The Oakland Press - On The Radio, June 4 2004
When Clear Channel Radio CEO Randy Michaels was unceremoniously kicked out of the company nearly two years ago, many in this volatile industry felt that nobody was safe.
Michaels is considered either a radio genius or the man who ruined radio with voice-tracking - the practice of recording a radio show but airing it as "live."
Well, it's happened again, but out the door this week was the top guy at Infinity Broadcasting, the always colorful Mel Karmazin, who headed up the second biggest radio station group in the country.
Locally, Infinity holds the licenses for news WWJ-AM (950), sports WXYT-AM (1270), jazz WVMV-FM (98.7), hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1) country WYCD-FM (99.5) and oldies WOMC-FM (104.3). Since these six stations add up to the largest ratings and most revenue on the local radio dial, the news about Mel could soon be significant to local listeners.
Karmazin was either forced out or quit, depending upon who you talk to. Things turned sour when chairman Sumner Redstone chose his daughter, Shari, to take over the reins of parent company Viacom once he retires, which is speculated to be later this year.
But cry no tears for Mel - he walks away with a paltry $25 million in salary, bonuses and deferred compensation as lovely parting gifts.
Taking over for the Mel-meister is Viacom's MTV Networks CEO Tom Freston and CBS-TV Chairman and CEO Les Moonves, as co-presidents and co-COOs.
If you need to cry for someone, make it Freston, who'll likely lose both syndicated talkers Howard Stern and Don Imus. Stern has been threatening that "if Mel goes, I go," and Imus broke the news about Mel on his morning show, which is still not available in Detroit.
Still very much available on your dial is Paul W. Smith on news-talk WJR-AM (760) and he's posting stellar ratings on the "Great Voice of the Great Lakes."
Smith is so high quality and dependable, he ought to be sponsored by Maytag. With his super-service to the community, he's done the late J.P. McCarthy proud.
Speaking of Maytag, WJR's Mr. Home Improvement, Murray Gula, is giving away $2,000 worth of premium laundry equipment on his weekend program. Tune in Saturday and Sunday for details.
Buddy's Pizza is at it again. It's introducing a new line of pizzas called the Florine Mark Collection, which is nothing like the Somerset Collection.
Seven local radio divas will be part of this roll-out set for Monday, including WKRK midday host Michelle McKormick. Buddy's also is donating a portion of the sales of these unique pizzas to Florine Mark's charity, The Mark-Ross Fund for ALS.
Thinking out loud, I wonder if Clear Channel Detroit, which owns Piston's flagship WDFN-AM (1130), will consider simulcasting the Pistons-Lakers play-off games on classic hits WDTW-FM (106.7) The Drive.
In many areas of metro Detroit, the AM 1130 signal is marginal after dark, while the FM is solid everywhere. Programmer Rona Danziger will call that shot. Go Pistons - beat L.A.!
By the way, if you see the Spirit of Detroit statue in downtown Detroit draped in a red, white and blue Pistons jersey, it will be thanks to the prodding of SportsRadio 1130, The Fan.
Sports & Freeway Trivia: The final score of the Pistons-Pacers playoff game Tuesday - 69-65 - happens also to be two of the four major interstate highways that intersect in Indianapolis.
You'll want to tune into WOMC for details on how you can be one of the 10 semi-finalists to be a Purtan's Protégé.
The winner will join the Dick Purtan show for one week on the air plus get $1,000 cash and a $250 Somerset Collection gift certificate. Sounds like a sweet deal for a radio wannabe who has talent.
During my recent hospital stay, I heard from a number of ex-Detroit radio people. Former WKNR & WABX jock Jerry Goodwin is now a broadcasting prof at the New England Institute of Art in Boston and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also checking in was ex-WHYT jock Jo-Jo now at WSOL-FM in Jacksonville, Fla., and former CKLW and CNN newsman Bob Losure, now out in Las Vegas.
Set Your Dial: The voices of FDR, Churchill and newsman Edward R. Murrow on D-Day 1944 (plus some songs of the era) will be heard again at 3 p.m. Sunday on WDTR-FM (90.9).
Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.