March 2005 Archives

WWJ to add online streaming

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Starting March 14, Infinity will begin streaming online audio for most of their news and talk stations. This includes Infinity's WWJ AM 950 in Detroit. Other stations going online include WINS New York, KFWB and KNX Los Angeles, WBBM-AM Chicago, KCBS San Francisco, KYW Philadelphia, WBZ Boston, KMOX St. Louis, KDKA Pittsburgh and KRLD Dallas. WCBS-AM in New York has been streaming online audio since December. Infinity Chairman/CEO Joel Hollander says that an announcement on streaming of other formats on the company's stations nationwide is forthcoming.

 

That's right -- as of right now, the Detroit Tigers have no deal to broadcast any of their games over "regular" TV. Fox Sports Net, available via cable and satellite, will carry 110 games this year, but no deal could be worked out between the Tigers and Channel 50 to put a 30 or 40 game schedule on UPN 50.

I can totally understand where Ch. 50 is coming from - paying big bucks to broadcast baseball doesn't seem to be a slam dunk in the face of declining ratings and a team that has been anything but stellar. The Tigers, thinking that the team will be better and more interesting this year, are probably asking for too much money for the local TV package -- forcing the 20-30% of people without cable or satellite to do without Tigers games this year.

It'd be nice for the Tigers to do what something like the Pistons have done with Channel 20-- work out a deal where the team essentially pays for the air time and produces it's own broadcasts, then takes whatever revenue they earn for itself. Working out a deal with a station like Channel 38 would seem to be a win-win situation. Add Channel 31 from Ann Arbor in the deal, and you'd have decent enough over-the-air coverage at a low price. If I ran Channel 38, I'd be pretty aggressive in attempting to get the Tigers - and then the other sports teams too when they become available. Turning 38 into a sports powerhouse would finally give that station some legs.

It's a sad day for Channel 50 as they now have lost all their regular season sports play-by-play deals. The Red Wings (when they return) are owned 100% by Fox Sports Net, the Pistons are now on Ch. 20, and now the Tigers are gone too. You have to wonder if the Lions preseaon games are worth it for 50 now that they've lost everything else.

 

The Lansing COL Shuffle

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It seems that several radio stations may be coming to (or leaving) a city near you soon. Here's how the proposed shuffle, regarding three Lansing-area radio stations, shakes up:

WQTX-FM 92.7 (owned by Mid-Michigan Radio Group, or MMRG) has applied for a city-of-license change from Charlotte to Grand Ledge, along with the application for a new transmitter location, increased power and frequency switch to 92.9 FM.

WLCM-AM 1390 (owned by Christian Broadcasting System LTD) has applied for a COL change from Charlotte to Holt, and for addition of nighttime service from a new transmitter location closer to Lansing.

And if that's not enough, the above two proposed changes have sparked the need for yet a third proposed change:

WJXQ-FM 106.1 (also owned by MMRG) has recently applied for a COL change from Jackson to Charlotte (no technical modifications are included in WJXQ's application).

So why all of these changes? The reason for the first two is obvious: both the owners of WQTX and WLCM would like to improve their stations' coverage of the Lansing metro. However, that creates one tiny problem, in that it leaves Charlotte without a licensed radio station, or what the FCC refers to as "First Local" service. Hence, the application to change WJXQ's COL to Charlotte, so that the other two applications can be approved. WJXQ would not need to make modifications to their facilities, since the station already provides a city-grade signal over Charlotte.

One might wonder, though, in this day and age when many stations are tied to their cities of license by nothing more than an hourly ID, whether all of this paperwork and red tape is really necessary, although those who make their living from filing such applications might agrue differently. It will be interesting to see how this all pans out in the coming months.

 

The Oakland Press - On The Radio, March 4 2005

 

By: Mike Austerman


When GM North America President Gary Cowger threw his support behind the Stone Soup Project on classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7), you knew the "Oh, wow!" factor had just gone up.

