The Oakland Press - On The Radio, October 22 2004
By Art Vuolo
Fezzey and Homberg is not the name of a new law firm in town.
Mike Fezzey and Rich Homberg are the names of the top brass at personality talk/news WJR-AM (760) and all news WWJ-AM (950), respectively.
They and the promotion people at these two competing stations seemingly have the toughest job in local radio - making sure you know which station is at 760 and which is at 950 on the AM dial.
They and their staffs must be doing a decent job because the two 50,000-watt outlets are in a dead-heat tie in the just-released summer ratings, even though it wasn't a very hot summer.
The surprising news is that neither of these two powerhouse stations is No. 1.
The new top station in the mix is The Mix, pop-urban WMXD-FM (92.3). Some of us are old enough to remember when 92.3 was WLIN-FM in Lincoln Park and nobody knew it was even on the air. My, how times have changed.
Following WMXD, WJR and WWJ is The Mix's sister station, urban hits WJLB-FM (97.9). Then, it's oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) whose numbers are up slightly; followed by rock WRIF-FM (101.1); country WYCD-FM (99.5), which is up significantly; smooth jazz WVMV-FM (98.7); all-hits WKQI-FM (95.5) and classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7).
The F-word that broadcasters fear most these days is the FCC and things don't seem to be letting up, either.
Metro Detroit's edgy FM talk station, WKRK-FM (97.1), is facing the hard, cold fact that the Federal Communications Commission still wants "Live 97.1" to pay a pricey fine of $27,500 for a Deminski & Doyle show that aired nearly three years ago and was over the line in discussing sexual activity. Interestingly, D&D are no longer aiming at the lowest common denominator. Now, management is facing the fact that its syndicated morning star, Howard Stern, will be defecting to Sirius Satellite Radio in about 14 months.
Personally, I hate columnists who refer to him as a "shock jock." Howard does a talk show. He's not a D.J. He's also not my favorite, but his popularity cannot be denied.
The industry trade paper Radio Business Reports notes that the WKRK fine could influence Infinity Broadcasting, which owns the station, to pull Stern well ahead of the January 2005 deadline for his segue to satellite.
Blame it on Stern?
Ford Motor Co. announced this week that it is upping the availability of Sirius Satellite Radio as a dealer-installed option - and it's targeting up to 20 vehicle lines for factory installations in the next two years.
The factory installs lets Ford compete with GM, which is in its third year of offering XM Satellite Radio in its cars.
XM has passed the 2.5 million mark with its subscribers, and Sirius has plugged into 700,000 folks who don't mind paying for radio.
Speaking of this "Sirius" topic, Pontiac native and rock critic Dave Marsh is now doing a program on Sirius music stream 148 called "Kick Out the Jams!"
Marsh says his show is "based at the intersection of music and politics." He also notes that "there is a creative freedom at Sirius that simply doesn't exist in broadcast radio, and I plan to take full advantage of it."
Our local Mr. Radio, the always "fabulous" Bill Burton, was honored last weekend by the MSU Business School, which presented him with a lifetime alumni achievement award.
Burton is president of the Detroit Radio Advertising Group, which, despite its initials, is not a DRAG.
Detroit has more stations switching to HD (high-definition) radio than any city in the country due, in part, to the concentration of the Big Three automakers here.
HD-Digital signals make AM sound like FM, and FM sound like CDs.
The HD pioneer iBiquity has signed up seven local stations for the enhanced sound: Infinity's WOMC, WVMV and sports/talk WXYT-AM (1270); Clear Channel's WMXD, WJLB, and WKQI and Radio One's urban jams WDTJ-FM (105.9). And iBiquity promises to sign even more by the end of the year. And public radio station WEMU-FM (89.1) is also broadcast in HD.
Is it that big a deal? I've heard HD radio and it is very impressive.
Finally, Denver-based Hudson Research claims "it's not excessive commercial loads or too much talk" that's causing listeners to tune out, it's "the song lyrics and DJ topics."
You can learn more from analyst Matt Hudson at www.HudsonMediaResearch.com.