Frank Ski’s latest three-year contract with V-103 expired last month.
But the top-rated R&B/hip-hop station and the veteran radio personality wasn’t able to iron out a new deal in time so he accepted a temporary contract while negotiations continue, Ski said in a brief interview last week. But he’s now living in a bit of limbo and is taking what he’s dubbed a vacation this week.
His boss Rick Caffey, per long-standing policy, declined comment.
Ski, with co-host Wanda Smith, has been part of the longest-running morning show on a single music station in Atlanta, entering the market from Baltimore in 1998. He replaced Mike Roberts & Carol Blackmon, a show which lasted 12 years.
Without a doubt, Ski has been an unqualified success. His show has generated consistently strong ratings for V-103 over the years, almost always No. 1 in key demographics and often by wide margins.
Ski, 48, has always been accessible and friendly to me but is understandably terse about this situation. He has his share of critics, many who feel he name drops too much and can act like a know it all. (When I posted a wholly unscientific poll in 2009 asking then if V-103 should sign him again, 56% said no. For kicks, I’ve posted the same poll today.)
Ski is deservedly well compensated – into the six figures, though I’m not sure exactly how much. But even a No. 1 station such as V-103 has to weigh what it feels is a viable salary vs. its revenues. And while stars are hard to find, much less nurture in Atlanta radio, V-103 has a deep roster of talent. Their other key personality is Atlanta native Ryan Cameron, who spent many years hosting mornings at rival Hot 107.9 before jumping ship in 2004 to be the afternoon guy at V-103. Given V-103’s size, Cameron was able to garner morning show money while enjoying significantly better working hours than Ski. He’s been happy where he is.
But V-103 could always slot Cameron into mornings if need be and he already regularly subs for Ski when Ski is on vacation.
In fact, Cameron’s on the morning show this week with Smith, taking over for Ski while Ski is in Napa Valley making his own wine. (Ski opened his own restaurant under his own name in Buckhead last year, too.)
Ski’s September Arbitron numbers were solid among 25 to 54 year olds, with a 10.5 rating, on par with its typical numbers and No. 1 as usual. But his younger 18-34 numbers (which are more volatile by the very nature of Arbitron’s rating system) have slipped off sharply from a 17.3 rating in January to 9.9 in September. For the first time since June, 2011, Frank & Wanda fell behind Q100’s Bert Show, coming in second.
Mark Trigg, Ski’s attorney, did not return a text, a call or an email, but I’ll update if he has any insight into the situation. It’s very likely Caffey told him not to talk to me. Trigg was pretty gabby and accessible in 2009.
So is Ski asking for more money? Probably since it’s likely he took a pay cut in 2009 when the economy was in a real dumper. He might be trying to emulate Bert Weiss, asking for syndication, though CBS Radio has a relatively modest stable of urban stations to access within its own family of stations. Ski tried syndication a few years back but it didn’t stick.