Well you did it, Chicago! Tom Joyner and the "Tom Joyner Morning Show" returns to the local airwaves on Wednesday - same time, different channel - April 22, on Soul 106.3FM.
Loyal listeners were so up in arms we voted with our fingers at the abrupt and disrespectful change that took place four weeks ago at V103. The station's owner, Clear Channel, deciding that although ratings and ad revenues were fine, being a monopoly they could decide that what was best for "them" (cheaper labor means more money for Clear Channel's' executive lunches and bonuses) and "us" by replacing the TJMS with Steve Harvey, a mediocre comedian/book author who already had a morning presence on sister-station WGCI that failed to dent Tom Joyner's popularity.
Short-sighted and greedy, and because they could, Clear Channel executives snatched the TJMS off the airwaves on March 23rd and simulcast Steve Harvey on both stations. Its audience, myself included, voted with our fingers, and switched dials so fast you could hear fingers crack all over Chicagoland. We wanted our TJMS and there could be no substitute. We all knew where to find Tom Joyner's replacement before the switch, and if listeners were that intrigued, Clear Channel's programming bunglers would have been justified in pulling the TJMS - lower ratings would have warranted a change in talent and venue.
The unwarranted cancellation of the TJMS represents everything wrong with the few owning the all in media. Consumers can't listen, read or watch enough if, at the end of the day, media executives look at the books and find the sobering reality of cutting some of their own perks, personnel, or good-Lord-forbid-clutch-the-pearls, they may have to give up fancy lunches, exclusive washrooms and town car pickups that they've come to delude themselves into believing that as higher life forms than the rest of us they've really reserved the right to maintain at all costs. Why tighten their bloated belts when they can tighten ours? On March 23rd I'm sure the overriding "logic" held by Clear Channel lads was "the audience will get used to the change. After all, "they loved the (replacement) in "Kings of Comedy",' or my favorite line of dismissal for "urban" audiences that's been floating for decades: "what are there going to do about it? It's not like they have another choice." Ah, but there's the rub: we always have choices - to change the dial and listen to something different, or just turn the damned radio off and plug in the iPod until we get to work and then tune into the TJMS via the internet, or anyone else we choose to darn well listen to. We "urbans" invented rock n' roll, so there's nothing like a little "classic rock" to go along with the commute.
Thank goodness Crawford Broadcasting executives saw an incredible opportunity to greatly increase 106.3's listening audience by signing up the TJMS. It can't be stressed enough how imperative Tom Joyner and crew had become to the urban community for local, national and international news and how that news impacted the communities of color. (Uh, Arbitron and Nielsen call those listeners "urban," even if it's a farmer milking a cow in Curlew, Iowa - population 32, if said farmer is African-American or Latino, then said farmer is "urban." Take the designation up with them.)
The TJMS weaves its listeners together in a tapestry of an extended global community. The TJMS reaches eight millions households in the U.S. and an overseas audience made up of military families, ex-pats, and those interested in the mix of lighthearted banter between Tom Joyner, Sybil Wilkes and J. Anthony Brown with comedian Sheryl Underwood phoning in hilarity in good measure; hard opinion and political commentary from luminaries Roland Martin and Jeff Johnson and the latest health news pertaining to - here we go again - "urban" audiences from Dr. Ian Smith. With six you get egg roll, and with the TJMS you get BlackAmericaWeb.com, the nytimes.com of, well, Black America. Then there's "Take a Loved One to the Doctor" Day, Mr. Joyner's relentless campaign to correct the health care disparities by insisting that individuals and families take full ownership of their health and challenging health care providers to meet the medical needs of the black community. There's Mr. Joyner's HSBCU scholarship campaign, providing earmarks and money for students and those that want to be students at historically black colleges and universities across the country. Mr. Joyner's presence at the presidential primary debates helped put America and the world on notice that things were never going to be the same again - for any of us. As Rush Limbaugh and his hate-minded peers tore down with lies and fear mongering, Mr. Joyner used his five hours a day to introduce to the word a new groove in the American political perspective. The TJMS show is, and remains, a vital lifeline that strings and weaves worldwide - I'm sure the powers at Crawford Broadcasting greatly appreciate found treasure and made quick work of preparing a new home for TJMS.
So a big fat thank you and "smooches" to Crawford Broadcasting executives that saw a grand opportunity and jumped on board the fantastic voyage that is the TJMS! That's capitalism at its best. One caveat: those of us on the Northwest Side need a signal increase stat!
And one last kiss before goodbye to Clear Channel's decision-makers: if I wanted the choice that you made for me four weeks ago, I wouldn't have donated my "Kings of Comedy" DVD to my neighborhood secondhand store.