Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, June 3, 2005
By: Art Vuolo
It’s the third of June, and two popular songs began with this date — “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry and “Desiree” by Neil Diamond. There’s a little coincidence to ponder if you know the tunes. While the second most popular station in metro Detroit is oldies WOMC-FM (104.3), it’s amazing that so many major cities, such as Indianapolis and Baltimore, have lost their oldies stations to the new “Jack” format which “plays everything — like an iPod on shuffle.” In Detroit, the format’s called “Doug FM” and can be found at WDRQ-FM (93.1).
Oldies stations in Orlando and Atlanta, meanwhile, switched to a Hispanic format. Detroit had been the largest city in the country without a Spanish-language station — until Wednesday, when the 45-year classic country WSDS-AM (1480) in Canton Township switched to an all-Spanish language format. WSDS is part of the company that owns ethnic WNZK-AM (690) and talk/oldies WPON-AM (1460) plus traditional country WCXI-AM (1160) from Fenton.
Another fast-growing radio format is edgy FM talk; locally, that would be WKRK-FM (97.1), known as “Live 97.1.” At 5 p.m. Saturday, its top-rated afternoon personalities Deminski & Doyle will host the fifth and final chicken-wing eating contest known as “Wing Cup 5.” This historic finale will take place at Snooker’s Pool & Pub on Hall Road (M-59) in Utica, just east of M-53. I’ve witnessed three of these as contestants vie to be the one to gobble the most wings. It’ll be broadcast live and a large crowd is expected.
On Monday, Jim Harper and the Magic Morning Show will celebrate the fourth annual Women Who Make Magic Awards at Andiamo in Warren. Guest hosted by Donny Osmond, it’s a way for soft hits WMGC-FM (105.1) to pay tribute to local women who have made a difference. Details are at www.detroitmagic.com.
At news-talk WJR-AM (760), morning host Paul W. Smith continues to rack up the miles. On Saturday, he’ll be broadcasting from the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, the site of the annual Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference. Popular talk host Frank Beckmann also will broadcast from the hotel with the world’s longest porch for his 9-11:30 a.m. program. From 10:30 a.m.-noon Saturday, Smith will host Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (WXYZ-Channel 7’s Steve Wilson was not invited) and Oakland County exec L. Brooks Patterson, Wayne County exec Robert Ficano and Macomb county commission chair Nancy White for a lively roundtable on the significant issues facing southeast Michigan. The program repeats 4:30-6 p.m. Sunday.
Eric Harthen, man of a hundred voices, is back with Dick Purtan at WOMC. Harthen originally started with Purtan at hits WKQI-FM (95.5), and now he’s once again providing character voices for the mustachioed man who just completed four decades in Detroit radio.
Kudos to pop hits WDVD-FM (96.3) on its recent competition at The Palace of Auburn Hills last week. Ten contestants raced each other to be the fastest participant to sit in 330 seats — in other words, the entire parameter of the arena. The winner was Amanda Yaklin from Farmington Hills, who completed the event in under 8 minutes and won Pistons playoff tickets. And for those wondering why they can’t hear the Piston games on the Internet, sports WDFN-AM (1130) wants fans to know that the NBA prohibits streaming of games on station Web sites.
Set Your Dials: Host Tom Wilson will feature the patriotic music of D-day 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.