Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press
By: Art Vuolo
Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the changes is? Traditionally each spring, we tend to see the one thing you, the listener, hate most — changes on the radio dial. The clearing of the staff at classic hits WDRQ-FM (93.1), now known as “Doug FM,” was probably just the beginning of more to come. The music on “Doug” is pretty good, but the promos, known in the business as sweepers, proclaim that “we play everything.” If I called in and requested Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”, do you think they’d play it? Neither do I.
Just thinking out loud: If radio’s greatest enemy is the iPod, why are so many stations now being programmed to sound like an iPod? If I want 10,000 of my favorite tunes in a random order, I’ll buy an iPod — and, unfortunately for broadcasters, nearly 6 million people have.
Rumors seeping out of the Golden Tower of the Fisher Building indicate significant programming and personnel changes may be coming to Michigan’s top-rated station news-talk WJR-AM (760). All of the major broadcasting companies are making cutbacks, which often means more people in the unemployment line. WJR seems to have cut back significantly in sports, although they remain true blue to U-M football and basketball. Some of the most credible voices on the station are in the news department, which has always been home to some of the best broadcast journalists in the Motor City. My hope is that it remains the same. Some months ago, there were whispers about syndicated conservative talk host Sean Hannity moving to a new time on ’JR. The whispers are getting louder.
In the past year, a number of salespeople and reporters have segued between WJR and all-news WWJ-AM (950). Now Metro Traffic has cut a number of jobs among its staff providing traffic reports to local stations. Names you might know, such as Terry T. Brown, Sandra McNeill and Liz Graham, were all shown the door last week. Just a few days ago, many were saddened by the untimely death of former traffic reporter Rod Holden. His real name was Dan Koti and he was only 42. Arrangements were with the Ira Kaufman Chapel in Southfield.
On the lighter-side, classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7) is shaking up its onair staff, but according to program director Bill Stedman, this is a good move with no casualties in the hallways. In fact, a new personality (and former Detroiter) is being added from 10 p.m. till 1 a.m. weeknights and his name is Alice. It’s legendary rocker Alice Cooper, who’ll do a live show nightly, originating in his toxic studio in a mysterious location in the Arizona desert. He’ll offer tunes not always heard on Detroit FM radio and he’s genuinely excited about this new opportunity.
If you prefer progressive talk radio — free on WDTW-AM (1310) — via satellite radio, you’ll have to choose XM. The satcaster just signed an exclusive deal with the left-leaning Air America network, which will be pulling out of Sirius Satellite Radio in the coming weeks. XM also has struck a deal with AOL, which will allow online users to enjoy XM programming via AOL Broadband.
Set Your Dials: Bob Crosby and his Dixieland-style Bob Cats Band will be featured at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZFM (103.5) ... and on WDET-FM (101.9), the new blues-rock band the Muggs performs live at noon Saturday; the legendary Gretsch Drum Night at Birdland concert (featuring Art Blakey, “Philly” Joe Jones and Pontiac’s own Elvin Jones) will be heard at 10 p.m. Saturday; and jazz vocalist Janet Tenaj performs live at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.