Steve Harvey No. 1 Among Urban Stations, No. 5 in America

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Steve Harvey’s radio show No. 1 among urban stations March 19, 2007 BY LARRY McSHANE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW YORK — Steve Harvey arrived 18 months ago in the kingdom of the radio shock jocks, where the royalty included Howard Stern, Don Imus and Opie and Anthony. The “King of Comedy” surveyed the raunchy landscape and launched his morning drive-time show with some trepidation. “I was concerned about it,” Harvey said recently after finishing his four-hour weekday show at WBLS-FM. “But I am who I am. I can’t stop being who I am. I’m not a mean-spirited guy.” And so Harvey started his nascent show each morning with 12 minutes devoted to gospel music and God — a stark contrast to Stern’s salacious satellite shenanigans, or Opie & Anthony’s weekly Wednesday hunt for female flesh. Skeptics abounded, but Harvey was resolute — and, it turned out, he was right. [b]The latest Arbitron ratings show Harvey’s morning show as No. 1 among urban stations and No. 5 overall in the nation’s largest and most competitive radio market. His audience more than doubled Opie & Anthony’s, and far outnumbered Imus’.'[/b] There was more good news: The 50-year-old star of sitcoms and stand-up watched “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” take off nationally. The program now airs in 45 markets, including Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Washington, Miami and Philadelphia. Harvey “has emerged as a real star on the national stage,” said Tom Taylor, editor of the trade publication Inside Radio. “Folks in radio syndication talk about it as one of the most explosive debuts in long-form syndication in many years.” Sipping from a bottle of water in his Park Avenue office, typically resplendent in a dark pinstriped suit, fedora and diamond cufflinks, Harvey considered his sudden success in a soft-spoken style. He credited God, but also his own comedic skills: “You can’t beat me in the funny department. You can beat me in the information department, you can get me in the looks department — not many guys.” Harvey chuckled, a wide smile spreading beneath his familiar mustache. “But in the funny department,” he said, “you can’t beat me.” Harvey’s 41st-floor office offers a view of the Chrysler Building and the East River. The red-walled space includes a painting of Muhammad Ali over a prone Sonny Liston, a framed Richard Pryor concert poster, and a shot of Harvey with fellow “Kings of Comedy” Bernie Mac, D.L. Hughley and Cedric the Entertainer. He arrived at WBLS on Sept, 19, 2005, and went into syndication two weeks later with just four affiliates — two of them in one city, Chicago. A year and a half later, the show was airing coast to coast, with ratings climbing almost everywhere. “I hear nothing but good things about his show, and the way it’s growing and spreading,” said Michael Harrison of Talkers magazine. “There’s a lot more to radio, and talk radio, then Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern.” The Cleveland native, while best known for his stand-up and television work, also is a radio veteran. He hosted a show in Chicago and did five years in Los Angeles at KKBT-FM, where he battled with management over his refusal to play rap with offensive lyrics and his insistence on playing a daily gospel song. Harvey said radio’s appeal is a freedom he finds lacking in other venues. “In TV, you can’t be as funny as you want to be,” Harvey said. “They’ve got standards and practices, restrictions … In stand-up, the thing I love the most, you can’t be too serious too long, because people are paying a lot of money for you to make them laugh.” During his morning show, Harvey plays a variety of roles: “You get to let the community know what’s going on. You get to bring up topics and issues. You get to be serious, you get to be a humanitarian. You get to be uplifting, spiritual, motivating.” For Harvey, that diversity is more important than ever. “I don’t want to be just known as a guy who was funny,” Harvey said. “I want to be known as an impact person.” Source: Detroit Free Press

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