To many African Americans, Tom Joyner is the king of black radio.Â Based in Dallas, with a nationally syndicated radio show reaching some 115 markets and 8 million listeners across the country, Joyner is unquestionably a radio powerhouse.
So when Clear Channel, the San Antonio, Texas-based media conglomerate, unceremoniously announced in March that it was replacing “The Tom Joyner Morning Show“ with the nationally syndicated “Steve Harvey Morning Show“ at WVAZ-FM in Chicago, Joyner fans were outraged. After all, Chicago was the first market to ever carry Joynerâ€™s show and WVAZ-FM had aired the show for 13 years. Many Chicagoans see Joyner as a part of the cityâ€™s fabric, a part of the family.
But you canâ€™t keep a good man down.Â Last week, after four weeks off the air, Joyner returned to the airwaves in the Windy City, this time on Soul 106. 3 FM (WSRB/WYRB), a Denver, Colorado-based Crawford Broadcasting station.
“People were very outspoken about the show leaving Chicago,â€ť says Joyner, â€śso we went to Crawford and they gave us a proposal. But since we were on the street, it wasnâ€™t much of a deal. We decided to buy the four hours completely, essentially becoming our own affiliate.â€ť
Joyner would not disclose the financial terms of the transaction.
Clear Channelâ€™s decision to replace Joyner with Harvey, the comedian and best-selling author whose popular show runs in more than 60 markets, underscores the pressures of the radio business in todayâ€™s challenging economic environment; radio had already and continues to face threats from alternative sources of audio entertainment like satellite radio, iPods and the Internet.
â€śThe new media explosion makes it harder and harder for established stars and formats to aggregate audiences in an environment that is experiencing fragmentation and dispersion,â€ť suggests Christopher H. Smith, professor at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California. â€śTom Joyner is not immune to the shifting dynamics,â€ť he adds.
And it arguably did not help that Joynerâ€™s show is owned by Reach Media, a division of Clear Channel competitor Radio One, the nationâ€™s largest radio company targeting African Americans.
The stresses on the radio industry are readily apparent.Â According to Chantilly, VA-based BIA Advisory Services, a media research and consultancy, 2008 radio revenues in the U.S. were $16.7 billion, down 8.5% from 2007. Additionally, 2009 revenues are expected to decrease 11%.