It started back in 2005, before Twitter existed to make it a trending topic, and just shy of when Facebook crept up on MySpace with a digital gun. When the 106 & Park King and Queen announced that they would end their five-year run with the then popular music show, loyal fans took to their respective social media outlets to voice their displeasure. What was essentially a new beginning for the show and its future hosts was the end for many of us who grew up with Uncle AJ and Auntie Free. When they left, they took a piece of our hearts, and the love that many of us once had for the Black television network, with them.
For the next few years the show did its best to keep up the momentum and fan base that it once had with its pioneers. In 2005 Big Tigger (alongside his lesser known co-host Julissa Bermudez) took an elevator ride up from The Basement to the more flashy set of 106. They lasted about a year before being replaced with Terrence J and Rocsi Diaz. The pair assumed the throne with little applause or enthusiasm from the show’s loyal followers. No doubt they had big shoes to fill, but unfortunately to fans they were just children playing dress up in mommy and daddy’s closet. They were cute, but didn’t have the laid back swag that AJ & Free effortlessly possessed. Terrence J’s quirkiness often came off as “lame”, and Rocsi could never quite get accepted into the fan club.
Nevertheless, they stayed strong in the midst of the endless cyber-bullying for the next six years, and then bowed out gracefully in 2012 to pursue other ventures with more welcoming fan bases.
Then there came the quartet of hosts: Shad “Bow Wow” Moss (who branded himself as Mr. 106), Jordan “Shorty Da Prince” Johnson, Kimberly “Paigion” Walker, and Mykel “Miss Mykie” Gray. Of course we were all familiar with Bow Wow from the days when he still donned the “lil” in his moniker, but the rest of them? Perhaps us now college-aged audience were too old to recognize the others. We got that BET was trying to shake things up a bit and embrace a daytime talk show kind of vibe, but trying to keep up with four different competing personalities was a little daunting. Not to mention that the music, the main reason why we were there in the first place, was no longer a staple part of the show. The music videos got shorter, often cut-off by Bow Wow and his goonies, and the celebrity interviews became an advertising platform for his new projects. What was left of the show’s original fan base quickly filtered out, leaving it to our younger sister’s and brothers who grew up with even more vicious tongues and a slew of new social media platforms to spit their venom. Perhaps that’s why after only a few months BET dropped the trio and instead switched to the more popular Angela Simmons to co-host with Bow Wow. It appeased viewers pallets for the time being, but we all hungered for the thing that made us fall in love with the show in the first place—real music, real interviews, and really dope hosts to pick up where the show dropped off years prior.
Over the last year, Bow Wow has attempted to hold it down with his new co-host Keshia Chanté, but alas BET finally accepted that the show just wasn’t what it used to be. Maybe the ratings dropped, or they gave way to the consistent backlash that has been lingering in the digital shadows for almost a decade, but after 14 long years the announcement came that the show would breathe its last breath on December 19th. There would still be a digital component, of course, and the New Year’s Eve episode.
For many of us it was a relief that the show was finally being laid to rest. No longer did we have to watch it struggle, nor would we have to painfully turn our backs as the quality of content continued to decline.
Instead, we could finally rest easy and self-medicate through the memories of the gem that the show truly once was to our generation.
Catch a few reactions from Twitter below.