Today was Frank and Wanda’s final show on V-103 after 14 years.
But they didn’t turn this final day into a funeral (despite a call from funeral director Willie Watkins). They made it a celebration with champagne and many visitors special to V-103.
Among those who stopped by the studio: Frank Ski’s predecessor Mike Roberts, his replacement Ryan Cameron, night jock Greg Street and former co-host Chuck Smith. Former producer Tara Thomas called in from Cleveland. And Frank’s mom even stopped by.
Ski couldn’t come to agreement with CBS Radio, owner of V-103, for a new contract. His cohost Wanda Smith is leaving as well. Future plans are unknown in either case. (More details here from last week’s entry.)
Wanda thanked Roberts for teaching her how to do radio.
Roberts acknowledged how surreal it was to be behind a V-103 mike after 14 years. “It’s bigger than when I was here!” he noted. “We couldn’t put a Christmas tree here when I was on the air. But this is incredible. You deserve all the accolades. You’ve done a phenomenal job… I want to thank you for keeping the heritage of the station all these years.”
Cameron, who is set to take over in early January, was all class, expressing admiration for Ski and Smith. “I hope to have half the longevity that you’ve had,” he told them. “You’ve got a plan. I know you’ve got a plan.”
“It’s your ship now,” Ski responded.
Cameron waxed nostalgic listening to WIGO and winning prizes from Roberts as a kid. And he also thanked Roberts for helping jumpstart his career by discovering him at a comedy talent show. He invited Cameron to the station and Cameron showed up four hours later. Roberts gave him another shot. Cameron learned that everyone deserves a second chance. If he hadn’t given Cameron that chance, he isn’t even sure he’d be in radio now.
“Bittersweet,” said Rick Caffey, the boss who hired them and came into studio in the final hour. “I’m excited about the journey you’re going to take. It’s going to be bigger and brighter for you two but I’m going to miss you here. I never worried about morning drive for the last 14 years. I love you both. You’ve done well by Atlanta and Atlanta has done well by you.”
“Nobody does ten year runs in this industry. Both of you have bricks in this foundation called V-103. I hope you always consider this place home.”
“I thank you for choosing me,” Smith said. Then she joked: “Can I still have my insurance?”
“The biggest thing about Frank and Wanda is you made a difference in so many people’s lives,” Caffey said.
At 9:38 a.m., Ski took a call from Larry Tinsley, the long-time V-103 Sunday morning gospel man. “You’re leaving on top,” he said. “I hate to see you go.”
“I’ve learned a lot from you,” Ski told Tinsley.
In the final moments, they kept it light.
“Now I’ve got time for fishing with your husband for real,” Ski told Wanda.
“We’re leaving Friday!” Wanda said.
Then it was time for the final V-103 Inspirational Vitamin. The focus is on dreams and reaching those dreams that come from God.
Ski: “Wanda and I have been here 14 years. It seems like yesterday. We’re in a good place. We’ll never forget our dream. Don’t forget yours. That’s your inspirational vitamin on our last day at V-103. We want to make sure we leave you with one thought: to get to the prize, get to the place where God has for you and prepared you to be at. In other words, ladies and gentleman, it’s time for you to find your victory. So on that note, on behalf of the Frank and Wanda morning show, thank you for 14 great years and the great memories and tears and triumphs until we meet again.”
“Thank you for allowing me to be with you every day for 14 years. I love y’all. You will see more of me. Pray for me. I love you all and a big hug from me to you,” Wanda said.
The final song: Kirk Franklin’s “Til We Meet Again.”
Then they played an extended version of their theme song one last time.
Ski won’t do an interview with me, upset with the way I’ve been covering this, but I hope he will talk to me again at some point.