AJ Calloway and Free, the original hosts of “106 and Park,” a Black Entertainment Television (BET) music video show, announced their departure from the show recently leaving several viewers disappointed.
”This is our last live show- But this isn’t the last time you’ll see us,” said Calloway wearing a t-shirt and holding out a cellular phone to the audience as Free said goodbye to the show’s television and studio audience.
Calloway said that he wants to stay in the television industry and that he is planning to open a restaurant called Mahogany in Brooklyn, NY.
Free, whose given name is Marie Wright, is expected to pursue a rap career and endorse a new website.
Stephen Hill, BET’s executive vice president for music and entertainment programming, said that their announcement was surprising since BET was negotiating a contract to retain both hosts.
”They were definitely not let go,” Hill said. “They’ve decided after five great years of the highest rated music video show on television that they wanted to do something different.”
Contrary to that, Calloway said he was told that BET’s new head of programming, Reginald Hudlin, was looking to change the face of the network. In a news conference, Calloway said he was given a three month extension, leaving him no choice, but to leave the show.
Free has declined to comment on her reasons to depart and failed to appear on the show for some weeks before the announcement.
Since their announcement, “106 and Park” has continued to air using various celebrities to host the show.
However, viewers are not pleased with the new faces, such as BET personalities “Big Tigger” and “Julissa.”
”I don’t like the new show without AJ and Free,” said Andria Cambell, a junior psychology major at State University of New York of Albany. “It just feels weird. The audience is too young for (Big) Tigger. He’s better off at ‘The Basement’,” another BET music video show that he previously hosted.
Erica Duthely, a freshman political science major at Queens College agrees.
”The new hosts are boring and unentertaining. The chemistry that Free and AJ shared is what really made the show. Now, it’s just a disappointment,” said Duthely