The Oakland Press - On The Radio, January 7 2005
By: Mike Austerman
Another year, another radio controversy.
The National Organization for Women (NOW) and the National Research Center for Women and Families are upset over the "Breast Christmas Ever" promotion at Top 40 WKQI-FM (95.5). As part of a contest, 'KQI and three other stations across the country asked women to submit essays explaining why all they wanted for Christmas was a pair of larger breasts.
The women's groups claim that the contest is "promoting potentially dangerous plastic surgery and marketing unrealistic and unhealthy images of women."
As part of the contest, the winners had to allow the stations to show before-and-after photos on their Web sites plus sign a liability release absolving them and owner Clear Channel, along with the plastic surgeon, from any responsibility.
Clear Channel doesn't seem concerned about the flap, saying they didn't sponsor the contests that originated locally. Over at 'KQI, program director Dom Theodore dismissed the controversy, noting that TV reality shows are "giving away these procedures every week." Saying listeners support the contest, he added,"I don't think the NOW organization represents the views of mainstream America."
So far, NOW claims that more than 3,400 complaints have been filed with the FCC about the promotion. However, the FCC doesn't regulate contests except for indecency and ensuring that contest rules are followed and disclosed on-air.
As far as I can tell, this contest breaks no FCC rules, so it doesn't seem like an FCC problem. And if entering the contest is totally voluntary and the contestants understand the risks beforehand, what's the problem?
It's not like WKQI invented cosmetic surgery. And where were the complaints when the same contest was run last year?
Strange days indeed in the radio biz.
Saturday would have been Elvis Presley's 70th birthday. But instead of celebrating, oldies stations across the country have been changing their formats and giving up on playing the King of Rock 'n' Roll and other artists from the pre-Beatles era.
It seems that the Oldies radio format may be showing the same signs of a slow decline as classical stations did in the early 1990s. Since Christmas, at least six oldies stations in the United States have either moved to "classic hits" (a combo of oldies and classic rock) or something completely different.
Industry experts predict more will change in the next few years as "oldies" becomes a dirty word to programmers and advertisers due to the aging listener base.
Scott Westerman, the curator of Keener13.com, offers a different take on why ratings are down at many oldies outlets: "Oldies stations in the time of corporate programming are unimaginative and overexposed. I'm so sick of the phrase 'good times and great oldies.' Nobody on Keener or CK ever said that.
"And the playlists are so tight that hearing a deep cut from Bob Seger's 'Cameo Parkway' is about as unlikely as hearing the Rationals during an all-request lunch hour. Even getting these tunes into the testing rotations is nearly impossible. And even the most die-hard fans tire of hearing 'My Girl,' 'Pretty Woman' and 'Louie Louie' after years of power rotation."
Here in metro Detroit, our own WOMC-FM (104.3) has consistently been one of the nation's highest-performing oldies stations; starting its day with morning man Dick Purtan has no doubt helped keep it on a steady course.
But even WOMC has changed its overall sound in nearly 20 years as an oldies station. Gone are the days when you could regularly hear Buddy Holly and Elvis instead Jefferson Airplane and Fleetwood Mac. Thank heavens the amount of Motown music on 'OMC doesn't seem to have changed much.
It'll be interesting to see if the only place for "good times and great oldies" will be on satellite radio in the not-too-distant future.
Ch-ch-changes: In a return to Detroit, Skip Dillard has been named as operations manager for urban WDTJ-FM (105.9), adult urban WDMK-FM (102.7), and talk/gospel WCHB-AM (1200). In 1995-96, he was at adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3), coming from San Francisco and Buffalo, where he worked as a program director for urban outlets.
In a related move, WCHB program director Lance Panton has exited and WDTJ program director Spudd takes over there on an interim basis.
Mike Austerman is the founder of Michiguide.com and has covered radio for The Daily Oakland Press for three years.