Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, October 16, 2005
By: Art Vuolo
Talk about a quarterback sneak. Late Thursday, personality WJR-AM (760) dumped the Wolverines and picked up the Spartans as the station inked a five-year deal to broadcast Michigan State football and basketball games beginning next fall. University of Michigan officials didn’t see the play coming — they’d been negotiating to keep U-M on The Great Voice of the Great Lakes “and we thought we had a deal,” said a disappointed Michigan athletic director Bill Martin, who first heard about the change on WJR radio.
’JR apparently saw Green — or more green, as it were — coming from East Lansing. Though no money figure’s been revealed, the deal was sweeter to go with MSU rather than continue to broadcast UM games on ’JR, which the station has done since 1976. Locally, MSU games have been heard on sports WXYT-AM (1270). You can bet that Rich Homberg, general manager for news WWJ-AM (950) and hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1) is running like an Olympic track star to Ann Arbor with an offer they can’t refuse. Stay tuned for the second half.
In another surprise move, Chris Felcyn from public radio WDET-FM (101.9), has jumped from his long-running Sunday morning “Listening Room” show over to host middays at classical/jazz WRCJFM (90.9) when they go local and live next month. Classical station veteran Jack Goggin also has signed up to do fill-in at ’RCJ when needed. Why don’t they just reclaim the old WQRS-FM call-letters? They’re available.
After extensive separate conversations with Gregg Henson and Michelle McKormick, I’ve gained a great deal of perspective regarding the radio debacle which led to Henson’s demise on WKRK-FM. I also spoke, at length, with Tic Tak, the night jock on top 40 WKQI-FM (95.5) who could not have been kinder and more understanding about the entire situation. Henson admits what he said was bad judgment on his part, but it’s amazing how intolerant station management has become. Recent FCC changes and fines have greatly changed the radio industry. One look at his Web site (www.gregghenson.com) and it’s evident he has a huge following. Perhaps he’ll resurface soon.
Speaking of Tic Tak, the popular Channel 955 night jammer has a Friday night feature that you need to hear to believe. Frankly I’ve heard it and am still not sure how to describe a strange character by the name of “Mr. Positive.” He offers encouragement, via poetry, to the mostly teen and young adult audience. Make a note to check it out between 8 and 8:30 p.m. next Friday night and see if you can figure it out. I’m still workin’ on it.
The biggest station owner locally, Clear Channel, has the industry buzzing over the recent firing of two program directors for accepting “pay for play” better known as payola. Detroit manager Dave Pugh assures me he’s running a clean ship and it was no one under his command. The two were from New York’s WWPR and San Diego’s KHTZ. As previously mentioned there’s little, if any, “wiggle room” left in the business.
Click On: The popular ABC TV show “Lost” has infected the J.J. & Lynne morning show on classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7). Joined by listeners, the duo compares notes and theories on a new Internet blog. Check it out at jjandlynne.blogspot.com ... Public WDET-FM (101.9) is now offering “on demand” podcasting and a streaming archive service. Learn more at www.wdetfm.org ... Remember Crazy Al from WPON-AM (1460)? He’s offering his 8-11 a.m. Internet oldies show to terrestrial and/or satellite radio. Tune in at www.industrialinfo.com.
Unfinished business regarding the Detroit Radio Reunion: Former Keener 13 owner Nellie Knorr, a special guest at the event, recently suffered a heart attack, so keep her in your thoughts. Better news — see dozens of photos of the reunion and its many attendees at www.vuolovideo.com. Just click on “reunions.” That’s also where to go to get audio and video of the reunion and the oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) broadcast about it that day. Too bad no one from Fox 2, Local 4 or Channel 7 showed up to give this star-studded fund-raiser even 20 seconds of news coverage. A sad commentary, indeed.
Set Your Dials: For the hits of World War II on Tommy Stark’s Wurlitzer organ on “Somewhere in Time” at 6 p.m. tonight on WMUZ-FM (103.5).