On Tuesday, Cowger joined WCSX's Jim Johnson (JJ) and Lynne Woodison on the air to talk about the project's 1965 Pontiac GTO, which is being restored to benefit the Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan. Previous Stone Soup project cars were a '67 Mustang and a '70 Plymouth Hemi Road Runner.

Listeners - myself included - were stunned when Cowger offered, "That '65 is such a beautiful car that anyone in their right mind would not bring themselves to drive it in the wintertime. We've been kicking around, 'What if we just gave a 2005 Pontiac GTO Coupe, too?' So whoever the lucky winner is will have a summer and a winter car."

Responded JJ: "Here I am trying to shake you down for a $200 carburetor and we get a $35,000 automobile!"

So now, thanks to GM, a 2005 GTO Coupe will be given away along with the restored 1965 Stone Soup GTO - essentially doubling the prize and meaning that the holder of one lucky raffle ticket will win two cars. How cool is that?

Tickets are $25, with 100 percent of the ticket price going directly to CLF. The first chance to purchase tickets is today at Cobo Hall during Autorama; the winner will be announced Sept. 22 at the Renaissance Center. For more, visit wcsx.com on the Web.

He's baaaack! No, not Freddy Krueger, but Dr. Don Carpenter - as morning show host on country WYCD-FM (99.5), starting Monday.

Word is that Carpenter will be joined by Lori Rigatto and Bob Schuman, with Mike Scott moving back to the midday slot. Tom Baker also rejoined the station, working the overnight shift.

Ironically, Baker was the first replacement for Carpenter when the Doctor left WYCD in 2000. Tom then left WYCD to work in Ann Arbor at WWWW-FM (102.9) and later WQKL-FM (107.1).

Now you know why radio people don't like to burn bridges.

Dick Purtan and the gang at oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) - and their listeners - did it again.

Raising $1.7 million for the Salvation Army's Bread and Bread Club, they set another record for a single-day fund-raising effort last Friday. That means the radiothon's listeners and sponsors pledged enough money to help launch a fourth truck to aid in the delivery of 7,000 hot meals each day, and also provide shelter for up to 1,600 people.

"With the Salvation Army Bed & Bread Club program," Purtan said, "you can rest assured of knowing where your dollars are going to feed and shelter people with not a single penny going to administrative and extra costs. The generosity of our listeners and the Detroit community is overwhelming."

To understand the effect this event has, you need only to watch it in person and see how school kids raised money in their classrooms and then proudly presented their checks to Purtan.

Since 1988, the radiothon has raised more than $10.2 million for the Bed and Bread program. That includes this year's record, which was nearly $200,000 more than last year.

Congrats to news-talk WJR-AM (760) morning man Paul W. Smith and nationally syndicated handyman Glenn Haege on sports WDFN-AM (1130) for being named again this year to the "Heavy Hundred List of the 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America" by Talker's magazine.

Each has been named before to this prestigious roster of talk show hosts and truly are among the best in the biz.

Set Your Dial: Bandleader and clarinetist Artie Shaw and his little-heard "Concerto for Clarinet" will be heard on "Somewhere in Time" at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... also, nostalgia CKWW-AM (580) replaces one Sinatra show with the "Sounds of Sinatra with Sid Mark" at 6 p.m. Sunday.


Mike Austerman is the founder of Michiguide.com and has covered radio for The Daily Oakland Press for three years.

 

Whoops!

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Last September, Educational Media Foundation was granted a construction permit for a new FM translator station in White Lake Twp, Oakland County on 93.9 FM. The application for the translator stated it would carry the programming of WAKL-FM 88.9 Flint (currently Contemporary Christian "K-Love"). When that permit was granted, it raised the eyebrows of several radio watchers in the area as there already was a station on 93.9, Windsor's CIDR-FM. That station puts a decent signal into that part of Oakland County-- making the decisions that led to the grant on 93.9 pretty surprising/questionable.

Last week, the FCC granted EMF's request to change the frequency of that translator to 104.7 -- a much better location. Do the participants of the Michigan Radio and TV Buzzboard get a fee for their consulting services on this one?

