Popular radio host hits local airwaves

Sheryl Underwood’s show to land on Toledo’s dial


    Comedian, Sheryl Underwood.

  • Comedian, Sheryl Underwood.
    Comedian, Sheryl Underwood.

    The Michael Baisden Show was an afternoon staple for millions of urban radio listeners across the country.

    But the popular radio host’s unexpected departure from the airwaves earlier this year after a contract stalemate with Cumulus Media left programming directors scrambling to fill a sizable gap in their afternoon drive-time slot.

    Charlie Mack of WJUC-FM, 107.3 (The Juice), will soon offer a solution: Sheryl Underwood in the Afternoon, a four-hour talk and music show featuring the comedian-author-and cohost of CBS’ gab fest The Talk that will originate, in part, from Toledo.

    “What I listen to in the afternoon when it comes to syndicated afternoon radio is horrible on the urban format and there’s a need there,” Mack said. “They liked having syndicated programming but there was not a show there they liked so they went back to programming locally out of necessity. We want to fill that void.”

    Beginning Friday, Sheryl Underwood in the Afternoon will broadcast live from 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays on The Juice through the end of month in a local test run before possible syndication into other markets. The comedian will be joined on air by her touring comic Kyle Erby, and WJUC mid-day DJ Tisha Lee and Mack as permanent co-hosts.

    The show will feature talk — less than typical radio morning shows, but more than most afternoon offerings — audience phone calls (Friday’s show will be nothing but calls), various guests, and music.

    “It’s going to be a fun, entertaining, and enlightening show, but there’s no shying away from having conversations about the topics of the day,” Underwood said. “It’s two girls and two guys having great conversations that people can enjoy.”

    The six-month goal for Sheryl Underwood in the Afternoon, Mack said, is to have “20 stations running the show if not more,” he said.

    The more immediate concern is successfully launching the show in Toledo. That includes building on-air chemistry and repartee that should come as the four personalities spend more time together on air and hanging out. Another issue is working out the logistics of an additional four-hour weekday commitment in the host’s busy schedule.

    While The Talk is on hiatus through August, Underwood and Erby will take up temporary residence in Toledo. And once The Talk cranks up production in September, Underwood will return to Los Angeles for the live broadcast, seen locally from 2 to 3 p.m. on WTOL-TV, Channel 11. Immediately following the show, she’ll record promotions for The Talk, and then walk offstage and into her dressing room to connect with Mack and Lee in Toledo.

    But if listeners miss her in the afternoons, there’s still the opportunity to hear Underwood on the syndicated morning program The Steve Harvey Show, which airs from 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays on 107.3. Juggling both radio shows in August “will really let me know that I can fit [WJUC] in my schedule,” she said.

    Harvey initially encouraged Underwood to pursue a radio show when she and WJUC first discussed the idea three years ago. Like Underwood, friend and mentor Harvey maintains a similarly busy schedule as comic, author, TV and radio entertainer, and entrepreneur.

    Underwood and WJUC were close to an agreement when CBS offered her the position as a cohost of The Talk, and the TV deal “put everything on the backburner,” Mack said.

    But a recent appearance at the Funny Bone in Perrysburg brought Underwood back to the station, where talks began anew about her radio show.

    “I did about a four-minute interview for the [stand-up] promotion, and the rest of the time, it was brainstorming with her people about how to do the show again,” he said. “This time they had the time to do it. The timing was right.”

    And so Underwood signed a long-term agreement with WJUC for her afternoon showcase.

    Sheryl Underwood in the Afternoon will afford the busy comic and talk-show host the opportunity to tout causes personal to her, such as raising money for historically black colleges and universities, and talking with listeners about current events and personal issues.

    The show also will retain a Toledo feel even when she returns to Los Angeles.

    “For me it’s going to be great to talk about Jeep, and then when we’re syndicated we’re going to be talking about Jeep on a national level,” she said. “The goal is to syndicate this show, and Toledo is a great place to start.”

    Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.