The cyber war on Facebook between fans top Cape Town DJs, Nigel Pierce and Phat Joe, has heated up to boiling point again. It all started earlier this year when Pierce’s sidekick, The Knob, defected from Good Hope FM to Phat Joe’s show on Heart104.9 FM. Pierce announced a divorce. Phat Joe crowed. Fans slugged it out on Facebook.
Now round two has begun in earnest after Pierce was moved from the hotly contested breakfast show space to the more sedate slot from 9am to 12 noon, replaced by Guy MacDonald.
Phat Joe, annoyed that his sparring partner was now out of reach, started motivating for the return of Pierce to his earlier slot, and slagging off MacDonald, saying he was small fry. Pierce’s fans, mostly on Facebook, are for once in agreement with Phat Joe, but not giving an inch in his favour.
“The entertainment now extends way beyond the studio,” said Vernon Adams, Heart’s programme manager. “I know there are conspiracy theories out there, the grassy knoll and all that, about Knobbo’s defection, but it was genuine. He knew Nigel was going to be moved to the morning show, and he defected. The snowball became an avalanche!”
Karen Visagie, Good Hope FM’s spokesperson, laughed when she told how Phat Joe had held a wake for Pierce’s breakfast show. “But you know, we’re not about to give him our precious airtime by responding to him on air,” she said. “We’re forever grateful to Phat Joe. He’s helping us by marketing Good Hope on Heart.”
Visagie said Pierce’s move was standard practice as DJs were shuffled around on an annual basis to “keep things fresh”. “Change is a constant,” she said. “Yfm have just announced a change in line up. Metro are about to. But we appreciate the loyalty of the listeners. Our target audience is young, and we will lose them if we don’t keep it fresh. It was a well thought out business decision to move Nigel.”
Listeners, however, are not so happy with Pierce’s move. His Facebook page is filled with exhortations to go back to his early morning slot. And Pierce doesn’t seem averse to the idea. In every instance, he has provided the listeners with an email address to which to send their complaints and hinted at a deeper story. “Ask the right questions,” he’s said when he updates his status.
“It’s great that the listeners are so personally involved, that they get close to it,” Visagie said.
Heart are playing the angles at full tilt. “We’re breaking the mould,” said Heart’s Adams. “The social networks have taken the show into a new realm, and they’re so immediate. Besides, the fact that Pierce’s fans are furious about his move has weakened our competitor and it’s strategic at this point to psych them out when they’re weakened. You know, like Mohammed Ali?”
Adams says Phat Joe and the Heart team are by no means psyched out by the insults hurled at them via Facebook by Pierce fans. “Did Howard Stern mind?” he asked. “We’re prepared to use market forces to be provocative, to create exciting radio. Personality driven radio is back. Radio has been dead for a long time. If you want cheese grater radio, go for it. But we’re going for high impact, interactive radio that entertains. The idea is to be bold.”
In the meantime, MacDonald has had a fiery introduction to the early morning show. “He’s a strong boy,” said Visagie. “He’s got his whole team with him and he’ll survive. He know’s all’s fair in love and war and he’s ideally suited to the slot. He’ll show them.”
But the Facebook wars continue. Follow the action on:
It’s so nauseating that I can’t even listen to good radio WTH?! I went from GHFM to Heart (puke) to 5fm to Kfm (puke) to find out the Radio 2000 was at least playing decent music and that I didn’t have to listen to Phat Joe saying Guy is a small time fry and that you should stay on.. I think its all an act anyway! And not listen to Guy who was trying to entertain the listeners… and KFM being soppy grrrrr…All I ask and kinda begging right now is for YOU Nigel to come back to the morning show 6-9 PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!! #angrylistener