternoons by D.L. Hughley. Baisden has since gone on to put more emphasis on his endeavors as a motivational speaker and author.
There is even talk that perhaps Martinez may link up with Sean “Puffy” Combs and become a host of her own show on his “Revolt TV” channel. The “bossip” site…well, called Bossip has a supposed exclusive on its website saying Martinez already has accepted an offer to go “across the street” to Power 105.1.
But that is a tabloid site, of course, along the lines of Media Take Out. I prefer to be patient and “esperate” (wait) for official word from either a station or from Angie herself.
That remains to be seen, if it is Power, the new Urban at 103.9, Revolt, or someplace else. One thing is for sure—wherever “The Voice of New York” is heard, New York is likely to listen.
Oh, one more thing as an abrupt P.S.: Dare I say that, Angie, your loyal fans “will go, contigo” wherever it is you are. Anyone forget that she also gave us this circa 2002? Around the same time that Power debuted on New York radio after flipping from “Jammin’ Oldies”
Wonder how much Power played it at the time. They ought to now if she’s heading across the street from Hot 97!