After 17 years, I'm leaving Hot 97. I¹m changing my relationship status from "it¹s complicated" to "single". It¹s been an amazing ride – from intern to weekends to morning show host to fill Angie¹s seat in afternoons. Many years of incredible, life-changing experiences and enough amazing memories to last five lifetimes. The next move is already underway and I promise it's going to be huge. Follow me at @ciphasounds
After 17 years with the station, beginning as a 22-year-old intern, DJ Cipha Sounds announced today that he is leaving Hot 97. Ciph is the latest in a rapidly growing list of mainstays leaving the station, including former music director Karlie Hustle, 20-year on-air personality Angie Martinez, DJ Mister Cee and long-time midday host Big Dennis.
Add to that swirling rumors regarding Hot 97’s ownership, and we have a hip-hop institution enduring a period of uncertainty unlike anything in its storied history.
In addition to his work at Hot 97, Ciph also co-hosts the Juan Epstein podcast with now former co-worker Peter Rosenberg. In the latest episode, which released just days before Cipha announced that he was leaving the station, the two DJs had an on-air pow-wow with no guests.
In a surprising candid conversation, Cipha vented his frustrations with his now former employers, and shared his uncertainty about his place at Hot 97.
I never knew if [the 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. timeslot] was mine. If I could make it mine, I would’ve loved it. 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. All nice people, all different opinions on what the show should be and how it should run.
This conversation took place soon after the station announced that former West Coast radio personality Nessa would take over the coveted timeslot formerly held by Angie Martinez instead of Cipha. Ultimately, Ciph did decide to leave the station, but after 17 years it was strange to see Hot 97 announce his departure with a surprisingly terse press release:
“Effective immediately, Cipha Sounds is no longer with WQHT HOT 97 FM. We wish him well on his future endeavors.”
The nature of the announcement drew the ire of the aforementioned Karlie Hustle, who is now the Director of Brand Relations for 9th Wonder’s Jamla Records:
While on the other side of the New York radio wars, Power 105’s Charlemagne couldn’t help but make a few jokes at Hot 97’s expense:
It all adds up to what appears to be a chaotic environment at the home of Hip-Hop and R&B and has us wonder when, not if, the next big name will exit the station’s hallowed halls.
For anyone worried, Rosenberg says the Juan podcast is “alive and well.” For your listening, the referenced episode of the show is below.