We were shocked to hear that our friend, former Red Dog resident DJ Lil John Coleman, was no longer on the air at WGCI where he had been a mix show DJ for almost eight years. While a lot of people in our community know his “House side”, he has an avid following from WGCI that turned on the radio one day to find out he was gone.
We asked him some questions about his time on the air and what he sees from the future of radio in general.
What were the circumstances when you started working at WGCI?
Crawford Broadcasting owned a station called 106 Jam which had failed and was going back to its gospel/inspirational roots. Later they were converting 92.3 into Power92 to compete against WGCI and were recruiting talent, so a lot of jobs were opening up at both stations. Boolumaster called me a day before the change, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it. It was actually Steve “Miggedy” Maestro that set it up and really convinced me to work at WGCI.
Altogether, how long were you on the air?
From May 2001 to January 2009, so almost eight years altogether.
Why are you no longer on the air, and did you know it was coming?
Yeah, I suspected it was coming. ClearChannel was purchased by private investors, and when that happens, you know they’re going to cut staff. I was the only DJ working on salary with benefits so I had my suspicions. The word came down that they were going to be letting go of 1800 staff nationwide after the sale. The timing was actually strange. It happened on January 20, 2009, when everyone was focused on the inauguration in Washington.
I can’t complain, as it gave my career a boost. And financially – I know a lot of people think that everyone on the radio is rich, but it’s not that way. It’s a lot like being a recording artist: you might not make a lot of money on record sales, so you supplement it with gigs.
This was a huge staffing cut at ClearChannel and as you mentioned, it took place on a national scale. I also see they’re not in great shape after the sale. In light of your own experiences, where do you see radio headed?
I think it’s definitely going to change. I suspect it’s going the way of regional programming. One Tom Joyner or Doug Banks can take the role of 50 different hosts at 50 different stations, and I could see that happening on the DJ side.
Syndication is where it’s headed, as well as voice tracking. Voice tracking is where they record your voice and save it, like an MP3 on your computer, and it’s dropped into the mix just like music. So you have the DJ or the host talking like he’s live on the air and in the local studio and interacting with people, but it’s really recorded.
When radio DJs go off the air, they usually don’t get a chance to say goodbye to their audience. It’s a part of our lives and it’s pretty jarring. Is there anything you want to say to the people that listened to you for so many years?
Well, you might see me surface again on the air. I live not even a city block from Power92. I’m a spiritual person and sometimes I wonder if that isn’t part of the plan. There’s got to be some reason for it. Otherwise, I’m still out and about at all the shows.
On the House Music side, I’m teaming up with Ricky Bradshaw as a duo, both production and DJing. We have a magic when we play together but we’ve only been able to do it in certain spots here and there.
I’ve also put together a new Old School mix which is out now.