Veteran KMEL DJ Jesus "Chuy" Gomez was let go by surprise last Thursday because, according to Gomez, the station's general manager decided KMEL no longer needed him. "'You're a great guy, we respect you, we love you, but we're going in a different direction,'" Gomez says he was told by the manager, in an interview with NBC Bay Area on Friday.
Gomez was a more than 20-year veteran of the local hip-hop station, and arguably its best-known personality. News of the firing sparked outrage in the Bay Area's hip-hop community, with rappers like E-40 protesting the move on Twitter and many fans saying Gomez was the only reason they listened to KMEL.
"It caught me by surprise," Gomez told NBC's Cheryl Hurd, explaining that he was called into a meeting-before-a-meeting Thursday in which the station's general manager immediately let him go. A program manager confirmed that Gomez was no longer with the station, but the Clear Channel-owned KMEL would not give either NBC Bay Area or KTVU any more details on the firing.
Many see it as a sign of the times in corporate radio, when behemoths like Clear Channel are firing local personalities and replacing them with cheaper, younger talent, or just syndicating national programs. Gomez was replaced on the KMEL morning show by DJ Sana G., who had been hosting the station's afternoon program for three years.
Gomez, 44, still has a music video TV show on the California Music Channel, and says he's currently fielding other offers. "I don't think radio is going anywhere," he told NBC. Of his own career, he said, "it's not over."
Watch the full interview: