Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, October 30, 2005
By: Art Vuolo
The chatter continues about the defection of news-talk WJR-AM (760) from the Wolverines to the Spartans and what the future might hold. Many readers seem more concerned about the current broadcast team of Frank Beckmann, Jim Brandstatter and Steve Courtney staying together than which station winds up carrying the games. For the record, ’JR signed a five year deal to air Spartan games, beginning next year. U-M fans just want it be an AM and/or an FM station with a strong enough signal to make games easy to pick up both locally and out in Ann Arbor. Got suggestions about which station(s) should get to broadcast U-M football and basketball games? E-mail ’em to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another big story garnering far too much press concerns who’s replacing Howard Stern on nearly 30 Infinity stations, including hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1), when the legendary shock jock departs for Sirius satellite radio. (Not helping was that conference call last week in which a couple of Infinity corporate honchos sounded like their greatest concern was the stockholders rather than the listeners.) When the dust settled, it was revealed that comic Adam Carolla would air on Infinity’s West Coast stations, rocker David Lee Roth would get the East Coast, and a number of Midwest outlets will get a new guy named Rover.
Well, clear the doghouse and refill the water bowl, folks, as Detroit gets Shane French, a boyish-looking young guy who calls himself Rover. He’s radio’s current “flavor of the month” and he’ll relocate from Cleveland to his native Chicago to do the shows. Incidentally, the last syndicated show out of Chicago heard on WKRK was Steve Dahl, who was dubbed “Steve Dull.” And that saga did not have a happy ending. One syndicator I spoke to noted, “You don’t want to be the show that follows Stern. You want to be the show that follows the show that follows Stern — and fails.” He’s right. Stern’s last live show is set for Dec. 16 and Rover starts on Jan. 3. Good luck.
The new moniker for WKRK — “Free FM” — could be a knock at both subscription-based satellite radio and the McDonaldization of radio, as stations across the country are truly sounding the same these days. Also, as I read about ABC-TV late-nighter Jimmy Kimmel acting as a consultant for the new spate of morning shows, I thought, “Why?” With so many talented and creative radio broadcasters currently unemployed, this makes no sense at all.
With Jay Towers now on ’KRK’s Motor City Middays show, some of you have asked whatever became of his former radio partner, Rachael Hunter. Amazingly, this talented woman has yet to be picked up by a local station. And I don’t think she and Jay are the close friends they once were, either.
Last month, oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) morning man Dick Purtan emceed an unforgettable Motor City Broadcast Reunion at the Sheraton Hotel in Novi. Now, cable TV viewers in select parts of Oakland County can tune in to the event as Bright House Network subscribers in Farmington, Farmington Hills and Novi airs the event on Channel 12 from 8-10 p.m. Saturdays and Mondays over the next few weeks. Learn more at www. swoccstudios.com. Plans are also being made to release the gala on a special two-hour DVD with part of the proceeds going to the Gail Purtan Ovarian Cancer Fund. Details coming soon — and in time for the holidays.
Sad to report that early 1970s “Big 8” jock Hal Martin from variety CKLW-AM (800) has died of cancer 58 in Dallas. His real name was Michael Spears and he’d hoped to make last month’s radio reunion, but couldn’t. He’ll be missed. More on his career at www.michaelspears.com.
Pop adult WDVD-FM (96.3) morning guy Blaine Fowler reports that the station’s recent radiothon raised $26,524 to fight breast cancer — up from $14,000 last year. Good going, guys — and all who pledged.
In other benefits news, tickets just went on sale for the country WYCD-FM (99.5) Country Cares For Hurricane Relief Holiday Concert on Dec. 8 at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Martina McBride, LeAnn Rimes and the 2005 “American Idol” winner Carrie Underwood are scheduled to perform. Learn more at www.countrycaresconcert.com.
Set Your Dials: For the music of Grand Rapids’ Beltline Big Band and their Glen Miller favorites at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... Standards CKWWAM (580) will air the original “War of the Worlds” at 10 p.m. Monday — Halloween night. This is the radio play that sparked panic when broadcast by Orson Welles on Oct. 30, 1938. It’s a classic, not to be missed.