Cumulus shutting down Atlanta-based ‘Rick and Sasha’ morning show

ajc.com

Credit: Rick and Sasha morning show

Credit: Rick and Sasha morning show

The final show, heard in Atlanta on OG 97.9, will air April 16

Westwood One, the syndication arm of Atlanta-based Cumulus Media, has shut down the Rick and Sasha morning show after just over two years on air.

The show, which is heard locally on classic hip-hop station OG 97.9 and features Rick Party and Sasha the Diva, was started as a way to fill a gap after Tom Joyner retired at the end of 2019. The show had 20 affiliates as of April 2019, mostly R&B stations, and added six more in early 2020. The Westwood One website does not list the show’s current list of affiliate stations.

Gary Bernstein, the agent representing the show, did not respond to a text and call seeking comment.

Westwood One released a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that did not provide a reason for the end of the show, simply saying it was “a difficult decision” and “we wish them all the best in their future endeavors.”

Despite Joyner’s departure, Rick and Sasha faced plenty of syndicated competition in various markets including Rickey Smiley, Steve Harvey, Russ Parr and DeDe Maguire. In Atlanta, Rick and Sasha had direct competition with the likes of Harvey on Majic 107.5/97.5, Smiley on Classix 102.9, the Breakfast Club on 105.3/The Beat and two local shows: Big Tigger’s Morning Culture on V-103 and Frank Ski on Kiss 104.1.

Sasha, who doesn’t publicly reveal her age or real name, is a New York native with two sons. She previously worked at Kiss 104.1 for 12 years over two different stints and has been doing radio for more than 20 years. She is married to 50-year-old Kevin Harris Sr. She also owns Paint Sip Socialize in East Atlanta.

Party, 52, broke into the business with success in Miami. He had a brief foray hosting afternoons at V-103 in the late 1990s that lasted 18 months. He has also worked in Chicago, New York City and Dallas and has a long voice-over career for places like ESPN and BET. (Party is not his real name. It’s trademarked, too.)

In 2019, when the show was only a few months old, the pair told the AJC why they liked each other.

“She has this thing about being so real,” Party said of Sasha in 2019. “Every woman can relate to her as a parent who struggles sometimes. She doesn’t hide her imperfections. If she messes up, she embraces that. People love that.”

“He loves his wife,” Sasha said of Party. “He loves his family. He talks about his children. He knows what’s going on in the world. He keeps everyone connected. And he’s so fine.”

Before the Rick and Sasha show debuted, OG 97.9 had gone without any jocks. It’s unclear if they will go back to jockless mornings after April 16.

Ratings for OG 97.9, which is not a strong signal, have been modest since it debuted in 2014. In the most recent Nielsen ratings, the station ranked 24th in the market with a 1 share. The morning show also had a 1 share, ranked 23rd during that time period. Among women 25 to 54, Rick and Sasha had a 0.8 share, good for 23rd place.

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