Donnie Simpson is nothing short of a D.C. legend. The longtime radio and television personality is one of the few characters in media who is almost universally adored, without having ever had to beat any controversies — almost unheard of in a business with as much turnover as broadcasting.
So it comes as welcome news that Simpson posted a message on his Facebook page Tuesday morning, indicating his desire to get back on the air. “I’ve been out for 3 1/2 years now and that time off has rekindled a creative fire in me,” Simpson wrote on his confirmed Facebook page. “I’m ready. I’ve got some things I want to say and some things I want to play. I look forward to hooking up with you again. I miss you.” Referring to his wife he added: “Plus Pam wants me out of the house.”
The post comes a day after the industry Web site Allaccess.com reported that Simpson, aka The Green-Eyed Bandit, is mulling a return to “urban radio.” According to the site, Simpson said he has chosen Ed Pearson, owner of talent and program development company Esome Media Group, to help him find the right opportunity. “I consulted with my management team, looked at the landscape and after careful deliberation, decided Ed [Pearson] was the right person to partner with,” the Web site quotes Simpson as saying. “He knows radio and he’s a friend. I’m confident that Ed will deliver something really kool.”
Questionable spelling aside, one station that could use Simpson’s familiar tones is right here in D.C. For the past few months, WHUR has been running its ‘Washington’s Next Big Voice‘ promotion, which has featured different DJ’s rotating through the station’s 3-7 p.m. slot, after Michael Baisden’s syndicated show was removed. According to another media site, UrbanRadioNation.com, the move hasn’t been super popular with listeners.
“Some of the comments directed towards management include: [we paraphrase] When will the station find a permanent host?, …Trying to find a new “voice” has been going on for several weeks now. Enough already, …Can a DJ just be selected?, …Unfreakinbelievable! cycling through every dj in America. …ALRIGHT ALREADY! How long is this foolishness going to go on?,” the site says.
It would seem like a no-brainer to try to draw Simpson out of retirement to resurrect the afternoon time slot on a station that caters to older, black, listeners. But Donnie doesn’t come cheap. For the man who blessed the area on WKYS, WPGC, BET and WRC-4 over the years, I imagine it’ll take a small fortune to draw him out of his mansion in Potomac every day.
Dave Hughes, who runs the media gossip site DCRTV.com, said about Simpson on his slightly frenetic daily video address “Dave TV” Monday that “the word was in 2010 [when he left WPGC-FM] that Donnie was just making too much money. He was one of those highly, highly, highly paid, maybe one the highest paid ever radio personalities in the Washington market and CBS simply can’t afford this guy anymore.”
But, he’d be worth it for WHUR. Bringing Donnie back would be an automatic huge splash in a market that’s been bereft of a nationally recognizable non-morning show radio talent for some time.
“I always say to myself that would be the perfect place for Donnie Simpson, wouldn’t it?” Hughes said.
Yes, it definitely would.