 

Yet another talented on-air personality on Channel 17 leaves for another market. Grand Rapids weekend anchor/reporter Pat McGonigle has left Tribune's Fox affiliate, WXMI Channel 17, and will soon become the new morning co-anchor at WHEC Channel 10, Hubbard Broadcasting's NBC affiliate in Rochester, NY. Pat originally joined Fox 17 in December of 2002. Before coming to Fox 17, Pat was the weekend anchor/reporter at KPTM-TV in Omaha, Nebraska from November 2000–2002. He also worked as weekend anchor/reporter for WPXT-TV in Portland, Maine from 1998-2000, as weekend anchor/reporter for WVII in Bangor, Maine from 1997-1998 and as a news writer/producer at WHDH-TV in Boston, Massachusetts from 1996-1997. Spencer's Web

 

WITL Brings Nascar to Mid-Michigan

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According to their website, WITL-FM 100.7 is bringing a new season of NASCAR racing to Mid-Michigan radio listeners, as an affiliate of the Performance Racing Network (PRN). WITL's sister station, WVFN-AM 730, had previously been an affiliate of the Motor Racing Network (MRN). WITL can certainly deliver a dedicated target audience for NASCAR coverage, making this deal a good matchup.

 

The Associated Press has been running a story about the Northern Michigan CBS affiliate conducting a web poll of its viewers about whether or not to run tonight's Dan Rather one hour sendoff special. In the AP story, 9&10's Tessia Klix said the special was something the station normally would air, but decided to put the issue up for a vote after being inundated with "negative feedback" about Rather.

The poll itself is a tad cumbersome -- you have to enter a valid e-mail address and then confirm your vote before it counts -- and will likely drive down the number of responses the station might have otherwise received. After completing the confirmation, no feedback is given on the status of the voting thus far.

I don't understand why 9&10 would consider pulling the plug on this show just because some of their viewers are upset at Rather and the Bush military records debacle. If those viewers don't want to see the tribute, they can easily tune elsewhere or just not watch TV for that hour. Unless the feedback from that poll shows 75% or more negative feedback, I'm thinking it'd be a mistake for them to not show the program tonight. Why deny those that do want to see the show the chance when the alternative for those that don't is so easy?!?

 

Lansing Baseball Fans Will Have Their Pick

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The Detroit Tigers may be searching for a TV home in their hometown, but at least they have found a radio home in Mid-Michigan for this season.

WTXQ FM 92.1 and WQTX-FM 92.7 (collectively known at The Ticket) will air all regular-season Tiger games this year, along with all regular-season games of the minor-league Lansing Lugnuts. This will be accomplished through the unique ability of the station to utilize both frequencies for separate broadcasts. When both teams are playing, the Tiger games will be broadcast on 92.1 FM, and the Lugnut games will be broadcast on 92.7 FM, and when there is no conflict, either game will be broadcast on both frequencies.

This is an advantage which The Ticket did not enjoy at this time last year, when the station landed the contract for the Lansing Lugnuts, and opted not to renew their contract with the Detroit Tigers (local AM Sports station WVFN picked up the Tiger broadcasts halfway through last season). At that time, 92.1 was still programming a Hot AC format as WKMY. That all changed in July of 2004, when WKMY dropped their format in favor of a simulcast of the All-Sports format on WQTX. The simulcast arrangement has opened up new possibilities, such as multicasts of local high school and college sporting events, and now the ability to carry both the Lugnuts and the Tigers, making many Mid-Michigan Tiger fans much happier this year.

In addition, XM Satellite Radio subscribers will be able to hear all of the Tigers' exhibition and regular season games as part of their regular monthly subscription, beginning this month.

 

This is one of those situations that isn't easy to digest for several reasons. The Detroit Lions and WKRK-FM 97.1 have decided not to bring back play-by-play man Mark Champion for his 17th season when the team begins play this fall. Long time color commentator Jim Brandstatter is also reportedly going to be replaced, likely with a former Lions' player. I always thought that the team of Champion and Brandstatter was one of the best in the NFL -- both guys pretty much called it as they saw it, and didn't hold back against giving well-deserved criticism.

