Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, September 5, 2005
By: Mike Austerman
It’s nice to start off the week with some good news. Dave Wagner, whom classical music fans no doubt remember from his days at the former WQRS-FM (105.1), has been named program director for Classical/ Jazz WRCJ-FM (90.9), effective Tuesday. In addition, he’ll become the station’s morning voice later this fall when the station switches from satellite feeds to local-based shows.
One of Detroit radio’s most popular personalities, Wagner’s vast musical knowledge and wry sense of humor entertained listeners for 17 years at WQRS. “It’s great to have classical music back in Detroit, and I’m so proud to be part of the team to make this happen,” says Wagner.
As program director for WRCJ, his role will be similar to the one he held at ’QRS before the classical music died in 1997 in a format change. Wagner will guide the mix of daytime classical and nighttime jazz and the overall content of the station, which is operated by Detroit Public Television and licensed to Detroit Public Schools. The 35-year radio veteran with experience at commercial and public radio stations has been working as program director at classical station KMZT (K-Mozart) in Los Angeles since 2001, in addition to his role as a music professor at Madonna University in Livonia. We’re looking forward to the Sousa Alarm going off at 7:15 a.m. weekdays when Dave returns.
Last week in New Orleans, radio stations were able to get themselves back on the air, at least periodically, to provide essential information on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to the thousands in harm’s way — and stranded in the disaster area afterward. A battery-operated radio was literally a lifeline for many who were truly living in hell with no other means of communication.
For a medium often attacked as nonessential and not tuned in to what listeners want, countless examples of heroism by radio people in the stricken areas proved otherwise.
Locally, Oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) hosted the Labor of Love Hurricane Relief radiothon over the weekend to collect money for The Salvation Army’s hurricane relief efforts. Stop by any Standard Federal Bank branch in Michigan to make your donation — they’ll gladly forward your check made out to “Salvation Army — Hurricane Katrina.” If the bank’s closed, just drop your donation in the night deposit slot.
Other stations also jumped in to help, including ABC Detroit outlets news-talk WJRAM (760), Disney WFDF-AM (910), adult hits WDRQ-FM (93.1) and pop hits WDVD-FM (96.3). They’re taking donations at their Web sites and giving out The Salvation Army’s 24-hour donor phone line — (877) 725-6424. Times like this make radio shine, showing how it can rally people so quickly and effectively.
Breaking News: Coming Sept. 19 to public radio WUOM-FM (91.7) will be a talk show hosted by veteran political observer Jack Lessenberry. The show, which airs 1-2 p.m. weekdays, will look at issues of the day and chat with authors, guests and callers. “I wanted to call it ‘Hot Air’ since it follows ‘Fresh Air,’ but they wouldn’t let me,” jokes the often acerbic Lessenberry.
After nearly five months, National Public Radio’s “This I Believe” project has generated more than 5,000 submissions from listeners documenting their personal values in 500-word essays and interviews. The essays have contained revelations about parents, personal struggles and the impact of race and wealth on their characters. They air Mondays on NPR, alternating between “Morning Edition’ and “All Things Considered,” heard locally on WDET-FM (101.9) and WUOM. “Folks are embracing the chance for their voice to be heard,” said executive producer Dan Gediman.
Pop WDVD-FM (96.3) morning host Blaine Fowler hosts the third annual Hands-free Apple Pie Eating Contest at Rochester’s Art & Apples Festival on Saturday. Registration starts at 11 a.m., and four contestants will vie to see who can eat the most pie without using their hands in 96.3 seconds. The winner scores a $100 gift certificate — and a tummy ache.
Set Your Dials: Hosts Tom Wilson and Sarah Swanson go back to the early days of Detroit radio to play the jazz swing music of The Sophistocats at 6 p.m. Sunday (9-11) on WMUZ-FM (103.5).