Entries in On The Radio Columns Category

The Oakland Press - On The Radio, January 7 2005

 

By: Mike Austerman


Another year, another radio controversy.

The National Organization for Women (NOW) and the National Research Center for Women and Families are upset over the "Breast Christmas Ever" promotion at Top 40 WKQI-FM (95.5). As part of a contest, 'KQI and three other stations across the country asked women to submit essays explaining why all they wanted for Christmas was a pair of larger breasts.

The women's groups claim that the contest is "promoting potentially dangerous plastic surgery and marketing unrealistic and unhealthy images of women."

As part of the contest, the winners had to allow the stations to show before-and-after photos on their Web sites plus sign a liability release absolving them and owner Clear Channel, along with the plastic surgeon, from any responsibility.

Clear Channel doesn't seem concerned about the flap, saying they didn't sponsor the contests that originated locally. Over at 'KQI, program director Dom Theodore dismissed the controversy, noting that TV reality shows are "giving away these procedures every week." Saying listeners support the contest, he added,"I don't think the NOW organization represents the views of mainstream America."

So far, NOW claims that more than 3,400 complaints have been filed with the FCC about the promotion. However, the FCC doesn't regulate contests except for indecency and ensuring that contest rules are followed and disclosed on-air.

As far as I can tell, this contest breaks no FCC rules, so it doesn't seem like an FCC problem. And if entering the contest is totally voluntary and the contestants understand the risks beforehand, what's the problem?

It's not like WKQI invented cosmetic surgery. And where were the complaints when the same contest was run last year?

Strange days indeed in the radio biz.

Saturday would have been Elvis Presley's 70th birthday. But instead of celebrating, oldies stations across the country have been changing their formats and giving up on playing the King of Rock 'n' Roll and other artists from the pre-Beatles era.

It seems that the Oldies radio format may be showing the same signs of a slow decline as classical stations did in the early 1990s. Since Christmas, at least six oldies stations in the United States have either moved to "classic hits" (a combo of oldies and classic rock) or something completely different.

Industry experts predict more will change in the next few years as "oldies" becomes a dirty word to programmers and advertisers due to the aging listener base.

Scott Westerman, the curator of Keener13.com, offers a different take on why ratings are down at many oldies outlets: "Oldies stations in the time of corporate programming are unimaginative and overexposed. I'm so sick of the phrase 'good times and great oldies.' Nobody on Keener or CK ever said that.

"And the playlists are so tight that hearing a deep cut from Bob Seger's 'Cameo Parkway' is about as unlikely as hearing the Rationals during an all-request lunch hour. Even getting these tunes into the testing rotations is nearly impossible. And even the most die-hard fans tire of hearing 'My Girl,' 'Pretty Woman' and 'Louie Louie' after years of power rotation."

Here in metro Detroit, our own WOMC-FM (104.3) has consistently been one of the nation's highest-performing oldies stations; starting its day with morning man Dick Purtan has no doubt helped keep it on a steady course.

But even WOMC has changed its overall sound in nearly 20 years as an oldies station. Gone are the days when you could regularly hear Buddy Holly and Elvis instead Jefferson Airplane and Fleetwood Mac. Thank heavens the amount of Motown music on 'OMC doesn't seem to have changed much.

It'll be interesting to see if the only place for "good times and great oldies" will be on satellite radio in the not-too-distant future.

Ch-ch-changes: In a return to Detroit, Skip Dillard has been named as operations manager for urban WDTJ-FM (105.9), adult urban WDMK-FM (102.7), and talk/gospel WCHB-AM (1200). In 1995-96, he was at adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3), coming from San Francisco and Buffalo, where he worked as a program director for urban outlets.

In a related move, WCHB program director Lance Panton has exited and WDTJ program director Spudd takes over there on an interim basis.


Mike Austerman is the founder of Michiguide.com and has covered radio for The Daily Oakland Press for three years.

 

The Oakland Press - On The Radio, January 14 2005

 

By Art Vuolo


So much news, so little space. Just got back from the huge Consumer Electronics Show out in Las Vegas in time for the opening of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where many of your favorite personalities will be doing their shows live.

Stations with the largest presence at Cobo will be the talkers. Personality WJR-AM (760) will be inside the GM exhibit, while news WWJ-AM (950) will again be in the lobby area along with sports sister WXYT-AM (1270). Also in the outer lobby, always nicely air-conditioned at this time of the year, will be edgy talker WKRK-FM (97.1).

Meanwhile, station Web sites and broadcasts will tell you where your favorite music stations will be at the show.

From 6:30-8 p.m. tonight, WJR's Paul W. Smith will let you listen in on the special Charity Preview, which'll repeat between 10 and 11:30 p.m. From 9-11:30 a.m. Saturday, listeners can "see the car show" with Steve Stewart, while on Sunday, the 'JR lineup of the Real Estate & Business Insiders (9 a.m.-noon) and the Home Improvement Show with Murray Gula and John McCulloch (noon-3 p.m.) will air from there. During the week, Frank Beckmann will originate live from Cobo from 9-11:30 a.m. and Dick Haefner will host the "Auto Show Special" from 6-7 p.m.

At oldies WOMC-FM (104.3), Dick Purtan and his people air a show preview from 6-8 tonight from the Ford exhibit, while Tom Ryan and Matinee Mindy do the weekday afternoon duties and Bob Vandergrift, Dana Masucci and Rick Hunter handle weekends.

Though the weather was lousy, it didn't keep an intimate gathering of more than 140,000 people from 115 countries from flocking to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. In fact, it was a chance to Meet the Flockers. (Sorry.)

In four days, you can barely scratch the surface of this enormous trade show. It covers millions of square feet and the relentless rain and some snow outside made getting around interesting.

Most prevalent at the CES last week were flat-screen TVs, which were everywhere, and satellite radio, which had a substantial presence. On press day, XM proclaimed it was the "big dog" having just topped 3.2 million subscribers, while Sirius had new CEO Mel Karmazin on hand with huge displays in two halls. Troy-based Delphi was there with a slew of new safety innovations and dazzling new electronic toys for your car - besides making satellite radios for both XM and Sirius.

Meanwhile, more terrestrial radio personalities are making their programs available on "the jukebox from outer space," among them, Dr. Laura and G. Gordon Liddy.

This past week, several of the trade publications headlined that "regular radio" needs to fight back with aggressive marketing, and the radio industry is doing just that with a new $28 million national ad campaign that says, "Radio: You hear it here first."

The fact is, over-the-air radio reaches 200 million-plus people in the United States, while satellite radio has about 4.3 million subscribers between two providers, yet terrestrial broadcasters already are starting to panic.

That's insane. XM and Sirius are simply another choice for listener, offering much programming that simply is not available on commercial radio.

At the booth for iBiquity, the company that started HD (high definition) radio, they hosted an impressive roster of major broadcasting executives from Clear Channel, Radio One, Entercom and NPR. Greater Media was represented by our own Tom Bender, the veep and general manager of rock WRIF-FM (101.1), soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1) and classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7), which are embracing HD radio. That technology makes AM radio sound like FM and FM sound like CDs - and provides song info digitally.

Now we need the radios to pick up these new and better signals.

Locally at WCSX, Jim Johnson and Lynne Woodison's third annual Stone Soup Project is being launched with the goal of renovating a classic GM muscle car.

Funds from raffling off the car when finished go to Woodison's favorite charity, the Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan. Learn more at www.wcsx.com.

Over at classic hits WDTW-FM (106.7), known as The Drive, the pre-recorded Randi West (middays) has been replaced by live and local Heather McGregor, who came from a Battle Creek station. Good move, program director John Trapane. Now, how about Bob and Tom in the morning?

Follow-Up: Soft rock WMGC, best known as Magic, wrapped up its extensive holiday campaign by giving away $50,000. The winner was from Dearborn Heights, but all of the runners-up got packages filled with Magic goodies.

Stay warm this weekend. Cuddle up to a nice toasty radio, perhaps an old one that still has tubes.


Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

The Oakland Press - On The Radio, January 21 2005

 

By: Mike Austerman


Jerry Springer on the radio? Yup.

The former politician turned trashy TV show host has started a new career as a straight-ahead radio talk host. His show, starting next month, is one of several new offerings on talk WDTW-AM (1310), which revamped its entire weekday lineup Thursday and also changed its call sign from WXDX.

Gone are offerings from the Michigan Talk Radio network and other syndicated shows in favor of Springer's new show (it'll air 9 a.m.-noon), along with Al Franken (noon-3 p.m.), Ed Schultz (3-6 p.m.), Randi Rhodes (6-10 p.m.) and Mike Malloy (10 p.m.-1 a.m.). The 6-9 a.m. morning show is hosted locally by Detroit-native Nancy Skinner, who was last at talk powerhouse WLS-AM Chicago.

The move to a progressive/liberal lineup of shows is a great move for WXDX and will give listeners a solid alternative to more conservative programming on other area talk stations.

The last piece of the puzzle to success? Adding Joey Reynolds' live show overnights instead of airing shows that were taped earlier in the day.

I'll take my crow with ketchup, please.

In November, I complained in this space about the early switch to full-time Christmas music by WNIC-FM (100.3) and WMGC-FM (105.1) and solicited comments from you to see if you shared my feelings about the early barrage of holiday cheer.

Your response was overwhelming - almost everyone agreed that switching to 100 percent Christmas music the first week of November was too much. Many claimed they wouldn't be listening at all in protest.

Know what? Some of you must have been listening. And in droves, too.

Y'know what else? WNIC, the station that switched first, had the biggest success. In the fall ratings for listeners age 12 and above, WNIC rose from 5.3 last fall to 5.8 this fall and moved into the top spot among all area stations. WNIC's bump looks even better when comparing its summer number of 3.5.

WMGC actually didn't get any year-to-year bump, slipping to 3.9 from last fall's 4.0 when they were only playing a mix of Christmas music until just before the holiday. But they, too, increased over their summer ratings number, which was 3.6.

Next year, I think I'll write about what a great idea it is to hear Christmas music the day after Halloween. After all, if they play it, people will listen - no matter what snarky radio columnists say.

Looking at the rest of the ratings, we find the usual suspects on top. Following WNIC is adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3), all-news WWJ-AM (950), and news-talk WJR-AM (760).

And Drew & Mike at rock WRIF-FM (101.1) once again were the top morning show, followed by Roberta Jasina and Joe Donovan on WWJ; Dick Purtan on oldies WOMC-FM (104.3); Tom Joyner on WMXD; and Paul W. Smith on WJR.

If the voice you heard yesterday and this morning on country WYCD-FM (99.5) sounded familiar, that's because it belongs to Dr. Don Carpenter, who was originally with the station during its days as FM Talk WOW-FM in January 1993 and stayed onboard to host afternoons and then mornings when WYCD was born in May 1993.

Dr. Don left town in May 2000 following "creative differences" between Carpenter and station bosses over the amount of blue humor being used on his program. After a stop in Cincinnati, Carpenter's appearances this week are apparently a try-out of sorts to see if there might a more permanent return.

I'm betting we'll be hearing more from Dr. Don soon.

What do you call it when radio personalities are paid to promote things and they don't disclose that they're being paid?

Some would call it payola - and that's what writer and pundit Armstrong Williams is being accused of after he got caught accepting money from the Bush administration to promote the No Child Left Behind Act on radio and TV without acknowledging that he was being paid to do so.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell has called for an investigation into the allegations.


Mike Austerman is the founder of Michiguide.com and has covered radio for The Daily Oakland Press for three years.

 

The Oakland Press - On The Radio, January 28 2005

 

By: Art Vuolo


This week, there have been countless tributes to the late Johnny Carson, a man who began, like so many great TV stars, on radio in Nebraska as a youth. Even the audio from the "Potato Chip Lady" was funny on the radio. Wayne Stevens, afternoon host at nostalgia /oldies CKWW-AM (580), actually interviewed Carson back in 1980.

That reminds us how we are losing many of the people who through the airwaves have touched our lives in ways often difficult to explain.

Who of us will ever forget the headlines when J.P. McCarthy of news-talk WJR-AM (760) died? That was Aug. 16, 1995 - a year that also saw the loss of news icon Byron MacGregor of CKLW-AM (800) and WWJ-AM (950); Nick Arema of oldies WOMC-FM (104.3); WJR's Fat Bob Taylor; and the legendary Tom Clay of CKLW fame. In the last five years, we also said goodbye to Dick Osgood and Paul Winter of WXYZ-AM (1270) and Gene Taylor and Mark "Doc" Andrews of WOMC.

Their passing is among the reasons why a big Detroit radio reunion is being planned for September. Details to follow.

Many of our favorites will be difficult to replace. Broadcasters still living, such as Paul Harvey, Rush Limbaugh and even Sean Hannity, are good examples. Interestingly, WJR morning host Paul W. Smith has substituted for all three of them; the week before last, he filled in for Harvey, the most listened-to man on radio.

Speaking of Smith, he also has been nominated for local news-talk personality of the year at the upcoming Radio & Records Talk Radio Seminar in March. Good luck Paul - I'm hoping the "W" stands for winner. He is one.

Fans of Tony Trupiano, formerly on talk WXDX-AM (1310), which recently changed its call letters to WDTW, will want to know that he has resurfaced 2-6 p.m. on talk WAAM-AM (1600) in Ann Arbor.

Oddly enough, he was replaced on 1310 by progressive talker Ed Schultz; on WAAM, Schultz is replaced by Trupiano.

Schultz has been described as the "liberal Rush" and is certainly worth a listen, 3-6 p.m., regardless of your political lean.

Other WXDX favorites such as Glenn Beck and Phil Hendrie can now only be heard on satellite radio. When 1310 flipped to a more Democratic and liberal format, it also swapped its call letters - and they're the same as its sister FM station at 106.7, which is known as "The Drive."

For those of you who like your rock 'n' roll 1980s style, Steve Black will serve it up 7 p.m.-midnight Saturday evenings at rock WRIF-FM (101.1). The program will be known as "Amped on the '80s" - and it should be good to the last rock.

The man who's been rockin' The Riff for more than three decades, Arthur Penhallow, has kicked off his 19th annual Maui Time Giveaway, with winners able to escape the winter cold with a free trip to Hawaii.

Your aging radio reporter can remember vividly when the Grand Poobah worked as a Top 40 jock, under the name of Cicero Grimes, at WNRZ-FM (102.9) in Ann Arbor.

He also hopes I never find my tape of him in those days.

Ever since Tom Force exited WOMC, Bob Vandergriff has been filling in, but now weekender Dana Masucci takes the job permanently. She is talented and will do a fine job.

Tomorrow night, Specs Howard will celebrate his 35th anniversary of operating the prestigious Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts in America.

More than 10,000 students have passed through its halls, and of the 35 graduates going into its Hall of Fame, 33 of them are coming in from all over the country to toast Specs, his son, Jon Liebman, Dick Kernen and others on this momentous occasion.

Kudos to all!


Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

The Oakland Press - On The Radio, February 4 2005

 

By: Mike Austerman

Classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7) morning hosts Jim Johnson and Lynne Woodison will be looking for a little shut-eye later this morning after they put the wraps on the 14th annual WCSX Radiothon at 10 a.m.

The duo has been broadcasting live from Oakland Mall's center court since 6 a.m. Thursday, raising money and awareness for the Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan. Before this week, they'd raised more than $2.3 million for CLF with the annual event.

Also on the JJ and Lynne beat, this year's model for their Stone Soup Project car has been selected. It's a 1965 Pontiac GTO convertible. See how much work needs done by scoping the photos at www.wcsx.com.

And on the Oakland Mall beat, country WYCD-FM (99.5) will take its turn fund-raising there on Thursday and Friday with its sixth annual Country Cares For Kids Radiothon, benefiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

WYCD also has teamed up with area businesses to collect pennies through Tuesday in an effort to collect one million of them before the radiothon. Drop your coppers at any metro Detroit Rio Wraps, Apostle's Tattooing in Taylor and Lou La Riche Chevrolet in Plymouth. Online donations also are being accepted at www.wycd.com.

This year, they hope to top last year's tally of $369,000 - so dig down deep in those couch cushions and drawers and help 'em out.

Detroit native Ed Gordon, whose media career spans 20 years at NBC, Black Entertainment TV and as a correspondent for CBS' "60 Minutes," has launched a daily talk show on National Public Radio.

"News and Notes with Ed Gordon" focuses on news, trends and topical issues of interest and importance to the African-American community.

Unfortunately, the closest station carrying his program is Bay City's WUCX-FM (90.1), too far away for us here. Ah, but if you're computer savvy, NPR offers a daily Webcast of Gordon's show at www.npr.org.

Astute fans of Ann Arbor's public radio WUOM-FM (91.7) have noticed that Todd Mundt has left his role as morning host for the local breaks on NPR's Morning Edition after seven years.

He's still with the station, but is now the chief content officer for Michigan Pubic Media. Translating, that means he'll oversee programming for all of U-M's media outlets.

Bill Poorman is WUOM's new local morning host on an interim basis.

Rare oldies fans rejoice!

Nostalgia/oldies CKWW-AM (580) on Thursday debuted a new call-in request show featuring the music of the 1950s and '60s.

"Jukebox Classics," which used to be on oldies/talk WPON-AM (1460) as "Club 1460," will air 6-8 p.m. every Thursday with hosts "Howling Harry" and "Bel Air Bill" playing your requests from their library of more than 1,400 CDs.

The request line is (313) 298-6080 - and they await your oldies challenge.

You just can't keep some radio guys off the TV.

Nostalgia/oldies CKWW afternoon host Wayne Stevens hosts his 21st Easter Seals Telethon for southwestern Ontario from 5:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday on Channel 9.

One of co-hosts is traffic chopper reporter Capt. Dennis Neubacher of Channel 7 and formerly personality/talk WJR-AM (760).

Set Your Dials: The Big Band bonanza, "Somewhere in Time," returns to the airwaves 6 p.m. Sunday on its new home, Christian WMUZ-FM (103.5). Tune in as host Tom Wilson and sidekick Alison Harris recall the million-sellers of the Glenn Miller Orchestra.


Mike Austerman is the founder of Michiguide.com and has covered radio for The Daily Oakland Press for three years.

 

This fall, big radio names come together

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The Oakland Press - On The Radio, February 11 2005

 

By: Art Vuolo


Monday is Valentine's Day, but those of us who love radio are marking the calendar for Sept. 24 when the third and final Detroit Radio Reunion will take place at the Sheraton Hotel in Novi.

As this public event gets closer, we will have more information here, but organizers - including yours truly - are encouraged by the number of radio stars, past and present, talking about what promises to be one of the biggest such events in the history of the industry.

One reason the reunion is planned for this year is to recognize and share memories with Detroit's radio greats before they're gone. A great number of names have passed away since the last reunion in 1998.

That list is up to about 30, and this past week, we added another - classical music maven Karl Haas, who died Monday at 91.

He was one of the five Detroit personalities inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago, the most recent being Dick Purtan of oldies WOMC-FM (104.3).

Haas' program, "Adventures in Good Music" was a staple on news-talk WJR-AM (760) in the 1960s before he moved on to Cleveland's WCLV. Learn more at www.wclv.com.

Last week, Mike Austerman told you about the 28-hour radiothon at the Oakland Mall hosted by Jim Johnson and Lynne Woodison at classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7). The duo did well, raising an amazing $243,000 to benefit the Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan.

Speaking of that mall, Purtan will hold his Salvation Army Bed & Bread Radiothon there just two weeks from today, on Feb. 25.

At hits WKQI-FM (95.5), Mojo in the Morning has a new cast member as voice character Eric Harthen moves on, making room for newcomer Kyra Dillard from Columbus, Ohio.

Welcome to Motown, Kyra. We'll have to remind you what the two middle letters in Col-UM-bus are.

