As anticipated, Frank Ski announced Thursday morning that he is leaving R&B/hip-hop station V-103 after 14 years. As a result, an hour later, his on-air partner Wanda Smith said she is out as well.
Atlanta native and long-time afternoon host Ryan Cameron will take over mornings in January. Big Tigger, a former BET “106 & Park” host last heard on the radio in D.C., will take over afternoons.
“We will definitely miss waking up every morning and coming into this studio and doing what we do every day, but we know God has other plans and other things He wants us to do,” Ski said on air. Later, he added, “I want to expand and grow.”
He said their final day will be Thursday, Dec. 20.
Ski also said he doesn’t plan to leave Atlanta (though his Dunwoody home is now for sale for $2.2 million). He promised he will be heard again on the radio but wasn’t specific. Most personalities have a six-month “non-compete” which will keep him off the air during that time period.
Rick Caffey, market manager for V-103 since 1994, said Ski wanted a syndication deal to expand his footprint beyond Atlanta but the two sides couldn’t come to agreement. “We want to stay local,” he said. At the same time, he gave kudos for Ski and Smith for their “outstanding service.”
Ski , 48, read a formal statement on air just past 7 a.m. today. He noted how he moved to the city with his wife Tanya from Baltimore in 1998. He said Atlanta has participated with him in his biggest personal moments, including the births of his three children. He mentioned his weekend DJ club gigs, becoming friends with some of Atlanta’s biggest politicians, including the late Maynard Jackson and the current mayor Kasim Reed. He recalled how he was the last person to interview Coretta Scott King, how he met Pres. Barack Obama before he became president, how he got to interview convicted child killer Wayne Williams. He mentioned all the travel he did all around the world and forming his Frank Ski Kids Foundation. He referenced 9′/11, Hurricane Katrina and Jena 6. He also noted his new restaurant he opened last year.
“This is not a good-bye, Atlanta, but instead to be continued… very soon,” he said.
Ski’s show with partner Smith was No. 1 for virtually the entire time he’s been on air here over his entire run at V-103, typically drawing one million listeners a week.
In a poll on my blog speculating on the change yesterday, about 56 percent guessed correctly that Ski was leaving.
The No. 1 station in the market will replace him with afternoon host Cameron, a move many have been anticipating for years. The minute he returned to V-103 in 2004, the speculation began. Cameron, nicknamed the “Ryan King,” is insanely popular in this town. He gets a fare higher percentage of positive comments on this blog than Ski. Three years ago during Ski’s last negotiations, I had posted a poll asking folks what they thought of Cameron moving to mornings. A vast majority were supportive of that move, but V-103 chose to keep Ski at the time.
Cameron returned to V-103 as afternoon host more than eight years ago after a long stint as morning host on rival Hot 107.9 (originally Hot 97.5). He was paid morning host money to be the afternoon guy, a luxury V-103 could afford. He was able to live normal working hours compared to morning hosts as well.
But alas, the time has come and Cameron’s move will occur the first week of January. Cameron’s new show, Caffey said, will include Chris “Crash” Clark and a third person who has yet to be hired. (That’s fueling rumors that Elle Duncan, now a traffic reporter for 11 Alive, might come back.)
Bottom line: Ski couldn’t come to an agreement with CBS Radio for a new contract. I’m not sure if he was asking for too much or if CBS gave him such an insultingly low offer, he couldn’t stomach it and was willing to walk. He has been under a temporary contract the past couple of months as the two sides negotiated.
Cameron signed a new deal earlier this year.
Smith tearfully gave her goodbye during the 8 a.m. hour. She clearly didn’t want to leave but she was collateral damage in a sense. She recalled how she was performing at Club Echelon in 2007 before 1,000 people. Then V-103 Program Director Tony Brown saw her stand-up comedy and impressed, he brought her on the Mike & Carol Show in 1997. A year later, when V-103 dropped Mike Roberts and Carol Blackmon for Ski, they kept Smith. The show was originally called the Frank Ski Show but eventually, she earned the dual Frank and Wanda Morning Show moniker.
A Florida native, Smith said she has adopted Atlanta as her home. “It’s been fun. It’s been overwhelming… Atlanta has been good to me,” she said.
At 8:55 a.m., comic, game show host and talk show host Steve Harvey (who is heard on rvial station Majic 107.5/97.5 locally) called in and lamented Ski’s departure, saying CBS got it wrong.”You’re a classy guy,” he said. “People made a mistake… Thank you for all the years of service to Atlanta.”
Ski said he has no ill will toward his bosses. “We did everything we could” during negotiations, he said. “I just thought there was so much more I could do.”
