2020 Atlanta radio year in review: Ryan Cameron, Frank Ski, Clark Howard

This was a tough year for Atlanta radio as stations faced even greater financial pressures, . exacerbated by the pandemic disrupting commuter patterns. Several morning shows were upended, Alt 105.7 died and Star 94 took a more dance-oriented route. Here were some of the biggest stories of the year:. Ryan Cameron, one of the most popular radio jocks in Atlanta the past three decades, almost died after catching sepsis in April. He was off the air on Majic 107.5/97.5 for several months but came back in August. He said he is doing much better now. Frank Ski left V-103 and joined Kiss 104.1. After more than three decades on Atlanta radio, . the consumer rights guru Clark Howard has decided to voluntarily end his nationwide radio show at the end of 2020. The pandemic hurt sports talk 680/93.7 The Fan so much that chief David Dickey had to make some major moves. He let go two of his highest-paid hosts, Stephen “Steak” Shapiro and John Kincade. Former radio host Herman Cain died after he caught COVID-19 in early summer . The R&B station Kiss this year let go several on-air personalities including Twanda Black, Zooman Miller, Art Terrell and the beloved Youngblood. whose weekend classic R&B station had been on the station for 20 years until September

Don’t forget Steak Shapiro and Mz Shyneka.

This was a tough year for Atlanta radio as stations faced even greater financial pressures, exacerbated by the pandemic disrupting commuter patterns.

Several morning shows were upended, Alt 105.7 died and Star 94 took a more dance-oriented route.

Here were the biggest stories of the year:

ajc.com

Ryan Cameron almost died

Cameron, one of the most popular radio jocks in Atlanta the past three decades, in April caught sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition caused by the body’s extreme response to an infection. He fell unconscious and landed in the hospital. He also needed surgery regarding a congenital heart issue called mitral valve regurgitation, when the heart’s mitral valve doesn’t close tightly, allowing blood to flow backward in the heart. He was off the air on Majic 107.5/97.5 for several months but came back in August. He said he is doing much better now.

Frank Ski on why he loves The Palm
Frank Ski on why he loves The Palm

Frank Ski leaves V-103, joins Kiss 104.1

Ski had a successful first run with V-103 as a morning host from 1998 to 2012. An effort to get syndicated didn’t work out while he worked at WHUR-FM in D.C., and he returned to V-103 in 2015 part-time. In 2018, when Cameron left, Ski came back and proceeded to build strong ratings again. When the pandemic began, he continued to pull in big numbers, but when V-103′s parent company Entercom sought pay cuts from high-salaried employees, Ski chose to leave instead. He re-joined WHUR-FM and recently signed on to also do mornings at rival station Kiss starting in February. V-103, in the meantime, has created a new morning show anchored by its former afternoon host, Big Tigger.

Matt Dale of Marietta stocked up for foster kids and posed with his stash with Clark Howard. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com
Matt Dale of Marietta stocked up for foster kids and posed with his stash with Clark Howard. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

Clark Howard ends syndicated show

After more than three decades on Atlanta radio, the consumer rights guru has decided to voluntarily end his nationwide radio show at the end of 2020. It’s heard on 250 stations nationwide, but he said at age 65, it became too much work. He will continue his successful websites, his contributions to WSB-TV and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as well as his daily commentaries and charity work with WSB radio. He also plans to run a regular podcast.

Steak Shapiro and John Kincade, two veteran sports talk show hosts, lost their jobs at 680/The Fan. CR: publicity photos
Steak Shapiro and John Kincade, two veteran sports talk show hosts, lost their jobs at 680/The Fan. CR: publicity photos

Credit: Publicity photos

Credit: Publicity photos

Bye, bye Steak Shapiro, John Kincade at the Fan

The pandemic hurt sports talk 680/93.7 The Fan so much that chief David Dickey had to make some major moves. He let go two of his highest-paid hosts, Stephen “Steak” Shapiro and John Kincade, and brought in several hosts from his sister Xtra 106.3 radio station including “Hometeam” Brandon Leak and Joe Hamilton. Shapiro continues to run his production company Bread n Butter Content Studio and “Atlanta Eats” TV show. Kincade quickly landed a gig at a sports station in Philadelphia.

