Radio and TV Talk

Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.

DL Hughley visits Atlanta, promotes radio show on Classix 102.9

Posted Sunday, February 18, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

DL Hughley will forever be known as part of the groundbreaking Original Kings of Comedy tour 17 years ago with Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer and the late great Bernie Mac.

And like all those comics, he's a multi-tasker, seeking to reach audiences any way he can. He's hosted TV shows. He's had his own sitcom. He just started a podcast. And he has been hosting an afternoon syndicated radio show for the past five years which finally showed up on Atlanta radio just last month on the new Classix 102.9, heard from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

It's on more than 60 affiliates nationwide including stations in New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Dallas, Detroit and Portland, Ore.

Hughley popped into the Radio One Atlanta studios on Marietta Street earlier this month to talk to advertisers and staff before meeting up with his 31-year-old daughter Ryan , an Atlanta resident, for dinner with a boyfriend he doesn't really like much.

But he said he won't make a scene: "I'm going to be very quiet."

While other stand-up comics like Steve Harvey and Rickey Smiley have thrived on radio, Hughley said there's still a "reticence to believe you're going to stick to it. The people who are in it, love it and want it to be preserved and cherished are worried about your motivations and how hard you're going to work. I want to be great at radio. It takes a lot of reps."

He was doing radio in Los Angeles and New York for several years before going syndicated five years ago.

The radio audience, compared to his stand up crowd, is more female, more conservative, more religious, he said. In many ways, he believes radio is more difficult than TV or film because you have to create theater of the mind with your voice and sheer force of personality. "It's more unforgiving," he said. "It takes awhile to get it."

He also understands that commercial radio is "homogenized" to a degree. "Radio's intent is to make money," he said. "It's a dance."

He's on different formatted stations nationwide. He just provides content. "I'm the manufacturer," he said. "These are retail outlets." (Classix, owned by Raido One, was created essentially to provide a home for Tom Joyner and by extension, Hughley, both run by Reach Media, which is also part of Radio One.)

Hughley is able to be more opinionated, more blunt, on his weekly podcast "The Hughley Truth," where he doesn't have to worry about ad breaks or advertisers. After a few months, he gets 360,000 downloads a week. He said it's often a very different audience.

"I'm not as political as I am clear in what I believe," he said. "It's not fair to say all Trump supporters are racist. But I believe being a racist is not a disqualifier for them... I don't know if I have a dog in this race other than my perspective. I don't want a bunch of sycophants."

He also has a satirical book coming out in June called "How Not to Get Shot - And Other Advice From White People."

On the road, he now regularly works with Cedric, George Lopez and Eddie Griffin in what's known as the Comedy Get Down tour, which is set to return to Atlanta later this year at the Fox Theatre.

"We love comedy and respect comedy and I think it really is a metaphor for what we'd like to see generally," he said. He said he once met a tatted Hispanic man in El Paso initially reluctant to even shake Hughley's hand. When Lopez convinced him to do so, the man's girlfriend said it was a rare time he had touched a black man without getting into a fight. "Our audiences tend to be so divided," he said. "The first time they come together is to laugh. That's what comedy is about."

Hughley is open to doing a "Daily Show"-type TV show again. (He had a brief run on CNN a decade ago.) "The stakes are higher now," he said. "I wonder what will become of us as a society. I used to understand the game, what America wants. Now I don't. The willingness to kind of suppress your principles is very pervasive now... we seem not to understand nuances anymore."

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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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