Brothers Doug and Ryan Stewart — who formed the one-time popular syndicated radio team the 2 Live Stews in Atlanta — have been pulled off the air three months before their contracts ended, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“The Stews” often have been guests on ESPN’s First Take with Skip Bayless. They made a name for themselves by “keeping it real” and bringing a hip-hop style to sports talk radio in Atlanta. They were even featured in Sports Illustrated a few years ago.
The Stews’ rise and fall on 790/The Zone was legendary. The brothers started humbly, at night in the early 2000s on 790 The Zone, building a following of African-American listeners inspired two of their own were doing it in a market nearly devoid of African Americans. Via their fraternity Omega Psi Phi, they would call each other affectionately as dogs. Soon, they began calling their regular callers the same. And since calling a female caller a “dog” sounded inadvertently harsh, the pair began dubbing the ladies “poodles.”
They entertained maybe even more than they informed, and it work. But in 2010, Lincoln Financial took over management of the station and almost immediately the Stews learned their brand of talk-show was not embraced. Hip-hop songs were gone. They were told to tone down the “urban” sound and entertainment news about hip hop artists. They cringed while doing it, but they did it. But they were no longer the 2 Live Stews. They were a shell of themselves.
Then a series of bad things happened: the syndication deal fell through. Their hours were sliced. Fans did not embrace the changes; it showed in the ratings. At the start of summer, the show was changed to “The Red Zone” — the ultimate sign they were out. And then ESPN did not to renew their contract.
“It’s incredible what we’ve done there over 11 years,” Doug Stewart told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I want to thank the fans who supported. This isn’t the last you’ve heard from us.”
Indeed, another Atlanta upstart sports radio station is interested in the brothers. But the dreaded non-compete clause is in effect and could hamper their prospects because the new station starts next month and it needs to get its lineup in order. Technically, the Stews are not supposed to be on air in Atlanta until after July 13, 2013.
“They’ve been consummate pros,” said program director Bob Richards, who arrived 18 months ago.”I really respect the time and energy they put into this radio station. Without them, I’m not sure the station would have launched the way they did years ago.”