By Rebecca Bulnes
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Unemployed after his disappointment in Orlando, Sylk stopped by Power 96 to wish Curry a happy new year. The program director seized the opportunity. "When I saw him, I went to the station owner and said, “Give me the authority to hire this kid!'" he recalls. "And I went for it. I didn't care what it cost." Sylk started one day after the six-month noncompete clause in his WEDR contract expired.
The Babalu Bad Boys, who formerly held the 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. slot, were let go. "It was an experiment," Curry admits. "Two twin Latin DJs. They were the best in the street, but the ratings never recuperated when Al B. came to town. It was a ratings decision. They tried very hard." Pleased with the ratings outlook since his new acquisition, Curry observes, "Al B. is one of the top five guys in radio in America." Critics feared Sylk might be too urban (i.e., black) for Power's large Latino audience. Curry disagrees. "I think he's like Chris Rock. He's real loving to his audience."
Both Curry and Sylk believe it is the personality and not the station that made Al B. Sylk the man. As the affable DJ points out, 99 Jamz continued to air some of the features Sylk had brought to the program, such as the game Lucky 9, with his former assistant Supa Cindy stepping in. Sylk says that was meant to "give people the illusion the show was the same, but it failed, proving it's not just the feature but the delivery."
At the Power 96 studios on a recent Friday night, Al B. Sylk stands behind his mike facing his two cohosts. The bright-eyed nasal-toned Coco, a half-Cuban, half-Italian New Jersey native, offers a feminine perspective and reps the Latino peeps. Next to her is the eccentric dread Teddy T., who claims to come from the planet Niburu. Down here on Earth, Teddy T. was with Al B. at 99 Jamz and says the experience at Power is "like night and day." On the other side of a wide glass, DJ Def spins beats to back the roll call. Friends DJ Zog, DJ Holiday, and Chichi drop in to join the chorus that celebrates call-in rappers who know how to flow -- "oh baby baby" -- or disses whack MCs -- "you're a Doedoe-head." Sylk has to hold back his laughter as a middle-school kid screws up the simple roll-call refrain. Teddy T. yells, "It's pandemonium in here!"
Later, during the Top Eight at Eight, Sylk asks a young caller from Fort Lauderdale for a shout-out. "I'd like to shout out my cousin Rhonda and my sister Shonda," says the sassy teen, "and tell my boyfrien' Nick I don't need him." Perhaps thinking of his own shifting allegiance, Sylk eggs her on. "I know that's right, girl," he tells her. "You can make it happen yo-self. You make sure you look out for you. Who's gonna look out for you like you? NOBODY! NOBODY!"