Metro Detroit: April 2005 Archives

Top 40 WDRQ-FM 93.1 Detroit has ditched the format in favor of a Jack FM clone named "Doug FM" as of this afternoon. Most of the station's air staff, with the exception of morning show host Jay Towers, has been released along with program director Alex Tear and music director Keith Curry. Station general manager Steve Kosbau commented, “We chose the unusual name ‘DOUG-FM’ for the express purpose of letting Southeast Michigan listeners know how different we intend to be from other radio stations in the market. We have developed a new mega-playlist that is unlike anything Southeast Michigan has experienced – more like a packed MP3 player in shuffle mode than a traditional format with fewer tunes, frequently repeated.”

Claiming "We Play Everything", station’s new format aims to provide one-stop listening with pop songs that previously could only be heard only by searching many different stations in Detroit. Core artists, spanning different popular musical genres across the past four decades, will include The Beatles, U2, Matchbox 20, Fleetwood Mac, Prince, The Police, Madonna, Bob Seger, Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow, Dave Matthews Band, Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, and a vast array of others. Many of these artists have received spins in the first 3 hours of the new station's existance, which has featured tons of liners, few stop sets, and a jockless presentation.

This is the first full signal Detroit FM to make a big move since 106.7 changed from Country to Rock 4 1/2 years ago.

WDRQ has a long legacy in town- the past 9 years the station has been primarily focused on various subsets of Contemporary Hit radio after moving to the format with a dance lean in 1996. WDRQ first arrived on the 93.1 frequency in 1972 when Detroit's first FM talk station was launched. The station then moved to a Top 40 format, followed by forays into Disco and Urban. In 1985, the WDRQ calls were set aside for a run as Soft Adult Contemporary WLTI 'The Light'. If this is indeed the next chapter in 93.1's history, it'll be interesting to see if they can make the WDRQ calls work with 'Doug'.

The Adult Hits / eclectic "Jack-FM" type formats have been finding new homes in many large cities across the USA in recent months with launches in Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Indianapolis among others. Sure looks like this is radio's 'next big thing'... now we'll find out if works here.

 

The Oakland Press - April 2 2005

 

By: Mike Austerman

Metro Detroit got a new radio station on April Fool's Day as the former Top 40 outlet WDRQ-FM (93.1) was switched to a format playing a wider range of music.

With the exception of morning show host Jay Towers, most of the station's on-air staff was let go, as was program director Alex Tear and music director Keith Curry. Initially, the station was running without disc jockeys.

Most WDRQ personnel were surprised by the move, including staffers at The Palace of Auburn Hills doing a remote broadcast Friday for the Pistons playoff ticket sales.

"Their on-site people couldn't figure out why the station was playing such different music over their speakers at the remote. A few minutes later, they got a call from someone who said everyone was fired, (and) they bolted out of here," said a Palace official who asked not to be named.

Dubbed "Doug FM," the new format of the ABC-owned station offers "core artists" spanning different popular musical genres across the past four decades. The artists include The Beatles, U2, Matchbox 20, Fleetwood Mac, Prince, The Police, Madonna, Bob Seger, Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow, The Dave Matthews Band, Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, Steely Dan and others.

"We chose the unusual name 'Doug FM' for the express purpose of letting southeast Michigan listeners know how different we intend to be from other radio stations in the market," station general manager Steve Kosbau said Friday.

"We have developed a new mega-playlist that is unlike anything southeast Michigan has experienced - more like a packed MP3 player in shuffle mode than a traditional (rock music) format with fewer tunes, frequently repeated," he said.

With a wide range of eclectic adult hits, such formats are one of the hot new gimmicks in the radio business. Known nationally as "Jack FM," these formats have been popping up in many cities recently; stations in Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia and Indianapolis have switched.

If the change holds, it will mark the first full-signal Detroit FM station to switch formats since classic rock hits WDTW-FM (106.7) jumped from country music four-and-a-half years ago.

WDRQ has a long legacy in metro Detroit, playing varieties of contemporary hits for the past nine years. The station was Detroit's first FM talk station when it was launched in 1972.

It then moved to a Top 40 format, followed by a disco and urban music format. In 1985, the WDRQ call letters were shelved for several years as the station played soft rock hits as WLTI "The Light."

Also Friday, oldies station WOMC-FM (104.3) scrapped the planned "You Don't Know Jack" gimmick it had been teasing all week.

The station had planned to play seven hours of Christmas music as an April Fool's Day stunt but canceled the idea after Pope John Paul II's health deteriorated.


Staff writer Gary Graff contributed to this report.

 

While everyone in town has been focused on the changes at FM 93.1, Christian WMUZ-FM 103.5 rolled out a new morning show today.

