Joyce Littel recently celebrated 19 years at V-103 hosting the late-night “Quiet Storm,” playing sexy tunes by the likes of Luther Vandross, Robin Thicke and Teddy Pendergrass.
But on January 13, Littel received bad news from her bosses: she had to be let go.
“I was shocked,” she said. “It was totally unexpected. Yet, I was prepared. Whenever that day came, I was prepared.”
She said the brass told her the move was purely economic. Her ratings were fine. But she aired at a time when the station generates relatively fewer dollars (10 p.m. to 2 a.m Sunday through Thursday.) The station, which is going jockless during “Quiet Storm” for now, may seek a cheaper syndicated solution. “I am not bitter,” she said. “It’s just a time to readjust and keep moving forward.”
Rick Caffey, the market manager who runs the station locally, declined to comment about why he let go Littel (he’s not big about discussing personnel issues) but he hopes to have a replacement for that time frame no later than the first week of February.
Littel has been heartened by the response from fans since the news came out last week. At an event she moderated Monday night, the attendees gave her a standing ovation. “I know that my listeners embrace me whether I’m on air or off air,” she said.
An Athens native, she didn’t have plans to go into radio when she entered Morris Brown College many years ago. But the program director at WCLK-FM overheard her in an office, liked her voice and asked her to read public service announcements.
“I’ve been in radio every since,” she said. After a stint at 1380/WIGO-AM, she joined V-103 in 1990 when then Program Director Mike Roberts hired her. She started part time overnights but he quickly offered her the “Quiet Storm” job, one that was normally given to guys. He was also drawn to her silky voice. (Roberts in a phone interview today said she was a joy to work with and noted, “she can walk into a room and not bring her ego with it.”)
Littel, ten years ago, started an events production company Littel Concepts. She always had an entrepreneurial bug and figured having a backup plan when her radio gig ended was wise. She has been doing five events a year. Now, she’ll have time to do more.
Her signature event is her annual Passion and Poetry event, which is held at Center Stage in Midtown during Valentines’ Day weekend. “I’m not a poet,” she said. “But I love the art.” She sells 3,000 tickets a year over three concerts over two days. V-103, the city’s largest station, has helped her promote the event every year. She said the station will continue to do so this year with ticket giveaways and such.
“The relationship is still there,” she said. “I’m still a part of the family. When it comes to the bottom line, you can’t fuss and fudge with the bottom line. That’s why I feel the way I feel.”
She plans a concert series in Athens starting in April and would like to do a big annual old-school funkfest. She hasn’t counted out seeking a syndication deal for a radio show or going to another station. She is also planning to release CDs, including a spoken-word compilation with Eric Roberson and “Cosby Show” alum Malcolm Jamal Warner, who are both appearing at Passion and Poetry.
Littel declined to talk about her severance package. “I’m okay,” she said. “I’m good. I am working full time at my company. I go on my appearances. If anybody wants me to come see them, I go see them!”
IF YOU GO
“Passion and Poetry”
1374 W. Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta
8 p.m. Saturday Feb. 13 (Malcolm Jamal Warner)
midnight Saturday Feb. 13 (Malcolm Jamal Warner)
7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14 (Eric Roberson)
$25 general admission