After a three-year hiatus, during which one co-host ventured out to produce his own podcast and website while the other secluded to family life to help raise a newborn daughter as a “semi-retired” personality, the 2 Live Stews are set to make their return to the airwaves.
Brothers Doug and Ryan Stewart (both biological and fraternity through Omega Psi Phi) will once again resume their broadcasting careers as a united front with a one-hour show airing Saturdays at 11 a.m. on WGST-AM in Atlanta and on iHeartRadio.com. The 2 Live Stews is one of two sports programs on the news talk radio station. According to the stipulations of the deal, this initial contract is for a 17-week period.
“It’s a blessing to be back,” said Doug Stewart. “We’ve been inundated through social media. People have been sending texts and calling me saying their happy to hear we’re back on radio. We’re going to go in and be us, and that works. We have a great product. We’re going to do what we do and let the chips fall where they may. The essence of the 2 Live Stews will remain the same.”
For more than a decade, the 2 Live Stews radio show dominated the ratings in their midday time slot on Atlanta’s 790 The Zone (WQXI-AM). The groundbreaking program, which was also nationally syndicated on Sporting News Radio, was the polar opposite of the traditional sports talk radio format. The show featured barbershop-styled debates mixed with witty commentary and hip-hop flare. However, in 2012, management changes at the station and the eventual expiration of their contracts led to the cancellation of the popular show and their absence in mainstream media. Soon after their departure, WQXI-AM closed its doors and went off the air.
Although the 2 Live Stews was a top-shelf program in terms of ratings and sponsors, oddly, in the days, weeks and months after signing off for the last time, no legitimate offers were made for their services in Atlanta or nationwide.
“The whole thing still doesn’t make sense to me,” said Stewart. “Not to throw any shade on the other guys we worked with at that station. Subsequently, the station went out of business. When the new owners came in, it seemed like from day one, they were trying to cut the bottom line, and we were the biggest bottom line contributors. All the other guys we worked with at the station are working here in the city (Atlanta). When new management came in, it was a tension-filled situation. They were telling us not to say things, change our music and added a third person to the show. This was just a way for them to move on from us and cut our salaries. We didn’t separate on the greatest of terms, but we were professional. We thought that after we got out of our contract, and the period of time passed legally, there’d be a line of stations knocking on our door, but it never happened. There was nothing in Atlanta. We went to a couple places in different cities, but the phone didn’t ring here in Atlanta. I don’t know why, and that’s not for me to speculate.”
During their time away from the mainstream radio scene, the Stewarts stayed busy by focusing on personal endeavors. Doug continued to work in media, sharing his views on his podcast, The Doug Stewart Show, website and company, Stewart Entertainment Media. His brother Ryan, who played safety with the Detroit Lions from 1996-00, made a few television and radio appearances, but for the most part has remained in the background while tending to his immediate family.
“People showed concern for us, but we were smart with our money. We were blessed to have a tremendous run for over a decade. We weren’t missing any meals. Ryan just had his third kid and I just put my second daughter in college. We did the right things with our money,” said Stewart.
Along with appealing to their original fans, the duos’ return to radio also allows for a new generation to hear their unique style of banter over the airwaves. The 2 Live Stews represent a small cluster of black sports talk radio hosts in a saturated arena where the racial demographics are overwhelmingly unbalanced. Both men understand their roles as pioneers and accept the responsibility of continuing to change the perspective of how sports talk radio is viewed.
Said 2 Live Stews: “We hear the term pioneers all the time. It’s an honor and it’s a blessing. I never knew of anybody before us that talked the way we did and gave their opinions the way we did before us. Petey Greene in Washington, D.C. was real like that, but we didn’t grow up hearing his show. I know of him from his story and through the movie. A lot of shows that have come after us are using our format. Before us, a lot of program directors were scared. We’ve had a huge influence on this style of radio.”