FM stations fight back with digital version of their signals

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Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, August 8, 2005

By: Mike Austerman


Good ol’ regular radio is fighting back against satellite radio and digital music players with enhanced programming — for those willing to spend money on a new receiver. Most of the area’s FM stations now broadcast a digital version of their signals, giving listeners with “high definition” receivers near CD-quality sound. Now, three stations — rock WRIF-FM (101.1), classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7), and soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1) — are also offering multicasts, a separate stream of programming, as part of their digital signals.

WRIF2 offers alternative and independent rock, hip-hop and punk, and also features a heavy dose of local artists. RIF2 targets 18-24-year-olds and, while it’s rock based, the music mix is deliberately eclectic and highlights both new material and local artists with a focus on music from 1995 to today. Listen in over the Internet by visiting www.riff2.com.

WCSX’s Deep Trax (www.wcsxdeeptrax.com) features JJ & Lynne in the morning, followed by classic rock cuts not normally heard on the main station. WCSX personalities Ken Calvert, Karen Savelly and Steve Kostan also provide voices for the new offering.

Meanwhile, More Magic from WMGC features Jim Harper’s morning program, followed 10 a.m.-7 p.m. by Office Magic, a softer contemporary format with a mix of 1970s and ’80s icons and standards, along with Broadway tunes and jazz favorites. From 7 p.m.-6 a.m. and on weekends, Classically Magic consists of music-intensive, familiar classical favorites. Point your computer to www.moremagicradio.com for a sample.

Right now, most of us don’t have new HD radios since the cost is still pretty high, well above $500 on average. But as this technology catches on, imagine the possibilities for free radio programming.

If you haven’t tuned in to WRCJ-FM (90.9) since Aug. 1, you’ll be surprised when you do. WTVS-Channel 56 has taken over operations from Detroit Public Schools and is now broadcasting classical music 5 a.m.-7 p.m. and traditional jazz 7 p.m.-5 a.m. weekdays. It’s the first time since the demise of WQRS in 1997 that metro Detroit has had its own FM station with classical music, and it was way back in 1989 that WJZZ-FM (105.9) dropped jazz.

For now, the station’s shows are all piped in from other sources, but look for local hosts after October, says station boss Bob Scott. Quick, someone call ex-QRSers Dave Wagner and Davis Gloff ...

Buh-Bye: Kelly Brown has exited alt-rocker CIMX-FM (88.7), where she’d cohosted mornings for the past 15 years ... the syndicated “Connection” program on Michigan radio WUOM-FM (91.7) has ceased production, replaced by the one-hour talk show, “On Point” at 9 p.m. weeknights.

Speaking of Ann Arbor, National Public Radio’s StoryCorps, the largest oral history project ever attempted, arrived in A2 on Thursday to record local residents talking about their lives, opinions and philosophies. Those will be stored permanently at the Library of Congress and available to the families of the people who made them and to researchers and scholars. NPR’s mobile sound studio will be at William and Main Streets until Aug. 15, if you’d like to participate.

Rumors have been flying about a possible replacement for Howard Stern on talk WKRK-FM (97.1) once he moves to satellite radio in 2006. Some of the names being heard are former Van Halen front man David Lee Roth and Chicago shock-jock Mancow Muller. Stern himself is predicting he might be gone by the end of September, before the fall ratings period starts.

Adult Urban WDMK-FM (105.9) will host Tom Joyner’s “Big Break” on Wednesday at Hoop City Grille in Southfield. The singing competition will give local Detroiters the chance of a lifetime when three finalists compete live for a $1,000 cash prize during Joyner’s show 6-10 a.m. Friday on WDMK. Auditions begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday, when listeners have 60 seconds to wow a panel of judges made up of Kiss FM personalities Lady BG, AJ Parker and John Mason, who’ll select the three finalists for Friday. Visit www.kissdetroit.com for more info.

Set Your Dials: News-talk WJR-AM (760) morning man Paul W. Smith broadcasts live from the State Fair on Wednesday’s opening day. In addition to Smith’s 6-9 a.m. kickoff, WJR will host numerous live broadcasts during the Fair ... host Tom Wilson will revisits the 1950s payola scandal that affected the late Ed “Jack the Bellboy” McKenzie at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5).

 

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

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Governor Granholm now podcasting weekly radio address is the next entry in this blog.

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