Published on Saturday, 16 January 2010 15:21
"Crazy" Howard McGee was a Chicago radio phenomenon. McGee is a Chicago native, who started his radio career down at Southern Illinois University's WIDB-FM. He signed on with WGCI-FM as a weekend jock in 1993. He soon after moved to weekdays, doing middays and then afternoons on WGCI. In January of 1998, he became the host of 'GCI's morning show. Ratings were... well... "crazy." McGee was at or near the top of the ratings each ratings period. WGCI-FM 107.5 was as big of a smash sensation as it had ever been. Locally and nationwide, credit was given to both Howard McGee and WGCI's Program Director, Elroy Smith. In the Summer of 2007, despite sky-high ratings, "Crazy" Howard McGee and his whole morning show staff were fired and replaced by a syndicated show, hosted by Steve Harvey. WGCI's ratings fell and have yet to recover to the level it once was.
Howard McGee has been pretty silent since his firing, choosing not to comment on the situation. He broke that silence late last night. On his Facebook page
, between 10:00pm and just after Midnight last night, he would post up about how he was treated, how he found out about the firing and his feelings about it all. He did this at just a couple sentences at a time, every few minutes via his Facebook statuses.
Howard McGee claims that he is "not bitter or angry anymore." He just wanted to answer the constant questions he would receive from his many fans who want to know what really happened.
Here now is a look at what he had to say about how it all went down in the Spring & Summer of 2007. (Note: It appears that he was typing fast and made a few errors. Those errors, misspellings, capitalization issues, and so on, have been fixed for this article.)
He began his rants in a thankful mood:
First, let me thank GOD for the many years I was BLESSED to spend with about 1 million listeners... We had the most successful morning show in WGCI's history... Nikki Woods, Art Porter, Kelly G, Joe Soto, Alexi Dupree, Lisa E, Dawn Edwards, Ahmad, MY DOGG TONY SCO, Ty (news), and countless others behind the scenes, helped to make the CRAZY HOWARD MCGEE MORNING SHOW a success...
McGee then started to think about how it all began to go downhill at WGCI, beginning with how Clear Channel Chicago fired the popular and talented Program Director, Elroy Smith:
When they demoted or fired Elroy, who was the real reason behind the success of WGCI... I lost my passion. They fired him for no reason.
He talked about how he found out about Smith's exit, while at a function honoring Jennifer Hudson's Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for "Dreamgirls" in the Spring of 2007:
I will never forget that day. It was J-Hudd Day in the city. We were celebrating her Oscar, and I was asked to host at a local high school. While on stage, I get a message that Elroy (the pd) has been demoted. I FLIPPED. I LOST IT. WHY? WHY? The man responsible for The Big Jams, Mother's Day Brunch, Father's Day Brunch, Music Seminar... The man responsible for hiring: Rick Party, Bad Boyz, Troi Tyler, Sundance, Ramonski, Joe Soto, Irene, Ms. Foxx, Chris Michaels and ME... HE'S FIRED!!!
So, I was fired up... Pissed... Angry... Hurt... Crushed... Mad... For who... who can take his place...?
They played me... This was my boss... I gave my all to this station for 14 years and they played me...
Relationships with his new Program Director, Kris Kelley (although he does not mention her by name) went poorly and downhill quickly. He writes:
Weeks go by and this new person (BOSS) is treating me like sh**. Everything I say on the air is WRONG all of a sudden. The Relationship Hour is "wrong"... Why do I say it's "The WEEEEEEEEKEND BABY"? (That's wrong)... Using certain words is wrong... I knew my day was coming.
This new boss kept calling me down for meetings after each show. She would say how she didn't like this or that. I knew it was a matter of time, but one thing: I HAD JUST SIGNED A NEW EXTENSION FOR SEVERAL... so I thought I was safe... I THOUGHT.
McGee talks about how he found out the news. It was not from a boss, co-worker or friend. It was from seeing now-former Sun-Times columnist Robert Feder's headline on the front page of the morning newspaper. The information was leaked to Feder knew before any of the air talent on 'GCI knew -- information he quickly put into his newspaper column.