It's easy to get attached to a broadcast team and I think that is what has happened to many Lions fans that are upset when they hear this news. That makes it doubly hard to acknowledge that the new team, led by Channel 2's Dan Miller doing play-by-play, deserves a chance to display their stuff before a fair assessment can be made. Miller has experience as he's done work on Fox TV for the past several seasons -- to me he's solid, but not as colorful as Champion has been.

Getting adjusted to this change is more difficult when you like all of the public personalities involved. No one wishes bad things for Champion and Brandstatter because they were good at what they do. Likewise, being mean to Miller doesn't make sense either as he's a good guy too and deserves the shot. When these things happen, we often look for the 'why'... and most of the time we miss on what the real reasons might be. Could the Lions and WKRK have made this decision because they were unhappy with the status-quo? Maybe... but my guess is that the powers think they have a bigger opportunity with a new direction.

Time will tell.

 

The Oakland Press - On The Radio, March 11 2005

 

By: Art Vuolo


By ART VUOLO

This week, the Michigan Association of Broadcasters held its annual winter Great Lakes Broadcasters Expo in Lansing. Besides the exhibits and sessions, a number of area stations took home awards for their work. On top was all-news WWJ-AM (950) which scooped up 13 awards, including major market station of the year.

Their gold came from breaking news, hard news, Larry Henry for sports, morning drive news, special interest and best commercial categories, in addition to mini documentaries, news specials and community involvement.

Sister station sports WXYT-AM (1270) took home two awards for marketing and promotion, so kudos there to Debbie Spatafora, who heads up that department at both WXYT and WWJ.

Perennial winner news-talk WJR-AM (760) didn't fare as well as its news rival, but still took home a very respectable seven awards for hard news, features, sports (U-M football), newscast, coverage of the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Paul W. Smith and Mitch Albom, two of 'JR's most popular personalities, also won awards for their shows.

Speaking of WJR, isn't this about the time when they would broadcast live from the Geneva Auto Show in Switzerland, which is going on now?

In other 'JR news, the station began Webcasting on the Internet last month at www.wjr.com. But not everything is going out worldwide. Because of contractual stipulations and legal fine print, WJR cannot rebroadcast Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, "The Drudge Report," Dr. Dean Edell, Renfro Valley nor Ann Delisi's "Inside the Music."

Sadly, the station also is prevented from streaming Michigan football and basketball.

As WWJ prepares to kick off its Webcasting on Monday, all of this illustrates the changes in radio as stations greatly expand their reach to listeners around the globe.

Back when Mel Karmazin was running Infinity Broadcasting, which owns WWJ, WXYT and others locally, he would not authorize streaming on the Internet unless he could make money from the Webcast.

Now that he's left to head up Sirius Satellite Radio, Infinity and CBS Radio are jumping headfirst into the practice, which is a real boon to news-radio junkies who work inside steel office buildings where signals are weak or nonexistent.

Another way stations are extending their coverage is via those increasingly popular sat-casters XM and Sirius.

This is the first year that Major League Baseball is being carried on XM, so if you're a Tiger fan and have XM, you'll be able to hear Dan Dickerson and Jim Price in any of the 48 continental United States.

Baseball fans should love the expanded coverage, especially since so many games are at night when AM reception is more susceptible to atmospheric interference.

With XM, you'll be able to hear sports station 'XYT anywhere in the country. Sweet!

Have you checked out progressive talker WDTW-AM (1310) lately?

From 9 a.m.-noon weekdays, it's the new home of talk host Jerry Springer. It's not the nutty, out-of-control show the former Cincinnati mayor did for years on TV, but a truly interesting left-leaning talk show that even a right-wing conservative could enjoy.

By the way, he originates out of WCKY - not WKRP - in Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, Clear Channel, which owns more than 1,200 stations nationwide, is flipping under-performing AM stations to this new "progressive talk" format faster than I can type.

WDTW afternoon drivetime host Ed Schultz originates his program at a Clear Channel station in Fargo, N.D. He wanted Premiere Networks, also owned by Clear Channel, to syndicate his program, but the company's Bush-supporting, Texas-based owner was not interested in promoting a lib-uh-rul agenda. So Schultz took the show to the Denver-based Jones Network, which jumped at the opportunity.

