On Dec. 12, WRNB100.3FM fired Lady B (aka Bahiyyah Clark). Was it because she had low ratings? No. Was it because she engaged in inappropriate conduct? No. Was it because she lost her mojo? No. So why was she terminated?
Well, we don’t really know because the only official comment from the station’s operations manager, as reported on Dec. 13 by this newspaper’s Kimberly C. Roberts, “At this time, we don’t comment on any personal business matters, so I wouldn’t be able to really discuss that….” What does that mean? And if you’re not gonna comment “at this time,” when are you gonna comment?
In the meantime, I’ll comment, dammit, because that’s what newspaper columnists/commentators do.
1. Lady B is a Philly radio icon with a nearly 40 year history, starting with an internship in 1979 with her mentor- the unparalleled Mary Mason on WHAT1340AM. Although Mason wasn’t a fan of Hip Hop, she eventually gave B her own weekend show, which became an overwhelming success and brought Hip Hop to the radio in Philly. And the rest, as they say, is history.
2. She was the first female to record a studio Hip Hop song, which was “To The Beat, Y’all” and did so on the Sugar Hill Records label in 1979. And it went gold long before anybody knew anything about social media marketing.
3. She moved to Power 99FM in 1984 as host of The Street Beat and the streets loved it so much that the station really blew up. Lady B became the voice, the face, and the brand of Power 99 before taking her show on the road to WBLS in New York where she continued to blow up. She later did the very same remarkable trendsetting work with a new show on Sirius Satellite Radio, also in the Big Apple.
4. Her “Basement Party” show on WRNB, where she started in 2007, became widely popular and eventually became the only reason many of the people who listen to 100.3 even tune in to that station. She was its voice, its face, and its brand.
5. Her A-List fan base — yes, I mean the stars who seek her autograph and who give her credit for jump-starting or boosting their Hip Hop Golden Era career — include her very close personal friends Will Smith (known back in the day as The Fresh Prince), LL Cool J, Chuck D of Public Enemy, Big Daddy Kane, Doug E. Fresh, and many others.
6. She’s consistently been “out here in these streets” helping to lead the battles to end gun violence, to explain the intricacies of the LIHEAP application process to low income residents, to promote quality education for children, to provide essential healthcare information for senior citizens, to enlighten young and old alike during Black History Month when she shares little known facts about major inventions and discoveries by Black folks, and to help save historic Cheyney University when it was close to shutting down forever a few months ago. It’s because of her great community work that members of Philadelphia City Council and also the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus have issued numerous official citations honoring her.
I like Beyonce’s BeyHive, but I love Lady B’s B Nation. However, it wasn’t until I had the opportunity on Dec. 15 to interview her that I finally found out what the B Nation is really about. I thought it was merely a play on words in connection with the B in Lady B and in connection with her having a nationwide support base. Although that’s part of it, I found out there’s even more. As she explained, “It’s actually about being all you can ‘be.’ Many people are so frustrated by their day-to-day problems that they feel like giving up. But I want them to know that with life, there’s hope. And with hope, there’s a future. And with a future, you can ‘be’ all you want to ‘be.’”
And when I asked her about being terminated, her response was surprising. First of all, she had absolutely nothing bad to say about WRNB, its management, staff, or any of her co-workers. Instead, she said, “I wish them all the best. They made a decision that they feel was in the best interest of the station.”
After I asked her about how she’s dealing with the sadness of being terminated from a job she adored, she responded, “The love and support I’ve been getting during the past few days is overwhelming. In fact, what saddens me and does so immensely is that I’m disappointing people by no longer being in a position to help them, to help the community, to help ‘my’ community. And I’m not in the business of disappointing people. That’s not my thing. So I just hope and pray that God sends me a platform to help my B Nation as soon as possible.”
In the meantime, I want everyone from “8 to 80” (which is her actual fan base) — especially the 6,500 people who reacted on two particularly popular Facebook pages, the 2,300 others who commented, and the 2,500 others who shared in order to transform the B Nation into the B Army. All those Facebook numbers — most notably the shares — along with the outrage expressed on Instagram and Twitter in response to the unjustified firing of Lady B, mean this anger has gone viral. Therefore, I’m asking every member of the B Army — and that means you because all y’all have been drafted — to contact 100.3’s General Manager Jeffrey Wilson by calling him at (301) 429-3218 and emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell him you want Lady B — Philly’s Radio Icon — back on the air immediately.
#phillyradioicon. Spread the word.
Michael Coard, Esquire can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. His “Radio Courtroom” show can be heard on WURD96.1-FM and his “TV Courtroom” show can be seen on PhillyCam/Verizon/Comcast.