Originally posted Saturday, January 5, 2019 by RODNEY HOemail@example.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Miss Sophia, a day after losing her job at V-103, wasn't all that upset.
“I’ve been down this road before,” she said in an interview Friday. Indeed, she was let go from the top-rated R&B/hip-hop station in 2010 after four-plus years on the Frank and Wanda morning show. So it’s déjà vu for her.
Miss Sophia - whose real name is Joe Taylor - was the first drag queen with a regular gig on Atlanta radio when V-103 hired her to do “Girl Talk” entertainment news for the morning show in 2005. It was groundbreaking. He stayed until 2010 when the station let her go.
RELATED: My 2005 profile of Miss Sophia soon after she joined V-103
She said in an interview Friday that Ski didn’t treat her with proper respect in the late 2000s and the friction led to her initial departure.
Miss Sophia said she moved back to Houston in 2016 to take care of her mom. Then V-103 called in late 2017 and offered him a one-year contract to work with Wanda Smith and Ryan Cameron.
He said he took the job but Cameron unexpectedly departed a year ago to become a partner at a branding firm. Ski - who had left in 2012 and returned to V-103 in 2016 part time - was given his morning slot back.
Miss Sophia met with Ski and they buried the hatchet. She demanded that he treat her as an equal. He agreed. Miss Sophia decided to stick it out. The reunited trio returned together in February, 2018.
She said throughout 2018, she and Ski got along fine. And she felt like she was a more integral part of the show this time.
“The last time around, I was basically pigeon-holed into doing ‘Girl Talk,’” she said. “This time I was able to take part in serious conversations about politics, about sports, about whatever news was happening that day. I keep up with all of that. I do my homework.”
Ratings were solid most of the year with the revamped show though they had slipped a bit in the fall. She thought the results spoke for themselves and a new contract was forthcoming.
She had an appointment on Thursday, January 3 at 9:30 a.m. with general manager Rick Caffey and program director Reggie Rouse. She expected to hash out a new deal without too much stress.
Instead, she said they handed her a pink slip and severance package. Caffey gave her the standard spiel about “going in a different direction,” similar to what he told her eight years ago.
“I was surprised,” Miss Sophia said. “I was not disappointed. I knew what I was getting back into when I decided to go back to be perfectly honest.”
Although it’s unclear if Ski had any say in the changes, Miss Sophia simply said, “Frank is now able to work with people he wants to work with as opposed to people he was forced to work with.”
She was genuinely saddened, though, that they also let her close friend Smith go as well.
In a separate interview with CBS46, Miss Sophia said her friend Smith was not in a good place, that she took the firing very personally. Smith didn't respond for a request for an interview.
She has no idea if the Katt Wiliams brouhaha in September between the volatile comic and Smith had anything to do with her departure. "My personal opinion after everything has played out is I feel it did, but management didn't share that information with us so it's only my assumption."
Caffey did not respond to emails and calls for comment.
Though Miss Sophia didn't have a clue in advance she was being canned, in retrospect, she understood what was happening. She saw future host Jade Novah come into the building a few weeks earlier and was told she was interviewing for an open weekend position. Then they brought JR to sit in with the show and Miss Sophia was told then that he was there to perhaps boost their on-line presence, which was in part true.
RELATED: Who are the new co hosts Jade Novah and JR?
And the fact the station named their replacements almost immediately made it clear management knew for a long time that Smith and Miss Sophia were not coming back.
“This is radio,” Miss Sophia said matter-of-factly. “It’s a job. Although they know my name is Joe Taylor and stage name is Miss Sophia, my real name is ratings and revenue.”
Miss Sophia said she plans to stay in Atlanta for at least the next year and hopes to find more work in entertainment. She said she had no non-compete agreement restrictions with V-103 so could potentially join another radio station in Atlanta immediately. She was encouraged, she said, when “a lot of people in radio reached out to me yesterday.”
While she is open to more radio, she is also interested in acting in film or TV. Her dream: to take part in a Tyler Perry Madea spinoff, perhaps playing her niece. (He has worked in a Perry film "I Can Do Bad All By Myself.")
“I’m just trusting the process,” she said. “Something is coming. Something better is coming.”
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Credit: Clayton County Police Department