Ironically, now almost all of the Clear Channel progressive talk stations have added the Schultz show.

Set Your Dial: About 50 years ago, Monroe's former WQTE-AM (560) featured such orchestras as Don Pablo's big band from Detroit's Latin Quarter. Relive those memories at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5). Oddly enough, WMUZ now owns the 560 frequency as WRDT-AM. Small world indeed.


Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

Here's a press release I received yesterday:

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Award winning broadcast journalists and employees at WWJ rewarded with take aways totaling over a million dollars.

Just days before winning the coveted Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB) Station of the Year award, broadcast journalists and employees were shocked to see economic takeaways at the bargaining table. WWJ Newsradio 950 has long been one of the most profitable stations in the Detroit market, consistently finishing in the market's top three stations in Arbitron ratings. Negotiations are stalled over health care and working conditions.

So, although award winning broadcast journalists and employees can see the accolades of their hard work in the form of beautiful hardware from the MAB in the vestibule of their workplace, WWJ management shows their thanks by continuing to bargain economic take backs. A sad day for great broadcast journalists.
*******

Looks like there just might be an interesting labor battle brewing in Motown....

 

Jamie Boll leaves WWMT

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Longtime News 3 anchor/reporter Jamie Boll said goodbye to his co-workers and West Michigan viewers on Friday evening. He leaves WWMT-TV (Channel 3 Kalamazoo) and moves to WBTV-TV, Jefferson-Pilot Communications' CBS affiliate in Charlotte, NC. He will anchor the station's 5 and 5:30pm newscasts and do some reporting. In a recent Kalamazoo Gazette article, Jamie says, "The big selling point is that it will be a day shift. I'll be working something like 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. I've been working nights for 10 years and I have four young children at home. I want to be there for them and go to school events, have dinner together and read a story to them before they go to bed." Boll starts his new job in Charlotte on March 21.

 

A True Gem in Local Radio

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In this day of radio stations selling out to bigger corporations and losing their local flare, it is pretty hard to find a truly local radio station anymore. Sure, you may have a radio station that broadcasts from your hometown, but they might not be very local. They may be completely satellite fed. And if they are techically FROM your town, they may aim all of their programming to the bigger city 25 miles away from you.

Fortunately, there is still one radio station that has kept it's local flavor. This radio station is WCSR at 92.1 in Hillsdale. For the record, they also have an AM simulcast at 1340. WCSR is very heavy on local news. They even branch out and report the news for nearby towns like Osseo, Hudson and Litchfield. Communities that would otherwise have little or no means for local news. Their local news also includes local commentary. In addition, they feature a 'Pet Rescue' segment where they announce lost or found cats and dogs. Truly a staple unique only to local radio stations.

Between the heavy local news sets on WCSR, their primary format is Adult Contemporary. But they don't just play the same songs you would expect to hear on any Adult Contemporary station. They play songs that truly do not get any airplay on other radio stations. Not because these songs aren't any good, but because other radio stations simply do not touch these songs. Sunday mornings are unique because they play the best in Big Band and Standards. They do go to the satellite on nights and weekends with the JRN AC feed, but this the only time they are not live.

Perhaps the only bad thing about WCSR is their limited signal. They broadcast on a very crowded frequency. So even with 6000 watts, their signal does not make it out very far. During favorable weather conditions, they can be wiped out even in Coldwater and as close to Hillsdale as Litchfield and Somerset. The AM signal only serves Hillsdale and Jonesville before succumbing to the perils of broadcasting on a 'graveyard' frequency. But if you are within listening range of WCSR, it is definitely worth a listen!

 

As I move along attempting to update the dial pages on this site, my focus has been on getting the all the TV pages done first, then the AMs, and then finally the FMs. FM will take the longest to update due to the number of new FM translators that have been granted in the past year or so (along with all the changes that have happened since last summer).