Then came the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times: "CRAZY HOWARD IS OUT/STEVE HARVEY IS IN". I found out I was being replaced on the Chicago Sun-Times!
So, we had to do a show, despite reading this on the front page of the 'Times... We wait for a manger to call while sitting in front of three mics. Nikki asks "McGee, are we going to do a show today?" I respond "NO!!!" Run tape... run tape while waiting for a manager to call and at least explain... NOT ONE CALL ALLLLLLLLLLL MORNING LONG!!!!
The entire morning goes by and finally we get a call... "Hey Crazy, the boss said there is a meeting at 10:00," my engineer Ahmad yells. I am pissed!!! Confused!!! Nikki's hurt.... Art the producer is sad.... The entire staff, SHOCKED!!!
So we go to a corporate meeting on the 28th floor and meet with the Pres. of Clear Channel. He sells a dream. "Crazy, this is not true. We are committed to the current morning show. So, on Monday (this was a Friday), come with something to tell the listeners so they don't buy what's in the new. We lied to y'all for two whole weeks before we were fired. We lie for weeks so y'all wouldn't start calling in, asking "What's going on?"
He then talks about the day he truly was told to leave WGCI:
So two weeks go by and here comes that dreadful call. "Crazy, the boss said we have a meeting at 9:00am". I knew it was over...
They direct us to a room. (We are looking like scared chickens, 'bout to be snapped into pieces.) 30 minutes passed and we are still waiting. Suddenly, the President, PD and Personnel walk in. "Well guys... The story about Steve leaked and we tried to wait, but since it's out, TODAY IS THE LAST DAY OF THE CRAZY HOWARD MCGEE MORNING SHOW". Somebody asked "Do we finish the week?" (It was Wednesday.) He repeated "TODAY IS IT FOR Y'ALL." I thought I was dreaming. I thought it was a nightmare.
We won!!! We were Number One!!! Ratings were off the chain!!! But that wasn't good enough...
McGee explains why he thinks the abrupt ending happened the way it did:
Radio stations love to fire personalities on the spot. The reason is, they don't want listeners to boycott or start calling in, so they don't allow the talent to say goodbye. Thus, listeners never get a chance to cry out... and if you don't cry out, they believe it will go away. That's the game they play.
Ms. Foxx and Sundance were fired as well, and, yes, they were not allowed to say goodbye. It's what Corporate does so the outpouring of listener complaints won't be aired. They do this to avoid y'all from voicing your disagreements. It's allllll game.
Howard McGee talks about WGCI's present day problems and ends as he began, in a thankful tone:
So Steve took over and the ratings dropped, A LOT. Now the station is Number 12. When we were there -- Elroy, Rick Party, Nikki, Ms. Foxx, Sundance, and the rest -- We were always Number 1 or 2; never 12. But I got love for them.
That's the short version, but that's the truth. Now I am a business man and happy. Check me out on 106.3 on Sunday (2:00pm).
Y'all have made my life wonderful and I do miss waking y'all up every morning with the team. Colvis Campbell, the Rev. Jackson, Whitney, The Man DaCre, The Battle of the Sexes, All the songs we re-wrote on the show... I MISS IT ALL!! The wedding April Fools joke I played on y'all was the best ever! I kept saying I was looking for a wife... That had a lot of single ladies fired up! Meet every celebrity. Found 50 missing kids and I gave to the poor.
I LOVED IT... I LOVED MY ENTIRE 14YR CAREER ON WGCI. IT WAS GREAT!!! GOD IS GREAT!!!
Since being pushed out from WGCI, "Crazy" Howard McGee has not returned to Chicago's airwaves, outside of being part of a weekend brokered show with an attorney on a suburban signal. He continues to have a strong following and fanbase in Chicago. Unfortunately, they only two Urban stations in Chicago are owned by Clear Channel and rehiring him seems unlikely. There are two suburban Urban stations both owned by Crawford, which are also cutting staff members and not looking to hire any new DJs. With extremely limited hiring possibilities in his hometown, a return to Chicago's airwaves seems sadly unlikely for this this one-time local radio superstar.