Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, May 20 2005
By: Art Vuolo
For those who cover the ever-changing world of electronic media, it’s always fun to be the first to report on something exciting — and this news is an Oakland Press exclusive. Over the past three years, I’ve written about the rise of Murray Gula, from doing a home improvement show on tiny Christian WEXL-AM (1340) through several small stations to his current home at mega-power news-talk WJR-AM (760). Now this helpful guy has been tapped by WXYZ-Channel 7 to bring his expertise to the tube.
Next month, he’ll bring his decades of knowledge in home maintenance and repair to primetime TV with an hourlong special called “At Home with Murray Gula,” scheduled to air 8 p.m. June 15. On it, Gula and a panel of top local experts will help viewers tackle tough home improvement and remodeling projects. The program will feature advice, demonstrations and questions from a live studio audience. Free tickets can be secured via www.wxyz.com.
Speaking of TV, is it my imagination or are more and more radio personalities popping up on the tube? Former WDRQ-FM (93.1) morning guy Jay Towers has been seen on Fox 2 and the hits WKQI-FM (95.5) wakeup crew of Mojo, Spike, Sara and Chad have been seen frequently on Local 4 News. Is this a trend?
Last weekend, something truly unique aired on classic hits WDTW-FM (106.7), known as The Drive. The Clear Channel-owned station paid tribute to Arthur Penhallow of rocker WRIF-FM (101.1), owned by Greater Media. The show featured an authentic Arthur P. sound-alike played by the multi-talented Kevin O’Neill from soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3), who really nailed the Penhallow persona — while noting that ’RIF didn’t play all those hits anymore.
Interestingly, while this prerecorded tribute was on The Drive, O’Neill was doing his regular afternoon shift on WNIC through the magic of radio. Um, perhaps we shouldn’t say it was “magic.”
More news from the strange but-true was the rescue performed last Friday by Gregg Henson and Michelle McKormick on hot talk WKRK-FM (Live 97.1). Sister station sports WXYT-AM (1270) was running a radiothon for Prostate Cancer Research, and the response was soft, so the “Motor City Midday” duo urged their audience to call the WXYT number and pledge. Instantly, the phones began to ring as the FM talker significantly helped the AM sports station reach its goal. It was great radio.
Urban pop WMXD-FM (92.3) just picked up a new afternoon show, “Love, Lust & Lies,” from ABC Radio Networks. Hosted by Michael Baisden, it pushed Frankie Darcell into the Mix’s midday shift, which displaced Oneil Stevens, who moves to weekends.
Now comes word that Mix morning man Tom Joyner will shift, next month to urban oldies WDMK-FM (102.7). What does that do to legendary Kiss morning jock John Mason? Personally, I’m all “Mixed” up.
Jennifer Purtan, Dick’s oldest daughter, has resigned as a senior veep for ad sales with ABC Radio Networks in New York to relocate back to Detroit. She was with ABC for an impressive 13 years. Now, she’ll be closer to her husband who works at WDIV-TV, and her mother, Gail.
Reports say that the Pistons were not pleased when sports WDFN-AM (1130) went off the air during a recent playoff game because of technical problems. Meanwhile, WKRK’s Rob Parker is touting a “Ban the Fan” drive, urging the team to segue over to the clearer FM band. As the Pistons advance, WDFN should seriously consider simulcasting the basketball games on a Clear Channel FM station, since WDFN’s nighttime signal is somewhat limited.
WJR’s Paul W. Smith is broadcasting from Japan today — so he should sound especially good on your Sony radio. Earlier this week, sports personality Steve Courtney hosted the ’JR morning show with Domino’s Pizza CEO David Brandon, and you could almost smell the pizza sauce coming out of the speaker. The next day, guest host Warren Pierce interviewed Domino’s founder Tom Monaghan. And later that day, I had Domino’s for lunch. Ah, the power of radio.
Set Your Dials: Indie rockers the Decemberists (see Page E-7) play on the Martin Bandyke program at 2 p.m. today on WDET-FM (101.9) ... hear the swing music of Fletcher Henderson on WMUZ-FM (103.5) at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.