Melvin Lindsey, the host of "The Quiet Storm," the most popular evening program in Washington, is leaving WHUR-FM (96.3), his base for the last nine years, for a multiyear, million-dollar contract at crosstown urban rival WKYS-FM (93.9).
Lindsey, the most successful and visible of WHUR's staff, not only delivered a show of songs each evening but instituted an evening mood of romance by playing contemporary standards from Lionel Richie to Luther Vandross to Barbra Streisand. Lindsey, who notified WHUR of his departure this week, says he plans to do the same show at WKYS. "I had offers before but this one offered all the right elements. I love the opportunity to work with Donnie Simpson. The whole team at KYS does well. I think we can build a radio dynasty at KYS," said Lindsey. "The show is going to be exactly like what I have been doing."
His contract with WKYS, according to several sources, will give him $1 million over a five-year period and is believed to make Lindsey, 30, one of the highest paid black radio talents in the country. Lindsey emphasized he was leaving WHUR, where he started his career as a Howard University communications student, for "personal growth," not because of any disagreement with the station.
"Melvin is a class act," said Simpson, the program director and morning host at WKYS. "I know what he means in this market. He has captured that young audience in a big way. This is a great opportunity for our station." James Watkins, acting station manager at WHUR, could not be reached for comment.
Both WHUR, which is owned by Howard University, and WKYS, which is owned by NBC, program a similar urban contemporary format, which emphasizes sophisticated pop and rhythm and blues, usually by black artists. WKYS has led the market for eight of the last 13 rating periods but has never won the important evening ratings. WHUR has been consistently in or near the top five for the last few years. In the most recent Arbitron ratings, however, the urban stations slipped because of the increasing audience for black pop music and because the survey area was expanded to the metropolitan area's outlying counties in Maryland and Virginia. "We think we can control some of the erosion now. Melvin's coming increases our chances of being number one again," said Simpson. Lindsey's pull at night once garnered him a 19-point share of the audience, but by the last book he has slipped to an 11 share, still way ahead of the competition.
Tonight will be Lindsey's last show. Yesterday he was told by WHUR's management, according to his lawyer, Amy Goldson, that he was being placed on administrative leave with pay at midnight tonight for 90 days. Lindsey is expected to begin the 7 p.m. to midnight shift on WKYS Nov. 11. Rafting and Rolling
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