Public radio WDET-FM (101.9) is the latest station in Detroit to adopt the use of high-definition radio technology. This gives CD-quality sound for people with HD radios. For the rest of us with analog receivers, there will be no noticeable change.

Detroit's home of rock & roll WRIF-FM (101.1) keeps rockin'.

The Riff's evening jock, Meltdown, skated with the Motor City Mechanics hockey team last weekend, and now Riff's presenting great live music until the NHL puck drops - with a third concert on Feb. 24 with the group Disturbed at the Emerald Theatre in Mount Clemens.

Tickets sold out in 6 minutes, so the only way in is to win VIP tickets from the Riff.

Country WYCD-FM (99.5) must have felt that former morning whiz Dr. Don Carpenter passed his recent on-air audition with flying colors, since he's hosting this morning's big St. Jude Radiothon going on through today at the Oakland Mall. Pledge at (800) 832-9393 or at www.wycd.com - and stop by to see Dr. Don and offer him your support.

The radio rumor mill is buzzing that Denny McLain and Eli Zaret will resurface on the local airwaves for a two-man show. Wonder if McLain will only take calls from "cell" phones.

One of Detroit's most successful radio alumni is Casey Kasem, who also hopes to be at the radio reunion this fall.

A new book tracing the history of Kasem's "American Top 40" show, "American Top 40 With Casey Kasem (the 1970's) is available through www.author house.com, by calling (888) 280-7715 or at amazon.com.

Author Pete Battistini has produced a good read for any fan of popular music.

Best line this week: A Detroit caller on the new progressive talk WDTW-AM (1310) joking that the call letters stood for "We Don't Trust 'W.' "

Set your dials: "Somewhere in Time" host Tom Wilson invites you to enjoy the music of jazz band leader Muggsy Spanier at 6 p.m. Sunday on Christian WMUZ-FM (103.5).


Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

WOMC brings big names, raises big bucks

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The Oakland Press - On The Radio, February 18 2005

 

By: Mike Austerman

The Purtan’s People gang at Oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) has had a busy week. Today’s guest is 70’s TV star Valerie Bertinelli (the object of many teenage boys crushes), who will be promoting an upcoming “One Day at a Time” reunion special on Ch. 62 next Tuesday. She follows guests Tom Selleck and Mary Hart from earlier this week. And don’t forget, the big Salvation Army Bed and Bread Club Radiothon will be taking place live next Friday Feb. 25 from Oakland Mall in Troy.

With apologies to all the outstanding efforts that other stations put forth to help charities, this one is easily my favorite. Maybe it’s because all of the money raised stays right here in metro Detroit. Or because you can be sure that every dollar you donate is used to help those in desperate need of food and shelter. And maybe it’s because of all the personal effort that Dick Purtan and his staff put into this one huge day. Let’s all do our part this year and help break last year’s incredible record of $1,530,836. Here’s an eye-popping number for ya: Since 1988, Purtan’s People and the folks of metro Detroit have helped raise over $8.5 million for the cause. There just isn’t enough space to say all good things that need to be said about this effort.

Over at country WYCD-FM (99.5), they tallied up the donations from their radiothon last week, and $510,529 was raised for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. You also cannot say enough about how generous metro Detroit's are when it comes to helping others.

Sports WDFN-AM (1130) came up with a unique way to honor Detroit Pistons players Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups after they were left off the roster for Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game. The station has ensured the players’ place in the cosmos forever by having stars named after them by the International Star Registry. Wonder if WDFN would do the same for radio columnists who provide their station with shameless plugs ...

It’ll likely get a whole lot more expensive in the near future if a radio station violates the FCC’s rules against broadcast indecency. The House Energy and Commerce Committee last week approved a measure that would increase those fines to up to $500,000 per incident. The thought behind the bill is that at the current level of $32,500, many broadcasters view the fines as simply part of the cost of doing business. The measure also included a provision whereby the FCC could revoke a station’s license if indecency rules were violated three times. "Clearly the FCC's enforcement tools could use some sharpening," said Rep. Joe L. Barton, chairman of the committee. The bill now goes to the House floor for a vote and, if approved there, would have to be reconciled with a Senate bill that calls for fines of up to $325,000 per incident. It would be interesting to see what a law with these kinds of hefty fines would do to morning radio as we know it today- would it end up more like this year’s Super Bowl? Supporters say that the regulation, if approved, will curtail the on-air behavior of radio's so-called "shock jocks."

News WWJ-AM (950) weatherman Sonny Eliot will be inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame on April 16. That makes the third hall of fame honor for Sonny, with his earlier inclusion with the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and the Michigan Aviation halls of fame.
"Not bad for someone who is just 38 years old," kids co-worker Jayne Bower, who nominated him.

Set your dials: Keyboardist Dr. Carol Williams and a program of Scott Joplinesque rags will be featured 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5) on the "Somewhere in Time" show, hosted by attorney-broadcaster Tom Wilson.

Behind the mic: At adult urban station WMXD-FM (92.3), Oneil Stevens hosts the midday shift 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. during the week. A native of the area and grad of Inkster High School, he began his broadcast career after attending the Specs Howard broadcast school, he has spent 24 years behind the microphone here at nine different radio stations. In his bio, he says he's a lover of music, good humor, outdoor activities, animals, motorcycles, and most importantly, people.


Mike Austerman is the founder of Michiguide.com and has covered radio for The Daily Oakland Press for three years.

 

The Oakland Press - On The Radio, February 25 2005

 

By: Art Vuolo


Today, it's Dick Purtan's day-long Salvation Army Radiothon at the Oakland Mall in Troy. It's his 18th annual fund-raiser, and the folks at Oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) hope they get just one more dollar than in 2004 - a tall order, considering last year's event raised a record-breaking $1.5 million dollars.

No radio personality and/or station had ever achieved that kind of success on a single day in the history of the radio industry.

Some of that was attributed to the people who donated in memory of Purtan pal Mark "Doc" Andrews, who died two weeks before the radiothon. Likewise, in 2001, Purtan's longtime head writer and executive producer Gene Taylor, who'd been very active in helping the Salvation Army, died from an asthma attack in northern Michigan just weeks before the radiothon.

The greater Detroit area is nationally known as one of the most caring and generous areas in America, and the radiothon is your chance to help out the Salvation Army's Bed & Bread program.

Get down to the mall's center court before 10 tonight, make a pledge and see some of your favorite radio and TV personalities up close and personal. Or pledge at (248) 307-1043 or at www.womc.com.

The Oakland Mall seems to bring good luck to all the stations that use it for fund-raisers.

Recently, country WYCD-FM (99.5) was there and its St. Jude's Radiothon, hosted by afternoon personalities Edwards & Lee and the return of Dr. Don Carpenter, raised more than a half-million dollars to help kids.

My guess is that Dr. Don will be back in the morning show chair soon, since 'YCD wouldn't have brought him back if people weren't seriously impressed by his obvious talent.

If that happens, look for Mike Scott to return to his midday shift. He's done an outstanding job on the morning show ever since 'YCD's last morning team left the building, but he certainly won't miss that alarm clock ringing at 3 a.m.

Warren Pierce was visited recently by one of the most talked-about hosts ever on news-talk WJR-AM (760) - David Newman, who's been an in-studio guest on Pierce's weekend morning program.

WJR listeners remember him fondly. Newman, who has been off the air for the past three years because of health problems, still has impressive top-of-mind awareness, which is rare in the radio business.

Should Newman want to come back, WJR management has assured us that the door is always open. I just spoke to David this week and he sounds great, so stay tuned.

Set Your Dial: Guest host John Penney brings in-studio music from the Django Reinhardt-inspired Hot Club of Detroit jazz group, between 1-4 p.m. today on public radio WDET-FM (101.9) ... Tom Wilson features the British big bands at the end of World War II at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

The Oakland Press - On The Radio, March 4 2005

 

By: Mike Austerman


When GM North America President Gary Cowger threw his support behind the Stone Soup Project on classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7), you knew the "Oh, wow!" factor had just gone up.

On Tuesday, Cowger joined WCSX's Jim Johnson (JJ) and Lynne Woodison on the air to talk about the project's 1965 Pontiac GTO, which is being restored to benefit the Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan. Previous Stone Soup project cars were a '67 Mustang and a '70 Plymouth Hemi Road Runner.

Listeners - myself included - were stunned when Cowger offered, "That '65 is such a beautiful car that anyone in their right mind would not bring themselves to drive it in the wintertime. We've been kicking around, 'What if we just gave a 2005 Pontiac GTO Coupe, too?' So whoever the lucky winner is will have a summer and a winter car."

Responded JJ: "Here I am trying to shake you down for a $200 carburetor and we get a $35,000 automobile!"

So now, thanks to GM, a 2005 GTO Coupe will be given away along with the restored 1965 Stone Soup GTO - essentially doubling the prize and meaning that the holder of one lucky raffle ticket will win two cars. How cool is that?

Tickets are $25, with 100 percent of the ticket price going directly to CLF. The first chance to purchase tickets is today at Cobo Hall during Autorama; the winner will be announced Sept. 22 at the Renaissance Center. For more, visit wcsx.com on the Web.

He's baaaack! No, not Freddy Krueger, but Dr. Don Carpenter - as morning show host on country WYCD-FM (99.5), starting Monday.

Word is that Carpenter will be joined by Lori Rigatto and Bob Schuman, with Mike Scott moving back to the midday slot. Tom Baker also rejoined the station, working the overnight shift.

Ironically, Baker was the first replacement for Carpenter when the Doctor left WYCD in 2000. Tom then left WYCD to work in Ann Arbor at WWWW-FM (102.9) and later WQKL-FM (107.1).

Now you know why radio people don't like to burn bridges.

Dick Purtan and the gang at oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) - and their listeners - did it again.

Raising $1.7 million for the Salvation Army's Bread and Bread Club, they set another record for a single-day fund-raising effort last Friday. That means the radiothon's listeners and sponsors pledged enough money to help launch a fourth truck to aid in the delivery of 7,000 hot meals each day, and also provide shelter for up to 1,600 people.

"With the Salvation Army Bed & Bread Club program," Purtan said, "you can rest assured of knowing where your dollars are going to feed and shelter people with not a single penny going to administrative and extra costs. The generosity of our listeners and the Detroit community is overwhelming."

To understand the effect this event has, you need only to watch it in person and see how school kids raised money in their classrooms and then proudly presented their checks to Purtan.

Since 1988, the radiothon has raised more than $10.2 million for the Bed and Bread program. That includes this year's record, which was nearly $200,000 more than last year.

Congrats to news-talk WJR-AM (760) morning man Paul W. Smith and nationally syndicated handyman Glenn Haege on sports WDFN-AM (1130) for being named again this year to the "Heavy Hundred List of the 100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts in America" by Talker's magazine.

Each has been named before to this prestigious roster of talk show hosts and truly are among the best in the biz.

Set Your Dial: Bandleader and clarinetist Artie Shaw and his little-heard "Concerto for Clarinet" will be heard on "Somewhere in Time" at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... also, nostalgia CKWW-AM (580) replaces one Sinatra show with the "Sounds of Sinatra with Sid Mark" at 6 p.m. Sunday.


Mike Austerman is the founder of Michiguide.com and has covered radio for The Daily Oakland Press for three years.

 

The Oakland Press - On The Radio, March 11 2005

 

By: Art Vuolo


By ART VUOLO

This week, the Michigan Association of Broadcasters held its annual winter Great Lakes Broadcasters Expo in Lansing. Besides the exhibits and sessions, a number of area stations took home awards for their work. On top was all-news WWJ-AM (950) which scooped up 13 awards, including major market station of the year.

Their gold came from breaking news, hard news, Larry Henry for sports, morning drive news, special interest and best commercial categories, in addition to mini documentaries, news specials and community involvement.

Sister station sports WXYT-AM (1270) took home two awards for marketing and promotion, so kudos there to Debbie Spatafora, who heads up that department at both WXYT and WWJ.

Perennial winner news-talk WJR-AM (760) didn't fare as well as its news rival, but still took home a very respectable seven awards for hard news, features, sports (U-M football), newscast, coverage of the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Paul W. Smith and Mitch Albom, two of 'JR's most popular personalities, also won awards for their shows.

Speaking of WJR, isn't this about the time when they would broadcast live from the Geneva Auto Show in Switzerland, which is going on now?

In other 'JR news, the station began Webcasting on the Internet last month at www.wjr.com. But not everything is going out worldwide. Because of contractual stipulations and legal fine print, WJR cannot rebroadcast Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, "The Drudge Report," Dr. Dean Edell, Renfro Valley nor Ann Delisi's "Inside the Music."

Sadly, the station also is prevented from streaming Michigan football and basketball.

As WWJ prepares to kick off its Webcasting on Monday, all of this illustrates the changes in radio as stations greatly expand their reach to listeners around the globe.

Back when Mel Karmazin was running Infinity Broadcasting, which owns WWJ, WXYT and others locally, he would not authorize streaming on the Internet unless he could make money from the Webcast.

Now that he's left to head up Sirius Satellite Radio, Infinity and CBS Radio are jumping headfirst into the practice, which is a real boon to news-radio junkies who work inside steel office buildings where signals are weak or nonexistent.

Another way stations are extending their coverage is via those increasingly popular sat-casters XM and Sirius.

This is the first year that Major League Baseball is being carried on XM, so if you're a Tiger fan and have XM, you'll be able to hear Dan Dickerson and Jim Price in any of the 48 continental United States.

Baseball fans should love the expanded coverage, especially since so many games are at night when AM reception is more susceptible to atmospheric interference.

With XM, you'll be able to hear sports station 'XYT anywhere in the country. Sweet!

Have you checked out progressive talker WDTW-AM (1310) lately?

From 9 a.m.-noon weekdays, it's the new home of talk host Jerry Springer. It's not the nutty, out-of-control show the former Cincinnati mayor did for years on TV, but a truly interesting left-leaning talk show that even a right-wing conservative could enjoy.

By the way, he originates out of WCKY - not WKRP - in Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, Clear Channel, which owns more than 1,200 stations nationwide, is flipping under-performing AM stations to this new "progressive talk" format faster than I can type.

WDTW afternoon drivetime host Ed Schultz originates his program at a Clear Channel station in Fargo, N.D. He wanted Premiere Networks, also owned by Clear Channel, to syndicate his program, but the company's Bush-supporting, Texas-based owner was not interested in promoting a lib-uh-rul agenda. So Schultz took the show to the Denver-based Jones Network, which jumped at the opportunity.

Ironically, now almost all of the Clear Channel progressive talk stations have added the Schultz show.

Set Your Dial: About 50 years ago, Monroe's former WQTE-AM (560) featured such orchestras as Don Pablo's big band from Detroit's Latin Quarter. Relive those memories at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5). Oddly enough, WMUZ now owns the 560 frequency as WRDT-AM. Small world indeed.


Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

The Oakland Press - On The Radio, March 18 2005

 

By: Mike Austerman


Don't count football analyst Jim Brandstatter out of the Detroit Lions booth quite yet. It seems that last week's reports that Brandstatter wouldn't be back next year might have been a bit premature. There apparently was a communications breakdown between the Lions and the folks at Infinity Broadcasting, owner of Lions flagship WKRK-FM (97.1).

Tom Lewand, chief operating officer of the Lions, has stated that the only announcement was about the change of play-by-play voices and that there hasn't been any conclusion about who the color analyst might be. Lewand further commented that there would be further conversations and that the Lions have the utmost respect for Brandstatter.

All we know for sure is that Mark Champion is out after 16 years in the booth, replaced by Fox 2's Dan Miller. Stay tuned to this one.

Staffers at all-news WWJ-AM (950) are starting to make their displeasure with management known over the direction of their latest contract negotiations.

On the heels of the station being named as the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Station of the Year in Detroit, it appears that those negotiations have stalled over health care and working conditions as management has offered about $1 million worth of take-backs in the proposed new contract.

Rumor also has it that the station might be looking to reduce its headcount, making represented workers both nervous and angry. That's not a good combination for what has been one the area's most successful stations both in terms of ratings and revenue.

Interesting, too, is that is all happening while the station is using a new revenue source - selling ads for its just-launched Web stream.

It's well established that metro Detroit is a hotbed for quality radio - including those tiny FM stations run by area schools.

The hardworking folks at WBFH-FM (88.1) in Bloomfield Hills can once again boast after being named as Michigan's 2005 High School Station of the Year for the third year in a row.

In addition, Bloomfield Hills School District radio broadcasting students won 13 of the 22 awards given out in the high school radio division - five first-place, five second-place and three third-place - from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.

Some of those individual winners included Ryan Fishman, Erin Kashawlic, P.J. Wascher and Wade Fink from Andover High School and Valenta Bedford from Lahser High - all of whom took home first-place awards. Station Manager Pete Bowers, Assistant Manager/Chief Engineer Randy Carr and Remote Supervisor/Webmaster Ron Wittebols lead the students at WBFH also known as "The Biff."

If you're in the Bloomfield area, tune in at 88.1 or from anywhere else online at www.wbfh.fm. Betcha you'll be hearing the radio and TV stars of the future.

Fine tuning: Former news-ralk WJR-AM (760) program director Phil Boyce has been promoted to vice president of news-talk programming for all of WJR parent ABC Radio. Boyce left WJR to take over as the boss at New York's WABC-AM.

Michigan Radio - WUOM-FM (91.7) and WFUM-FM (91.1) in Flint - was named as Public Broadcaster of the Year by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters earlier this month. It's the third consecutive year WUOM has gotten the nod from the MAB as the state's top public radio outlet.

Set your dials: Tony O'Brien and John Lauder, two of Detroit's favorite theatre pipe organists, will be featured on "Somewhere in Time" at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


Mike Austerman is the founder of Michiguide.com and has covered radio for The Daily Oakland Press for three years.

 

The Oakland Press - On The Radio, March 25 2005

 

By: Art Vuolo


Your traveling radio columnist has logged enough miles to last awhile.

First was the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, followed by the retirement party for longtime Buffalo, N.Y., and Detroit radio personality Tom Shannon, best known for his stint on the old CKLW-AM (800). Yes, contrary to his old jingle, the sun finally sets on the Shannon Empire as Tommy does his final broadcast Thursday on Buffalo's oldies WHTT-FM.

From western New York, it was up to Lansing for the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Great Lakes Radio-TV Expo, and off the very next day to L.A. for the Talk Radio Seminar orchestrated by industry trade publication Radio & Records.

At all of these events, I heard lots of eye-opening viewpoints on the state of radio today. Here's a quick review.

First, country radio is healthier than ever. Locally, WYCD-FM (99.5) is solid in the local ratings with the return of Dr. Don Carpenter, reteamed with well-respected newsman Bob Schuman. Both program director Chip Miller and assistant Ron Chapman were in Nashville for the confab, which featured lots of live music.

But the group that seemed to wow everyone was the energetic country pop band Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band. If you ever get the chance, don't miss 'em live.

The Talk Radio Seminar also was fantastic. Steve Stewart, the PD at news-talk WJR-AM (760), and Georgeanne Herbert, the operations manager at news WWJ-AM (950) and sports WXYT-AM (1270), were on the Left Coast, where it seemed as though 80 percent of the crowd was from conservative radio. Yet a keynote from liberal air host Al Franken was absolutely riveting.

I also had a chance to meet new radio talk host Jerry Springer, carried locally on progressive talk WDTW-AM (1310). He's an amazingly decent man and an engaging personality, who is negotiating with the liberal Air America network, which could add his show to nearly 50 more stations nationwide.

If you don't know what's going on in the radio business these days, then you don't know "Jack."

That's the nickname of a relatively new format that stations are switching to faster than you can hit the scan button. It features a wide variety of pop and rock music which, as their slogan boasts, "sounds like your iPod on shuffle" (to those without iPods, that means random order).

