Ski leaving local radio Broadcasting: For contract reasons, DJ can't say where he's headed, but he's out the door of 92-Q after Friday.

September 01, 1998|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,SUN TELEVISION CRITIC

Frank Ski, one of Baltimore's most popular radio personalities, is leaving the local airwaves, he announced yesterday.

Ski's last day on 92-Q (WERQ-FM), the station he has led to the top in local ratings, will be Friday, the 34-year-old disc jockey said in an interview.

"Leaving is really difficult for me in a lot of ways. I've been here close to 15 years now. And I have to tell you, it took everything I had not to start boo-hooing on the air today," he said.

Ski declined to name the station and city for which he is leaving, saying: "That is something I am not allowed to say. They [his new bosses] still have things to work out with the person I'm replacing. I probably won't be announcing where I'm going until a little later on, after I am off the air."

As for the rest of his top-rated morning team, Ski said producer Tara Thomas will leave with him, but drag-queen sidekick Miss Tony remains under contract to 92-Q until the end of the year.

Will Tony be joining Ski in 1999?

"The new station is not allowed to talk to him because his contract is through the end of the year," Ski said. "But my statement would be that friends mean a lot to me, and I believe that it is no one person that makes a team great. If the opportunity should ever come that Tony is available and cared to make that move, I would do everything in my power to make it happen."

Pam Somers, general manager for 92-Q and the three other area stations owned by Cathy Hughes' Radio One, said yesterday: "Miss Tony's popularity is skyrocketing. And Miss Tony will stay and be an integral part of the new morning team" that will greet 92-Q listeners next week.

As to the rest of the package, Somers said: "I would tell 92-Q listeners to stay tuned. I guarantee them this: They won't be bored. Program director Tom Calococci brought Frank Ski to 92-Q, and we're sorry to see Frank go. We weren't expecting it [Ski leaving]. But we understand his desire to move on to a larger market -- that's part of the business. So, this is amicable."

Ski, who has meant nothing but success for the No. 1-rated station since being unceremoniously dumped by V-103 in 1996, also characterized the parting with 92-Q as amicable and went out of his way to thank Hughes for giving him the rare opportunity to say farewell to his listeners this week, even though his contract with the station ended yesterday.

"I remember how I walked in one day [at V-103] and my time was over and I was finished. And I never got a chance to say goodbye. But the negative impact that came back on that radio station was something they never recovered from.

"For Miss Hughes to say, 'We want you to stay on and say goodbye and whatever, whatever,' is really true testament to the fact that she as an owner is really concerned about the community she serves," Ski said.

Ski and the morning team will broadcast outside the station near the corner of St. Paul and Fayette streets in downtown Baltimore on Friday morning from 6 to 10 to give listeners a chance to say goodbye in person, he said.

While Ski was vague about his destination, his goals seemed fairly clear. He felt the need to move up to a larger market with more listeners where he could prove that his tremendous success in Baltimore was not merely a local phenomenon. Establishing himself at what he termed "the next level" will in turn open the possibility of syndication for his show, and that could take him into the league of such radio personalities as Tom Joyner and Don Imus. Joyner made the same kind of jump out of the Dallas market in the mid-'80s.

"Yes, the question of syndication has been discussed, and it is a definite possibility at some point. It is the direction the radio business is heading with all the consolidation among stations," Ski said.

As to specifics of his new deal, Ski said his contract was "several years," but he declined to discuss salary and perks.

His new job will also mean that Heaven-600 (WCAL-AM) will lose gospel disc jockey Tanya Roberts, Ski's wife. Roberts has been on the air for 10 years in Baltimore. The mothers of both Ski and Roberts live in the Baltimore area.

"It's very difficult to leave a city when you know your role is so important," Ski said yesterday. "It's like being the family overseer and then having to leave that family behind.

"But, at the same time, I feel like the people I've talked to so far really want what is best for me and my family. I'm confident in the move. We've done a lot of family praying, and I'm so much at peace with it right now. I'm comforted to know that we made the right decision to go to the city we're going to, where we'll be able to have the same kind of impact but affect a lot more people."

Pub Date: 9/01/98

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