Anyhow-- as I was updating the page for MS Communications, which holds 52 LPTV licenses in places like Petoskey, Traverse City, Houghton Lake, and Sault Ste Marie, I stumbled on a great article written by the Center for Public Integrity titled "Two-hundred Channels and Nothing on – Literally".

Many of these existing stations have applications filed with the FCC to move them out of Michigan into Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Interesting too is that none of these stations have ever broadcast anything more than a test pattern -- if that.

 

The Oakland Press - On The Radio, March 18 2005

 

By: Mike Austerman


Don't count football analyst Jim Brandstatter out of the Detroit Lions booth quite yet. It seems that last week's reports that Brandstatter wouldn't be back next year might have been a bit premature. There apparently was a communications breakdown between the Lions and the folks at Infinity Broadcasting, owner of Lions flagship WKRK-FM (97.1).

Tom Lewand, chief operating officer of the Lions, has stated that the only announcement was about the change of play-by-play voices and that there hasn't been any conclusion about who the color analyst might be. Lewand further commented that there would be further conversations and that the Lions have the utmost respect for Brandstatter.

All we know for sure is that Mark Champion is out after 16 years in the booth, replaced by Fox 2's Dan Miller. Stay tuned to this one.

Staffers at all-news WWJ-AM (950) are starting to make their displeasure with management known over the direction of their latest contract negotiations.

On the heels of the station being named as the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Station of the Year in Detroit, it appears that those negotiations have stalled over health care and working conditions as management has offered about $1 million worth of take-backs in the proposed new contract.

Rumor also has it that the station might be looking to reduce its headcount, making represented workers both nervous and angry. That's not a good combination for what has been one the area's most successful stations both in terms of ratings and revenue.

Interesting, too, is that is all happening while the station is using a new revenue source - selling ads for its just-launched Web stream.

It's well established that metro Detroit is a hotbed for quality radio - including those tiny FM stations run by area schools.

The hardworking folks at WBFH-FM (88.1) in Bloomfield Hills can once again boast after being named as Michigan's 2005 High School Station of the Year for the third year in a row.

In addition, Bloomfield Hills School District radio broadcasting students won 13 of the 22 awards given out in the high school radio division - five first-place, five second-place and three third-place - from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.

Some of those individual winners included Ryan Fishman, Erin Kashawlic, P.J. Wascher and Wade Fink from Andover High School and Valenta Bedford from Lahser High - all of whom took home first-place awards. Station Manager Pete Bowers, Assistant Manager/Chief Engineer Randy Carr and Remote Supervisor/Webmaster Ron Wittebols lead the students at WBFH also known as "The Biff."

If you're in the Bloomfield area, tune in at 88.1 or from anywhere else online at www.wbfh.fm. Betcha you'll be hearing the radio and TV stars of the future.

Fine tuning: Former news-ralk WJR-AM (760) program director Phil Boyce has been promoted to vice president of news-talk programming for all of WJR parent ABC Radio. Boyce left WJR to take over as the boss at New York's WABC-AM.

Michigan Radio - WUOM-FM (91.7) and WFUM-FM (91.1) in Flint - was named as Public Broadcaster of the Year by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters earlier this month. It's the third consecutive year WUOM has gotten the nod from the MAB as the state's top public radio outlet.

Set your dials: Tony O'Brien and John Lauder, two of Detroit's favorite theatre pipe organists, will be featured on "Somewhere in Time" at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


Mike Austerman is the founder of Michiguide.com and has covered radio for The Daily Oakland Press for three years.

 

Local Broadband Company Prepares to Expand in Clinton County

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Westphalia Broadband Inc is gearing up to offer comprehensive broadband media service to residents of DeWitt and St. Johns, in addition to customers already being served in the company's hometown of Westphalia. Services offered by WBI will include telephone, high-speed DSL internet, and digital TV service delivered via Cat5 cable instead of the traditional coax used by most cable TV companies. According to the company's website, a package deal including telephone, high-speed internet and TV service is offered for less than $100 per month.

