Whiplash of changes hits local black radio

(Photo Left) Hosts of the upcoming "Mornings With Mark And Denise" Mark Tyler and Denise Clay. Photos courtesy of Rev. Jameel Morrison and Denise Clay. Slogoff’s Big Moment

On, Jan. 14, legendary radio personality Lady B. hopes to see fans in Atlantic City  for the Hip-Hop All Stars concert at Boardwalk Hall. And she's vowed to continue her annual Basement Party, which takes place at the Dell Music Center.

On the following day, African-American talk radio’s Mark Tyler and Denise Clay, formerly of WURD radio, are back up with new employers and a new show, “Mornings with Mark and Denise,” on WWDB.


The two events are occurring amidst a whiplash of change in black radio in the Philadelphia market. In an industry that depends on pattern and familiarity, the personalities are hoping their fans will follow them outside their old digs.

“We continue to seek to serve as the voice of a new generation!” Tyler said in a statement, after WURD (900AM/96.1 FM) decided not to renew the duo’s contract as hosts of “Wake Up With WURD.” The station had only three months ago named the duo as replacements for previous morning host Solomon Jones, who now appears on Praise 107.9.


WURD president/CEO Sara Lomax-Reese explained to the public that the two-host format was challenging for the station and both sides had agreed to review it after a three-month trial.


Meanwhile, local radio icon Lady B, was released from her job last month at radio’s WRNB 100.3, to be replaced with a cheaper, syndicated show featuring national comic D. L. Hugely. Lady B became one of the first radio deejays outside of New York to begin playing hip-hop. She is credited with helping to popularize some now major acts, most notably Will Smith in his Fresh Prince days.


While online formats continue to siphon away listeners, traditional radio station supporters are still out there. Statistics show that in 2017, 32.3 million African-Americans tuned into radio weekly.


It remains a competitive market. Among Philadelphia listeners, mainstay station WDAS ranks number 3, with 6.5 percent of area listeners. WRNB, self-described as urban oldies, is No. 9, with 4 percent of listeners. Both are outranked by sports radio’s No. 1 WIP, with 8 percent of the market.


Change has come not just in on-air personalities, but in formats as well. Dubbing itself “Philly’s Real No. 1 for Throwbacks” 106.1 FM relaunched this summer. Similarly to WRNB they are playing retro hits up to the early 2000s.


In 2016, Radio One’s Boom 107.9 launched a throwback format, but has since moved to down the dial to 103.9 with a playlist of more modern hip-hop and R&B. Hot 107.9 became a Praise radio format, targeting black gospel listeners.


WURD continues to position itself amongst radio competitors, last year going from being a solely AM station to one now heard on 96.1 FM.

States Lomax-Reese, “Celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2018, WURD Radio is excited about the year ahead.” She stressed Christopher “Flood the Drummer” Norris, a part of the previous morning show team, would host “Wake Up With WURD” for now.





Sheila Simmons - Contributor

Sheila Simmons brings many years of writing and communications experience to her work for Liberty City Press. She began her professional writing career at the Philadelphia Daily News, where she covered Business, City Hall and Education.


More articles by this author

History at The ShoreHistory at The Shore21 February 2018
Late Philly photographer's images show culture of black Atlantic City resort  (Photo Left) “Chicken Bone Beach” by Cheryl Woodruff-Brooks. Photo courtesy of Cheryl Woodruff-Brooks.   While on a visit to Philadelphia, Hummelstown resident Cheryl Woodruff-Brooks toured the Art Sanctuary’s exhibit of images by self-taught Philadelphia photographer John W. Mosely.   She was most taken with...
Spelling out the impact of HBCUsSpelling out the impact of HBCUs21 February 2018
 WHYY film, discussion examines  historically black colleges & universitiez (Photo Left) Steven Bradley. Photo courtesy of Steven Bradley. As a graduate of Fisk University, Steven Bradley was educated in a collegiate setting unfamiliar to much of America – that of historically black colleges and universities.   The culture, importance and impact of such institutions are...

What is Liberty City Press?

Liberty City Press is an independent weekly newspaper distributed by the Philadelphia Multi-Cultural Media Network whose members include Philadelphia Sunday Sun, The Philadelphia Gay News, Al Dia, The Metro Chinese Weekly and The Metro Viet News.

Print Edition


Related Articles & Videos

Liberty City Press Photos