Recently, at least two former Hot 97 SVG employees gave voice to their side of the story as they explained what led to their abrupt departure from those radio frequencies.
DJ Maff, formerly of the Double Trouble duo which used to be heard midmornings Monday to Thursday, told listeners to SVG’s newest podcast series, ‘Unmasked,’ that he “wouldn’t say it’s a bad blood scene.” He acknowledged that the resulting job loss was precipitated by a “business thing” that “kinda got personal” which led him to “part ways” with the 19 years old radio station.
Maff along with 8 other former staffers opted to stay at home following several meetings with managing director Luke Boyea. This option was offered to the staff in lieu of a 60% pay cut. Boyea, in a separate interview with the same podcasters, explained that everybody seemed to have been on board with the salary reductions until he was surprised by an “ambush meeting” that ended when the participants walked out; leaving the station essentially unmanned for some time.
The DJ, known for his storytelling selection style, had just racked up about 3 years on the station’s payroll when the COVID-19 triggered, economic downturn forced his employers to drastically reduce his wages. Maff told the podcast audience, “management gave us an option, well he gave us 2 options and we took an option. I guess he just didn’t like the way we went about doing things and he got in his feelings and figured he can’t trust anybody so he fired everybody.”
The issue, he opined, was that “everybody left the same day,” which was brought on because the attempted negotiations between the affected former staffers and management were not bearing fruit.
“The thing that management have to understand is that everybody have bills. Some of us have rent, we have vehicle, we have children and that 40% bro, it been hitting yo hard. I mean it’s better than nothing but in the moment, with the frustration, it’s like ‘how is it you going to make it work under these conditions? And with that 40% we still getting deducted late fee.
“I mean come on man, you hadda have a heart towards people…. A workable percentage between us would have been 60%. We could have worked with that but 40 man? …. We had couple meetings to negotiate but it was always a ‘no, no, no’.”
Maff declared he would not return to the Hot 97 staff if he was offered a spot again since “it kinda took a toll on me personally and as a DJ.” This he said was due largely because he felt “undervalued” as reflected in his paycheck and lack of positive professional appraisal from his former bosses.
Asberth News Network caught up with the SupaDawg Pitbull who also lost his job as host of the ever popular afternoon drive time 4 – 7 p.m. shift. He told us that it took the reality of the actual take home pay after the 60% cut and deduction of statutory fees like PAYE to provoke the cadre of former staffers to demand wage renegotiations.
“At the end of April a number of us had grievances because even though we were paid 40% we still noticed, for the majority of us, that late fees were deducted.” This was contrary to the position adopted by the managing director in a previous meeting, Pitbull explained.
“In some cases where a person would have been making $1000.00 and now had to get $400.00 he ended up with $280.00…. We were concerned. 8 of us – it was originally 9 of us – decided to call an impromptu meeting with [Boyea] to discuss this because we remembered in the meeting him saying there wouldn’t be any deductions.
“He said, he never said that. He said he wasn’t going to make any deductions from people who owe money to the station, who work there. For example I was one and some other people,” Pitbull reported.
It was not just those persons who were eventually fired who “found grievances” with the continued deductions, Pitbull noted, as at least one other person who is still employed at the station voiced his concerns in another company forum.
The “impromptu meeting” was convened in hopes that a more equitable agreement could be made so that the station may keep its late fee deductions without devastating their wages.
“I was really disheartened by his lack of empathy and humanity,” Pitbull said as he disclosed that one of the affected past employees welcomed a newborn child in the midst of the fray.
According to the announcer-cum-DJ the group dropped their pay bump request from 60% down to 50% only to be told that, “the station isn’t making any money… he’s not going to go broke to pay us.”
So they explored the time off option as the next viable step.
Pitbull said, “during the month of May we started hearing rumors that he was scouting for other people to replace us… so we called another meeting with him … asking him about these rumors we’re hearing – ‘man that’s just idle talk, don’t believe everything you hear’–” Boyea is said to have told them.
At the end of that meeting the ousted crew was reassured that their jobs were safe. Two weeks later, however, “DJ Maff as the first to go back to have a talk” with Boyea; only to be told, “he’s no longer employed” at Hot 97 SVG.
DJs Swagga and Sarda would be the next to find out that their employment contracts were terminated as their promised return-to-work-deadline came and passed. This prompted Pitbull to email the radio boss as he queried his employment status.
That email remains unanswered to date. A follow up WhatsApp message was dispatched and to that, we were told, Boyea responded claiming that the now dismissed staff “walked off the work, abandoned the station” and that they “tried to sink Hot 97.”
Pitbull claimed to have protested this spin on things since they were assured that they could explore the time off option without prejudice. “His thing was that we did not give him any time to prepare to have people come in replace us while we stayed at home; which is contrary to what he said in the meeting when we asked him what would he do if we decided to take the option.
“At that point he said he would automate the station which was what he said in the very first instance. He never gave us any indication that we would be replaced if we decided to take the option. That was not the impression we got at all!”
Pitbull, who has worked with the station “cumulatively for 14 years”, criticized Boyea’s handling of the time off process. He claimed, “as the manager he didn’t have that kind of intuition” to ask us to give him time to set up, “if he knew he wanted continuity of the station.”
Although his fate was still unknown following that most recent attempt to communicate with Boyea, Pitbull said he later learnt that his shift format was rebranded and changed to now feature 2 hosts and a DJ.
Pitbull further rubbished his former boss’ allegation that they cornered him in an “ambush meeting.” This, he said, was impossible to believe since Boyea practiced an “open door” management style.