Strong and Jem back on the air, but not on G98.7

By Lincoln DePradine

Mark Strong and Jemeni

Heavy promotion has begun, touting the return to radio broadcasting of the duo Mark Strong and Jemeni – or Jem, for short.

The two made an impression on the listening public during a stint at 93.5 FLOW FM, Canada’s first Black-owned radio station, after it opened in February 2001 under the management of Milestone Communications.

They maintained a strong following when they moved to of G98.7 FM as morning co-hosts.

G98.7 was acquired by new owners late last year and Strong and Jem were no longer hosting the morning show. No explanation was given for their absence – whether they had resigned or were terminated.

Now, 106.5 ELMNT-FM has released a promotional video announcing that Strong and Jem – “two familiar voices – have made their return to radio in Toronto’’. The couple will be on air during the station’s 6 am – 10 am segment.

The exit from G98.7 of Strong and Jem was one of the latest developments in a turbulent two years at the radio station.

On April 30, 2019, Jamaica-born entrepreneur Fitzroy Gordon, who was founder and CEO of G98.7, died at a Toronto hospital, where he was on life support. He was 65.

G98.7, which received a license to operate in 2011 from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, was originally created to serve the Black and Caribbean population.

The station employed about 50 full and part-time workers, with Gordon – popularly known as “G’’ – hosting a show that was called “Grapevine’’.

After Gordon’s passing, there were reports of financial troubles at the FM station. A call was made for interested individuals and companies to bid for the station, with the sale executed through a court-ordered receivership.

The winning bidder was Neeti P. Ray, owner of a multicultural broadcasting network with stations in Windsor and Mississauga as well as Quebec, serving primarily Indo-Pakistani communities with programs in Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi.

“The new ownership will provide stability that the station has been lacking for years. This will allow the station to grow and focus on providing high quality programming,” The Toronto Star quoted Ray as saying last October.

“While I prepare to undertake the task of bringing the much-needed stability to G98.7, the long-term mission remains the same as envisioned in its original CRTC application. It is to serve the Caribbean, African and Black communities of the GTA.’’

Strong and Jem have expressed excitement at joining 106.5 ELMNT-FM and returning to morning programing on radio.

“We BACK!!! So blessed! Thank you to our family of listeners. Thank you to our city and countries following us,’’ they said in a social media post. “Join us as we guest host the morning airwaves again. Waking Up Toronto and Shaking Up The world!’’