‘Baaaby!’ WRIF’s Big Daddy marks his 35th year




Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press

By: Art Vuolo

There are a great number of very talented and unique radio personalities who have graced the airwaves of the Motor City. Detroit has always been a great radio town, but to my knowledge no rock ’n’ roll DJ has had the longevity of Arthur “Big Daddy” Penhallow at rocker WRIF-FM (101.1).

As one who has chronicled radio jocks via video for more than 25 years, I was pleased to be in the ’RIF studio this week to capture the “Grand Poobah” in his element doing his 35th anniversary show. It was great to witness a true professional who still loves what he does.

Originally hired by WRIF’s first program director, Dick Kernen (now best known for his long tenure with the Specs Howard School), Arthur P. is on a first-name basis with dozens of rock stars and is famous for his signature growl of “Baaaby!”

When Penhallow first started at 101.1, it was known as WXYZ-FM — back in 1970.

Kudos from one Art to another.

The Greater Media Building in Royal Oak Township is rockin’ with even more excitement as their three radio stations, WRIF, classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7) and soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1), are in the running for seven industry achievement awards from the national trade publication Radio & Records.

Nominated from the ’RIF are morning personalities Drew & Mike; program director Doug Podell (whose first name is not to be confused with that other FM station); music director Mark Pennington; veep and general manager Tom Bender; and the station itself. Also nominated is the Jim Harper morning show from WMGC (known as Magic) and, as a top classic rocker, WCSX itself.

Other local stations and on-air talent nominated include Alexander Zonjic at jazz WVMV-FM (98.7); Jamillah Muhammad at adult-urban WMXD-FM (92.3); Dick Purtan at oldies WOMC-FM (104.3); and former classic hits WDTWFM (106.7) nationally syndicated funny guys Bob & Tom.

Rounding out the roster of local nominees are Clear Channel’s WMXD (known as Mix); soft hits WNIC-FM (100.3); and Fred Jacobs, founder of nationally renowned Jacob Media Consultancy.

The awards will be given out at the Radio & Records Convention in Cleveland next month. We’ll let you know about local winners.

Hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1) midday host Gregg Henson is a father for the second time. He and wife Nicole have named the baby Cooper Blu. It’s a boy, but whatever happened to names like Mike, Jeff and Tom? Still, kudos on the child.

Organizers of The Last Motor City Broadcast Reunion, scheduled for this September, are stunned by the huge number of people who’ve expressed a desire to attend. You can review the guest list at www.vuolovideo.com by clicking on “reunions.” If you worked locally in radio, television or the record/music business, you can register at the Web site for an invitation.

A broadcast from a local mall also is being planned so the public can come out and meet the media legends for pictures and autographs. It should be fun.

Don’t forget Mother’s Day. Buy her another radio ...

On a not-so fun topic, it was sad how few radio people were at the standing-room-only memorial service for Mark Scott last week.

TV coverage of Scott’s career also was disappointing, as this reporter provided (at no cost) excellent video with good audio to local stations of Scott when he was at WXYT-AM (1270).

To my knowledge, WXYZ Channel 7 aired nothing, while WDIV Channel 4 ran the video with the news anchor providing narration — and covered Scott’s distinctive voice. WJBK-Fox 2 was the only station to let viewers actually hear Scott’s unique on-air style. Too bad.

Tuesday brought more sad news: the death of U-M’s former athletic director Don Canham in a car accident caused by an aneurysm. He was 87.

But he’s no doubt trading stories right now with radio greats J.P. McCarthy and Bob Ufer, both of whom interviewed the Michigan marketing maven numerous times.

Set Your Dial: Big Band’s most famous drummer Gene Krupa gets profiled by hosts Tom Wilson and Alison Harris 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.







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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on May 6, 2005 8:00 AM.

35 Years and Still Going Strong was the previous entry in this blog.

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