Donnie Simpson's last WPGC show likely Friday

Morning-radio personality Donnie Simpson signs off after a falling out with his longtime station, WPGC-FM (95.5).
By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 25, 2010

Donnie Simpson's 32-year run on Washington's airwaves will end this week, with the longtime morning host expected to sign off after a falling out with his longtime station, WPGC-FM (95.5).

Simpson's last show likely will be Friday, people on both sides said, barring any last-minute changes to an exit agreement that was still being finalized over the weekend.

Simpson, 55, is under contract until March of 2011, but has sought to end his association with the CBS-owned station that has employed him as its signature morning personality since 1993.

CBS will keep Simpson from jumping to another station by invoking the "non-compete" provision of his contract. The clause bars Simpson from working for a Washington-area station for the next 13 1/2 months. CBS invoked a similar provision in 2008 when another of its local personalities, Don Geronimo, left WJFK-FM before his contract had expired.

Simpson's departure follows months of declining ratings for his show and internal friction between Simpson and WPGC's management. The station has sought to boost Simpson's ratings and attract younger listeners by updating his playlist and playing hit songs more often. Simpson and his producer-son, Donnie Jr., have maintained that the station was meddling, compromising his long-running program and alienating loyal listeners.

CBS had wanted to ease Simpson out with a celebratory retirement party in mid-March, but Simpson declined, according to people familiar with the negotiations between him and the station. Late last week he began telling listeners on the air that his departure was imminent but didn't specify when he'd be leaving.

Simpson has been a radio personality since he was a teenager in Detroit, his home town. Before joining WPGC, he spent 16 years at WKYS-FM, helping to build it into a local powerhouse. He also gained national and international attention as the host of Black Entertainment Television's "Video Soul" program for almost 15 years.

Simpson has not disclosed his plans after he leaves WPGC. Station managers declined to comment.

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