Metro Detroit doesn't yet have a "Jack FM" yet, but several big cities do, including Los Angeles and Indianapolis. In Philadelphia, a similar format has the name "Ben," as in Franklin.

Locally, we had an "Alice" format at FM 106.7, while XM Satellite Radio features channels named "Fred," "Ethel" and "Lucy." Can "Ricky" be far behind?

At the radio conventions, there was a great deal of concern about radio's most serious competitors - and it's not satellite radio, it's the Internet, especially as it becomes wireless, and the iPod, which the under-25 crowd is buying in staggering numbers.

Radio stations keep aiming for younger audiences, but the irony is that the kids don't seem to be listening to AM and FM stations as much anymore.

Still, they must hear that music somewhere that they're loading on their iPods ...

If you're a man, mark your calendar for the fourth annual WRIF-FM (101.1) Motor City Men's Expo in Novi on April 2. More details on this next week.

Two of our local NPR stations took home seven prestigious awards each from The Associated Press recently. The honors went to Wayne State's WDET-FM (101.9) and U-M's WUOM-FM (91.7). Kudos to both.

Known as "The Fan," sports WDFN-AM (1130) has signed Tiger pitcher Mike Maroth and Lions wide receiver Roy Williams to do weekly in-season, exclusive interviews with afternoon hosts Stoney & Wojo.

Nice move for PD Rona Danziger.

Set your dials: "Somewhere In Time" host Tom Wilson presents a huge tribute to big bands at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

The Oakland Press - On The Radio, April 1 2005

 

By: Mike Austerman


Happy April Fool's Day! As you listen to your radio today, don't believe everything you hear, as pranks could be prevalent - especially as it's also Friday.

ne of my favorite April Fool's gags ran several years ago on personality/ news WJR-AM (760), which ran a story about condos being built as part of the Detroit Zoo's water tower. Many bought the story hook, line and sinker - only to find out it was a well-choreographed whale of a tale.

It'll be fun this morning to find out what the oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) teaser that's been running all week ("You won't know Jack") is all about. Could it be a test of that new format that mixes a wide variety of pop and rock music - or will 'OMC underline its heritage as an oldies outlet? Or is all a hoax?

Remember, he (or she) who laughs last ...

Sparty down: Sports WDFN-AM (1130) is hosting a Michigan State pep rally 3-7 p.m. today at Mr. Joe's in Southfield.

The Stoney & Wojo show will broadcast live from there as part of the high jinks, with one lucky Spartan fan winning a brand new couch in case the old one gets torched as part of the Final Four celebration.

The battle's heating up between terrestrial and satellite radio as the new medium becomes more prevalent.

Ed Christian, president and CEO of Grosse Pointe Farms-based Saga Communications, has started dropping syndicated shows from his group's stations - none are in Michigan - if they're also heard on satcasters XM or Sirius.

According to trade pub InsideRadio, Christian canceled the show by local "Handyman" host Glenn Haege but rescinded the move when Haege agreed to come off the satellite after being faced with the loss of listeners on the 12 Saga stations that carry his show.

Christian promises similar moves by other land-based radio companies and asks the syndicators of the show this pointed question: "Who feeds you?"

"When a person gets in the car the choices are AM, FM or satellite," he says. "So make your choice - them or us. I challenge other group broadcasters to stand up and say, 'Enough of this crap.' "

Christian Adds: "They think they can dis terrestrial broadcasters. Can you imagine CBS saying to 'Survivor,' 'Hey, we don't mind if you run at the same time on Lifetime'? They wouldn't stand for it."

Could be an interesting time in the halls of XM and Sirius if this radio war escalates.

On Monday, National Public Radio begins presenting "This I Believe," a project highlighting the core beliefs and values of America. It's based on the popular 1950s radio show of the same name hosted by broadcast legend Edward R. Murrow.

Every week, it'll feature a different 3-minute essay read by the people who wrote them, with former President Bill Clinton, actor Robert Redford and boxing champ Muhammad Ali slated to contribute.

The essays will be heard locally on Detroit's WDET-FM (101.9) and Ann Arbor's WUOM-FM (91.7) during either "Morning Edition" or "All Things Considered" in the next several months.

In other public radio news, WUOM and Flint's WFUM-FM (91.1) will add NPR's "News and Notes" show by Michigan native Ed Gordon to their lineup beginning 8 p.m. April 18. The show presents newsmakers and opinion leaders on the events, trends and ideas that shape the African-American experience.

Set Your Dials: Financial guru Rick Bloom returns to the local airwaves beginning 3 p.m. Sunday on WDTK-AM (1400). Previously heard on WXDX-AM (1310) and WXYT-AM (1270), he'll provide answers to financial questions and regular features on personal finance ... host Tom Wilson profiles jazz singer June Christy as well as the "Let's Pretend" kiddie show 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


Mike Austerman is the founder of Michiguide.com and has covered radio for The Daily Oakland Press for three years.

 

Last week when I lost my favorite aunt it made me very sad. It was no doubt the way most of the staff of hits WDRQ-FM (93.1) must have felt last Friday when they were summoned into the station conference room and, in one fell swoop, informed that they no longer had jobs. Radio has never been known as a bastion of stability, but as fellow radio writer Mike Austerman noted in last Saturday's Daily Oakland Press, this was the biggest surprise format flip in Detroit since W4 Country changed to "Alice," WDTW-FM (106.7) on Labor Day weekend in 1999. That too, was a real stunner.

W4 had been the top country station in town, and it simply gave the entire country music audience to WYCD-FM (99.5) which today is still the only country in the city. Now, WDRQ has handed the entire teen and young adult demographic to hit-music WKQI-FM (95.5). Channel 95.5 program director Dom Theodore is happy to welcome all the new listeners, but sad to see so many talented broadcasters, many whom he considered friends, out of work at 'DRQ. Even long-time 'DRQ program director Alex Tear was among the casualties.

The only staffer safe for now (though he's not on-air) is morning host Jay Towers, who knows the value of a contract. His partner, the vivacious Rachel Hunter, was vacationing in Florida when the news was came down; she says "we were blind-sided - no one saw this coming." WDRQ jock Stick made a guest appearance on competing WKQI Friday night on the Tic-Tac show. Some will remember that Tic-Tac used to work at 'DRQ, left Detroit for Philadelphia and came back to the arch-rival WKQI. The pair fielded dozens of phone calls from confused listeners who were still thinking this was an April Fool's Day stunt. But it was not.

Renamed "Doug-FM," WDRQ has adopted a format known around the country as Jack-FM," which features a very wide variety of music supposed to make your radio sound like an iPod on shuffle. For the past couple of weeks, Mike and I have been predicting this format would invade the Motor City - it was just a matter of time - but the casualties left "on the beach" is sad ("on the beach" being radio biz slang for out of a job).

Steve Kosbau, the president and general manager of both WDRQ and adult-hits WDVD-FM (96.3), says making this change was not a snap decision. When this came down, he indicated it was the hardest thing he's ever had to do at a radio station, but business decisions often are exceedingly difficult. Now, radio competitors and listeners are trying to predict whether or not this was a good move on the part of ABC/ Disney, which owns WDRQ in addition to WDVD and news-talk WJR-AM (760). No bodies were seen flying out of the Fisher Building, so we'll wait for the dust to settle, the iPod to reshuffle and the next ratings trend to see if it worked.

 * * * * 

Quick Hits: Channel 95.5's Mojo in the Morning numbered new listeners who segued over from 'DRQ and one lucky listener was awarded $5,000 - not a bad pay-off for switching stations ... Eddie Haskell was once programming director of country WYCD here and is now out in Albuquerque, N.M., where he named his station "Fred-FM." Do you sense a trend here? But XM satellite radio, which has an alternative rock channel named "Fred," promptly served legal notice. With the station's new billboards were already up around town, Eddie stuck giant Post-It notes over the first two letters and re-named the station "Ed-FM." Creativity lives. You can tell the battle lines between satellite and terrestrial radio have definitely been drawn when the skirmish garners a front-page story in The New York Times, as it did on Tuesday.

And things are really heating up regarding the sharing of "content" by sat-casters: Did anyone else catch Michigan actor Jeff Daniels say on TV during Opening Day at Comerica Park that his XM radio lets him hear the Tigers' broadcast live with Jim Price and Dan Dickerson from sports WXYT-AM (1270) while he cruises on the freeways of L.A.? That's cool - but the deal XM cut with Major League Baseball to do this is driving terrestrial radio crazy.

 * * * * 

Set your dials: Big band lovers will want to dial in host Tom Wilson's tribute to George Gershwin at 6 p.m. Sunday on Christian WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... local recording artist Rufus Harris started a new Internet radio station - www.justradio.net - and it's been named "Best of 2005" by Live 365, the world's largest Internet Radio Network. The Web station features music by Christian artists. Kudos to Harris.

 * * * * 

Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press

By: Mike Austerman


When WDRQ-FM (93.1) abruptly changed its format from Top 40 to pop two weeks ago, the move rightly grabbed the headlines and attention of area radio fans. But another change at about the same time didn't get the attention it deserved. At Christian WMUZ-FM (103.5), a new morning show hosted by Jon Culbert and Rhonda Hart debuted on April 4. The pair hope their show, 6-10 a.m. Monday through Saturday, will be a destination for Detroiters seeking a spiritually uplifting experience, thanks to its mix of contemporary Christian music and comedy segments, news, weather, traffic and guest appearances.

Culbert was bit by the radio bug as a student at Port Huron Northern High when he worked on the school's station. He's since worked in country and news/talk formats and says with Christian radio, "I can express, more fully than ever before, the personality that God created and the convictions I have."

Co-host Hart boasts more than 25 years in the business, having worked locally for WABX, WRIF, WYCD, WOMC and WCSX. Sayeth she: "I'm excited to join WMUZ, where I'll have the opportunity to openly share my faith." WMUZ's former morning host, Sean Harriott, left the station in November.

 

Tiger fans rejoice, not just because a new season is here, but also because the new sports talk WXYT-AM (1270) RADIOGUIDE is now available at over 200 area Little Caesar's Pizza outlets. Featuring the Tigers' schedule and a list of all the radio stations that carry the games, it's a home run for fifth year sponsor GMAC Mortgage. The guide also lists the news, talk, sports, and NPR stations nationwide. Get yours for $1 for postage and handling to: WXYT RADIOGUIDE, P.O. Box 880, Novi, MI 48376.

 

Show 'em the money! That's what listeners have done for public radio WDET-FM (101.9), pledging more than $600,000 during the station's recent spring fund-raising drive. The station boasts that it raised nearly $200,000 from listeners before the on-air campaign even started - a 95 percent increase over last fall's early bird drive. You still can contribute and be eligible for a 'DET vintage logo T-shirt featuring the station's 1952 logo or tickets to WDET's farewell to outgoing Detroit Symphony Orchestra conductor Neemi Järvi. Call (800) 959-WDET or visit wdetfm.org through April 30.

 

Metro Detroiters have once again displayed incredible support, as listeners to News-Talk WJR-AM (760) raised $1.32 million for the Salvation Army project to aid tsunami victims. "On behalf of the many unheard voices from across the world, the Salvation Army thanks WJR and its listening audience," says Russ Russell, an executive director for the organization. "Because of the outpouring of support, we will be able to build 650 homes for the displaced victims of the tsunami."

Between this effort and February's Bed and Bed Club radiothon by WOMC's Dick Purtan, more than $3 million was raised for Salvation Army programs at home and abroad. Way to go, everyone!

 

Wake up, baby, it's the King! Beginning at 9 a.m. this Sunday, the king of rock 'n' roll has a new home on Nostalgia CKWW-AM (580) as the hour-long program "Elvis Only!" captures the essence of this American pop culture icon. Each show will feature music, stories, and features produced and hosted by Elvis expert Jay Gordon.

 

Set Your Dials: This week, "Somewhere In Time" hosts Tom Wilson and Heather Novak feature the sounds of the Fox Theatre's mighty Wurlitzer organ, Detroit's largest, 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ.


Mike Austerman is the founder of Michiguide.com and has covered radio for The Daily Oakland Press for three years.

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press

By: Art Vuolo


Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the changes is? Traditionally each spring, we tend to see the one thing you, the listener, hate most — changes on the radio dial. The clearing of the staff at classic hits WDRQ-FM (93.1), now known as “Doug FM,” was probably just the beginning of more to come. The music on “Doug” is pretty good, but the promos, known in the business as sweepers, proclaim that “we play everything.” If I called in and requested Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”, do you think they’d play it? Neither do I.

Just thinking out loud: If radio’s greatest enemy is the iPod, why are so many stations now being programmed to sound like an iPod? If I want 10,000 of my favorite tunes in a random order, I’ll buy an iPod — and, unfortunately for broadcasters, nearly 6 million people have.

Rumors seeping out of the Golden Tower of the Fisher Building indicate significant programming and personnel changes may be coming to Michigan’s top-rated station news-talk WJR-AM (760). All of the major broadcasting companies are making cutbacks, which often means more people in the unemployment line. WJR seems to have cut back significantly in sports, although they remain true blue to U-M football and basketball. Some of the most credible voices on the station are in the news department, which has always been home to some of the best broadcast journalists in the Motor City. My hope is that it remains the same. Some months ago, there were whispers about syndicated conservative talk host Sean Hannity moving to a new time on ’JR. The whispers are getting louder.

In the past year, a number of salespeople and reporters have segued between WJR and all-news WWJ-AM (950). Now Metro Traffic has cut a number of jobs among its staff providing traffic reports to local stations. Names you might know, such as Terry T. Brown, Sandra McNeill and Liz Graham, were all shown the door last week. Just a few days ago, many were saddened by the untimely death of former traffic reporter Rod Holden. His real name was Dan Koti and he was only 42. Arrangements were with the Ira Kaufman Chapel in Southfield.

On the lighter-side, classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7) is shaking up its onair staff, but according to program director Bill Stedman, this is a good move with no casualties in the hallways. In fact, a new personality (and former Detroiter) is being added from 10 p.m. till 1 a.m. weeknights and his name is Alice. It’s legendary rocker Alice Cooper, who’ll do a live show nightly, originating in his toxic studio in a mysterious location in the Arizona desert. He’ll offer tunes not always heard on Detroit FM radio and he’s genuinely excited about this new opportunity.

If you prefer progressive talk radio — free on WDTW-AM (1310) — via satellite radio, you’ll have to choose XM. The satcaster just signed an exclusive deal with the left-leaning Air America network, which will be pulling out of Sirius Satellite Radio in the coming weeks. XM also has struck a deal with AOL, which will allow online users to enjoy XM programming via AOL Broadband.

Set Your Dials: Bob Crosby and his Dixieland-style Bob Cats Band will be featured at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZFM (103.5) ... and on WDET-FM (101.9), the new blues-rock band the Muggs performs live at noon Saturday; the legendary Gretsch Drum Night at Birdland concert (featuring Art Blakey, “Philly” Joe Jones and Pontiac’s own Elvin Jones) will be heard at 10 p.m. Saturday; and jazz vocalist Janet Tenaj performs live at 7 p.m. Tuesday.


Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press

By: Mike Austerman


One of the few report cards most listeners can understand about radio stations is their ratings. This winter’s top rated station among listeners age 12 and older was news/talk WJR-AM (760), finishing well ahead of oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) and all-news WWJ-AM (950), which tied for second place. Rounding out the Top 10 most listened-to stations were adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3); smooth jazz WVMV-FM (98.7); urban WJLB-FM (97.9); rock WRIF-FM (101.1); country WYCD-FM (99.5); and rival soft rockers WNIC-FM (100.3) and WMGC-FM (105.1), with WDRQ-FM (93.1) finishing its final ratings book as a Top 40 station
in 14th place.


WRIF’s Drew & Mike continued to lead the morning race, followed closely by WWJ newshawks Roberta Jasina and Joe Donovan; WJR’s Paul W. Smith (who’s broadcasting from around Michigan this week); WOMC’s Dick Purtan; and the syndicated Tom Joyner show on WMXD.


Mark Scott, once one of Detroit’s most controversial and opinionated talk radio hosts, died Sunday of an apparent heart attack at the age of 69. Scott came to Detroit nearly 20 years ago from Dayton and was a top-rated talk host on WXYT-AM (1270) during its days as a talk station. In its heyday, his show focused heavily on the 1993 police beating of Malice Green and the resulting trials of Larry Nevers and Walter Budson, a topic that never seemed to grow old with Scott, who spoke often in their defense. A former Marine, Scott often broadcast his show while wearing military fatigues and talked about a possible government conspiracy to take away the right to bear arms. Services are at 7 p.m. tonight at the Griffin Funeral Home in Canton Township. In a sad and ironic twist, Dan Koti, the man who ran the control board for Scott’s WXYT show and was known most recently as WWJ traffic reporter Rod Holden, died just a week before Scott, at age 42.


Kudos to rocker WRIF for its extensive coverage of last week’s first Motor City Music Conference. In addition to live broadcasts, the ’Rif showcased many of the local acts that performed as part of MC2 during a three-hour special last Sunday. It’s great to see such involvement by corporate radio, but it’d be even better if these bands could somehow get consistent regular airplay on WRIF instead of playing “You Shook Me All Night Long” for the 13 millionth time.


Free money alert! Magic WMGC will be giving away up to $15,000 in mortgage payments as part of its Magic Money Makeover contest, which runs through Sunday. Visit detroitmagic.com for entry and other info.


Ready, set, bowl! WXYT afternoon hosts Doug Karsch and Art Regner will host “The Big Show for the Big Cure,” a 28-hour bowl-athon at Troy Lanes, beginning 3 p.m. May 12 and ending 7 p.m. the next day. It’ll benefit the Henry Ford Vattikuti Urology Institute. Make a donation of $12.70 and bowl as many games as you can in one hour. Also, men can get free prostate cancer screenings. In addition to all the strikes and spares, there’ll be hourly auctions, on-site games and activities, autograph sessions, band competitions and more. Visit www.wxyt.com for more info.


Set Your Dials: Host Martin Bandyke welcomes the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex after 2 p.m. today on WDET-FM (101.9). The drummer for Smashing Pumpkins and Zwan, Chamberlin will highlight his new solo project before his show tonight at St. Andrews Hall in Detroit (see Gary Graff’s “Sound Check,” Page E-3) ... host Tom Wilson explores the Charleston and Black Bottom and the changes they introduced to American dancing at 6 p.m. Sun. on WMUZ-FM (103.5).

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press

By: Art Vuolo


There are a great number of very talented and unique radio personalities who have graced the airwaves of the Motor City. Detroit has always been a great radio town, but to my knowledge no rock ’n’ roll DJ has had the longevity of Arthur “Big Daddy” Penhallow at rocker WRIF-FM (101.1).


As one who has chronicled radio jocks via video for more than 25 years, I was pleased to be in the ’RIF studio this week to capture the “Grand Poobah” in his element doing his 35th anniversary show. It was great to witness a true professional who still loves what he does.


Originally hired by WRIF’s first program director, Dick Kernen (now best known for his long tenure with the Specs Howard School), Arthur P. is on a first-name basis with dozens of rock stars and is famous for his signature growl of “Baaaby!”


When Penhallow first started at 101.1, it was known as WXYZ-FM — back in 1970.


Kudos from one Art to another.


The Greater Media Building in Royal Oak Township is rockin’ with even more excitement as their three radio stations, WRIF, classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7) and soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1), are in the running for seven industry achievement awards from the national trade publication Radio & Records.


Nominated from the ’RIF are morning personalities Drew & Mike; program director Doug Podell (whose first name is not to be confused with that other FM station); music director Mark Pennington; veep and general manager Tom Bender; and the station itself. Also nominated is the Jim Harper morning show from WMGC (known as Magic) and, as a top classic rocker, WCSX itself.