Mz Shyneka joins Streetz 94.5 October 12, 2020. CR: Streetz 94.5
Mz Shyneka joins Streetz 94.5 October 12, 2020. CR: Streetz 94.5

Credit: Chris Evans

Credit: Chris Evans

Mz. Shyneka moves from Hot to Streetz

The longtime Hot 107.9 host, who spent two decades at the station going back to her days as an intern, was laid off just a month into the pandemic in April. She had multiple job offers and was able to land a new job hosting afternoons at rival Streetz 94.5 in October.

Sean Hannity with Herman Cain backstage at the Fox Theatre in 2012 during a retirement party for Neal Boortz.
Sean Hannity with Herman Cain backstage at the Fox Theatre in 2012 during a retirement party for Neal Boortz.

Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

Former radio host Herman Cain dies

Cain had a multi-faceted career as a businessman and lobbyist before joining WSB radio in the 2000s as an evening radio host. When the McDonough resident ran for president in 2012, he stepped down from radio but returned later to do a syndicated show in 2013, replacing a retiring Neal Boortz. He left WSB in 2018 but continued to do shows on his website and provide commentary for WSB. Earlier this year, he joined NewMax as a commentator and started his own TV show. He caught COVID-19 in early summer after traveling around the country and died a month later.

WSB radio announces departure of host Monica Matthews, who upsets Jovita Moore on Twitter
WSB radio announces departure of host Monica Matthews, who upsets Jovita Moore on Twitter

WSB drops Monica Matthews amid Twitter war

Conservative talk-show host Matthews was doing weekend shows with WSB until May. A month later, the station announced the news on social media and expressed disapproval of the way she critiqued fellow WSB-TV and radio hosts on Twitter. One of her targets was evening TV anchor Jovita Moore, who responded back harshly, saying, “keep my name out of your mouth.” Matthews called Moore a “bitter diva.” Matthews later told the AJC she was not given a reason why she was let go.

"Southside" Steve Rickman and Jason Bailey at the helm during the Children's Healthcare Radiothon. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/ rho@ajc.com
"Southside" Steve Rickman and Jason Bailey at the helm during the Children's Healthcare Radiothon. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/ rho@ajc.com

Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

Rock 100.5 suspends morning show over “Southside” Steve joke

“Southside” Steve Rickman in November jokingly said he would have sent his son to Michael Jackson simply for the potential legal payoff. A listener took offense and management took note, suspending Rickman for two weeks and his partner Jason Bailey for a shorter period. Their boss noted that “Bailey and Southside’s recent failed attempt at humor has no place on any of our stations.”

Thanks to a company called CereProc, longtime radio reporter Jamie Dupree’s synthesized voice can be heard on the air on WSB radio and several other stations. CONTRIBUTED BY STAN KAADY
Thanks to a company called CereProc, longtime radio reporter Jamie Dupree’s synthesized voice can be heard on the air on WSB radio and several other stations. CONTRIBUTED BY STAN KAADY

Jamie Dupree departs

After 32 years with Cox Media Group as a D.C. correspondent, CMG let him go in December. He was a well-respected, well-connected journalist but lost his voice in 2016 due to a rare medical condition. A tech company used his old audio to compile a “robot” voice so he could continue to be heard on Cox radio stations. He will be able to take the technology with him to whatever his next job will be. In the interim, he has started a daily newsletter.

Cadillac Jack in 2017. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com
Cadillac Jack in 2017. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Cadillac Jack sues New Country 101.5

The longtime country morning host was let go by New Country (previously known as Kicks) in the summer of 2019. He sued in January for wrongful termination, citing a boss Sean Shannon who he accused of regularly harassing and bullying him over Caddy’s sexual orientation. According to the suit, Caddy had worked at the company for 22 years when Shannon arrived and began verbally abusing him for being a bi-sexual. Caddy has since been doing a podcast with his wife Donna called “My Second Act.”

Art Terrell leaves Kiss 104.1 after more than 16 years, along with Cory "Zooman" Miller.
Art Terrell leaves Kiss 104.1 after more than 16 years, along with Cory "Zooman" Miller.

Credit: You

Credit: You

Kiss changes

The R&B station this year let go several on-air personalities including Twanda Black, Zooman Miller, Art Terrell and the beloved Youngblood, whose weekend classic R&B station had been on the station for 20 years until September. But it wasn’t all subtraction. In December, the station announced it was picking up Frank Ski as a morning host.

