What’s Going On At Hot 97: A Timeline

A timeline of the trials and tribulations the beloved NYC hip-hop station’s faced in the last year and a half.

February 04, 2015

These days, even a devoted longtime listener of Hot 97 could be forgiven for turning the radio dial to New York's revered hip-hop station and not recognizing the voices they hear. After years of being the premiere hip-hop station in NYC, the station has recently begun feeling the heat from competitors like Clear Channel's Power 105.1, as well as the internet; and one by one, long-time station personalities have begun to bow out. We've mapped out the station's major personnel shake-ups from the last few years.

July 2013 — K. Foxx Gets Let Go

K. Foxx is dropped from Hot 97's morning show, which she hosted for two years with Cipha Sounds and Peter Rosenberg, thus ending the "A Black, a Jew and a Puerto Rican" era of the show. "I always came in to work, I wasn't a bitch to anyone. I always smiled. Did lots of events. I was a team player," a baffled Foxx told Ebony about her abrupt dismissal the next day. "[DJ Funkmaster] Flex called me and he said: 'You didn't deserve this. You rode for Hot 97.' I wore that logo on my back."

September 2013 — Mister Cee Resigns On-Air

Mister Cee drops a bomb on Throwback At Noon listeners when he makes an on-air announcement that he's decided to step down. He cites the belief that it's no longer tenable for the station—where he had been spinning for two decades—to keep him on the roster, in light of Cee's much-publicized arrests related to his alleged solicitation of oral sex from transgendered prostitutes. "The last thing you want to do is hurt the people that you love, and I love this station," he says, before signing off with Mobb Deep's "Shook Ones."

The next morning, though, he's back on the air with the station's Program Director Ebro Darden, engaging in an astoundingly honest discussion about his alleged crimes, sexuality, and West Indian upbringing. "I am tired of trying to do something or be something that I'm not," Cee tells Ebro that morning, fighting back tears. "I'm tired." In the end, he's convinced to return, and a few hours later he is back in the booth spinning one of his most memorable sets to date.

March 2014 — Ebro Steps Down As Program Director

Ebro Darden steps down as Hot 97's behind-the-scenes program director—a position he'd held for nearly a decade—to focus on creative and on-air endeavors that he began dabbling in around the time of Foxx's exit, when the ratings for Power 105.1's The Breakfast Club began encroaching on Hot 97's morning show. "I have had tremendous success doing both on-air and PD roles, and EMMIS let me choose where I would be happiest," he explained in a press release. "Mornings, TV and assisting in programming makes sense with everything Hot 97and I have happening today, so I chose creative over corporate. See you all at 5 am tomorrow." The morning show is now known as Ebro in the Morning.

June 2014 — Angie Martinez Moves To Power 105.1

Angie Martinez, who's often referred to as "The Voice of New York," surprises everyone when she announces that she's leaving her long-held afternoon gig at Hot 97 to join rival station Power 105.1. "I just got to a point where I thought to myself, 'I'm curious about what my value is in the market, and let me just see what's out there,'" she explains in an interview with New York shortly after her exit. "I wanna be on different markets. I wanna be able to grow."

July 2014 — A New Program Director Is Brought In

Jay Dixon is tapped to fill in for Ebro as program director, after having worked with Emmis (the media company that owns Hot 97) for 20 years. "Things are different now than they were before, even five years ago," he tells New York Daily News. "Radio is different. Hip-hop culture is different."

July 2014 — Cipha Opens Up On Juan Epstein

On an episode of Cipha Sounds and Peter Rosenberg's after-hours Juan Epstein podcast, Cipha talks about being moved from the morning show and expresses interest in making Angie's vacated afternoon show—which he had temporarily taken over—full-time. He also claims he'd been offered a position at Power 105 twice in the past but turned down both offers, citing the judgment of his mentors as a factor—that is, until Angie left. "I was like, 'This fucking bitch!'" he laughs. Cipha and Rosenberg also joke(?) that the station's interim program director, Dixon, has no idea who Cipha is.

August 2014 — Karlie Hustle Quits

Karlie Hustle steps down from her post as Hot 97's Music Director. In an Instagram post, she denies rumors that she plans to follow Angie Martinez to Power 106 and refers to Hot 97 as "the most important radio station in the world." "Quitting is just in my repertoire," she jokes in a video she posts on YouTube a month later titled "How to Quit Your Job Series: Step One." (She's since settled into a new job as Director of Brand Relations position at 9th Wonder's Jamla Records label.)

November 2014 — Mister Cee Resigns Again

Mister Cee resigns for the second time in about a year, and this time it sticks. He has remained vague about his reasons for leaving, but he did tell the New York Times that he once told 50 Cent "I can't be on Hot 97 at 50 years old." Now fans can hear the 47-year-old dj on Radio 103.9, where he's the host of a Saturday afternoon throwback show. "I can play anything, any genre of music, but I do feel that because of the direction that Hot is going in, I might be the answer for now, but I don't think I'll be the answer five or ten years from now," he said.

January 2015 — A New Programming Director Gets Hired

Pio Ferro is brought in as Hot 97's programming director, while Dixon returns to a consulting role; Ferro was previously the National Program Director for Spanish Broadcasting System, where he oversaw programming for stations across the country. Longtime mid-day host Big Dennis Rivera's departure from the station is announced in the press release.

January 2015 — Nessa Takes Over For Angie

Nessa takes the helm of Afternoon Drive, Hot 97's afternoon show that had been steered by Angie Martinez for nearly 20 years before she made the jump to Power 105.1. She cut her teeth hosting the evening show for San Francisco's KYLD 94.9 and busting jokes on MTV's Girl Code. "Hot 97 has the best energy and continues to preserve the culture, which was something that I always wanted [in the West Coast] but didn't have," she says. "For me to be part of their legacy is incredible."

January 2015 — Cipha Sounds Leaves

Cipha Sounds announces his split from Hot 97 the day after Nessa officially takes over the afternoon show, which Cipha had been temporarily holding down since Angie Martinez's departure. "Relationship status from 'it's complicated' to 'single,'" he wrote, hinting at a frustration with the way things were going at the station, where he had served 17 years in various roles from intern, to mixer, to on-air personality. "One boss told me one thing, another boss told me another thing, they then fired one of those bosses, another boss came in an told me one things, and then a boss of another station came in and became our boss and told me another thing," he explained on an episode of Juan Epstein that had been recorded the weekend before he finalized his decision. "All nice people, all different opinions on what the show should be and how it should run." He is now focusing his energies on his comedy, and is in the process of developing a stand-up show with Alicia Keys.
Posted: February 04, 2015
What’s Going On At Hot 97: A Timeline