December 19, 2016

Tom Joyner Chooses Five Big Name Comics to Replace J. Anthony Brown, Will It Work?

The one thing that radio listeners expect is consistency. It's the one thing that programmers know as well. It's simply the basics. Call it Radio Programming 101. In January, when Tom Joyner returns from vacation with a freshen up morning show, along with Sybil Wilkes, there will be five well known comedians taking over for the now departed sidekick J. Anthony Brown.

There has been no official press release from the Tom Joyner Morning Show and parent company Reach Media, but Tom himself made the announcement live on air during his last appearance on his show for the year on December 9th. The list of rotating co-hosts are top notch comedians and comediennes who can be considered A-List talent, whose celebrity extend far beyond radio. The group of five may be better known for their television and movie work as much as their stand up. The group includes Arsenio Hall, Bill Bellamy, Lavell Crawford, Sherri Shepherd, and Kym Whitley.

Perhaps the TJMS team opted for some heavy hitters in comedy to replace Brown rather than replace him with talents that are already in place on the show like Damon Williams or Chris Paul. However we have to get back to the question of consistency. How will audiences take to five rotating comics in the so called "funny chair" each day. That of course is yet to be determined.

J. Anthony Brown completed an incredible 20 year run on the show. Most days Brown went on the air at 3:00 AM from Los Angeles while the show based in Dallas went on the air at 5:00 AM. (The show is heard in the larger East coast audiences from 6:00-10:00 AM.) One of the things the TJMS must considere is how long will this A-List of Black comedic talent continue to grind it out for only a once a week appearance and a 1:30 AM wake up call. They also will have to be fresh and funny until 7:00 AM (10:00 AM for the East Coast). Perhaps five comics was the way to go. Admittedly it's difficult to find any comic willing to commit to doing radio five days a week. Any comic would have to re-consider their weekend comedy club appearances around the country. They would be basically telling themselves to give up their craft, the thing that will keep their comedic talent sharp, for radio. It's a sacrifice many would not be able to give up easily. But also in the mix the comic must ask themselves if they have a real desire to do radio. It's not going to come off real well with the audience if they don't have at least a "like" if not a love for radio. Given that dilemma, the TJMS decided to go with five!

There have been countless examples of comics saying they want to do radio in both large syndicated radio platforms and local morning shows with disastrous results. One example that many may dispute is Mr. Everywhere. "Look at Steve Harvey!" Well, look at Steve Harvey. Steve paid his dues in radio. Many may not know but Steve hosted mornings in Chicago on V-103 and in Los Angeles on 92.3 The Beat in the 90's and the early 2000's, while playing "Mr. Hightower" on his WB network sit-com. This was well before any mention of him doing a nationally syndicated morning show.  It's where he developed his chemistry with Nephew Tommy and Shirley Strawberry. They've been with him since Los Angeles. His show really didn't take off until Shirley and Carla Ferrell joined him in New York City at WBLS. Now of course the rest is history.

Before an official announcement is made and negotiations continue behind the scenes; maybe the best choice for an everyday co-host occurred later on after Tom announced the new direction for the show. Comedian Earthquake absolutely knocked it out the park on his brief segment on the TJMS. Earthquake exited his own afternoon radio show on WBLS earlier this year. He came off as being very comfortable on the mic and able to improvise on the fly. (Take a listen below with comic Roy Wood, Jr., Tom, and Sybil.) Given a choice of a once a week comic versus a five day a week member of a morning team...going with the latter is best. Developing a rapport with the audience is the thing that endeared J. Anthony Brown to the TJMS listeners. Rapport can't develop without consistency. That only happens when all the hosts are there... everyday.

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