Other local stations and on-air talent nominated include Alexander Zonjic at jazz WVMV-FM (98.7); Jamillah Muhammad at adult-urban WMXD-FM (92.3); Dick Purtan at oldies WOMC-FM (104.3); and former classic hits WDTWFM (106.7) nationally syndicated funny guys Bob & Tom.


Rounding out the roster of local nominees are Clear Channel’s WMXD (known as Mix); soft hits WNIC-FM (100.3); and Fred Jacobs, founder of nationally renowned Jacob Media Consultancy.


The awards will be given out at the Radio & Records Convention in Cleveland next month. We’ll let you know about local winners.


Hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1) midday host Gregg Henson is a father for the second time. He and wife Nicole have named the baby Cooper Blu. It’s a boy, but whatever happened to names like Mike, Jeff and Tom? Still, kudos on the child.


Organizers of The Last Motor City Broadcast Reunion, scheduled for this September, are stunned by the huge number of people who’ve expressed a desire to attend. You can review the guest list at www.vuolovideo.com by clicking on “reunions.” If you worked locally in radio, television or the record/music business, you can register at the Web site for an invitation.


A broadcast from a local mall also is being planned so the public can come out and meet the media legends for pictures and autographs. It should be fun.


Don’t forget Mother’s Day. Buy her another radio ...


On a not-so fun topic, it was sad how few radio people were at the standing-room-only memorial service for Mark Scott last week.


TV coverage of Scott’s career also was disappointing, as this reporter provided (at no cost) excellent video with good audio to local stations of Scott when he was at WXYT-AM (1270).


To my knowledge, WXYZ Channel 7 aired nothing, while WDIV Channel 4 ran the video with the news anchor providing narration — and covered Scott’s distinctive voice. WJBK-Fox 2 was the only station to let viewers actually hear Scott’s unique on-air style. Too bad.


Tuesday brought more sad news: the death of U-M’s former athletic director Don Canham in a car accident caused by an aneurysm. He was 87.


But he’s no doubt trading stories right now with radio greats J.P. McCarthy and Bob Ufer, both of whom interviewed the Michigan marketing maven numerous times.


Set Your Dial: Big Band’s most famous drummer Gene Krupa gets profiled by hosts Tom Wilson and Alison Harris at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, May 13 2005

By: Mike Austerman


Country WYCD-FM (99.5) evening host Jyl Forsyth has been missing from her 7 p.m.- midnight shift because of asthma complications. But she wants her listeners to know that she’s recovering and plans to return to the air on May 30.“I’ve been off for three weeks now and I can’t believe how many e-mails I’ve received expressing concern,” she says. “I am so touched by our wonderful listeners.”


Forsyth, who will have been at ’YCD for 12 years on June 14, explains that a bad cold “went into my lungs, and with asthma, I just couldn’t get it under control — so my boss told me to take some time and get well. I really miss my show and I’m going nuts just waiting and waiting to get better ... please let my listeners know that I love them and appreciate their concern and prayers.” Consider it done, Jyl.


If you’re a fan of classic country music, tune in to WYCD’s Mike Williams every from 8 p.m. to midnight every Saturday. His “Classic Country Saturday Night” is a very listener-driven show; he takes calls all evening and tries his best to spin your favorite county tunes from the 1960s through the early 1990s, making it a fun listen each week.


For those with different tastes, check out Tom Leykis in “The Tasting Room” on talk WKRK-FM (97.1) from 6 to 8 p.m. Sundays. The lifestyle-themed show is targeted toward men and features the usually boisterous L.A. radio host Leykis sharing his opinions on everything from wine to high-tech gadgets. According to one listener, “He’s light years away from the chauvinist swagger of his other (self-titled) show,” which airs 3- 6 a.m. on WKRK, “and he really seems to know his vino.”


Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: Among those writing in about changes at CKWW-AM (580) was Linda of Rochester Hills. Seems the station recently adjusted its format, dropping all of its Big Band/adult standards music weekdays in favor of a more contemporary sound. Instead of “580 Memories,” the station now calls itself “Motor City Favorites,” and to my ears, the new programming is kind of a cross between 1950s-’70s oldies and soft rock that includes hits up to the early ’90s.


Program director Charlie O’Brien says that CKWW is now positioned to become Detroit’s “easy listening station,” and although the sound of the station has been refreshed, the lineup still includes “When Radio Was” at 11 p.m. weeknights and the weekend specialty shows “Sounds of Sinatra” and “Elvis Only!” My only wish is that they could put the new sound of CKWW on CIDR-FM (93.9) instead of having it trapped on AM 580.


Frustrated when DJs don’t identify songs? A new service called Song Identity might be an answer. Using a wireless phone, just record 5-10 seconds of a song and Rocket Mobile will identify the name, artist and album of the track at the punch of a button. The service says it already has more than 1 million users in North America. Check with your cellular carrier to see if they offer the service and how much it’ll add to your bill.


Former Flint DJ and author Peter Cavanaugh will be at the Ann Arbor Book Festival on May 21 signing copies of his book “Local DJ”, a must-read for radio fans. Check out www.wildwednesday.com for info.


Set Your Dials: For a program of patriotic music from the World Wars played on the theater pipe organ on “Somewhere in Time,” at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5).

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, May 20 2005

By: Art Vuolo


For those who cover the ever-changing world of electronic media, it’s always fun to be the first to report on something exciting — and this news is an Oakland Press exclusive. Over the past three years, I’ve written about the rise of Murray Gula, from doing a home improvement show on tiny Christian WEXL-AM (1340) through several small stations to his current home at mega-power news-talk WJR-AM (760). Now this helpful guy has been tapped by WXYZ-Channel 7 to bring his expertise to the tube.


Next month, he’ll bring his decades of knowledge in home maintenance and repair to primetime TV with an hourlong special called “At Home with Murray Gula,” scheduled to air 8 p.m. June 15. On it, Gula and a panel of top local experts will help viewers tackle tough home improvement and remodeling projects. The program will feature advice, demonstrations and questions from a live studio audience. Free tickets can be secured via www.wxyz.com.


Speaking of TV, is it my imagination or are more and more radio personalities popping up on the tube? Former WDRQ-FM (93.1) morning guy Jay Towers has been seen on Fox 2 and the hits WKQI-FM (95.5) wakeup crew of Mojo, Spike, Sara and Chad have been seen frequently on Local 4 News. Is this a trend?


Last weekend, something truly unique aired on classic hits WDTW-FM (106.7), known as The Drive. The Clear Channel-owned station paid tribute to Arthur Penhallow of rocker WRIF-FM (101.1), owned by Greater Media. The show featured an authentic Arthur P. sound-alike played by the multi-talented Kevin O’Neill from soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3), who really nailed the Penhallow persona — while noting that ’RIF didn’t play all those hits anymore.


Interestingly, while this prerecorded tribute was on The Drive, O’Neill was doing his regular afternoon shift on WNIC through the magic of radio. Um, perhaps we shouldn’t say it was “magic.”


More news from the strange but-true was the rescue performed last Friday by Gregg Henson and Michelle McKormick on hot talk WKRK-FM (Live 97.1). Sister station sports WXYT-AM (1270) was running a radiothon for Prostate Cancer Research, and the response was soft, so the “Motor City Midday” duo urged their audience to call the WXYT number and pledge. Instantly, the phones began to ring as the FM talker significantly helped the AM sports station reach its goal. It was great radio.


Urban pop WMXD-FM (92.3) just picked up a new afternoon show, “Love, Lust & Lies,” from ABC Radio Networks. Hosted by Michael Baisden, it pushed Frankie Darcell into the Mix’s midday shift, which displaced Oneil Stevens, who moves to weekends.


Now comes word that Mix morning man Tom Joyner will shift, next month to urban oldies WDMK-FM (102.7). What does that do to legendary Kiss morning jock John Mason? Personally, I’m all “Mixed” up.

Jennifer Purtan, Dick’s oldest daughter, has resigned as a senior veep for ad sales with ABC Radio Networks in New York to relocate back to Detroit. She was with ABC for an impressive 13 years. Now, she’ll be closer to her husband who works at WDIV-TV, and her mother, Gail.


Reports say that the Pistons were not pleased when sports WDFN-AM (1130) went off the air during a recent playoff game because of technical problems. Meanwhile, WKRK’s Rob Parker is touting a “Ban the Fan” drive, urging the team to segue over to the clearer FM band. As the Pistons advance, WDFN should seriously consider simulcasting the basketball games on a Clear Channel FM station, since WDFN’s nighttime signal is somewhat limited.


WJR’s Paul W. Smith is broadcasting from Japan today — so he should sound especially good on your Sony radio. Earlier this week, sports personality Steve Courtney hosted the ’JR morning show with Domino’s Pizza CEO David Brandon, and you could almost smell the pizza sauce coming out of the speaker. The next day, guest host Warren Pierce interviewed Domino’s founder Tom Monaghan. And later that day, I had Domino’s for lunch. Ah, the power of radio.


Set Your Dials: Indie rockers the Decemberists (see Page E-7) play on the Martin Bandyke program at 2 p.m. today on WDET-FM (101.9) ... hear the swing music of Fletcher Henderson on WMUZ-FM (103.5) at 6 p.m. Sunday.


Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, May 27 2005

By: Mike Austerman


It’s not the kind of publicity that country WYCD-FM (99.5) was looking for. This week, a federal jury in Detroit awarded $10.6 million to former midday air talent Erin Weber who was fired by the station in 2001 — after complaining that a co-worker’s perfume made her sick. Weber charged that she’d been discriminated against after she suffered disabling complications from an allergic reaction to the perfume of her afternoon co-worker. Doctors later determined that her sensitivity was brought on after exposure to acetone (nail polish remover) spilled in a WYCD studio in 1999.


Weber’s suit claimed her violent reaction to the chemical caused burns in her airways, vocal-cord swelling, difficulty in breathing and laryngitis. After missing work and calling in sick for a weekend airshift in 2001, she was fired, despite top ratings and a successful career at the station. Weber also claimed she was retaliated against because she filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission while still employed. In addition, she claimed that her $66,000 annual salary was two to three times less than those of her male counterparts.


An all-woman jury awarded Weber nearly $1.6 million for lost pay and benefits, $2 million for distress and stuck a $7 million price tag on punitive damages against Infinity Broadcasting, WYCD’s owner. That $7 million will likely be reduced to $300,000 by the judge, as federal law limits the amount of punitive damages in cases such as this. The jury further decided that Infinity did not violate the Family Medical Leave Act or discriminate against Weber because of her gender. Infinity spokeswoman Karen Mateo says the company planned to appeal.


The folks at XM satellite radio have been celebrating after announcing they’ve now signed up more than 4 million subscribers and are on their way to 5.5 million by year-end. They’ll get help from carmaker Hyundai, as that company will add XM as an option this fall instead of rival Sirius; a survey of Hyundai owners showed they’d prefer XM to avoid hearing shock jock Howard Stern when he lands at Sirius in 2006. Just how many of Stern’s listeners will follow him to Sirius? An Edison Research Study says 1 in 5 are likely to follow him to the satcaster. Wonder how many people that is anyhow?


John Mason of urban oldies WDMK-FM (102.7) takes his morning show on the road and live to the Motown Historical Museum in Detroit every Saturday in June. Broadcasting from the West Grand Boulevard site of musical memories, he'll have interviews, musicians, prizes and more.


Soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1) will celebrate its fourth annual “Women Who Make Magic Awards” by paying tribute to the 34 nominees at a special banquet June 6 at Andiamo’s in Warren. The program recognizes area women who have made a little “Magic” in the lives of others; since January, the station has honored two local women each Friday from listener nominations. Each woman took home a $50 Kroger gift certificate and two tickets to the banquet. Donny Osmond will present the honorees with plaques and sing a few songs from his new album, “What I Meant to Say.”


Thanks to all-news WWJ-AM (950) morning drive producer Scott Ryan for pointing out that last week’s column failed to mention that WWJ anchor Pat Vitale also can been seen as a reporter for WJBK-Channel 2. My favorite TV reporter with a radio background? Fox 2’s Jennifer Hammond, who once did sports updates on WDFN-AM (1130) before moving to the small screen.


Set Your Dials: “Somewhere in Time” hosts Tom Wilson and Alison Harris try their luck singing along with Mitch Miller on WMUZ-FM (103.5) at 6 p.m. Sunday.

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, June 3, 2005

By: Art Vuolo


It’s the third of June, and two popular songs began with this date — “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry and “Desiree” by Neil Diamond. There’s a little coincidence to ponder if you know the tunes. While the second most popular station in metro Detroit is oldies WOMC-FM (104.3), it’s amazing that so many major cities, such as Indianapolis and Baltimore, have lost their oldies stations to the new “Jack” format which “plays everything — like an iPod on shuffle.” In Detroit, the format’s called “Doug FM” and can be found at WDRQ-FM (93.1).


Oldies stations in Orlando and Atlanta, meanwhile, switched to a Hispanic format. Detroit had been the largest city in the country without a Spanish-language station — until Wednesday, when the 45-year classic country WSDS-AM (1480) in Canton Township switched to an all-Spanish language format. WSDS is part of the company that owns ethnic WNZK-AM (690) and talk/oldies WPON-AM (1460) plus traditional country WCXI-AM (1160) from Fenton.


Another fast-growing radio format is edgy FM talk; locally, that would be WKRK-FM (97.1), known as “Live 97.1.” At 5 p.m. Saturday, its top-rated afternoon personalities Deminski & Doyle will host the fifth and final chicken-wing eating contest known as “Wing Cup 5.” This historic finale will take place at Snooker’s Pool & Pub on Hall Road (M-59) in Utica, just east of M-53. I’ve witnessed three of these as contestants vie to be the one to gobble the most wings. It’ll be broadcast live and a large crowd is expected.


On Monday, Jim Harper and the Magic Morning Show will celebrate the fourth annual Women Who Make Magic Awards at Andiamo in Warren. Guest hosted by Donny Osmond, it’s a way for soft hits WMGC-FM (105.1) to pay tribute to local women who have made a difference. Details are at www.detroitmagic.com.


At news-talk WJR-AM (760), morning host Paul W. Smith continues to rack up the miles. On Saturday, he’ll be broadcasting from the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, the site of the annual Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference. Popular talk host Frank Beckmann also will broadcast from the hotel with the world’s longest porch for his 9-11:30 a.m. program. From 10:30 a.m.-noon Saturday, Smith will host Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (WXYZ-Channel 7’s Steve Wilson was not invited) and Oakland County exec L. Brooks Patterson, Wayne County exec Robert Ficano and Macomb county commission chair Nancy White for a lively roundtable on the significant issues facing southeast Michigan. The program repeats 4:30-6 p.m. Sunday.


Eric Harthen, man of a hundred voices, is back with Dick Purtan at WOMC. Harthen originally started with Purtan at hits WKQI-FM (95.5), and now he’s once again providing character voices for the mustachioed man who just completed four decades in Detroit radio.


Kudos to pop hits WDVD-FM (96.3) on its recent competition at The Palace of Auburn Hills last week. Ten contestants raced each other to be the fastest participant to sit in 330 seats — in other words, the entire parameter of the arena. The winner was Amanda Yaklin from Farmington Hills, who completed the event in under 8 minutes and won Pistons playoff tickets. And for those wondering why they can’t hear the Piston games on the Internet, sports WDFN-AM (1130) wants fans to know that the NBA prohibits streaming of games on station Web sites.


Set Your Dials: Host Tom Wilson will feature the patriotic music of D-day at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, June 10, 2005

By: Mike Austerman


Could oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) legendary morning man Dick Purtan’s best friend at the moment be named “Doug,” the local nickname of the new radio format that plays “anything and everything”? Could be, following last week’s shocking changes in format at former oldies stations WCBS-FM in New York City and WJMK-FM in Chicago.


When WOMC owner Infinity Broadcasting made those moves in favor of the hot new format, one immediate thought was what it meant for WOMC. But the fact that ABC’s WDRQ-FM (93.1) already switched to that format earlier this year could keep Infinity from making a similar move with WOMC. Other factors working in favor of keeping 104.3 the way it is are the station’s continued strong ratings and the incredible community support of Purtan’s radiothon for the Salvation Army. But make no mistake about it — if Infinity is determined to get its “Jack-FM” format (locally called Doug FM) as much coverage as it seems, the format will eventually find a home here on either Infinity’s WOMC, hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1), smooth jazz WVMVFM (98.7) or country WYCD-FM (99.5).


Purtan’s contract is up soon, and if the negotiations don’t go well, metro Detroit might become the first major market with two stations featuring this relatively new sound. If so, maybe one of ’em could get it right and focus on artists that this town embraces instead of using a corporate-dictated “anything goes” playlist of 1,200 songs, which is still about three times the number of songs most stations are restricted to.


Ironically, I heard about the changes in Chicago and New York while listening to satellite XM Radio’s Sixties on Six, which was doing a tribute to Chicago’s legendary WCFL. If you have XM, tune in from 4-9 p.m. today, as the featured station is our own WKNR Keener 13, from the heyday of Top 40 AM stations. Host Terry “Motormouth” Young does a great job capturing the feel of the stations he highlights with snippets of the station’s jocks, jingles, and even commercials. It’s the second go-round for Keener as the featured station on XM, but this is an all-new presentation.


Joe Thomas, the afternoon drive host at classic rock hits WDTW-FM (106.7), will be off the air for only — we hope — about two weeks starting Monday as he recovers from weekend cancer surgery following a round of chemotherapy. He was diagnosed at the start of the year and doctors are optimistic about his recovery. Says Thomas: “I was able to get this far because of (bosses) Dave Pugh, Darren Davis, John Trapane and my teammates at 106.7 The Drive. Thanks also to my listeners ... especially those of you who noticed when I first lost my hair and offered your support and prayers.” Get well soon, Joe!


Sad to note the death earlier this week of Phil Lamka, the former general manager of Detroit’s former country WWWW-FM (106.7). Lamka was at the helm in the 1990s during the glory days of W4 when the station won a Marconi award and hit the top of the local ratings for three straight years. In recent years, he ran the Metro Traffic Service here in Detroit. Like many, it was my favorite station at the time and I’m not alone in missing the sound and chemistry of W4 under Lamka’s guidance.


The annual Harley Fest sponsored by rock WRIF-FM (101.1) is June 18 at Freedom Hill in Sterling Heights. This year’s event will help the Karmanos Cancer Institute and welcome more than 25,000 people for a day of music, bikes and more. In the past six years, Harley Fest has helped raise more than $260,000 for charity. Get more info at www.wrif.com.


Coming Soon: WVMV’s annual Smooth JazzFest, in front of the Southfield Civic Center from June 24-26, with the Jazz Attack, David Sanborn, Peabo Bryson and others. Flutist and ’VMV morning man Alexander Zonjic promotes several free jazz concerts during the summer; visit www.wvmv.com for info.


Set Your Dials: Clarinetist Benny Goodman is featured on “Somewhere in Time,” at 6 p.m., Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... and WJR-AM (760) weekend home improvement host Murray Gula moderates a panel of home help guests on WXYZ-Channel 7 at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, June 17, 2005

By: Art Vuolo


Just back from another radio road trip, where one of the most memorable moments at the recent New Media Seminar in New York City occurred at the opening night cocktail party. Air America talk host Al Franken was given the prestigious Freedom of Speech award — only to be given the hook by seminar sponsor Michael Harrison of industry trade publication Talkers Magazine.


Franken had been asked to keep his acceptance speech to under 10 minutes, but when his remarks went past 15 minutes, Harrison said, “Wrap it up, Al.” This began a series of jabs between the two. “It’s freedom of speech,” quipped Franken, referring to the award he had just received. “It’s not the freedom to kill everybody’s evening,” Harrison shot back. “I have about two more pages left,” Franken responded. That got a reaction from the crowd, then someone shouted out, “Is it a freedom of speech award or a shut the f--- up award?” Things then became even more tense as Harrison took the microphone, insisting that Franken end his speech and implored to the crowd not to leave.


