PA Station “The Touch” Axes Tom Joyner, Flips Format

by Mr. Kev - Posted Tuesday, August 30th, 2011. Category: URBAN

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Let’s face it, Joyner’s probably not the least bit fazed about losing this market but the black community will feel a much greater void. Some Urban Adult formats really do need to be revitalized in order to gain more appeal but that’s a story I have not written yet.

Harrisburg PA urban adult radio lovers are about be ‘out of Touch,’ (no pun intended) as 95.3 FM‘s impending format switch to ESPN will leave a hole in the local African-American community’s information and urban radio pipeline. ESPN Radio’s all-sports format starts this Thursday wrapping almost a 20 year run of adult R&B hits as well as syndicated national personalities Tom Joyner and Doug Banks.

The change means not only the loss of the Harrisburg market’s only R&B station, but also the elimination of some local programming aimed at the black community, including “Gospel Cavalcade Live,” a four-hour show that was broadcast Sunday mornings. The final show aired Sunday.

“It’s going to leave a void,” said Kirsten N. Keys, who co-hosted the show for many years with her father, the late Olin Harris Sr., and her son, Christopher Olin Harris. “We provided a time when families could gather for worship, but we also provided a critical flow of information to the community.”

Keys, who recorded the on-air announcement of the format change, said the station provided forums for political candidates to share their views, as well as providing information about community events and issues of importance to the minority community.

“We all realize that in this economy, it’s difficult,” she said. “We’ve been trying to adjust for three years, but the lack of support from sponsors and advertisers creates a trickle-down effect. We all took pay cuts.”

Station manager Ron Giovanniello acknowledged the loss of the station’s community role, but said the decision to change formats was mandated by economic issues.

“Yes, The Touch has played an important role for the past 18 years in the local African-American community, and that aspect will unfortunately be lost with this change,” Giovanniello said in an email to The Patriot-News on Monday. “In the end, The Touch was/is a business … and like any business, it cannot survive without the support of enough customers, in this case advertisers and sponsors.”

“We feel we have tried our best,” Giovanniello wrote, “and the lack of support from the business community is a clear indication from the marketplace that it was time to make a change. This is strictly a business decision.”

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