Like old soldiers, morning drive-time radio hosts never die, they just fade away. And sometimes amid the ongoing ratings war that constitutes the chaotic Los Angeles market their signal can seem to fade in and out.
For now at least, "The John Salley Block Party" on KKBT-FM (100.3) is over. Monday was Salley's last day headlining the station's morning show. Salley, a relative newcomer to radio who battled poor ratings for most of his 11-month run on "The Beat," was originally supposed to remain behind the mike until May 18, but was told otherwise. The move came despite some vigorous recent promotions that included "Block Party" billboards still up in parts of the city.
"I had a ball talking to Los Angeles," said Salley, a former pro basketball player. "It's been an eye-opening year and I learned a lot about radio and I needed to.... I don't have any ill will."
Nationally syndicated morning radio show host Tom Joyner will take over in mid-June, Salley said. Based in Dallas, Joyner is a popular personality, especially among African Americans, and is known for his humor and politically charged commentary. Joyner, who earned the nickname "Fly Jock" for his former practice of flying daily between morning and afternoon radio jobs in Dallas and Chicago, is not expected to relocate to Los Angeles.
"I'm a big fan of Tom's and I always have been," added Salley. "I've never heard anybody who talks to the black community the way he does."
In the interim, the station's "block party" will continue -- just without Salley. But the longtime co-host of television's "Best Damn Sports Show Period" is negotiating to become a regular contributor to Joyner's new Los Angeles show.
Station officials would not return phone calls about the staffing changes.
Meanwhile at Star 98.7, morning crew "Jamie, Jack and Stench" left the morning airwaves earlier this month after the station began promoting a slightly revised adult alternative musical format. Jamie White, one of the few female lead stars of morning radio in the country, is expecting a child in early June, but KYSR-FM officials haven't explained if her condition had anything to do with the recent blackout.
The crew isn't popping up on the struggling-to-find-itself station's website. However, chat room speculation on Jamie's personal website suggests the show may return in early May.
It wouldn't be the first time the station's morning show has been revamped. A veteran of local drive time, Jamie was once teamed with Frosty Stillwell and Frank Kramer, the latter two who were replaced in 1999 by former child star Danny Bonaduce. The former "Partridge Family" member was let go last summer after drug problems surfaced again to make room for Jack Hine and Mike Roberts (better known to listeners as Stench).
Meanwhile, CBS Radio and XM Satellite officials made their irony-laden deal official Monday by announcing that Greg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia will return to terrestrial radio Wednesday in seven markets. Last week, details leaked of the arrangement that will bring "Opie and Anthony" back to the same radio company that once fired them for broadcasting a couple allegedly having sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.
The duo would be simultaneously broadcast on CBS and XM, where they've had a show since 2004.
"We'll now be able to reach millions of new fans and old fans with our new morning show on CBS while offering our loyal XM listeners an uncut show and two extra hours that will only be available on XM," said Cumia in a news release.
"Opie and Anthony" take over for David Lee Roth, who was officially fired Friday. The radio novice and former frontman of the rock group Van Halen failed miserably in replacing Howard Stern in East Coast markets, losing more than 80% of the shock jock's audience in New York alone.
Radio industry observers believe that Stern's terrestrial radio replacement in Los Angeles and other West Coast markets, comedian Adam Carolla, probably has at least a year or more to prove himself. Ratings for the show aired on KSLX-FM (97.1) have been low, but observers believe that CBS Radio will give him more time to build his audience.