WDVD caught in a rut; could FCC target WKRK?




The Oakland Press - On The Radio, September 17 2004


By: Mike Austerman

Interesting times at pop WDVD-FM (96.3), as the station has let program director Greg Ausham go after only about 16 months on the job. The station has tried to position itself somewhere between the sound of soft rockers WNIC-FM (100.3) and WMGC-FM (105.1) and Top 40 outlets WDRQ-FM (93.1) and WKQI-FM (95.5), chasing the heavily emphasized female age 25-54 ratings.

The station's been running a steady stream of promotions that stress the musical comparison between itself and 95.5, but any effort to woo listeners from WKQI also could take listeners away from co-owned station WDRQ.

Hmmm ... maybe one of them should move to a completely different sound to stop the battle.

After all, WDVD has sounded pretty much the same since 1998 when, as "Planet 96.3," it boasted of playing "Modern Hits of the '80s and '90s." Several tweaks and name changes since then have evolved into the current slogan of "Detroit's Best Variety of the '80s, '90s and Today."

What hasn't changed is the station's place in the ratings - in the second tier of the market's FM signals. It'll be interesting to see what the next WDVD programmer comes up with to generate excitement and attract listeners.

There have been tons of headlines this year about the Federal Communications Commission's crackdown on broadcast indecency, but flying under the radar has been the license renewal process that all radio station in Michigan are going through as they prepare for their licenses to expire Oct. 1.

As expected, each station in the state has applied for an eight-year renewal with the FCC. As part of this, they're required to be current with their records and must provide info on how they serve the public.

But the process also allows for input from listeners like you on how well a station serves its market. While it's rare that a petition from the public to deny a license renewal gets very far with the FCC, this year might be different.

Two weeks ago, Macomb County-based Right to Decency Inc. filed a petition to deny the license renewal for hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1), aided by several broadcasts in the past couple of years that the FCC itself found to be indecent.

The group, which got its start at St. Malachy Catholic Church in Sterling Heights, has sent several complaints to the FCC about broadcasts its members find objectionable. In each of the FCC's rulings on WKRK, there have been calls by FCC commissioners to begin license revocation procedures against the station.

Could this be the example the FCC is looking for - a radio station that's gone too far over the line? Is this a big story in the making - or just a speed bump?

Stay tuned.

A tradition each fall is the release of the famed WJR-AM (760) Michigan RadioGuide, once again supported by GMAC Mortgage Corp.

The handy guides contain the U-M football and basketball schedules and a listing of every station in our state and which ones carry the games. They're free at participating Big Boy restaurants or for $1 (for postage and handling) at: WJR Guide, P.O. Box 880, Novi 48376.

It's the 31st year for the guides, produced by Art Vuolo. Over Labor Day, he was handing them out himself at the WJR tailgate broadcast.

Michigan football fans may have noticed that the traditional "Band, take the field" announcement sounded just a bit different when the season kicked off at the Big House on Sept. 4.

That's because Carl Grapentine, who had never missed a home game in 35 years, was sidelined by a recent heart attack, and his brother Chris, stepped in at the microphone. Fortunately, their voices are very similar.

Grapentine spent many years at the old classical mainstay WQRS-FM (105.1) before it changed to The Edge, then The Groove and now Magic; currently, he does mornings at Chicago's classical giant WFMT-FM (98.7).

He hopes to be back behind the Big House mike as the band announcer by either the Sept. 25 Iowa or the Oct. 9 Minnesota game.

All his fans and the Maize and Blue faithful wish him a speedy recovery.

Dropped: By Detroit schools' WRCJ-FM (90.9), all weekend programming, including the "Somewhere in Time" show regularly featured in this space. In advance of WRCJ coming under the control of a new operator, the Detroit Public Schools has limited the station's schedule to 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays.

Mike Austerman is the founder of the Internet Web site michiguide. com and has covered radio for The Daily Oakland Press for three years.







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This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on September 17, 2004 8:00 AM.

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