Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, September 12, 2005
By: Art Vuolo
Today marks my 10th year of living in Oakland County, and I still can’t afford it. However, those of us in local media are very excited about the final Motor City Broadcast Reunion, now less than two weeks away. Organizers, including yours truly are encouraged by the phenomenal number of legendary broadcasters coming back to Motown Sept. 24 for this historic gathering. Many radio stars who never even worked at local stations are anxious to attend because of the rich heritage of Detroit radio, known far and wide across America.
Guests are coming from Boston to Seattle, Naples to northern Michigan. At the risk of being labeled a namedropper, some of the heavy-hitters include:
• Nationally syndicated talk host Joey Reynolds from New York.
• Energetic personality Tom Kent from Cleveland.
• Kipper McGee, the new program director from WJR-AM’s (760) sister station WLS in Chicago.
• Ann Arbor native and Chicago radio icon John Records Landecker.
• From New York-based Sirius Satellite Radio, Southfield native Pat St. John.
• 32-year Big Apple veteran Jim Kerr, who’s originally from Westland.
• Casey Kasem, another nationally known Detroiter, also is expected.
• Local TV personalities such as Diana Lewis, Mort Crim and Chuck Gaidica are scheduled to be on hand.
Even though the event is not open to the public, many of the returning “radio and TV greats” will be in a special to be broadcast on oldies WOMC-FM (104.3). Both my colleague Mike Austerman and I appreciate the radio fans who read this column, but we also know that there are a lot of local radio people who scan our words each week. If you work in local radio or television or related industries and want to attend, please log onto www.vuolovideo.com and click on “reunions.” Time is very tight, but we don’t want any of our friends currently working in local media left out. The event is a benefit for the Gail Purtan Ovarian Cancer Fund.
Sunday was the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and today the effects of Hurricane Katrina cannot be ignored. Radio stations all over our area and throughout the country are banding together to raise amazing amounts of money to help the victims of this national catastrophe. In New Orleans, both Clear Channel and Entercom Communications said “competition be damned” as they joined forces. The Big Easy’s 50,000 watt news-talker, WWL-AM (870), has been doing an incredible job of helping people communicate along the Gulf Coast. The station is now streaming online at www.wwl.com and it’s “riveting radio.”
The National Association of Broadcasters, in partnership with the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army, are distributing 10,000 battery-operated radios to evacuees who thirst for information in the stricken areas. The NAB’s commitment to supplying the radios is in addition to the $100 million that broadcasters have pledged to raise for Katrina relief. Even the two major satellite radio companies, XM and Sirius, have pitched in to help.
There’s some big local news in urban radio. Several weeks ago, listeners heard top-rated Tom Joyner segue “across the street” from pop-urban WMXD-FM (92.3) to urban-hits WDMK-FM (105.9). Since that change, Mix 92.3 has been auditioning morning personalities. Well, the “mothership” Clear Channel, in concert with Inner City Radio, will syndicate popular African-American funnyman Steve Harvey to do morning radio in major markets throughout the country. In Detroit, that makes Harvey the new morning drive-time host on 92.3 FM, pitting Harvey directly against Joyner. We’ll be watching the ratings on this situation closely.
If you were one of the 111,000 plus who packed The Big House in Ann Arbor for that exciting Michigan vs. Notre Dame game Saturday, you may also have been one of the thousands who took along a radio headset so you could stay tuned to the U-M Football Network. Whether you listen on “The Big Stick” WJR or local affiliate sports WTKA-AM (1050), the team of Frank Beckmann and Jim Brandstatter is hard to beat. Brandstatter has a new book, “Tales From Michigan Stadium, Vol. II” (Sports Publishing, $19.95), which is a follow-up to his first edition. At less than 200 pages, it’s an easy read and well worth your time — especially if you’re a fan of Michigan and Brandy’s colorful commentary on the broadcasts. It’s available at most major bookstores and online at www.umalumni.com.
For fans of the “Brandy & Bo Show” on WJR, sorry to report the program will not be on the air this season. Former coach Bo Schembechler, now a young 76, is scaling back on his media obligations.
Art Vuolo writes a radio column for The Oakland Press. E-mail him at www.vuolovideo.com.