Three sources have told me that Ebony Steele is officially off the syndicated Atlanta-based Rickey Smiley Morning Show after seven years.
Why is she out? Two sources said Steele is not sure what happened and had not directly heard an explanation from Smiley.
Steele did not respond to a text and a call requesting a comment. A couple of days ago, she told me that the whole situation was "interesting" but she had no negative feelings toward anybody.
Her replacement will be model and actress Claudia Jordan, I'm told by two sources. I hear Jordan starts Monday.
One clue Jordan may be joining the team: Smiley Tweeted a photo of Smiley cast member Gary With Da Tea and Jordan earlier today that Jordan herself retweeted:
Jordan was a model on NBC's "Deal or No Deal" and appeared on two seasons of "Celebrity Apprentice."
The Rickey Smiley morning show is heard on more than 50 markets nationwide, including Hot 107.9 in Atlanta. In the target 18-34 demographic in June, the show ranked No. 2 behind only another Atlanta-based syndicated show, Q100's Bert Show. (V-103's Ryan Cameron morning show came in No. 3 in that demo.)
The show is also seen nightly on "Dish Nation," seen locally at midnight on Fox 5. Steele for a few weeks worked out of Los Angeles for "Dish Nation" but without warning dropped off the show recently.
UPDATE July 10: About 12 hours later, Steele released this statement confirming her departure:
I will be leaving “The Rickey Smiley Morning Show” as of today. I feel so blessed to have been part of such a special family for 7 great years and have so enjoyed radio, TV, and my association with Reach Media, and Radio One.
Here’s a hint on what’s next! I am going to do something that I have always wanted to do and it involves expanding my entrepreneurial interests. I’ve always taught females that at some point in their lives they have to spread their wings take a risk on faith and grow. No matter what! Now it is my turn to lead by example. It is equally exciting that I am likely going to be able to pursue my dreams right within the same radio family... It is my vision that my new endeavors will allow me continued contact with you, my loyal fans... Stay tuned and stay in touch.
Smiley, from the same publicist, offered this statement, with no explanation why chose to let her go:
After 7 years with "The Rickey Smiley Morning Show," our girl Ebony Steele is moving on. We'll miss her wit, charm and funny personality, and we thank her so much for everything she brought to the show. She will always be part of my radio family.
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