It's refreshing to see a locally-owned company jump into the business of delivering these digital media services, especially in a day and age when such services are mostly delivered by the corporate giants, at an ever-increasing cost to the consumer.

 

WJKN signs on

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After a long wait, Spring Arbor University has finally flipped the switch on long-time CP WJKN-FM. They can be heard at 89.3 FM simulcasting sister station WSAE for now, but that will almost certainly change. Spring Arbor surely doesn't need the same station on two FM frequencies licensed to the same city. They even share a tower!

They had to have signed on just today. I was trying to DX last night and 89.3 was dead air. I knew something was up when I actually heard a signal here.

I would definitely expect changes on one of the Spring Arbor stations in the near future. And when I hear any of these changes, i'll share them for everybody here.

 

WJSZ Sold to Former Lansing GM

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Radio & Records online reports that WJSZ-FM 92.5, Ashley (Owosso) is being sold by Curwood Communications to Krol Communications for a reported price of $650,000. Curwood Communications is headed by president Michael Gaylord, and Krol Communications is headed by CEO/president Rod Krol. Mr. Krol was formerly the general manager of Citadel Communications' Lansing group of stations.

WJSZ currently transmits from studios in Owosso and transmitter facilities in Ashley, at an ERP of 2,000 watts. The station signed on in the spring of 1994 with an Oldies format, and later switched to a request-driven Rock/Pop format. Currently, the station is programming a mix of Classic and Mainstream Rock.

 

The saga of WWZP Freeland

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Yet again, it appears that low wattage WWZP-FM 90.9 Freeland (240 watts @ 213 feet) has been sold. This time, Educational Media Foundation is paying $75,000 to owner American Family Association for the station. In the past year, there have been 2 other aborted attempts at selling this station.

In March 2004, Great Lakes Community Broadcasting (owner of several similar low-wattage stations and many translators across the lower peninsula) was to pay $40,000. That deal was approved by the FCC, but apparently never closed as the licensee has remained in the name of AFA.

Then last August, another deal had the CP moving from AFA to Edgewater Broadcasting, a division of Radio Assist Ministry Inc, for $1. Edgewater at closing was to give AFA credit toward the purchase of FM translators, CPs or stations licensed to Edgewater in the amount of $80,000 and also was to give AFA's Great Lakes Community Broadcasting credit toward the purchase of FM translators, CPs or stations licensed to Edgewater in the amount of $10,000. Apparently that deal never closed either. (Edgewater and Radio Assist Ministry are a story for another day....)

Got all that? Me neither.

Now California based Educational Media Foundation will take a swing at aquiring the station. EMF runs two formats across the USA- the Contemporary Christian "K-Love" format heard on WAKL-FM 88.9 Flint and a Christian Rock format called Air 1 heard on WTRK-FM 88.1 Bay City. EMF also holds a number of construction permits for new translator stations here in Michigan. Time will tell if this sale ever completes.

 

The Oakland Press - On The Radio, March 25 2005

 

By: Art Vuolo


Your traveling radio columnist has logged enough miles to last awhile.

First was the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, followed by the retirement party for longtime Buffalo, N.Y., and Detroit radio personality Tom Shannon, best known for his stint on the old CKLW-AM (800). Yes, contrary to his old jingle, the sun finally sets on the Shannon Empire as Tommy does his final broadcast Thursday on Buffalo's oldies WHTT-FM.

From western New York, it was up to Lansing for the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Great Lakes Radio-TV Expo, and off the very next day to L.A. for the Talk Radio Seminar orchestrated by industry trade publication Radio & Records.

At all of these events, I heard lots of eye-opening viewpoints on the state of radio today. Here's a quick review.

First, country radio is healthier than ever. Locally, WYCD-FM (99.5) is solid in the local ratings with the return of Dr. Don Carpenter, reteamed with well-respected newsman Bob Schuman. Both program director Chip Miller and assistant Ron Chapman were in Nashville for the confab, which featured lots of live music.

But the group that seemed to wow everyone was the energetic country pop band Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band. If you ever get the chance, don't miss 'em live.

