The Oakland Press - April 2 2005
By: Mike Austerman
Metro Detroit got a new radio station on April Fool's Day as the former Top 40 outlet WDRQ-FM (93.1) was switched to a format playing a wider range of music.
With the exception of morning show host Jay Towers, most of the station's on-air staff was let go, as was program director Alex Tear and music director Keith Curry. Initially, the station was running without disc jockeys.
Most WDRQ personnel were surprised by the move, including staffers at The Palace of Auburn Hills doing a remote broadcast Friday for the Pistons playoff ticket sales.
"Their on-site people couldn't figure out why the station was playing such different music over their speakers at the remote. A few minutes later, they got a call from someone who said everyone was fired, (and) they bolted out of here," said a Palace official who asked not to be named.
Dubbed "Doug FM," the new format of the ABC-owned station offers "core artists" spanning different popular musical genres across the past four decades. The artists include The Beatles, U2, Matchbox 20, Fleetwood Mac, Prince, The Police, Madonna, Bob Seger, Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow, The Dave Matthews Band, Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, Steely Dan and others.
"We chose the unusual name 'Doug FM' for the express purpose of letting southeast Michigan listeners know how different we intend to be from other radio stations in the market," station general manager Steve Kosbau said Friday.
"We have developed a new mega-playlist that is unlike anything southeast Michigan has experienced - more like a packed MP3 player in shuffle mode than a traditional (rock music) format with fewer tunes, frequently repeated," he said.
With a wide range of eclectic adult hits, such formats are one of the hot new gimmicks in the radio business. Known nationally as "Jack FM," these formats have been popping up in many cities recently; stations in Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia and Indianapolis have switched.
If the change holds, it will mark the first full-signal Detroit FM station to switch formats since classic rock hits WDTW-FM (106.7) jumped from country music four-and-a-half years ago.
WDRQ has a long legacy in metro Detroit, playing varieties of contemporary hits for the past nine years. The station was Detroit's first FM talk station when it was launched in 1972.
It then moved to a Top 40 format, followed by a disco and urban music format. In 1985, the WDRQ call letters were shelved for several years as the station played soft rock hits as WLTI "The Light."
Also Friday, oldies station WOMC-FM (104.3) scrapped the planned "You Don't Know Jack" gimmick it had been teasing all week.
The station had planned to play seven hours of Christmas music as an April Fool's Day stunt but canceled the idea after Pope John Paul II's health deteriorated.
Staff writer Gary Graff contributed to this report.