Franken’s program is carried locally noon-3 p.m. daily on progressive talk WDTW-AM (1310).


The flap over the changing of stations to the “Jack” format (that play almost anything) continues to make news. Here in Detroit, we saw nothing in the papers about hits WKQI-FM (95.5) welcoming all listeners of former hits WDRQ-FM (93.1) to their station. But in New York, when Jack replaced the longtime oldies station, several papers, including The New York Times, ran full-page ads from Sirius and XM directing oldies fans left stationless to sign up for satellite radio. The same thing happened in Chicago, and in both cases, the story has simply not gone away.


New York’s legendary oldies spinner “Cousin Brucie” Morrow — a radio star there the caliber of our own Dick Purtan — took little time to jump to Sirius satellite radio. Others may follow. In a Chicago Tribune story, Viacom honcho Les Moonves, whose company owns Infinity and supports the Jack format, noted the reaction and said, “God, it seemed like we had shot somebody.” He did. He killed the music of an entire generation.


Legendary NYC talk host and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Joey Reynolds may have expressed the furor best. “The issue is not about the age of the listener,” he said, “The history of rock and roll is under attack! It would be like leaving Vietnam out of a history class in school because the students don’t remember the war. Oldies stations contain a vital piece of the past in a seamless string of songs, writers and artists that shaped a generation.” He’s right.


This past week also has seen a bit of a shake-up in management at local Infinity stations. Word is that starting July 5, sports talk WXYT-AM (1270) will have a new program manager. Dan Zampillo, most recently at Ohio State flagship WBNS-AM in Columbus and previously at Infinity sports WSCR (“The Score”) in Chicago, will assume the PD’s chair vacated about a month ago by Kevin Graham, who is now out in Salt Lake City.


In other conference room news, Infinity is bringing in a new general manager to run oldies WOMC-FM (104.3), as current boss Steve Schram gets relegated to handling country WYCD-FM (99.5). The new blood in Ferndale at ’OMC is Kevin Murphy, who we understand comes to Motown from Rochester, N.Y. Schram, who is well respected and knows the oldies format well, will need to schedule more trips to the country music capital of Nashville. Personally, I don’t understand the logic of this move.

Coming attractions: Reports still say that urban contemporary WDTJ-FM (105.9), known as Jams, and urban oldies WDMK-FM (102.7), known as Kiss, will flip dial positions as Tom Joyner segues from urban pop WMXD-FM (92.3) to WDMK. And long-promised Radio Disney WFDF-AM (910) is slated to premiere in the Detroit area by early July with programming for kids. The Flint station’s transmitter’s been moved down to out near Metro Airport to make it easier for us to get Goofy.


Set Your Dials: “Somewhere In Time” pulls out all the stops with a big pipe organ music show, at 6 p.m. Sunday on Christian WMUZ-FM (103.5). Local jazz great Donald Walden and a sextet play live music 7 p.m. Tuesday on the Ed Love Show on public WDET-FM (101.9).

Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, June 27, 2005

By: Mike Austerman


Ever had trouble getting a clear (or any) AM or FM signal in your office building or plant? Your options have gotten a lot better lately.


Talker WKRK-FM (97.1), sports WXYT-AM (1270) and soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1) all now offer much of their programming over the Internet, joining numerous other stations in town with that feature.

Here’s the list of local stations with an Internet simulcast that I’m aware of: news/talk WJR-AM (760); all news WWJ-AM (950); adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3); classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7); top 40 WKQI-FM (95.5); urban WJLB-FM (97.9); soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3); hard rock WRIF-FM (101.1); public radio WDET-FM (101.9); and rock hits WDTW-FM (106.7).


In addition, progressive talk WDTW-AM (1310) and talk WDTK-AM (1400) offer Internet broadcasts of some of their syndicated shows. To access these, visit each station’s home page — and to make that easier, visit my Web site at www.michiguide.com and click on “Station Listings.”


Now that summer is in full swing, it’s time to drag out those golf clubs and get driving toward some great radio charity events scheduled for next month.


First off the tee will be the eighth annual Dick Purtan Golf Classic on July 11 (also Dick’s birthday) at Oakland University’s Katke-Cousins and Sharf championship courses. Again this year, the scramble will benefit the Gail Purtan Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at the Karmanos Cancer Institute.


The $350 cost includes 18 holes of golf, cart, lunch by Carrabba’s Italian Grill, an awards dinner featuring a show by Purtan’s People and a special gift package, too.


Dick and the gang will be broadcasting live 6-10 a.m. that morning from OU; visit www.womc.com for a registration form and more details.


Not a golfer and still want to help? Credit Union One locations are accepting donations through July 10.


And, instead of just puttering around the garden, why not get involved with the 18th annual CATCH Golf Classic on July 18 at Meadowbrook Country Club in Northville?


WJR is once again the event’s official radio station and will be covering it and interviewing local celebs. A preview party the night before will honor local sports executives.


WJR midday host and Michigan play-by-play man Frank Beckmann will be this year’s recipient of the annual Doc Fenkell Excellence in Media award. Founded by former Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson, CATCH is dedicated to improving the quality of life of pediatric patients at Children’s & Henry Ford Hospitals by providing them with assistance not otherwise available.


The annual golf tournament and preview party is the charity’s flagship fund-raiser for the year. For details, visit www.catchcharity.org.


Noted: “The Handyman Show with Glenn Haege,” heard locally on sports WDFN-AM (1130), has received the Best Broadcast Report award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.


They commented: “Haege performed a valuable radio service for homeowners ... by not only answering their call-in questions knowledgeably, but by interviewing professionals in the industry. His knowledge of the field is impressive, and his answers were easy to understand and follow.”


Well, OK — but can he help my golf game?


Set Your Dials: Former WDET-FM (101.9) host Matt Watroba’s “Folks Like Us” show has found a new home on Ypsilanti’s WEMU-FM (89.1) 2-5 p.m. Saturdays.

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, July 4, 2005

By: Mike Austerman


Fans of the Tom Joyner morning show gave their seek buttons a workout this past week after his highly rated morning show jumped from one adult urban station to another with little warning to listeners. A fixture for many years on WMXD-FM (92.3), Joyner can now be heard on WDMK-FM (105.9) as one piece of a rather complicated series of changes in the area’s urban radio scene.


Gone from the airwaves (sort of) is hip-hop WDTJ-FM (105.9), known as “Jamz,” which was moved out of the way to make room for the adult R&B sound of WDMK (Kiss FM) as it moved up the dial from its previous home at FM 102.7. With the addition of Joyner, fans of former Kiss FM morning man John Mason now have to listen to his show during the afternoon drive (2-6 p.m.) on FM 105.9, instead. A.J. Parker, Mason’s former co-host, now does middays (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) for Kiss, and Lady BG has shifted to evenings. Shuffled out of the picture was 23-year Detroit radio vet Randi Myles who’d been with Kiss FM the past four years.


The new kid in town is WHTD-FM (102.7), which goes by the moniker Hot 102-7. It’s proudly boasting that “We Are Hip-Hop,” making it pretty much a direct replacement for what was 105.9 Jamz. One big difference so far has been the lack of the Russ Parr morning show. The station says it’s not yet made a final decision on morning programming on 102.7; last week, the morning show focused heavily on music.


The reasons for all of these changes? The 102.7 frequency runs into interference roughly west of Interstate 275 because of the close proximity of Ann Arbor’s country WWWW-FM (102.9). And WDMK/WHTD owner Radio One wants to maximize its coverage for the franchise Joyner morning program, a show the company has invested heavily in, which’ll get much better market coverage on FM 105.9. And getting the show off a competitor’s station and on to its own property is a huge win for Radio One and sets up quite a battle for fans of adult R&B between them and Mix 92.3.


Meanwhile, WMXD will fill its mornings with summerlong rotation of guest hosts. The station is asking listeners to vote for their favorite guest in the next couple of months. They’ll then use that feedback to help select a new host.


Welcome Aboard: Michael Coleman is the new general manager at public radio WDET-FM (101.9) The former deputy director of Michigan Public Media replaces Caryn Mathes, who left in February to manage a public station in Washington, D.C.


Fans of classical music have a unique opportunity to hear a live performance of Bay City’s Bijou Orchestra on Tuesday from the front lawn of CBC Windsor on Riverside Drive in Windsor. The event will be broadcast live during the afternoon drive on CBC’s Radio Two service, heard locally on CBE-FM (89.9). And what a band! The Bijou Orchestra plays with panache, aplomb and a few other fruits. “We couldn’t be more excited about having them join us in Windsor,” said Grant Rowledge, producer for the afternoon show “Disc Drive.” Bijou’s artistic director Leo Najar is happy, too, calling the show “one of the most popular drive-time music programs in Canada.” Originating in Vancouver, it is traveling to Windsor for the Freedom Festival because the program is very popular in such American border cities as Detroit, Buffalo and Seattle, among others.


The Bijou Orchestra takes its name from the Bijou Theater, one of the earliest theaters in Bay City, which later became known as the Bay and eventually the State. The ensemble is composed of 13 outstanding musicians drawn from Michigan and beyond to perform in this challenging medium in which every player is a soloist. Seems like a great way to celebrate the holiday and the freedom of two great countries.


Detroit rock city strikes again — as rockin’ WRIF-FM (101.1) scored three major awards in the active rock station category at the recent Radio & Records convention. ’RIF was named Active Rock Station of the Year, morning hosts Drew & Mike were Morning Show of the Year and Mark Pennington was honored as Music Director of the Year. “It’s an incredible achievement,” said Peter Smyth, president and CEO of WRIF owner Greater Media, and “... a wonderful tribute to the outstanding men and women who have made WRIF the legendary station it is today in the Motor City.”

 

WJR losing news trio

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Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, July 11, 2005

By: Art Vuolo


What’s happening to the news department at the Great Voice of the Great Lakes?


News-talk WJR-AM (760) has seen a changing of the guard in its newsroom of late. Let it be known that three of its most senior newsmen, most of whom have won countless awards for journalistic excellence, have opted to take what some are calling an “early retirement” and were not dismissed by WJR or parent company Disney/ABC. Gene Fogel, Rod Hansen and morning anchor Dan Streeter have each been with the station for 20 years or longer. Fogel will continue to fill in, as needed, on a “parttime” basis. News director Dick Haefner remains in place, and some readjusting of reporters may be forthcoming.


Station management wants listeners to know that WJR will continue to be first in covering local, national and world news that’s important to its large and loyal audience. Reports that WWJ-AM (950) managers were poised at the exits of the Fisher Building were untrue.

Your always traveling radio reporter has just returned from New Jersey, where, after paying the tolls, I participated in videotaping Sean Hannity’s annual Freedom Concert at Six Flags Great Adventure. Hannity is carried locally 7-10 p.m. on WJR.

The crowds that good talk stations can generate for such events is amazing. Despite torrential rains, country pop stars LeAnn Rimes, Aaron Tippin and others made it an extra hot event in the Garden State.

Seemingly every week, there’s more news about that new “Jack-FM” format that has been sweeping the nation. Locally, it’s classic hits WDRQ-FM (93.1), known as “Doug.” While Detroiters have been neutral on the local change, listeners in New York and Chicago are still screaming about the loss of their oldies stations. Chicago radio columnist Rob Feder was inundated with letters and e-mails regarding statements from Infinity VP Joel Hollander, who comes off sounding like an executive who cares little for the listeners.

If oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) were to make a similar change here in Motown, the outcry would probably be just as loud. And let’s stop all of this insane speculation about what’s going to happen to Dick Purtan when his five-year contact expires in December. Let’s just wish him a happy birthday today — and hoist a Slurpee in his honor. (Think about the date.)

As “regular” radio continues to seemingly program for no one older than 50, satellite radio is gaining in popularity with XM adding more than 640,000 new subscribers last quarter and aiming for 5.5 million by year’s end. In a related story, the Hyatt hotel chain announced it’ll be placing XM radios in rooms nationwide. That’s as smart as the deals XM and Sirius have with rental car companies, as it allows the public to experience this relatively new technology at no added cost.

If you’ve been down near Comerica Park as things get ready for Tuesday’s All-Star Game, you’ll see a lot of signage for XM, which carries all the major league baseball teams. But for those who prefer their sports on free radio, catch all of the action of the big game on sports WXYT-AM (1270) which is going all-out for the All-Stars.

Quick hits: WJR’s Paul W. Smith recently won the fourth annual Spirit of Philanthropy Award at the 2005 Vattikuti Invitational at Oakland Hills. Good goin’, PWS. ... Fred Jacobs, the Southfield-based radio consultant and father of the classic rock format, was voted Radio Industry Executive of the Year at the recent R&R Radio Convention in Cleveland. He deserves it. Kudos also to pop-urban WMXD-FM (92.3), as Jamillah Muhammad won program director of the year in her format category at the same confab on the north coast.

Set Your Dials: John Sang takes to the pipe organ with hot TV themes at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, July 18, 2005

By: Art Vuolo


While doing some much-needed cleaning, I uncovered a few of my old Radio Guides. After more than three decades of publishing them, I found it interesting to see what the Detroit dial looked like 30 years ago. On the AM dial, very few stations still maintain their original call letters — and none still has its original format. Consistent call-letters include nostalgia CKWW-AM (580), oldies CFCO-AM (630), news-talk WJR-AM (760), information CKLW-AM (800), all-news WWJ-AM (950), oldies CHOK-AM (1070), oldies/talk WPON-AM (1460), Spanish WSDS-AM (1480), variety CBE-AM (1550) and talk WAAM-AM (1600). (Technically, WSDS in Canton started out as a Top 40 station WYSI in Ypsilanti and then was country for 45 years. WAAM in Ann Arbor began in the late 1940s as WHRV, switching to WAAM in 1963.


Do you remember when 560 AM was WQTE or WHND Honey Radio? Out in Ann Arbor, 1050 started out as WPAG in 1945 and then became WPZA when pizza king Tom Monaghan bought the station. Now it’s WTKA. The AM station at 1130 was WCAR for years, but today you know it as The Fan, sports WDFN. The WCAR name is now on Catholic AM (1090), which started out as WERB Garden City before becoming WTAK, Detroit’s first all-talk station. AM 1270 started out as WGHP, then WXYZ and is now WXYT, while 1310 AM has had a litany of letters including WKMH, WKNR, WNIC-AM, WWKR, WMTG, WDOZ, WYUR and WXDX. Today, it’s progressive talk station WDTW. It’s also common for outlying stations to pick up discarded letters like WCXI — once at 1130, now at 1160 AM in Fenton, with management angling to move it to Wixom. Up near Port Huron, the old 96.3 FM WHYT letters were once on 1590 AM. And maybe you can recall when Top 40 WJBK-AM was on 1500. That dial position has also been country WDEE, pop WCZY-AM and now Christian WLQV. WMBC-AM (1400) evolved into WJLB then WQBH and is now WDTK, a conservative talker.

But back in the Roaring Twenties, private eye-turned broadcaster Jerry Buckley was America’s first radio reporter to use the power of the airwaves (250 watts in those days) to fight crime and corruption in Detroit. In a crime that was never solved, Buckley was slain July 23, 1930, by three gunmen as he sat reading a newspaper in a Detroit hotel lobby. A tribute to this legendary radio man will be held on the 75th anniversary of his assassination noon-2 p.m. Saturday at the Roma Cafe in Detroit’s Eastern Market District. For more information on the event, call (810) 730-5110 or e-mail former CNN and NBC news correspondent Pat Clawson at patrickclawson@comcast.net.

Those heading up north for a getaway now have another frequency for quality classical music. Dick Wallace of the late WQRS tells me that WIAA-FM (88.7), the 100,000-watt classical powerhouse from the Interlochen Music Camp, is now also available at 88.5 FM in Mackinaw City. This is in addition to its other repeater signal at 100.9 FM in East Jordan.

Quick Hits: Adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3) continues to search for the next Mix Morning host after the departure of Tom Joyner to the new urban WDMK-FM (105.9).

Mark your calendar for John Mason’s 25th anniversary concert Saturday at the Phoenix Plaza in downtown Pontiac. Mason is now on afternoons at WDMK, known as Kiss-FM.

Public radio WDET-FM (101.9) late-night host Liz Copeland is celebrating 10 years at the NPR affiliate. Late shifters and insomniacs can tune her in 10 p.m.-3 a.m. weeknights.

Classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7) is six days into its two week event of playing its entire musical library of nearly 2,000 songs from A to Z. Now that’s a “no repeat guarantee” that I can really enjoy.

Today, Joel Morgan assumes his new duties as promotion director of classic hits WDTW-FM (106.7), known as The Drive. Morgan is truly one of the nice guys in local radio and is deserving of the new job.

The overnight trucker talk show on WJR gets a host change as Joe Kelly hits the exit ramp and is replaced by Gary McNamara teaming with Eric Harley starting July 25.

Set Your Dials: For the music of Benny Goodman by Ziggy Elman on “Somewhere in Time,” at 6 p.m. Sunday on Christian WMUZ-FM (103.5).


Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, July 25, 2005

By: Mike Austerman


So, what do listeners think of “Doug FM,” the “we play all kinds of stuff” format at adult hits WDRQ-FM (93.1)? According to the Arbitron spring ratings book — not much. The station sank to 15th place overall among all listeners with a 2.5 share of the metro Detroit radio audience. And Doug’s former competitor, Top-40 WKQI-FM (95.5)? It zoomed up to a fourth place finish with a solid 5.1 share.


Tops among listeners ages 12 and up were newstalk WJR-AM (760), followed by all-news WWJ-AM (950) and urban WJLB-FM (97.9). The rest of the top 10 stations included adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3), oldies WOMC-FM (104.3), smooth jazz WVMV-FM (98.7), country WYCD-FM (99.5), rock WRIF-FM (101.1), and soft rockers WMGC-FM (105.1) and WNIC-FM (100.3), which tied for 10th. Morning show ratings also reflect the changes at 93.1. Although WRIF’s Drew and Mike continue on top, WKQI’s “Mojo in the Morning” gang is putting the pressure on, scoring the number one slot among women ages 18-34 and 18-49.


While it’s probably too early to call Doug FM a failure, these numbers might not please the bosses in the Fisher Building (though running a radio station via computer might be their idea of success no matter what the ratings are). But maybe listeners are looking for something more to go with the music, commercials and constant barrage of cutesy “Doug” sayings. When the station first was launched, I was excited because of the music variety. But three-plus months later, I don’t listen much, mostly because of the way the station presents itself: There’s simply too much clutter to put up with for more than a song or two. It looks as if other listeners feel the same way — and advertisers will take note, too, if the ratings continue to be soft.

Sports WDFN-AM (1130) afternoon hosts Mike Stone and Bob Wojnowski reached their goal of accumulating $1 million throughout their eight years of helping the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society during this year’s recent 28-hour long radiothon.

Meanwhile, former WDFN reporter Sabrina Black continues her fight against cancer. First diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease in early 2000, Black continues to undergo multiple treatments as doctors search for success. She’s been through several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, in addition to two bone marrow transplants and numerous side effects and complications. Keep her and her husband, Steve Black of WRIF, in your thoughts as they fight for Sabrina’s recovery.

Public WDET-FM (101.9) has once again been nominated for noncommercial Adult Album Alternative Station of The Year by the trade pub Radio and Records. Program director Judy Adams says the nomination “validates our efforts to program WDET differently than other stations in our market, or in the entire country.” The station’s news department also scored several awards recently from the Detroit Society of Professional Journalists. “It is a real honor to be recognized by fellow journalists for your work,” said news director Joan Silvi.

Quick Hits: WRIF will host the seventh annual Arthur Penhallow Golf Scramble on Aug. 5 at Devil’s Ridge Golf Course in Oxford. The cool combo of rock and golf will benefit Jack’s Place for Autism. For more, visit www.wrif.com ... WOMC evening host Bob Vandergrift exits stage left to become a program director at a Bloomington, Ill., station that’ll be launched later this summer. The search is on for a new nighttime host in fabulous Ferndale.