Fellow syndicated morning rival Rickey Smiley (heard locally on Hot 107.9) called in at 9:09 a.m., thanking Ski and Smith for putting Smiley on the map when he was an up-and-coming stand-up comic. “I’m looking forward to having you make appearances on my sitcom,” Smiley said. “You put a lot of comics on the map. And your restaurant is the nicest in the country. You are my family. We’re all just friends. Congratulations and God bless you.”
Smith then joked, wondering if Michael Baisden (heard locally on rival Majic in the afternoons) will call in. Indeed, at 9:34 a.m., Baisden did. “What the hell is going on? My Twitter is blowing up, dude!” he said. “To me as a friend, you’ve always been very supportive of me. You were genuinely happy for me… You’ve given so much to the community.”
Mayor Reed called in at 9:18 a.m.: “This is a victory lap… Frank and Wanda will continue to be part of the city. They’ve been the voice of Atlanta.”
Here is Ski’s statement in full:
Fourteen years ago, V-103 General Manager Rick Caffey and I set out to create a morning show that was
informative, entertaining and inspirational — and year after year, you’ve blessed us with #1 ratings in
every age category.
I’m beyond blessed to get paid to do what I love most, to be on the radio with more than a million
listeners every week. I have enjoyed waking you up every morning, deejaying the hottest parties every
week and whether it be in the streets, the grocery store, your school, a football game or in places of
worship, I have truly enjoyed getting to know you and your family.
When I moved here in 1998, I was newly married and hadn’t even started my family. Major milestones
and defining moments have happened while on the airwaves of V-103. My children were born here in
Atlanta, and you shared in that joy — all three times. Tanya & I started the Frank Ski Kids Foundation a
decade ago, and because you supported our annual Kids Week, Youth Bowl and Wine Tastings, you made
it possible for us to expose hundreds of kids to their future, and ultimately, realize their dreams.
I’ve grown personally from interviewing those who have made Atlanta the great city it is, and I’ve
flourished from genuine relationships with people like Maynard Jackson, Andy Young, Bill Campbell,
Bernice King, Shirley Franklin and my good friend, Kasim Reed, whose individual legacies will live
Atlanta, you’ve allowed me to bring so many important triumphs and tragedies to life. To be blessed with
the last interview with Ms. Coretta Scott King, challenged by the jail interview with convicted murderer
Wayne Williams, and completely honored to interview the young Senator from Chicago, President Barack
Obama. The list goes on — from the iconic and unforgettable Whitney Houston to the incomparable living
legend, Mr. Stevie Wonder, you’ve witnessed and experienced countless defining moments with me.
You encouraged me when I flew to New York hours after 9-11, when I drove to Louisiana for the Jena 6
story and even when we pulled our entire city together to raise hundreds and thousands of dollars for
Hurricane Katrina victims. You’ve been there when I suffered a loss, and when the hard work allowed me
to try things I never could have dreamed for myself.
We’ve traveled around the world together… to Asia, Africa, South America and beyond, and have returned
home with deeper connections to each other and our communities. You celebrated with me in 2011 when
my dream to open a restaurant became a reality. I thank you for all of those shared times — the laughter,
the tears and the victories.
And with that, Atlanta, I have decided to end my tenure with V-103
My decision to leave my V-103 family has been one of the most important and most spiritual decisions of
my life. For years, I’ve delivered the Inspirational Vitamin and have told you to live by faith, not fear, and
to believe in the power of God’s plan for your life.
I’ve encouraged you to ‘Let Go and Let God’ — and now it’s time for me to do the same.
It’s time for me to walk in faith — but chase my passions and spiritual purpose to expand my brand &
grow. It’s time for me to explore other opportunities that will allow me to serve more people on a greater
Thank you to General Manager, Rick Caffey, for believing in my talent, and allowing me to be the leader
of a radio station that truly believes in service & community. Thank you to my cohost, Wanda Smith, for
trusting in my abilities to lead the Morning Show on a successful 14 year journey. Thank you to the entire
V-103 family — on-air and behind the scenes — your efforts, enthusiasm, hard work & support will always
And thank you to YOU, Atlanta, for allowing me to be a part of your family, and unselfishly being a part
of mine. As the story continues, you will hear me again on radio & I will not leave the city I call home.
As one beautiful chapter ends and another begins, I will take the memories we’ve created and never forget
how the story began. I look forward to sharing the next chapter with you, and creating even more
This is not a good-bye, Atlanta, but instead — to be continued… very soon.
Twice this morning, Ski played an inspirational talk by Pastor Craig Oliver called “Breaking the Holding Pattern.” You can watch it here.