Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, December 4, 2005
By: Mike Austerman
Now that it’s officially the Christmas season, let’s dive right into a bunch of holiday happenings up and down your radio dial:
First up, last week’s mall crawl by Jim Harper and gang of soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1) netted a total of 18,347 new unwrapped toys, $20,385.25 in cash donations, and $2,768 from the sale of Magic 105.1 bracelets toward the 2005 USMC Toys for Tots drive. Each year, the men and women of the Magic Morning Show compete to collect the most toys. This year, the women won, forcing the men to get their legs waxed during Friday morning’s broadcast. Aren’t you glad this is radio and not TV?
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Top 40 WKQI-FM (95.5), also a big supporter of the Toys for Tots campaign, encouraged listeners to help “Stuff a Bus” (or two ... or seven ...) full of those ever-popular new, unwrapped toys. Channel 955 evening jock Tic Tak gamely braved the elements and spent last week living in and broadcasting his 7-11 p.m. weeknight show from a bus parked at Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights, attempting to break last year’s record of seven stuffed buses. And a partridge in a pear tree.
The Mojo in Morning crew at WKQI also ran into a bit of a speed bump with its latest Phone Scams CD. Seems the cover had depicted a picture of Spam luncheon meat — with the ‘p’ replaced with a ‘c’ in an obvious play on words. But Spam manufacturer Hormel got word of the artwork and threatened to sue to protect its trademark, forcing a quick cover-up job. You can get your hands on the unSpammed version for $10.95 at www.mojointhemorning.com or at area Post Bars. Order by Dec. 12 and you’ll have it in time for a stocking stuffer.
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Flutist and smooth jazz WVMV-FM (98.7) morning show host Alexander Zonjic will perform two holiday concerts to benefit poor children in Nicaragua who live in garbage dumps. Helping Zonjic are special guests Joe McBride, Penny Wells and a 70-piece flute choir under the direction of Barbara Ogar. “It’s going to be something spectacular with a flute choir of this size,” Zonjic says. The first concert is 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Ford Center for the Arts, 5801 Michigan Ave., Dearborn. Tickets are $25, $35 and $100; the third price includes an afterglow with the artists. Call (313) 943-2354. The second concert is 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at the Chrysler Theatre, 201 Riverside Drive West, in Windsor. Tickets are $35-50 Canadian and $100 for the afterglow. Call (519) 353-6579.
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You’ve no doubt heard Marty Bufalini hosting traffic reports on all-news WWJ-AM (950). But he’s also written a radio play based on the movie classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The premise is that you’re in a 1940s-era radio studio watching a live production of the script. Bufalini developed the play as an homage to the days of radio dramas, complete with microphones and costumes from the 1940s. About 90 percent of the sound effects also are produced live on stage. Bufalini promises “a unique, family-oriented fun take on a great and familiar holiday story” in the two shows, at 4 and 7 p.m. Dec. 30 at the Fries Auditorium of the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, 32 Lakeshore in Grosse Pointe Farms.
Tickets require a minimum donation of $15 ($10 for seniors and students) at the Grosse Pointe Theatre hot line at (313) 881-4004.
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Darren Davis, the program director of soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) and regional vice president of programming for Clear Channel Detroit, is leaving town to take on a similar role with Clear Channel in Chicago. What you need to know about Davis: He’s the main proponent of the early start to Christmas music on WNIC, which this year kicked off Nov. 1.
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Set Your Dials: “Somewhere in Time” host Tom Wilson gets in the spirit of the season with a Big Band holiday celebration featuring Glenn Miller at 6 p.m. tonight on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... reporter Daniel Zwerdling investigates the death of a detainee in a half-hour segment on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” dinnertime news show Monday ... adult pop CKWW-AM (580), which starts its all-Christmas music for 12 days beginning Dec. 15, also is featuring holiday-themed episodes of classic radio shows on “When Radio Was” at 11 p.m. weeknights throughout December. From the comedy of Jack Benny, Charlie McCarthy and Burns & Allen to the drama of “A Christmas Carol,” the radio will be aglow with memories of Christmas past. Visit www.am580radio.com for the schedule.
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Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.