Shelley Wynter and MalaniKai Massey, who have been hosting “Word on the Street” on WSB in some form since 2019, have been rewarded full-time jobs with benefits at the popular news/talk radio station.
The show will also move up two hours starting June 13, when it will begin airing 7-10 p.m. weekdays. The second and third hours of Sean Hannity’s syndicated show will move from 7-9 p.m. to 10 p.m.-midnight. The first hour of Hannity remains live from 3-4 p.m. sandwiched between Erick Erickson and Mark Arum.
“Word on the Street” was the brainchild of WSB’s former program director Pete Spriggs in mid-2019 before he retired. It was a weekly show at first. In 2020, Spriggs gave them shows on both Saturday and Sunday as well as primary fill-in slots for “The Von Haessler Doctrine” mid-morning show and Mark Arum’s late afternoon show.
After Clark Howard ended his syndicated radio show, Spriggs’ successor Drew Anderssen (who just left in April) scheduled “Word on the Street” in the 10 p.m.-midnight slot in early January of 2021, saying it was a 90-day test run. The probationary period then kept on going for another 14 months.
Cox Media Group market manager Jaleigh Long gave them the good news of full-time status last Thursday. On Wednesday night, they were able to announce the good news to the world.
“We got contracts!” Wynter said on air.
“We are now officially full-time employees at WSB,” Massey added. “You don’t have to go to urgent care anymore!.. There is PTO!”
They took calls from fans and fellow radio employees for the next three hours.
“We’re ecstatic,” Wynter said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution after the show. “Hard work and stick-to-it-iveness pays off.”
Massey called it a “test of faith and endurance and perseverance. There were times I wanted to quit and give up before I was on WSB. But I kept pushing and keeping an eye on the prize. This has been very emotional.”
Wynter didn’t broach the subject of the delay to his bosses. He just patiently waited and kept honing the show. “We didn’t ask” why it had taken so long, he said. “We didn’t care. That was the last thing on our minds. We just talked about it on the air. We made it a fun conversation. We didn’t bug them. We knew it would be a process.”
He first hosted a talk show in the mid-2000s at news/talk 1380/WAOK-AM and more recently on the now-defunct Talk 106.7 before WSB hired him. As a part-time employee with WSB with no benefits, Wynter said his wife Terica, a pharmacy tech, helped support the family along the way. “She was sold on the dream,” he said.
To pay the bills, Massey hustled with multiple jobs, doing stand-in work on movie sets, selling rum cakes and helping her family businesses.
She has been in radio for more than 25 years, coming to Atlanta in 2001. While doing full-time work at Turner Broadcasting, she worked part time at the Georgia News Network and former rock station Dave FM. She applied to jobs at WSB for 10 years until she finally landed part-time weekend traffic work with WSB in 2018. She told then assistant program director Condace Pressley she wanted to do talk radio and her boss Spriggs teamed her up with Wynter in 2019.
Wynter, who is conservative, said he loves how his show has evolved into a mix of serious subjects and silly ones, though with the upcoming elections in November, politics may take front and center. He is also proud that they can bring in both Democrats and Republicans, having gotten Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Sen. Raphael Warnock and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens on the phone as well as Gov. Brian Kemp and Senate hopeful Herschel Walker.
“They may not all agree with me but they know I’m not going to slam them or argue with them,” he said.
Massey, who is more liberal than Wynter, said the two of them make the show work because they respect each other, and they can talk about different types of subjects, from politics and religion to sports and pop culture.
“We are two dominant hosts who were able to set aside our egos and come together,” Massey said. “We don’t always agree but we don’t try to change each other’s minds either.”