Hosted by Jon Culbert and Rhonda Hart, the folks at Crawford-owned WMUZ are hoping the show will be a destination for Detroiters looking for a spiritually uplifting experience, wrapped up in a dynamic and entertaining morning program. The new show will feature contemporary Christian music and features like comedy segments, news, weather, and traffic, along with guest appearances by WMUZ talk show host Bob Dutko, authors, celebrity newsmakers, consumer experts, Christian recording artists, and Christian broadcasters. It'll air Monday-Saturday from 6-10am.

Jon Culbert, a self-proclaimed “radio geek”, got bit by the radio bug as a student Port Huron Northern High School when he worked for the school's radio station, WORW-FM. After working in Country and News/Talk radio, Jon is excited to work in Christian contemporary radio at WMUZ. “In Christian radio I can express, more fully than ever before, the personality that God created and the convictions I have as a believer,” he says.

Rhonda Hart has over 25 years of experience in radio and is well known in the Detroit area, having worked on-air for WABX, WRIF, WYCD, WOMC, and WCSX. “After enjoying a rewarding career in Detroit radio, I’m excited to join WMUZ, where I’ll have the opportunity to openly share my faith,” Rhonda says. Her upbeat personality and enthusiasm for her faith are evident as she shares her special talents with spiritual insight and an energy born of her love for God.

As with any new morning show in this town, getting any ears to change ingrained habits will be a tough thing to accomplish. Their debut today definitely had some mixed blessings -- the death of Pope John Paul II was on the minds of many Christians, but the format change at WDRQ overshadowed everything else going on in local radio this past weekend.

 

WRCJ 90.9 Detroit to make its move

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It's finally thisclose to being official: On July 1st, WRCJ will move to a classical and jazz format, nearly one year after owner Detroit Public Schools announced that they would turn over operations of the station to a third party due to budget concerns. The new operator will be Detroit Educational Television, owner of WTVS-TV Channel 56, once that organization gives final approval of the 5-year agreement. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The planned programming for WRCJ is classical from 5am-7pm and mainstream jazz from 7pm-5am on weekdays, most of it coming from a satellite services. Weekend programs might include local gospel shows and audio from Channel 56's local public information shows. WRCJ has been operating on a limited basis (8am-5pm weekday) since late last summer when the Detroit schools announced plans to turn over operations of the station beginning October 1st, 2004. Over 6 months after that self-imposed deadline, DPS has finally taken the next step with this announcement.

Channel 56 plans on operating WRCJ through listener support/pledges as well as through foundation grants. "I believe there's a considerable market out there for people who love these two formats. We call it 'Mozart to Monk and Bach again'", said Robert Scott of WTVS, who become the station's manager. He further commented that there was a possibility that the station could have a live classical music host during morning drive and also provide shows featuring the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Detroit Jazz Festival.

Detroit hasn't enjoyed its own classical station since the 1997 change of WQRS-FM 105.1 to Modern Rock and has been without a traditional jazz station since 1989 when WJZZ-FM 105.9 moved to an urban format. CBC's Radio Two (89.9) programming from Windsor, ON has provided an outlet for classical fans since then, but that station hasn't gained much community support across the river. On Friday, officials with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra welcomed the news. "Classical music and jazz is a great choice to have back in our market," commented spokeswoman Jill Woodward. Channel 56 plans to operate WRCJ from the broadcasting facilities of Detroit's new performing arts high school located behind Orchestra Hall, home of the DSO.

 

Mark Scott, once one of Detroit's most controversial and opinionated talk radio hosts, died April 24th of an apparent heart attack at the age of 69. Mark came to Detroit nearly 20 years ago from Dayton, OH and was a top-rated talk host on WXYT-AM (1270) during its days as a talk station. His show heavily focused on the Larry Nevers / Walter Budson police beating of Malice Green back in 1993—a topic that never seemed to grow old with Scott.

A former Marine, he often broadcast his show while wearing military fatigues and talked about a possible government conspiracy to take away the right to bear arms. His trademark exclaimation "Excelsior!" struck a cord with listeners, many of whom would use word as both a greeting and sign of solidarity with Scott's political positions. In a sad ironic twist, the man who ran the control board for Scott’s WXYT show was Dan Koti. Known most recently as Rod Holden, traffic reporter heard on WWJ-AM (950), Koti died just a week before Scott at age 42. After WXYT, Scott hosted his program via the Internet and also did some work for the Michigan Talk Radio Network.

The funeral will be held at 7:00pm Friday, April 29 at the Griffin Funeral Home, 42600 Ford Road in Canton Township.

 

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Metro Detroit category from April 2005.

Metro Detroit: March 2005 is the previous archive.

Metro Detroit: May 2005 is the next archive.

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