Simpson Says Farewell to WPGC-FM

Photos Ronald G. Baker/Solid Image | 1/31/2010, 12:34 p.m.

Donnie Simpson proudly displays his honorary D.C. Police Officer badge & plaque he received from Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier at his final broadcast on WPGC radio, located in Prince Georges County, Md. His last on air broadcast was Friday, January 29, 2010. Courtesy photo by Ronald G. Baker/Solid Image

he Monday post on radio personality Donnie Simpson€s Facebook page read as follows:

€Well it's 7:30 a.m., Monday morning and I'm home. Weird, but cool. I don't know how to thank you for all of the love you have shown me. The tears on my keyboard bespeak the appreciation of my heart. I love you all so much. I will never forget you and I will be forever indebted. Thank you so much. May God touch your lives the way he has mine, through you.€

By mid-day, more than 600 responses had been posted to encourage Simpson and to say goodbye.

The public€s reaction to Simpson€s departure from WPGC-FM, a CBS-owned station, where he worked for 17 years, has been overwhelming. After what some report as an ongoing dispute with CBS management, Simpson signed-off, Fri., Jan. 29.

Simpson, 55, will remain under contract with CBS until March 2011 through a €non-compete€ provision in his contract, which prohibits him from working for any other Metropolitan area radio station until the contracts expires.

Insiders said, that Simpson and management found themselves at opposite ends over measures designed to boost the station€s fledgling ratings. In an effort to capture a younger audience, shifts in programming were adopted that contrasted sharply with Simpson€s style and songs that were area favorites. The station added frequent broadcasts of more popular music to Simpson€s play lists, which alienated Simpson€s loyal listeners and compromised his €creative control.€

Long-time Simpson fan Shondria Epps, 41, said that she tuned in to Simpson€s morning show on Monday out of habit. Instead of hearing his trademark voice €" there was a void -- Simpson was no longer a part of the Morning Show.

€Donnie€s voice has been the first thing to greet me in the morning for a long time and I am used to using his sweet laughter to get me out the door. He is just such a great guy and I will miss him terribly,€ Epps said.

CBS had reportedly planned to send Simpson off with grand retirement party in mid-March, but Simpson declined.

Supporter Carl Price, 39, of Northwest, said that CBS made a huge mistake in trying to rope Simpson into some pre-designed format. He fears losing Simpson will actually result in an even greater loss of WPGC listeners.

€I have been listening to Donnie Simpson since I was a teenager. He makes every station he touches. If the non-compete clause says Simpson cannot work anywhere else, a whole lot of people will turn off the radio and just listen to their iPods,€ Price said.

Many fans The Informer spoke with agreed with Price that Simpson€s personality and his homegrown play lists, that included songs from Maze, featuring Frankie Beverly and Patti Labelle, made him a favorite among listeners, despite his show€s lack of trendy music. Fans have followed Simpson€s career from Black Entertainment Television (BET) as host of Video Soul, to his radio shows on both WKYS-FM, where he worked for 16 years before joining the WPGC-FM team.

Simpson said that he is humbled by the outpouring of support and ended his first day off of the radio airwaves by blogging: €I haven't been able to read your postings because they make me cry. I'm sorry. What a blessing it is to be loved. I love you all so much and I thank you for lifting me,€ Simpson wrote.

Donnie Simpson with his granddaughter, Norah and FOX-TV€s meteorologist Tony Perkins, listen as celebrities call into Simpson€s final morning show to say farewell. FOX broadcasted Perkins live from the WPGC studio throughout the morning show. He and Simpson, once co-hosted the WPGC-FM morning show before Perkins launched his Network television career. Courtesy photo by Ronald G. Baker/Solid Image
Simpson sheds a tear after his final sign-off with WPGC-FM. His signature song, Jesus is Love, by Lionel Ritchie, could be heard in the background while friends and family gathered to celebrate his career which spanned 32 years. Hundreds of fans gathered outside of Ben€s Chili Bowl in Northwest later during the day to thank Simpson for being a part of their lives. Courtesy photo by Ronald G. Baker/Solid Image
Popular morning show host Donnie Simpson ended his 32-year career on the Washington airwaves, Fri., Jan. 29. He shares an emotional moment with fellow radio personality Big Tigger during his final broadcast on WPGC-FM (95.5) Courtesy photo by Ronald G. Baker/Solid Image