Set Your Dials: Former WPON-AM (1460) morning man Crazy Al and co-host Larry Matthews return from 5-7 p.m. today during David Washington’s “20 Grand Review.” It’ll be like Crazy Al’s Radio Party never left the airwaves — and he wants former listeners to know he’s still doing the show daily on the Internet, at www.industrialinfo.com ... host Tom Wilson goes jitterbugging and Lindy dancing as he welcomes Terry Tickle & the Swing City Orchestra at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5).

 

There’s been plenty of migration on FM dial

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, August 1, 2005

By: Art Vuolo


A couple of weeks ago, we had a history lesson on the many changes heard across the AM dial in the last three to four decades. Now let’s cruise down the FM band, where stability has never been a staple of the medium. First, it should be noted that FM frequencies 88.1 through 91.9 are reserved, in our country, for noncommercial broadcasters — known in the trade as “noncoms” — and are usually owned by high schools or colleges and universities.


Our WDET-FM (101.9), Wayne State University’s station, is an exception. From across the border in Windsor, a commercial outlet at 88.7 was first known as CJOM with progressive rock. Today, it’s 89X CIMX-FM, with alternative rock preceded by pop as Mix 88.7.


Locally, our first station, 92.3, has been home to many names and formats. It began as WLIN in Lincoln Park around 1964. Later, it was WCAR-FM, oldies WTWR, country WCXI-FM, urban WNTM and new age WVAE, and today it’s Mix WMXD-FM.


At 93.1, it began as hits WJBK-FM, then country WDEE-FM briefly before switching in June of 1971 to WDRQ-FM, Detroit’s first FM news-talk station. WDRQ evolved from top 40 into disco and then changed to WLTI Lite-FM before switching back to WDRQ and back to the hits. Recently, it became adult hits Doug-FM, though it retains the ’DRQ letters.


Again from Windsor is 93.9, which started out as CKLW-FM, then a plethora of call letters and formats from oldies to country, and today it’s CIDR Lite-FM. Recently, however, its pop music has become much brighter.


As the tour continues, 94.7 began as Birmingham’s WHFI with pop music and big names such as Marc Avery and Lee Alan, housed in a small A-frame building on Rankin Road in Troy. It became oldies Honey Radio WHNE, then pop WMJC, the first Majic 95 with Jeff & Jer. Today? It’s classic rock WCSX.


The roots of 95.5 show it as a true bastion of beautiful music known as WLDM. Then it changed to soft-pop Cozy WCZY, followed by Z95.5, and now WKQI, but became better known as Q95 and, currently, Channel 9-5-5. Are you taking notes?


What started out at 96.3 as elevator music WJR-FM flipped to hits WHYT in the early ’80s, followed later by modern rock The Planet WPLT. Today, it’s adult hit music WDVD.


There was more easy listening at 97.1 with WWJ-FM, followed by WJOI Joy 97 for many years. It was then WYST Star 97 with ’70s hits before becoming K-Rock WKRK going after rock giant The Riff. It failed, and WKRK is now Live 97.1 with a hot talk format and Lions football.


The 97.9 spot has been home only to ethnic WMZK and, for years, urban WJLB, staying amazingly stable.


WBFG was “We Broadcast For God” at 98.7, then it abruptly changed to rock WLLZ Detroit’s Wheels. You know it now as Smooth Jazz WVMV, or V-98.7.


One of the early homes of jazz was 99.5 WABX, which became a legendary “underground” rocker for years. Then it morphed into top 40, then WCLS “Class” before switching to eclectic-pop WDTX. It soon became hits WDFX The Fox, followed by a major shift to WOWF “WOW-FM,” another FM talker that lasted only five months. When it became Young Country WYCD, it stuck.


At 100.3, the saga began as WKMH-FM, then hits WKNRFM, which was transformed into Stereo Island pop music and then in 1973 to adult contemporary WNIC, which it still is today.


101.1 has been only two things — WXYZ-FM and, for 34 years, “Detroit’s Home of Rock & Roll” WRIF. Very stable indeed.


Wayne State’s WDET is one of just four FMs still with their original call letters.


At 102.7, we’ve seen a litany of names on the license. Macomb County’s WBRB-FM became WLBS urban-disco, then it was Kiss WKSG with oldies, then new age WXCD, Z-Rock WDZR, the Bear WWBR with Ted Nugent and then urban oldies and Kiss again as WDMK, which started as soft pop. Now it just switched to WHTD Hot 102.7 with hip-hop music.


Christian WMUZ at 103.5 is another call-letter original, and at 104.3, oldies WOMC has always stood for “Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties.” It started out with beautiful music and pop.


Many classical buffs remember 105.1 as classical WQRS for 37 years, then it stunned locals when it flipped to hard rock WXDG The Edge. After 15 months, that switched to jammin’ oldies WGRV The Groove, and then, 15 months later, became the second Magic with adult contemporary WMCG, which it is today.


105.9 stared out as jazz/black WCHD, then becoming jazz WJZZ, followed by WDTJ Detroit’s Jams. Now it’s adult urban WDMK Kiss 105.9.


The 106.7 spot began as classical WDTM. In 1970, it became WWWW (W4) which was beautiful music, oldies, rock with Howard Stern and, lastly, country for many years. Its current gear is classic hits WDTW The Drive.


Finally, our last unchanged letters are WGPR at 107.5, which stood for “Grosse Pointe Radio.” In the last few decades, it’s been rhythmic and jazz. That’s our fast-moving tour down the FM dial in Detroit. There will be a quiz next week.


Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, August 8, 2005

By: Mike Austerman


Good ol’ regular radio is fighting back against satellite radio and digital music players with enhanced programming — for those willing to spend money on a new receiver. Most of the area’s FM stations now broadcast a digital version of their signals, giving listeners with “high definition” receivers near CD-quality sound. Now, three stations — rock WRIF-FM (101.1), classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7), and soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1) — are also offering multicasts, a separate stream of programming, as part of their digital signals.

WRIF2 offers alternative and independent rock, hip-hop and punk, and also features a heavy dose of local artists. RIF2 targets 18-24-year-olds and, while it’s rock based, the music mix is deliberately eclectic and highlights both new material and local artists with a focus on music from 1995 to today. Listen in over the Internet by visiting www.riff2.com.

WCSX’s Deep Trax (www.wcsxdeeptrax.com) features JJ & Lynne in the morning, followed by classic rock cuts not normally heard on the main station. WCSX personalities Ken Calvert, Karen Savelly and Steve Kostan also provide voices for the new offering.

Meanwhile, More Magic from WMGC features Jim Harper’s morning program, followed 10 a.m.-7 p.m. by Office Magic, a softer contemporary format with a mix of 1970s and ’80s icons and standards, along with Broadway tunes and jazz favorites. From 7 p.m.-6 a.m. and on weekends, Classically Magic consists of music-intensive, familiar classical favorites. Point your computer to www.moremagicradio.com for a sample.

Right now, most of us don’t have new HD radios since the cost is still pretty high, well above $500 on average. But as this technology catches on, imagine the possibilities for free radio programming.

If you haven’t tuned in to WRCJ-FM (90.9) since Aug. 1, you’ll be surprised when you do. WTVS-Channel 56 has taken over operations from Detroit Public Schools and is now broadcasting classical music 5 a.m.-7 p.m. and traditional jazz 7 p.m.-5 a.m. weekdays. It’s the first time since the demise of WQRS in 1997 that metro Detroit has had its own FM station with classical music, and it was way back in 1989 that WJZZ-FM (105.9) dropped jazz.

For now, the station’s shows are all piped in from other sources, but look for local hosts after October, says station boss Bob Scott. Quick, someone call ex-QRSers Dave Wagner and Davis Gloff ...

Buh-Bye: Kelly Brown has exited alt-rocker CIMX-FM (88.7), where she’d cohosted mornings for the past 15 years ... the syndicated “Connection” program on Michigan radio WUOM-FM (91.7) has ceased production, replaced by the one-hour talk show, “On Point” at 9 p.m. weeknights.

Speaking of Ann Arbor, National Public Radio’s StoryCorps, the largest oral history project ever attempted, arrived in A2 on Thursday to record local residents talking about their lives, opinions and philosophies. Those will be stored permanently at the Library of Congress and available to the families of the people who made them and to researchers and scholars. NPR’s mobile sound studio will be at William and Main Streets until Aug. 15, if you’d like to participate.

Rumors have been flying about a possible replacement for Howard Stern on talk WKRK-FM (97.1) once he moves to satellite radio in 2006. Some of the names being heard are former Van Halen front man David Lee Roth and Chicago shock-jock Mancow Muller. Stern himself is predicting he might be gone by the end of September, before the fall ratings period starts.

Adult Urban WDMK-FM (105.9) will host Tom Joyner’s “Big Break” on Wednesday at Hoop City Grille in Southfield. The singing competition will give local Detroiters the chance of a lifetime when three finalists compete live for a $1,000 cash prize during Joyner’s show 6-10 a.m. Friday on WDMK. Auditions begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday, when listeners have 60 seconds to wow a panel of judges made up of Kiss FM personalities Lady BG, AJ Parker and John Mason, who’ll select the three finalists for Friday. Visit www.kissdetroit.com for more info.

Set Your Dials: News-talk WJR-AM (760) morning man Paul W. Smith broadcasts live from the State Fair on Wednesday’s opening day. In addition to Smith’s 6-9 a.m. kickoff, WJR will host numerous live broadcasts during the Fair ... host Tom Wilson will revisits the 1950s payola scandal that affected the late Ed “Jack the Bellboy” McKenzie at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5).

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, August 15, 2005

By: Art Vuolo


Last week, my colleague Mike Austerman reported on the debut of HD (high-definition) radio in Detroit. Besides offering a high quality digital version of a station’s signal, HD allows for “secondary” channels that can offer more specialized programming than their primary stations — all in the battle with satellite radio for listeners. Two years ago, the mammoth Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas offered a taste of HD, but I just experienced it locally and want to share what I saw and heard because it is impressive.

Today, for invited guests, the family-owned Greater Media of Detroit is showcasing its new multichannel broadcasting, which is created by the HD technology. Locally, Greater Media owns rock WRIF-FM (101.1), classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7) and soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1). If you have access to the Internet, you can hear what I heard last week during the demonstration of these new channels. Go to either www.riff2.com, www.wcsxdeeptrax.com or www.moremagicradio.com to hear the formats that counterbalance the FM parent stations you may already be familiar with. (RIFF2 offers alternative and indie rock, plus hiphop, with an emphasis on local artists. The Deep Trax channel has album cuts not normally heard on ’CSX, plus the station’s familiar personalities. More Magic features a softer contemporary format during the day with some Broadway and jazz hits.)

Listening to these on your computer is one thing, but hearing them on a new HD radio right off the air is far more dramatic. To put this new technology into perspective, here’s an analogy from history: In the mid-1960s, FM radio was starting to get noticed and the FCC made it mandatory that AM/FM stations offer separate programming on their FM outlets so they’d be more than just repeats of the AM broadcasts. Since most cars then had AM-only radios, those wanting to sample the new sound had to buy an after-market FM converter to mount under the dash. Though these were in mono sound, people were thrilled to have the new FM band with more music and far fewer commercials. Responding to consumer demand, automakers soon added the FM band to car radios.

Like early FM, HD radio will be basically commercial-free for the first year or two, and there is no monthly subscription fee as there is for satellite radio. Supporters believe this will make free, over-the-air broadcasting far more competitive with satellite and Internet radio since HD is as superior to regular radio as HD TV is to regular television. Like FM, this will work if consumers accept and demand this new technology, just as they convinced the auto companies to start offering XM and Sirius satellite radio in most new cars in the last few years.

During last week’s demonstration, I heard the table-top Boston Acoustics radio and a full-size Yamaha receiver, and the sound was amazing. Prices vary from $249 up to $1,400 to hear this superior sound, but, as with every other electronics gadget, prices are expected to fall as demand increases. What this all means is that your choices on the FM dial could double with the addition of the new HD-1 and HD-2 stations. In Chicago, where the oldies station WJMK-FM changed to the “Jack-FM” format imitating an iPod on shuffle mode like our WDRQ-FM (93.1), station brass brought the oldies back with live DJs on WJMK’s HD-2, figuring that would increase awareness of HD and the sales of new HD radios.

The same can happen here. Clear Channel owns six local stations and is expected to roll out its HD channels in the next few weeks and the same will happen at Infinity and Disney/ABC radio. In theory, you could easily have more than 100 local stations to choose from in the not too distant future. For radio fans, that’s great news.


This is the week when things are really revving up on Woodward Avenue for the Dream Cruise. Tonight, Rick Hunter on oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) gets it started with a live broadcast from Duggan’s Irish Pub in Royal Oak, leading up to the station’s Saturday live remotes from Birmingham, Ferndale and Royal Oak. Many of your other favorite radio personalities will be broadcasting along the Dream Cruise route this week. Even satellite radio is getting into the act as XM’s Phlash Phelps from the 1960s channel and West Bloomfield native Sari from the 1970s channel will be live at the GM display in Birmingham on Saturday.


Soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1) is running two broadcasts to salute women in the automotive industry. The first is 6-10 a.m. Thursday at General Motors headquarters at the Ren Cen; the second is 6-10 a.m. Friday at the Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills. For more, visit www.magic1051.com.


Quick Hits: Infinity local sales boss and WYCD-FM (99.5) veep Steve Schram has resigned ... Urban WHTD-FM (102.7) has moved night slammers Dre and Suga Rae to mornings, where they replace Russ Parr’s syndicated morning show. Getting the nighttime nod are Sean Anthony and Keith “Baby” Jones from Cincinnati’s WIZF-FM ... local DJ The Bushman of urban WJLB-FM (97.9) is being honored tonight at Flood’s Bar & Grill in Detroit for getting national exposure for the Detroit hip-hop sound that’s produced Eminem and Slum Village.


Set Your Dials: Hear the Greencards live 1-4 p.m. Tuesday on WDET-FM (101.9) ... and pull out the stops with pipe organist Father Jim Miller at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5).

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, August 22, 2005

By: Mike Austerman


Tune down your AM dial this morning, and you’ll likely hear metro Detroit’s newest radio station. WFDF-AM (910) used to broadcast from Flint, but now it’s in the final stages of moving its transmitter to northern Monroe County. And that’ll allow it to blast the metro area with the sounds of Radio Disney, the pop format targeted at kids from elementary through high school.

It’s been quite the odyssey for the Mouse House. It purchased WFDF in 2002 for $3 million to create a new Detroit radio station, the area’s first new AM station since 1990, when WMKM-AM (1440) signed on after WCHB dropped down to AM 1200. Since then, there’ve been zoning battles in Monroe over the station’s new broadcast towers, multiple applications with the FCC to get the move approved and lots of money invested.

Last week, I dialed in to WFDF while it was performing tests. At times, the station would broadcast from its old Flint location, making it tough to pick up on the car radio. Then suddenly, the reception would clear up dramatically when the new facilities came on. When all of this testing is complete, the station will have one of the area’s strongest signals, rivaling all news WWJ-AM (950), sports WDFN-AM (1130) and sports WXYT-AM (1270) during the daytime. The station should also come in clearer than WDFN and WXYT at night, but not quite as good as WWJ. Also, the station’s “community of” license will change from Flint (where it has been licensed since signing on in May, 1922) to Farmington Hills. And I wouldn’t be shocked to see the WFDF call letters disappear soon to better reflect the Radio Disney name.

Yet the whole thing is curious to me. Spending millions to get Radio Disney on in Detroit seems like a waste since kids don’t listen much to AM radio these days. And with the musical content of Radio Disney also being carried on both XM and Sirius satellite radio, there’s already a way to listen if you want. Is Radio Disney really that profitable, and are advertisers that supportive of this format? As they say in TV news reports, only time will tell.


Speaking of AM radio, reader Ron wants to know why in Waterford and Clarkston it seems almost impossible to listen to AM in the car. He reports that the static in certain areas is so bad you can’t hear anything — and these areas appear to be getting bigger. What causes this, he asks, and are the stations doing anything about it?

Well, Ron, many things cause interference on AM radio these days — everything from power lines and microwave ovens to garage door openers. Everything that transmits wirelessly can cause some interference. Even all the electronics in your car can be a source of interference. Try listening to the radio with the engine off, and you’ll probably notice a difference.

At this point, there isn’t much that can be done about this interference, though digital radio might help. That said, some of the stations themselves are to blame. Take WXYT, for example. It used to broadcast from Southfield near 10 Mile Road and Northwestern Highway and had a good signal in much of the metro area. Now, it shoots its signal up from Monroe County, and even though it has more power, its signal is much more directional, causing weak spots in coverage that weren’t there before. That includes along the Troy-Sterling Heights border, where I live, in one of those trouble spots. What WXYT has gained in fringe reception areas, I think it has lost in its core listening area.

Thanks, Ron, for an excellent question.


The Detroit Lions obviously realized the limitations of AM radio, following the lead of other NFL teams by moving their broadcasts to FM. Already heard locally on talk WKRK-FM (97.1), the Lions have moved to FM in western Michigan this season, adding WKLQ-FM (107.3) Greenville/Grand Rapids and WKOQ-FM (92.5) Newaygo to their affiliate list. The Lions are also on FM in Lansing (92.1 and 92.7) and in the Tri-Cities area (on 104. 5 and 100.9). Like many fans, I enjoy hearing the games broadcast in FM.


Set Your Dials: The swing band Sounds of Swing Orchestra will be featured on “Somewhere in Time” at 6 p.m. (8-28) on WMUZ-FM (103.5).

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, August 29, 2005

By: Art Vuolo


Nothing seems to continually fascinate people in the radio industry (and listeners) more than ratings. In the metro Detroit market, radio ratings are taken in each of the four seasons and each quarter is divided into three phases, one for each month of the quarter. Even though most of the season’s first college football games are this Saturday, it’s still summertime. And though the summer ratings book for Detroit won’t be released until late October or early November, the first phase just rolled out — with a few surprises.

News-talk WJR-AM (760) held on to first place, but just barely as archrival all-news WWJ-AM (950) is only one tenth of a point behind the megawatt home of Paul W., Frank, Rush and Mitch. WKQI-FM (95.5) program director Dom Theodore has to be pleased that his Top 40 station is number four in Motown, just behind urban WJLB-FM (97.9) and tied with oldies WOMC-FM (104.3). Theodore’s former competitor, WDRQ-FM (93.1) — now dubbed Doug FM — actually moved up by a fraction of a point without DJs— which is not a good sign for personality radio. But only time will tell if the jockless juke box has legs. And in the pop wars, Jim Harper’s soft rock Magic WMGC-FM (105.1) edged out competitor Chris Edmonds and crew at WNIC-FM (100.3).


Have you noticed that WMGC’s HD-2 station (known as “More Magic”) features all-classical music at night on special high-definition radios? What’s interesting is this returns classical fare to a frequency known for “music of the masters” for almost 40 years — when the station was classical WQRS-FM. So, to VP/GM Tom Bender (who pulled the plug on ‘QRS in 1997), you have been forgiven.


In other classical radio news, the CBC Radio Canada lockout, which began Aug. 15, continues — which is why Windsor’s CBE-FM (89.9) has sounded so strange of late. No new negotiations have been set but workers said they’d be launching a national podcast today. For more, check cbcunplugged.com on the Web.


An old acquaintance and former broadcaster Paul Donovan, who now lives near Marquette in the Upper Peninsula, sent an e-mail stating that he was “sitting up here tonight listening to 1270 Detroit. ... I hear the Tigers in the evenings on my back deck with a portable Sony radio.” Yet I have trouble getting the station in Novi. Fortunately, the sports WXYT-AM (1270) broadcast is available crystal-clear on XM Satellite Radio.


