WERS cancels nighttime hip-hop and reggae

Emerson College’s radio station, WERS-FM (88.9), has canceled its nighttime hip-hop and reggae programs. One of those programs — “Rockers’’ — was started in 1978 by Doug Herzog, who is now the president of Viacom Entertainment Group and widely credited with bringing “The Colbert Report,’’ “South Park,’’ and “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart’’ to Comedy Central. In a statement Tuesday, Emerson said: “To keep WERS vibrant now and self-sustaining well into the future, the station needs to build its audience. It has become increasingly challenging to achieve this goal with our current format, which fragments our listening audience. To provide a more consistent format, our new weeknight programming, Secret Spot (R&B, soul), will broadcast from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and remain part of the weekend evening line-up, where it originated, and has done very well. WERS will continue to offer a wide selection of current and classic music (including reggae) within its overall programming.’’ The news broke with three late-night tweets from Malcolm Gray, the assistant program director for urban programming at WERS. One tweet said, “spend two years of your life building something to shine a light on an underrepresented community. just like that. gone.’’ Another said: “worst day ever.’’ The news comes a month after WERS hired longtime local DJ George Knight to host its morning show alongside students and be the station’s first on-air professional staff member. Along with “Rockers,’’ the other show disappearing is “[email protected] night,’’ which played East and West Coast hip-hop. Herzog, an Emerson trustee, was sad to hear about “Rockers.’’ “I started the show in the fall of 1978, as a weekly hour called ‘Strictly Rockers,’ ’’ he said by phone Tuesday. “It was the height of the reggae roots era.’’ He said the show went daily in 1980, when it was renamed “Rockers.’’ His idea for the show was born after a high school trip to Jamaica, where he saw a Bob Marley concert. “It basically changed my life. I became fascinated. It’s been a 40-year fascination for me, I’m still a reggae fan. Still have Jamaican 45s.’’ Herzog, whose son just graduated from Emerson, joked that despite all his successes launching television shows, those have all been collaborative efforts. “I can’t take credit solely for any of them, except for ‘Rockers,’ which I can take credit for. I can literally say I’m the guy that did that. . . . You can’t be afraid of change,’’ he said. “But it’s a sad day for the illustrious ‘Rockers’ community and a legacy.’’

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