The Oakland Press - On The Radio, July 2 2004
With a slow week on the local radio scene because of July 4, let's look at the industry under a broader scope. The recent Radio & Records (R&R) Convention I attended in Los Angeles was revealing on a number of levels.
First, attendance at this year's confab seemed noticeably off. Though the professionals at R&R, who publish the industry's newspaper, did an excellent job putting together a provocative agenda, there simply weren't enough people to appreciate their efforts.
Most of the big broadcasting companies, which own the majority of the radio stations in the country, either aren't allowing their employees to attend such conferences or don't seem to budget for them anymore.
Yet, the once all-Midwestern convention known as The Conclave has seen an increase in advance registrations for its gathering later this month in Minneapolis, which is billed as "The Learning Conference." This year, one of their keynoters will be Mitch Albom from news-talk WJR-AM (760).
But back in L.A., record companies, which have long supported such events, also were noticeably absent, having made cutbacks in recent months, too.
Still, one of the highlights of the R&R Convention was the Rock Summit, a sort of a conference within the conference, hosted by one of our most famous radio entrepreneurs, Fred Jacobs of Birmingham-based Jacobs Media. Along with his brothers Paul and Bill, he drew an impressive crowd of 250-300 people, while the entire convention only drew about 750.
It seems that when big radio companies like Clear Channel, Infinity, Cumulus and Citadel prefer their employees attend their own corporate meetings, it's difficult for such independent gatherings to thrive. And that's sad.
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Nice guys can have such bad timing.
A few weeks ago, we were pleased to announce that former modern hits WDVD-FM (96.3) morning guy Kevin O'Neill had landed the morning show at Ann Arbor's oldies-based pop WQKL-FM (107.1), which can be heard in most of Oakland County.
Now that station has flipped its format to adult album alternative. It's not the type of music that O'Neill is famous for playing, but after doing country at WYCD-FM (99.5), he's proved that he can do it all.
WQKL's new format won't be as eclectic as many such stations, but will instead feature music that's more familiar.
Their new slogan, however, seems a bit nondescript - "Ann Arbor's 107 One: Quality Music, True Variety."
Sorry, but there hasn't been true variety on the radio since the early 1960s, when Skeeter Davis was played next to Percy Faith and Elvis Presley - all on the same Top 40 station!
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A reader in Madison Heights calls with news that Sirius Satellite Radio is now available to subscribers of the Dish Network satellite TV system.
Sirius is now at nearly 500,000 customers, but rival sat-caster XM is more than 2 million strong - and growing.
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Wednesday was the last day that oldies/talk WPON-AM (1460) operated under its previous owner as Birach Broadcasting took over July 1.
Reports are that the station will relocate from Bloomfield Hills on Franklin Road near Square Lake to the Southfield office building, which houses Birach-owned ethnic/talk WNZK-AM (690). The fate of the longtime oldies and talk format is unknown.
For a station that's barely a blip on the ratings radar screen, they certainly know how to garner attention.
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Set Your Dial: As their Fourth of July special, the "Somewhere in Time" show on variety WDTR-FM (90.9) features the music of Frank Sinatra at 3 p.m. Sunday. Frank was known for setting off a few fireworks during his long musical career, so it should be an ideal fit.
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Have a safe and happy holiday weekend, and be sure to take a radio with you wherever you go.
Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.