Baltimore's top-rated radio station laid off two of its morning radio personalities yesterday, saying it will replace The Big Phat Morning Show on 92Q (WERZ) with syndicated programming.
Morning disc jockey Marc Clarke, who had been with the station for nine years, and producer Sonjay lost their jobs in the shake-up at the popular hip-hop, R&B station. By yesterday afternoon, their profiles had been removed from the station's Web site. A third disc jockey, Porkchop, will remain with the station in another position, said Howard Mazer, the station's vice president and general manager.
Sonjay and Clarke could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Mazer said that on Nov. 17, the station will replace the show with The Rickey Smiley Show, a nationally syndicated program that airs on 10 stations around the country, according to the show's Web site. WERQ will play music with no disc jockeys until then, Mazer said.
Mazer said the owner of 92-Q, Lanham-based Radio One Inc., ordered the end to the morning show for economic reasons. Radio One has suffered a string of weak earnings as a bad advertising environment has cut into profits. It can be less costly to run syndicated programming than to produce a local show and pay radio personalities.
"Everybody's looking at expenses," Mazer said. "It's the fundamentals of what is going on with the economy right now."
WERQ was Baltimore's top-rated radio station in figures released by the Arbitron ratings service in July, a ranking it often carries. It attracted nearly 10 percent of the area's listening audience.