Fans of Howard Stern are counting down his remaining days on “free” radio. His controversial program is carried locally by hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1), where programmer Craig Schwalb needs to find a new morning show as time is running out. Insiders predict Stern will segue over to Sirius Satellite Radio by the end of September. Lots of possibilities for his slot are being considered. I know what show I would like to hear on Live 97.1, but as the Rolling Stones said in 1969, “You can’t always get what you want.”


Of all the radio stations that switched to the new “Jack” format (like our own Doug FM), the one that made the biggest news was 33-year oldies legend WCBS-FM in New York City. The early reports are not good. Listeners are still angry over the loss of their oldies. And former CBS-FM program director and Oakland County native Dave Logan has to be wondering what’s next. The “Jack” format took him out, too.


Blaine Fowler, the morning guy who looks too young to be in his 30s, checks in with a reminder to mark your calendar for Sept. 8. That’s when his pop hits WDVD-FM (96.3) hosts a 14 hour radiothon to benefit the Karmanos Cancer Institute to fight breast cancer. It’ll originate at Gordon Chevrolet in Garden City. See you there.


From our “Whatever Happened To” Department comes word that former classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7) host Carey Carlson has migrated to northern Michigan and has a new syndicated program called “Third Coast Café.” Her old ’CSX Sunday morning shows were known as “Over Easy.” Like that, her new show is an eclectic mix of classic rock and seldom-heard tunes, and it airs Sunday mornings on several stations around the state. Listeners in western Oakland County can catch the show 9-11 a.m. Sundays on classic hits WHMI-FM (93.5) in Brighton/Howell. Carlson also handles midday duties at Traverse City’s powerful country WTCM-FM (103.5). Back at ’CSX, host Pam Rossi ably helms “Over Easy” from 7 a.m.-noon Saturdays and Sundays.


The last Motor City Broadcast Reunion is less than a month away. If you know someone who should be a part of this historic event and might not know about it, go to www.vuolovideo.com and click on reunions for details. An amazing number of radio and TV legends are coming to town for this occasion. Though not open to the public, it will be heavily covered by local media.


Set Your Dials: The Ditty Bops perform in studio on the Martin Bandyke Show at 2 p.m. today on WDET-FM (101.9) ... Frank Beckmann and Jim Brandstatter head back behind the mike on WJR Saturday for the Michigan’s home opener against Northern Illinois. The same broadcast is also available on Ann Arbor’s sports WTKA-AM (1050) ... band leader Cab Calloway gives ’em the old “hi dee ho” on “Somewhere in Time” at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5).

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, September 5, 2005

By: Mike Austerman


It’s nice to start off the week with some good news. Dave Wagner, whom classical music fans no doubt remember from his days at the former WQRS-FM (105.1), has been named program director for Classical/ Jazz WRCJ-FM (90.9), effective Tuesday. In addition, he’ll become the station’s morning voice later this fall when the station switches from satellite feeds to local-based shows.

One of Detroit radio’s most popular personalities, Wagner’s vast musical knowledge and wry sense of humor entertained listeners for 17 years at WQRS. “It’s great to have classical music back in Detroit, and I’m so proud to be part of the team to make this happen,” says Wagner.

As program director for WRCJ, his role will be similar to the one he held at ’QRS before the classical music died in 1997 in a format change. Wagner will guide the mix of daytime classical and nighttime jazz and the overall content of the station, which is operated by Detroit Public Television and licensed to Detroit Public Schools. The 35-year radio veteran with experience at commercial and public radio stations has been working as program director at classical station KMZT (K-Mozart) in Los Angeles since 2001, in addition to his role as a music professor at Madonna University in Livonia. We’re looking forward to the Sousa Alarm going off at 7:15 a.m. weekdays when Dave returns.


Last week in New Orleans, radio stations were able to get themselves back on the air, at least periodically, to provide essential information on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to the thousands in harm’s way — and stranded in the disaster area afterward. A battery-operated radio was literally a lifeline for many who were truly living in hell with no other means of communication.

For a medium often attacked as nonessential and not tuned in to what listeners want, countless examples of heroism by radio people in the stricken areas proved otherwise.


Locally, Oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) hosted the Labor of Love Hurricane Relief radiothon over the weekend to collect money for The Salvation Army’s hurricane relief efforts. Stop by any Standard Federal Bank branch in Michigan to make your donation — they’ll gladly forward your check made out to “Salvation Army — Hurricane Katrina.” If the bank’s closed, just drop your donation in the night deposit slot.

Other stations also jumped in to help, including ABC Detroit outlets news-talk WJRAM (760), Disney WFDF-AM (910), adult hits WDRQ-FM (93.1) and pop hits WDVD-FM (96.3). They’re taking donations at their Web sites and giving out The Salvation Army’s 24-hour donor phone line — (877) 725-6424. Times like this make radio shine, showing how it can rally people so quickly and effectively.


Breaking News: Coming Sept. 19 to public radio WUOM-FM (91.7) will be a talk show hosted by veteran political observer Jack Lessenberry. The show, which airs 1-2 p.m. weekdays, will look at issues of the day and chat with authors, guests and callers. “I wanted to call it ‘Hot Air’ since it follows ‘Fresh Air,’ but they wouldn’t let me,” jokes the often acerbic Lessenberry.


After nearly five months, National Public Radio’s “This I Believe” project has generated more than 5,000 submissions from listeners documenting their personal values in 500-word essays and interviews. The essays have contained revelations about parents, personal struggles and the impact of race and wealth on their characters. They air Mondays on NPR, alternating between “Morning Edition’ and “All Things Considered,” heard locally on WDET-FM (101.9) and WUOM. “Folks are embracing the chance for their voice to be heard,” said executive producer Dan Gediman.


Pop WDVD-FM (96.3) morning host Blaine Fowler hosts the third annual Hands-free Apple Pie Eating Contest at Rochester’s Art & Apples Festival on Saturday. Registration starts at 11 a.m., and four contestants will vie to see who can eat the most pie without using their hands in 96.3 seconds. The winner scores a $100 gift certificate — and a tummy ache.


Set Your Dials: Hosts Tom Wilson and Sarah Swanson go back to the early days of Detroit radio to play the jazz swing music of The Sophistocats at 6 p.m. Sunday (9-11) on WMUZ-FM (103.5).

 

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.

 

Country WYCD should tap local roots

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Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, September 19, 2005

By: Mike Austerman


Country WYCD-FM (99.5) once again is looking for a new program director with last week’s exit of Chip Miller after less than a year at the station. Word is the decision for the quick exit was mutual after WYCD couldn’t nail down a long-term commitment from Miller, who’s seeking to get into station ownership in Tennessee.

Instead of a launching another nationwide search, maybe WYCD should start by looking at two highly qualified country programmers with strong roots in the area: W4 Country alums Barry Mardit and Joe Wade Formicola, both of whom know what it takes to win with country in the Motor City. Already blessed with a strong on-air roster, WYCD could easily reach new heights with the experience and loyalty of guys like Mardit or Formicola. Maybe that’d be too easy.


Premiering at 1 p.m. today on Public Radio WUOM-FM (91.7) is a new, local call-in talk show hosted by Jack Lessenberry. Famed for his acerbic weekly Metro Times column, the veteran journalist and social commentator promises an edgy and fast-paced program that’s “a little fun, as well.”


The “Where Are They Now?” file: Former Pop WDVD-FM (96.3) morning man Rocky Allen is back in New York City at WPLJ-FM, where he enjoyed considerable ratings success in the 1990s doing afternoon drive. Allen, who’d been living in Rochester Hills, will once again help commuters get home during afternoon drive in the nation’s No. 1 radio market.


Lansing temporarily lost its only Top 40 station last week when WHZZ-FM (101.7) suddenly became Mike FM, yet another station that’s jumped on this year’s hot format of “playing anything.” So now in Michigan, we have Doug FM in Detroit, Joe FM in Saginaw and Mike FM in Lansing — how long before George moves to Grand Rapids?

Quickly taking the Top 40 torch was Oldies WJIMFM (97.5), leaving the Capital City without an oldies outlet. Longtime WJIM morning voice Rich Michaels moved to sister station Classic Rock WMMQ-FM (94.9) along with the broadcasts of Michigan State University football and basketball. I can already hear the howling from MSU fans used to getting the games on 97.5, which covers a lot more ground east of Lansing than 94.9 because of the proximity of our own Classic Rock WCSX-FM on 94.7.


Is anyone else having a hard time keeping up with all of the technology that can deliver content that used to be the sole domain of radio? Podcasting, the ability to download programming from multiple sources for playback whenever you want to hear it on your computer or MP3 player, has really caught on. Radio stations themselves have recognized this and are now offering podcasts from their Web sites. Check out www.wwj.com, the Web site for All-News WWJ-AM (950), for extra reports that don’t make it on the radio. Now how long will it be before radio stations charge us to download the content we want?


Urban stations WDMK-FM (105.9), WHTD-FM (102.7) and WCHB-AM (1200) get kudos for helping the UniverSoul Circus collect a tractor-trailer full of food and clothing, which was shipped over the weekend to hurricane victims in Louisiana.


WDFN-AM (1130) handyman Glenn Haege will host his annual Fall Home Show from Oct. 7-9 at the Ford Arts Center in Dearborn. It’s the area’s only free home show that features numerous home improvement experts discussing products and services with area homeowners. Haege will broadcast his weekend show live from the event 5-8 p.m. Oct. 7, 10 a.m. -6 p.m. Oct. 8 and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 9. Check www.wdfn.com for more details.


Top voice talents Randy Thomas and Peter Rofe will be teaching aspiring voice actors Friday and Saturday at the Sheraton Hotel in Novi. Geared toward beginners and experienced pros alike, this class can be invaluable to those seeking a voice career. Call (248) 737-3000, Ext. 11, or contact barryzate@aol.com.


Just out is the latest WJR/ Michigan Radioguide produced by my radio column colleague Art Vuolo. Sponsored by GMAC Mortgage, the guide lists every station in the state by region and also the University of Michigan football and men’s basketball schedules for the season, along with affiliate station listings. Get the guides free at Big Boy restaurants across the state or for just $1 mail to the following address: WJR Michigan RADIOGUIDE, P.O. Box 880, Novi, MI 48376-0880. Be sure to include your return address to get yours ASAP.


Set Your Dials: Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates is the featured essayist on NPR’s “This I Believe” series during today’s “All Things Considered” news show, 4-7 p.m. on WDET-FM (101.9) and WUOM.

Ray Anthony, one of the remaining members of the original Glenn Miller band, will be featured on “Somewhere in Time,” at 6 p.m. Sunday (9-25) on WMUZ-FM (103.5).

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, September 26, 2005

By: Art Vuolo


This past weekend was one I’ll personally never forget as the Last Great Radio Reunion took place. Since I was one of the organizers, it seems more appropriate for my colleague Mike Austerman to fill you in on the details in his next column. Suffice to say it was amazing to gather over the weekend with several hundred of the biggest names to ever grace the Motor City radio dial. I’m still recovering.

Missing from the fun on Saturday night was Country Dan Dixon, who played the Nashville sounds on WDEE, WCXI and CKLW-FM (800) in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Now working on XM Channel 10 “America,” he’s currently hospitalized in Washington, D.C., with complications from diabetes, so keep him in your thoughts.


If you’re heading up to East Lansing for the always exciting UM-MSU football game this Saturday, and you’ve taken out a loan for the $70 face-value tickets, let me share some good news: Take your radio headset to the stadium. State fans can hear George Blaha on the Michigan State Network over classic rock WMMQ-FM (94.9) or on news-talk WJIM-AM (1240) since the MSU games are no longer on WJIM-FM (97.5), which is now a top 40 hit music station. On the flip side, Michigan fans can get their fix as well as Frank Beckmann, Jim Brandstatter and Steve Courtney on the Host Communications/WJR-AM (760) Network can be heard on sports WQTX-FM (92.7). So both sides can be satisfied hearing their favorite broadcasters along with their favorite football team.

And fans of both schools can join Mitch Albom live at Andiamo Italia Banquet Center in Warren for a huge UM-MSU indoor tailgate party with fun, food and fan fare on WJR from 3-6 p.m. Friday.


Classic Rock WCSX-FM (94.7) is seeking unsung heroes, asking listeners who they feel are not getting the recognition they truly deserve. Send your suggestions to: heros@wcsx.com or by mail to: WCSX One Radio Plaza, Detroit, MI 48220. Winners will be recognized at a banquet at Petruzzello’s in Troy on November 17th. Sounds delicious to me.


The last of the summer ratings monthly trends came out last week — with no shocking surprises. WJR remains on top, but a tie for second place has urban WJLB-FM (97.9) and oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) just a tenth of a point behind the mega-power AM 760. Third place is also a tie between Smooth Jazz WVMVFM (98.7) and all-news WWJAM (950). No stunning news here. And the official summer quarter ratings book will be released next month.


Speaking of ratings, the radio industry continues to watch the movement (if any) of the so-called “we play anything” Jack-FM format. Even though our Jack, WDRQ-FM (93.1) — known here as Doug FM — is holding somewhat steady, in New York (radio’s most watched barometer), the new Jack station, WCBS-FM, is tanking. As a giant oldies station before the format switch, it had a solid 3.5 market share rating but that’s dropped from a 2.5 to a 1.7. Which must leave the Infinity bosses in the Big Apple wondering if the switch was such a good idea.


As news junkies know, the BBC World Service news agency has had its programming available for about four years on satellite radio. Now, the prestigious broadcasters from England will offer their slant on the news direct to your computer at www.bbcnews.com. Unlike the Beatles, this British Invasion is hitting our shores via the Internet.


On Tuesday, National Public Radio launches its sixth volume compilation CDs entitled “I Heard It On NPR.” The CD is subtitled “One World Many Voices.” Learn more at www. npr.org — and tune in our local NPR station is WDET-FM (101.9).


Set Your Dials: Singer-songwriter Michael Penn stops by the Martin Bandyke Show, at 3 p.m. Tuesday on WDET ... WJR morning man Paul W. Smith broadcasts live from the grand opening of the EDS Agility Alliance Development Center in Auburn Hills on Thursday ... with Big Band music scarce on the radio dial, tune in as host Tom Wilson presents more of Glenn Miller at 6 p.m. Sunday on WMUZ-FM (103.5). Call in your requests at Pennsylvania 6-5000.


This month marks four years that Mike and I have been writing about your favorite radio stations in The Oakland Press and we’re pleased at the response we have received from you, our readers. Here’s to the next four years and all the changes yet to come. Stay tuned!

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, October 9, 2005

By: Mike Austerman


Tongues were wagging last week about the suspension of midday hosts Gregg Henson and Michelle McKormick from talk WKRK-FM (97.1). Seems Henson made some questionable on-air comments on their Sept. 28 program about Top 40 WKQI-FM (95.5) evening jock Tic Tak. The brouhaha made it into national trade pubs and even garnered a comment from WKRK syndicated morning shock jock Howard Stern.

Brass from WKRK owner Infinity aren’t commenting, but one wonders if all the furor is simply a prelude to some pending lineup changes at WKRK with Stern’s leap to satellite radio looming ever closer. WKRK has been airing “best-of” programs from Henson and McKormick during their absence from live radio.


The soothing evening sounds of Johnny Williams has returned to the Detroit airwaves on soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1), pitting him against fellow baritone jock Alan Almond, who returned home to crosstown rival WNIC-FM (100.3) less than a month ago. Both guys have been in town and available for a long time and while it’s great to have their local voices back, what the heck took so long? And if you ever needed evidence that radio is a copycat business ...


Radio Disney has now officially started full-time operations of WFDF-AM (910) from the Detroit area, making it the area’s eighth 50,000-watt daytime signal, on a radio band many considered dead and buried years ago. Station management for WFDF — could that stand for “We’re for Disney Fun?” — promises programming safe for the entire family but targeted at kids ages 6-14 with pop music hits, events, and contests with awesome — a word often heard on Radio Disney — prizes. For now, the best reception will be during daylight hours, as engineers have yet to complete the necessary work to boost the stations after-dark output.


More than 330 people attended the “Last Motor City Broadcast Reunion” on Sept. 24, helping to raise more than $15,000 for the Gail Purtan Ovarian Cancer Fund. The wife of popular oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) morning man Dick Purtan, Gail has survived more than eight years of the deadly disease. In so doing, she’s offered hope to countless other cancer patients.

The event drew an aweinspiring number of famous radio names, including Casey Kasem, former WKNR jocks Gary Stevens, Jerry Goodwin, Paul Cannon and Pat St. John (now at Sirius Satellite Radio). Also on hand were Big 8 CKLW talents Big Jim Edwards, Johnny Williams, Bill Hennes, Brother Bill Gable, Grant Hudson and current all-news WWJ-AM (950) morning co-host Joe Donovan, and scores more.

One of the highlights of the evening was the introduction of WKNR’s original owner, 88-year-old Nellie Knorr, who looked great, spoke to the crowd and hugged all the former Keener Key Men of Music. Famous WXYZ night DJ Lee Alan also provided a solemn introduction to the memorial video, produced by Art Vuolo, honoring the many broadcasters whom we’ve lost. Vuolo also made a video in tribute to legendary names, faces and stations of Detroit radio.

Big Al Muskovito and Jackie Purtan wrote hysterical sketches with TV pitchmen Irving Neusbaum and Mr. Belvedere, and the evening ended with comic/singer Heywood Banks, who was outrageously funny. Everyone agreed it should not be the last time Detroit radio people have a gettogether. Maybe the committee of Vuolo, Mike Seltzer, Terry Holmes, Millie Felch and Dick Kernen will reconsider calling it the “last.” One thing’s for sure, everyone who was there will remember it.


Home improvement buffs take note: The weekend lineup at sports WXYT-AM (1270) has been tweaked. The new schedule: “Ask the Handyman” with “Appliance Doctor” Joe Gagnon now airs 7-9 a.m. Saturdays and 7-8 a.m. Sundays. The men’s lifestyle show “G-3” airs 9-11 a.m. Saturdays, and “Hire it Done” takes the 8-10 a.m. slot on Sundays.


Set Your Dials: Tom Wilson’s “Somewhere in Time” show takes a look back at songstress Peggy Lee at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).

 

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).

 

WVMV smoothes its way up to 1st place

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Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, October 23, 2005

By: Mike Austerman


The smooth jazz sound of WVMV-FM (98.7) was the ratings winner over the summer as the station finished tops among listeners age 12 and older in the recently released Arbitron quarterly ratings book. News-talk WJR-AM (760), the top station in the spring, slid to a second place tie with urban WJLB-FM (97.9). The remainder of the top 10 included oldies WOMC-FM (104.3), news WWJ-AM (950), Top 40 WKQI-FM (95.5), country WYCD-FM (99.5), adult urban WDMK-FM (105.9), rock WRIF-FM (101.1), and adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3).

The biggest news of the summer was the dramatic ratings swing for WDMK, which more than doubled its overall listenership with the addition of the syndicated Tom Joyner morning show. Joyner’s former home, WMXD, saw a notable decrease in its listeners, but still maintained a Top 10 position, offering a strong base for new morning man Steve Harvey upon which to build. All in all, it sets up an interesting fall ratings battle.

In the closely watched morning race, top billing once again goes to WRIF’s Drew & Mike, followed by Joe Donovan and Roberta Jasina on WWJ, Dick Purtan on WOMC, Paul W. Smith on WJR and then Joyner. Meanwhile, WRIF claimed supremacy in daylong ratings as well as in mornings in the advertisercoveted 25-54 age breakdowns.


Jay Towers now sits in the seat Gregg Henson formerly had as co-host of Motor City Middays on hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1). Towers, who was morning show host at Top 40 WDRQ-FM (93.1) until April when the station went jockless as Doug FM, joins Michelle McKormick, who remains with the show.

