Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, June 10, 2005
By: Mike Austerman
Could oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) legendary morning man Dick Purtan’s best friend at the moment be named “Doug,” the local nickname of the new radio format that plays “anything and everything”? Could be, following last week’s shocking changes in format at former oldies stations WCBS-FM in New York City and WJMK-FM in Chicago.
When WOMC owner Infinity Broadcasting made those moves in favor of the hot new format, one immediate thought was what it meant for WOMC. But the fact that ABC’s WDRQ-FM (93.1) already switched to that format earlier this year could keep Infinity from making a similar move with WOMC. Other factors working in favor of keeping 104.3 the way it is are the station’s continued strong ratings and the incredible community support of Purtan’s radiothon for the Salvation Army. But make no mistake about it — if Infinity is determined to get its “Jack-FM” format (locally called Doug FM) as much coverage as it seems, the format will eventually find a home here on either Infinity’s WOMC, hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1), smooth jazz WVMVFM (98.7) or country WYCD-FM (99.5).
Purtan’s contract is up soon, and if the negotiations don’t go well, metro Detroit might become the first major market with two stations featuring this relatively new sound. If so, maybe one of ’em could get it right and focus on artists that this town embraces instead of using a corporate-dictated “anything goes” playlist of 1,200 songs, which is still about three times the number of songs most stations are restricted to.
Ironically, I heard about the changes in Chicago and New York while listening to satellite XM Radio’s Sixties on Six, which was doing a tribute to Chicago’s legendary WCFL. If you have XM, tune in from 4-9 p.m. today, as the featured station is our own WKNR Keener 13, from the heyday of Top 40 AM stations. Host Terry “Motormouth” Young does a great job capturing the feel of the stations he highlights with snippets of the station’s jocks, jingles, and even commercials. It’s the second go-round for Keener as the featured station on XM, but this is an all-new presentation.
Joe Thomas, the afternoon drive host at classic rock hits WDTW-FM (106.7), will be off the air for only — we hope — about two weeks starting Monday as he recovers from weekend cancer surgery following a round of chemotherapy. He was diagnosed at the start of the year and doctors are optimistic about his recovery. Says Thomas: “I was able to get this far because of (bosses) Dave Pugh, Darren Davis, John Trapane and my teammates at 106.7 The Drive. Thanks also to my listeners ... especially those of you who noticed when I first lost my hair and offered your support and prayers.” Get well soon, Joe!
Sad to note the death earlier this week of Phil Lamka, the former general manager of Detroit’s former country WWWW-FM (106.7). Lamka was at the helm in the 1990s during the glory days of W4 when the station won a Marconi award and hit the top of the local ratings for three straight years. In recent years, he ran the Metro Traffic Service here in Detroit. Like many, it was my favorite station at the time and I’m not alone in missing the sound and chemistry of W4 under Lamka’s guidance.
The annual Harley Fest sponsored by rock WRIF-FM (101.1) is June 18 at Freedom Hill in Sterling Heights. This year’s event will help the Karmanos Cancer Institute and welcome more than 25,000 people for a day of music, bikes and more. In the past six years, Harley Fest has helped raise more than $260,000 for charity. Get more info at www.wrif.com.
Coming Soon: WVMV’s annual Smooth JazzFest, in front of the Southfield Civic Center from June 24-26, with the Jazz Attack, David Sanborn, Peabo Bryson and others. Flutist and ’VMV morning man Alexander Zonjic promotes several free jazz concerts during the summer; visit www.wvmv.com for info.
Set Your Dials: Clarinetist Benny Goodman is featured on “Somewhere in Time,” at 6 p.m., Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... and WJR-AM (760) weekend home improvement host Murray Gula moderates a panel of home help guests on WXYZ-Channel 7 at 8 p.m. Wednesday.