The music industry is reeling after the passing of pioneering radio programmer Steve Smith, who died suddenly on Thursday (July 7) at the age of 62.

Smith’s family confirmed his passing in a statement to All Access, which read, “The industry is mourning the devastating loss of veteran programmer and broadcast executive Steve Smith. Steve unexpectedly passed away peacefully at home, in his sleep, on July 7, 2022.

“Steve’s highly successful career spanned 40 years and has broken countless records, won countless awards, and has irrevocably changed the landscape of American radio for the better. Details regarding the celebration of his life will be forthcoming.”

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Hot 97 radio personality Funk Flex quickly expressed his devastation via Instagram on Sunday (July 10) while also exposing some of the ugliness he encountered coming up in New York radio.

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“(RADIO LAUNDRY) R.I.P TO THE 2ND MOST IMPORTANT MAN IN BLACK RADIO NEXT TO FRANKIE CROOKER… #RipSTEVESMITH,” he began in all caps. “STEVE SMITH… ALONG WITH JUDY ELLIS, JOEL SALKOWITZ , BUGSY AND TRACY CLOHERTY SINGLE HANDEDLY PUT TOGETHER THE 24HOUR HIP HOP FORMAT WITH HOT97!

“STEVE SMITH PUT ME ON EVERYDAY, HE PUT ON RED ALERT 5PM EVERYDAY, ED LOVER DR DRE IN MORNINGS, MISS JONES, MONIE LOVE, ANGIE MARTINEZ BIG DENNIS, MARLEY MARL, MISTER MAGIC, PETE ROCK, STEPH LOVA AND SO MANY OTHERS! BY THE WAY HE ALSO CREATED SUMMER JAM! (ALWAYS ASKED ME AND BUGSY FOR OUR OPINION ).”

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Funk Flex continued, “CHUCK CHILLOUT, RED ALERT AND BUGSY HELPED ME WHEN I HAD NOTHING AND WAS DOWN AND OUT! MY OWN PEOPLE OF COLOR NOT ONLY NEVER GAVE ALOT OF US A SHOT BUT WOULD FIRE US ANY CHANCE THEY GOT! STEVE HEGWOOD DISSED ME AND STEVE SMITH SEVERAL TIMES TO OUR FACE! (HEGWOOD HATED HOP HOP!

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“URBAN STATIONS CALLED HOT97 A ‘PLANTATION STATION’ AND STEVE SMITH A SLAVE OWNERS! (I NEVER FORGOT). MIKE LOVE COULDNT WAIT TO FIRE ME IN 1990 AT WBLS! BARRY MAYO MADE IT HIS MISSION TO FIRE STAR/BUCKWILD, MADE TRACY CHLORETY RESIGN, TRIED TO FIRE BUGSY AND TRIED TO FIRE ME! ‘OUR BROTHER.’ JAY DIXON STRIPED MR CEE OF HIS MIXSHOW TITLE (FOR NO REASON) AND BEGAN MAKING CEE UNCOMFORTABLE HERE!”

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Funk Flex also claimed “urban” program directors, DJs and consultants would take money for Afrobeat shows. At the same time, he accused radio executives Tony Gray and Barry Mayo of firing New York-based DJs for out-of-state talent.

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“(DONT PLAY WITH ME MOVING FORWARD) I’m fed up!” he added. “TONY GRAY, BARRY MAYO AND ALL THERE GOOFY UNDERLINGS LOVE TO TAKE OVER URBAN ADULT STATIONS IN NY, FIRE AND DEMOTE NEW YORK TALENT FOR OUT OF STATE TALENT! (THINK WE DONT SEE YOU). MY OWN ‘PEOPLE OF COLOR’ HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THE ONES TO HOLD US/ME BACK!

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“PIO THE ONLY PD TO GIVE ME A MANAGEMENT POSITION IN MY LIFE! WHILE OTHER PDS “MY PEOPLE OF COLOR” ALWAYS TRIED TO REDUCE ME! ( WHILE OTHER PD’s MADE SURE TO REMIND WHAT I ‘WASNT GOOD AT.’ STEVE SMITH REST EASY! WE LOVE YOU AND ADORE U! YOU GAVE US LIFE! WHILE OUR IDOLS PUT A KNIFE IN OUR BACK!”

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Smith’s radio career began in 1987 when he worked as director of programming at Hot 97.7 in San Jose, California after graduating from Pepperdine Law School. As fellow Hot 97 radio personality DJ Mister Cee pointed out, Smith ultimately created the first ever 24-hour Hip Hop radio station on Hot 97. Mister Cee is equally as devastated by Smith’s death and told his own story in another lengthy Instagram post. Read it below.