The Talk Radio Seminar also was fantastic. Steve Stewart, the PD at news-talk WJR-AM (760), and Georgeanne Herbert, the operations manager at news WWJ-AM (950) and sports WXYT-AM (1270), were on the Left Coast, where it seemed as though 80 percent of the crowd was from conservative radio. Yet a keynote from liberal air host Al Franken was absolutely riveting.

I also had a chance to meet new radio talk host Jerry Springer, carried locally on progressive talk WDTW-AM (1310). He's an amazingly decent man and an engaging personality, who is negotiating with the liberal Air America network, which could add his show to nearly 50 more stations nationwide.

If you don't know what's going on in the radio business these days, then you don't know "Jack."

That's the nickname of a relatively new format that stations are switching to faster than you can hit the scan button. It features a wide variety of pop and rock music which, as their slogan boasts, "sounds like your iPod on shuffle" (to those without iPods, that means random order).

Metro Detroit doesn't yet have a "Jack FM" yet, but several big cities do, including Los Angeles and Indianapolis. In Philadelphia, a similar format has the name "Ben," as in Franklin.

Locally, we had an "Alice" format at FM 106.7, while XM Satellite Radio features channels named "Fred," "Ethel" and "Lucy." Can "Ricky" be far behind?

At the radio conventions, there was a great deal of concern about radio's most serious competitors - and it's not satellite radio, it's the Internet, especially as it becomes wireless, and the iPod, which the under-25 crowd is buying in staggering numbers.

Radio stations keep aiming for younger audiences, but the irony is that the kids don't seem to be listening to AM and FM stations as much anymore.

Still, they must hear that music somewhere that they're loading on their iPods ...

If you're a man, mark your calendar for the fourth annual WRIF-FM (101.1) Motor City Men's Expo in Novi on April 2. More details on this next week.

Two of our local NPR stations took home seven prestigious awards each from The Associated Press recently. The honors went to Wayne State's WDET-FM (101.9) and U-M's WUOM-FM (91.7). Kudos to both.

Known as "The Fan," sports WDFN-AM (1130) has signed Tiger pitcher Mike Maroth and Lions wide receiver Roy Williams to do weekly in-season, exclusive interviews with afternoon hosts Stoney & Wojo.

Nice move for PD Rona Danziger.

Set your dials: "Somewhere In Time" host Tom Wilson presents a huge tribute to big bands at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

WILX Takes the Lead in Lansing TV News Ratings

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The February Nielsen ratings are out, and the results were reported in Friday's Lansing State Journal.

WILX-TV has regained the lead over WLNS-TV in their 6 and 11 pm newscasts, while WLNS maintains a lead at 5 pm. In addition, WILX widened its lead over WLNS in the morning local news block (5 to 7 am). This was a win-back for WILX, since WLNS had previously held the lead at 6 and 11 pm.

It was also a good news book for WSYM-TV, with the Fox affiliate making gains at 10 pm. Former WILX morning news anchor Jason Colthorp recently took over the anchor chair for WSYM's 5:30 and 10 pm newscasts. The move appears to have paid off for WSYM, which entered into a news production agreement with WILX last summer.

 

Detroit Oldies outlet WOMC-FM 104.3 has been running teasers all week, telling listeners that if they don't tune in at 8:00am on Friday, they "won't know Jack". Is there any chance that WOMC will be flipping from Oldies to the latest rage, the format most often called "Jack"?

No.

The new format, it is being tried in several major markets already this year, features a catch-all type of Adult Hits format, heavily relying on tunes often heard on Classic Rock and Hot AC stations. Although the Oldies format has seen quite a few defections in recent months, WOMC hasn't been suffering from poor ratings and is about as likely to change its fulltime format as it is that pigs will fly.

Betcha the big announcement on WOMC is an 'anything goes' type of weekend special. They'll open up the playlist this weekend as a trial balloon to see if Detroiters are interesting in hearing a radio station that "sounds like your iPod on shuffle". If it goes over well, the musical programming variety might well expand on WOMC -- but only in small doses.

What would be really interesting is if someone else in town beat WOMC to the punch before Friday....

 

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