The new Star 94 logo at Star 94 studios. CR: Kannon
The new Star 94 logo at Star 94 studios. CR: Kannon

Credit: Kannon

Credit: Kannon

Star 94 changes

In September, the longtime adult Top 40 station made a format change focused on dance-pop hits going back to the 1970s. The blend ranges from Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson and the Go Go’s to Aaliyah, Notorious B.I.G. and Next as well as more current songs by Doja Cat, Taylor Swift and the Weeknd. It’s not a common format nationwide but is the station’s effort to chase after a broad range of women ages 25 to 49 while not overlapping so much with rivals like B98.5, Q100 and Power 96.1. Its ratings have generally lagged behind those three stations in recent years. It’s too soon to say whether it’s working.

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End of Alt 105.7

After seven years, iHeartMedia threw in the towel on alternative rock by killing its Alt 105.7 format in April. The station, which was oddly called Radio 105.7 for much of its run, played a mix of old 99X favorites and current alt-rock hits without a lot of jock talk. Its ratings were pretty good for a few years but had fallen off sharply the past two years. Instead, iHeart moved its Latin pop hits format from 105.3 to 105.7 while giving its hip-hop station the Beat, the 105.3 slot.

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WGST is gone for good

The new/talk station at AM 640 was once a solid competitor to WSB in the 1990s but when it lost its FM signal, the station gradually lost its relevance a fewer people listened to AM, and its fan base moved further outside the city. In recent years, it has been largely syndicated and its ratings were microscopic. iHeart decided to change it to the Black Information Network in June.

PK and Denise Kalentzis and Duryan Smith  were the "PK in the Morning" team on Power 96.1 until this week. PUBLIC FACEBOOK PHOTO
PK and Denise Kalentzis and Duryan Smith were the "PK in the Morning" team on Power 96.1 until this week. PUBLIC FACEBOOK PHOTO

Credit: Facebook Public Photo

Credit: Facebook Public Photo

Power 96.1 gutted

In early December, iHeart dumped all its local talent from its Top 40 station, a cost-cutting measure. That included its entire morning show featuring PK and his wife, Denise Kalentzis, as well as longtime afternoon jock Ryan Maddox. It’s unclear whether management will hire any new Atlanta-based jocks or stick with out-of-town talent like Ryan Seacrest.

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Other radio departures

Afternoon host Corey Dylan at New Country 101.5; Jerard J at Majic 107.5/97.5.; Jeremy “Otis” Maher in afternoons at 94.9/The Bull; overnight host Mark Alewine at WSB; morning host Mo Quick on Streetz 94.5; WSB’s weekend gardening guy Walter Reeves retired, replaced by Ashley Frasca.

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Brief talk station experiment ends

In January, entrepreneur Will Regan started up a new talk station at 102.1 and 1010AM with Kim “The Kimmer” Peterson and Shannon Burke, who had lost their Atlanta jobs in 2019 when Cumulus sold the 106.7 signal to a Christian broadcaster. But seven weeks later, Regan dropped the concept when investors who were interested in the station pulled out as the pandemic hit the world.

THE OFFICE -- "Chair Model" Episode 10 -- Aired 04/17/2008 -- Pictured: Brian Baumgartner as Kevin Malone  (Photo by Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
THE OFFICE -- "Chair Model" Episode 10 -- Aired 04/17/2008 -- Pictured: Brian Baumgartner as Kevin Malone (Photo by Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Credit: NBC

Credit: NBC

Podcasts with Georgia ties

I profiled several interesting podcasts this year including “Fight Night” about robbers stealing from robbers after a 1970 Muhammad Ali fight; “Dead and Gone” about the murders of Grateful Dead fans; “Gaining Ground: The New Georgia,” about the changing political landscape in Georgia; “Shots in the Back” about a 1970 race riot in Augusta; and an oral history of the show “The Office” featuring Westminster graduate Brian Baumgartner as host.

Sidney Wood has been let go from WAOK just a few months after Lorraine Jacques-White. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com
Sidney Wood has been let go from WAOK just a few months after Lorraine Jacques-White. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

Rest in peace:

Former V-103 host Sidney Wood AKA Kenny Diamond

Former Kicks 101.5 GM and longtime talent agent Norm Schrutt

Former WPLO country host James Clemens

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