Talk host Emanuel Livingston leaves WDBZ-AM after refusing COVID-19 vaccine
After 20 years on "The Buzz," Livingston says "they didn't force me out. I made a decision… I'm not mad at anybody."
Longtime afternoon talk host Emanuel Livingston assured his loyal listeners he had no regrets leaving WDBZ-AM (1230 The Buzz) for refusing to adhere to Radio One's vaccine mandate.
"They made their decision to do what they did. So that's the decision they made. They didn't force me out. I made a decision. And I stand by my decision. I'm all right," he said.
"That's the whole story. Nothing else." said Livingston, who was hired about a year after The Buzz went on the air in 2000. He also was program director at The Buzz, the city's major urban talk station, reporting to a regional Radio One program executive.
General Manager Dan Abercrombie declined to comment. "For employee confidentiality reasons, we are not at liberty to discuss this matter," he said Wednesday.
Radio One has replaced Livingston's noon-3 p.m. show by extending Lincoln Ware's 10 a.m.-noon show to three hours, and playing gospel music 1-3 p.m. Al Sharpton's nationally syndicated show airs at 3 p.m. Abercrombie did not respond to a question asking if the station planned to fill Livingston's afternoon shift with another talk show.
"I had up until yesterday (Sunday Feb. 20) at 12:59 to change my mind, but I'm not changing my mind," Livingston said. "It is what it is. I'm not mad at anybody. I'm not mad at Radio One. I ain't mad at nobody. Life goes on and we move on, and it's maybe a different opportunity."
Livingston, who called himself "The King of Talk," had another gig Tuesday afternoon and didn't do a livestream. He posted on Facebook that he was asked to work on a new video project. "Gotta make this money," he wrote.
Livingston said on his Monday show that "some people at the station literally begged me to go get the shot. 'Just please go get the shot.' Not because, you know, I'm so valuable — they're playing gospel music right now! It's a lot of moving parts. And they didn't have time to get everything in place the way it needed to be in place, to kind of move forward" with a replacement show.
According to Livingston, station managers told him "that I'm still eligible for rehire," presumably if he gets vaccinated. "But once you move on from it, going back to it, you know, just ain't the same. It just ain't the same," he said.
Livingston said Monday he had always done freelance work on the side, had "a lot of things in the works" and had a recent "opportunity to make a little bit more money. So from a financial standpoint, I'm not worried about it. I'll be fine," he said.
"So we'll see. That's the whole story. There really isn't more to tell. I made a decision, and that's the decision I made. I stand on it and I’m comfortable with it. That's the whole story. Don't need to boycott."