All that controversy over Henson being fired because of remarks he made about fellow radio personality Tic Tak of WQKI? Turns out that might have just been a little attention-getting ploy as Henson claims he was let go for a different reason.In my opinion, management thought Gregg wasn’t going to fit in with the station’s new direction of being less shocking and more attractive to women listeners.

What’s clear is that Towers’ approach will be much different from Henson’s as their radio personalities are 180 degrees apart. Couple that with morning man Howard Stern’s pending exit to Sirius satellite radio and the dramatic shift in topics I’ve observed with afternoon guys Deminski & Doyle and it seems pretty clear that 97.1 is well on its way to becoming a “kinder and gentler” talker. As for Henson, he’ll be moving to Austin, Texas, where he’s scored a gig with an all-sports station.


Public WDET-FM (101.9) is now providing an “On Demand” service that allows listeners to subscribe to WDET news stories, special features from their favorite music programs, NPR news and other station information. Find more details at wdetfm.org.


WJR is building a remote broadcast studio at the GM Wintergarden inside the Renaissance Center to be used for special events in addition to live broadcasts. Scheduled to be operational in time for Super Bowl XL, the new studio also will serve as a remote location for the station’s news operations and provide visitors an insider’s view into the world of broadcasting. The new locale also will make it real easy for Paul W. and the ’JR hosts to score interviews from GM execs. Cue the Cadillac brand manager!


Soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1) will host its second annual Halloween Dance Party on Friday at Andiamo Italia in Warren — but you’ll have to tune in to the station to win tickets to the event. Featuring a spooky ambiance, huge costume contest, Andiamo’s famous chocolate fountain, hors d’oeuvres and plenty of great music, it’ll be a howling good time and great way to celebrate Halloween. And dress up this time — vacation getaways will be awarded to the top three costumes.


Thanks to an incredible outpouring of support by listeners, WJR, Radio Disney WFDFAM (910), pop WDVD-FM (96.3) and WDRQ raised more than $1 million for survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. All of the funds raised have gone directly through the Salvation Army to those affected, and donations are still being accepted at the three stations Web sites (wjr.com, 963wdvd.com, 931dougfm.com) or by calling (877) SAL-MICH (725-6424). Unfortunately, the needs will likely only increase with the pending strike of Wilma.


Set Your Dials: Check out the South American big band sound of Xavier Cugat on “Somewhere in Time” at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... Adult CKWW-AM (580) will broadcast its “Jukebox Classics Oldies” program live from Casey’s Bar & Grill in Windsor from 6-8 p.m. Thursday. The event features classic cars, prizes, munchies and more along with hosts Howling Harry and Bel Air Bill playing requests.

 

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 artvuolo@aol.com.


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.

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, November 6, 2005

By: Mike Austerman


On Tuesday afternoon, soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) ditched its regular music format and once again launched into wall-to-wall Christmas music, trying to take early advantage of the fondness many have for the “songs of the season.” Nearly a year ago in this space, I complained strongly about this rush to Christmas — only to be proven wrong about how listeners would respond. Last year, WNIC, and fellow soft rocker WMGC-FM (105.1), scored huge ratings increases during their Christmas carol marathons.

Though many readers agreed that it was too much Christmas too soon, it’s clear that there are plenty who just can’t get enough of Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” and Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” — even if they’re each played about 1 million times between now and Christmas Day. The bottom line? As long as advertisers like the idea and listeners respond the way they have, get used to hearing about Grandma getting run over by a reindeer.

One glimmer of hope: WMGC didn’t switch to all-Yule immediately after WNIC did, but it’s expected that Magic 105.1 will follow suit sometime soon — if it hasn’t happened already this weekend. I still say we need to ho, ho, hose all this Christmas stuff off until after Thanksgiving — and hold out hope that maybe this year, listeners will say, “Enough.”


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Think the jocks at WNIC and WMGC bring in MP3 players so they’ll have something else to listen to while they work? Although you’ll never hear any of ’em complain, this has to drive them batty.


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Gerald McBride’s waycool Saturday Night Live oldies program on adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3) has been renamed the “Old School House Party” and been syndicated to a number of stations across the country. Program director Jamillah Muhammad notes the show “is another opportunity for Detroit to showcase the talents we have on a national level. We congratulate Gerald for his outstanding accomplishment and look forward to the growth of his show in other markets.”


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Tim Roberts has made his way back to Detroit radio and is the new program director for country WYCD-FM (99.5). Roberts was at the helm of WWWW-FM (106.7) when that station dumped the cowboy hats and spurs in favor of a rock format in 1999. He had been working in Toledo, but commuting from here, before scoring the ’YCD gig.


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Urban WJLB-FM will team up with the Salvation Army next weekend to collect winter coats and cash donations to help keep kids warm this winter. The “Coats for Kids” Radiothon will be at Oakland Mall from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday. R&B and hip-hop artists Genuwine, Marques Houston and Cee-Lo will be on hand to lend their support.

Can’t make it to the mall? Area Salvation Army locations will serve as drop-off sites; visit www.salvationarmyemich.org or call (877) SAL-MICH.


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Michigan Radio, heard locally on Ann Arbor’s WUOM-FM (91.7) and Flint’s WFUM-FM (91.1) as well as in Grand Rapids, raised more than $920,000 during its recent fall fund drive, setting a new record for the stations. Pledged dollars provide about half of Michigan Radio’s current annual operating budget of more than $5 million, making the drives critical to the stations’ success. “In these times, people have many options for their charitable giving,” notes general manager Donovan Reynolds. “We’re very pleased that our audience continues to value our service enough to support it with their dollars.”


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Acoustic guitarist Billy McLaughlin drops by Pam Rossi’s “Over Easy” program at 10 a.m. Saturday on classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7). McLaughlin enjoyed a rising career before contracting by an incurable disease that attacked his right wrist and hand. But instead of giving up, he relearned his craft by becoming left-handed.


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Set Your Dials: Hosts Tom Wilson and Alison Harris present Britain’s Henry Hall Orchestra at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... Philip Glass goes live with his nontraditional music on Judy Adams’ show 9-11 a.m. Tuesday on WDET-FM (101.9) ... National Public Radio will serve up its first-ever live opera broadcast at 1:30 p.m. Saturday with George Gershwin’s legendary folk opera “Porgy and Bess” on its 70th anniversary. Because neither WDET nor WUOM carries the show, visit www.npr.org/music and listen in on your computer.


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Mike Austerman is the founder of Michiguide.com and has covered radio for The Oakland Press for 4 years.

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, November 13, 2005

By: Art Vuolo


With only one more regular season Michigan football game scheduled for this Saturday on news-talk WJR-AM (760), morning host Paul W. Smith wants to go out in style. Smith, a 1975 U-M grad, will conduct an old-style Michigan/Ohio State on-air pep rally during his Friday show in the “maize and blue” tower of the Fisher Building. You’ll hear clips of exciting UM-OSU moments with the late Bob Ufer and WJR’s own Frank Beckmann. Tune in, Go Blue and Beat the Bucks!


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Meanwhile, the guessing game continues as to where the Wolverines will end up on the radio dial, now that WJR has opted to carry the Michigan State Spartans in 2006. Rumors also are flying that Detroit Pistons games, currently on sports WDFN-AM (1130), also will have a new radio home next season — and it might not be on the AM band.


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TiVo Alert! Mark your calendar for a TV special you may not want to miss. On Dec. 2, WTVS-Channel 56 will broadcast an award-winning documentary, “Radio Revolution: The Rise and Fall of the Big 8 CKLW.” It’s a great behind-the-scenes look at one of the most legendary Top 40 radio stations in North America. Can’t wait until then or want to get a copy for a Christmas gift? It’s available on DVD at radiorevolutiondvd.com.


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Clips of that CKLW special were featured at the recent Motor City Broadcast Reunion, which raised more than $16,000 with proceeds going to the Gail Purtan Ovarian Cancer Fund. A two-hour DVD of that event, loaded with laughs and dozens of radio names you’ll remember, is now available. But as K-Tel used to say, it's “Not available in stores.” For more information, go to vuolovideo.com and click on “reunions.”


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Last weekend’s prestigious Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Chicago honored Abbott & Costello, radio storyteller Jean Shepard, Cincinnati Reds announcer Marty Brennaman, Pittsburgh Steelers color commentator Myron Cope and ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton. Want to be a part of next year’s festivities and learn how you can vote? Go to www.radiohof.org.

Last year, oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) morning man Dick Purtan was voted into the Hall, joining such local legends as J.P. McCarthy, Ernie Harwell, Karl Haas, Fran Striker and Jim Quello.


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Public Exposure: Public radio’s WDET-FM (101.9) reports that its fall pledge drive has topped a half-million dollars; the campaign runs through the end of this month ... classical/jazz WRCJ-FM (90.9) debuts its live local daytime hosts on Monday — and they’re familiar names. It’ll be Dave Wagner (6-10 a.m.) followed by Chris Felcyn (10 a.m.-3 p.m.) and Ann Delisi (3-7 p.m.) The station airs classical music during the day and jazz at night ... down in Dearborn, Henry Ford Community College’s WHFR-FM (89.3) is preparing for its 20th anniversary Dec. 3 at Fifth Avenue Downtown. Kudos to WHFR on this milestone.


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Doing Good: Blaine and Lisa at pop WDVD-FM (96.3) are heading up the station’s second annual Holiday Cards for Kids event benefitting Children’s Hospital of Michigan ... WOMC’S Dick Purtan hosted a Military Moms Lunch on Friday in Birmingham and it was a huge success.


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Sad News: The son of longtime WJR mid-morning host Jimmy Launce was killed in an auto accident in Washington, D.C., on Monday. Jimmy and his wife Brigitta currently reside south of Tampa Bay. Sympathy notes can be sent to jimmykl@gte.net.

A story with a happier ending finds rock WRIF-FM (101.1) overnighter Screamin’ Scott Randall recovering from a recent heart attack. Hey, Scott, glad you’re on the mend — but less screaming and more sleep is recommended.


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It’s Never Happened Before: When the only adult standards station in Las Vegas changed to country music, listeners went nuts. Stations never admit they were wrong, but a new 100,000-watt country FM on the adjacent frequency quickly grabbed the altered station’s name and returned the standard fare for the 55-plus crowd.


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Set Your Dials: Financial icon Charles Schwab will be Rick Bloom’s guest from noon-3 p.m. today on talk WDTK-AM (1400) ... the late Ed McKenzie, radio’s first “Jack the Bellboy” on WJBK, will play the big band music of Tommy Dorsey at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


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Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs vuolovideo.com.

 

Reprinted from the Daily Oakland Press, November 20, 2005

By: Mike Austerman


Jim Harper and crew of the morning show at soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1) will kick off their 27th annual Toys for Tots campaign with a live broadcast 6-10 a.m. Friday at Laurel Park Place in Livonia. It’ll be tying in to the so-called “official start of the Christmas shopping season.” The “Magic Morning Show” also will broadcast live from Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi on Nov. 28; at Oakland Mall in Troy on Nov. 29; at Ann Arbor’s Briarwood Mall on Nov. 30; the Macomb Mall in Roseville on Dec. 1; and Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights on Dec. 2. Each will feature a complimentary light breakfast, a visit from Santa Claus and other special guests. Toys for Tots is run by the U.S. Marine Corps and accepts donations of new, unwrapped toys that are then distributed to kids who otherwise might go without at Christmas.

I’d be remiss without throwing my compliments to the folks at WMGC for holding off on the early all-Christmas music thing this year. For those who weren’t ready for all the “ho-ho-ho” down the dial at soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) starting Nov. 1, it’s been, ahem, “nice” to have an alternative.


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Since we’re all getting ready to hit the malls anyhow, classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7) has put together a great reason to stop by Oakland Mall starting Tuesday. The station has put together the “94.7 WCSX Classic Rock Art Show & Sale,” showcasing a collection of 125 pieces of original art, lithographs, photographs, handwritten lyrics and animation cells from the greatest classic rock artists of all time. In addition to pieces from John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix and others, the display also will feature works from local artists. And all of it’s for sale.

An important part of this event is a silent auction of select pieces to benefit Gilda’s Club of Metro Detroit, the nonprofit organization that provides a homelike meeting place and free program where cancer patients can build friendships, share their experiences and develop strategies for living with cancer. The show runs through Dec. 10 during regular mall hours.


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The first monthly ratings trend for the fall quarter was released earlier in the week with news-talk WJR-AM (760) in first place among listeners age 12 and older, moving back ahead of second-place smooth jazz WVMV-FM (98.7), the top-rated station over the summer. Also in the top 5 were urban WJLB-FM (97.9), Top 40 WKQI-FM (95.5), and oldies WOMC-FM (104.3). Ratings for the full fall marking period — the numbers that really count — won’t be available until after Jan. 1.


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Fine Tuning: The Detroit Pistons’ play-by-play man George Blaha will be heard on sports WDFN-AM (1130) past the current season after Da Fan won a competitive bidding process with at least one other station for the team’s radio rights. The multiyear extension gives the Pistons control over production and advertising sales. “We’re excited to continue our relationship with the Pistons. It’s a powerful combination,” says Clear channel regional vice president Dave Pugh.

Meanwhile, Steve Chase joins pop WDVD-FM (96.3) for overnight duties. He’s new in town, arriving from Cape Cod. And over at soft rock CIDRFM (93.9), Wendy Duff exits as program director and heads for Toronto.

The best takeoff this week on the legal battles between attorney Geoffrey Fieger and Attorney General Mike Cox was by WDVD morning team Blaine and Lisa with their Budweiser commercial parody titled “Real Legal Genius Fieger.” You bet your billable hours it had me driving off the road with laughter. Check it out at www.963wdvd.com under “Blaine & Lisa’s A/V.”


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Set Your Dials: Financial guru Rick Bloom hosts an interview with financial icon Charles Schwab at 3 p.m. today on news-talk WDTK-AM (1400) ... renowned organist, composer and Scott Joplin expert Richard Hyman is featured on “Somewhere in Time” at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... Adult pop CKWW-AM (580) and the syndicated program “When Radio Was” turn back the clock this week to remember classic Thanksgiving radio from the 1940s and ’50s. The full lineup, available online at www.am580radio.com, includes shows from “The Lone Ranger,” Milton Berle, “Father Knows Best” and more.


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Behind the mic: The legendary Paul Harvey, heard locally several times daily on WJR, was recently honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, for his long radio career. “Since his radio broadcasts first aired nationally in 1951, Mr. Harvey has won the trust of millions of radio listeners,” the White House noted. Harvey has been the recipient of numerous industry awards for his national daily radio programs — “Paul Harvey News and Comment” and “The Rest of the Story” — and was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1990. His Paul Harvey News is the largest oneman network in the world, with three out of the top 15 programs in network radio, reaching more than 17 million listeners age 12 and older each week. With ABC Radio for more than 50 years, he’s heard on more than 1,000 affiliates.


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Mike Austerman is the founder of Michiguide.com and has covered radio for The Daily Oakland Press for 4 years.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, November 27, 2005

By: Art Vuolo


Hope you and yours had a most Happy Thanksgiving weekend and didn’t overstuff yourself with holiday goodies (or leftover turkey). Now is when radio stations can begin to add Christmas music to their play lists, as far as we’re concerned.

Interestingly, because of an outcry by subscribers, XM Satellite Radio will not overkill music channels with holiday tunes. That’s especially good news for listeners of their Beautiful Music (channel 24). The sat-caster has, however, added five new channels just for the sounds of the season; channel 103 is Holly (Christmas classics); channel 104 is Holiday Traditions (adult standards); Nashville Christmas on channel 105 offers seasonal country fare; channel 106 is Classical Christmas, full of music of the masters; and channel 107 is Special XMas, with the funny tunes and novelty songs. When you have 160-plus channels, you can do things like this.


 * * * * 


True fans of classic Detroit radio will want to tune in 4 p.m. Monday on talk & oldies WPON-AM (1460), when legendary DJ Lee Alan will re-broadcast a very special hour-long interview he did with ex-Detroiter Joey Reynolds on New York’s heritage talker WOR-AM (710). The show is superb, as the two reminisce about the old days in the 1960s on WXYZ-AM (1270) when it was a Top 40 music dynasty. Personally, I didn’t want the hour to end. And be sure to check out Lee’s Web site www.detroitradiolegends.com.


 * * * * 


News-talk WJR-AM (760) wants you to catch the entrepreneurial program “Anything is Possible” at 9:05 p.m. today for an in-depth visit with Tom Wilson of The Palace, the Pistons and the DTE Energy Music Theatre. (He’s not to be confused with the Tom Wilson of “Somewhere in Time” radio fame, who’s also pretty entrepreneurial.)


 * * * * 


People are still talking about the Motor City Radio Reunion a couple of months ago, and now we get word that former Detroiter Eileen Trombley-Glick is organizing a huge celebration of Detroit’s media personalities July 19-22, 2006, in metro Detroit. Learn the details at www.detroitmemories.com — it looks to be an incredible salute to Motor City broadcasting. We’ll get you more info as the event draws nearer.

FYI, the video of the recent radio reunion is still running 8 p.m. Saturday and Monday nights on cable TV’s Channel 12 in Novi, Farmington Hills and Farmington. It’s a lot of laughs!


 * * * * 


Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: The Dr. Don morning show on country WYCD-FM (99.5) underwent a shakeup with the departure of producer and part-time DJ Tom Baker, who’d shifted over from Ann Arbor’s country WWWW-FM (102.9) about a year ago. Also out is traffic reporter Lori Rigato. Tongues are wagging over who’ll be joining Dr. Don soon. If insiders’ reports hold true, the new folks will be familiar names, so stay tuned ... Sports WXYT-AM (1270) has dropped former Detroit Lions player Marc Spindler from its morning show team and now is pairing Scott “The Gator” Anderson with hold-over cohost John Lund. Anderson had been primarily serving as studio host for the station’s live game coverage and doing swing-shift/weekend/fill-in duties.


 * * * * 


Stocking Stuffers: Over at oldies WOMC-FM (104.3), Dick Purtan and Purtan’s People are offering their first-ever calendar to benefit Children’s Hospital’s “Christmas is For Kids” campaign. The 2006 calendar features funny photos keyed to each month — and lets listeners see the people behind the voices. Find it for $12 at area Kroger stores ... Mojo in the Morning at Top 40 WKQI-FM (95.5) has just released its latest CD of famous put-on phone calls known as “phone scams.” They’re just $11 at all area Post Bars. In other ’KQI news, the station’s Christmas promotion came under criticism last year for offering a free breast augmentation operation — so this year, they’re offering two. Channel 955 programmer Dom Theodore quips, “It will make for the ‘breast’ Christmas ever for two lucky listeners.”


 * * * * 


Set Your Dials: Set Your Dials: For the mellow tones of tenor sax man Freddy Martin (“Mr. Silvertone”) on “Somewhere in Time” at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


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Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

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?


 * * * * 


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.


 * * * * 


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.


 * * * * 


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.


 * * * * 


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.


 * * * * 


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.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, December 11, 2005

By: Art Vuolo


Is Christmas really just two weeks from today? Guess I can finally start to listen to all-holiday music WNIC-FM (100.3). (When the ’NIC jocks go home, I’m certain they don’t play Christmas music.)


 * * * * 


We said a couple of weeks ago that new additions to the Dr. Don morning show were looming at country WYCD-FM (99.5). So starting at 5 a.m. Monday, Rachael Hunter will co-host with Dr. Don, and Steve Grunwald will be the show’s new producer. Both did the morning show on the old WDRQ-FM (93.1), which is now Doug-FM. Hunter said she’s “looking forward to reconnecting with my listeners,” while ’YCD’s new program director Tim Roberts says the move will bring new energy to the station. News guru Bob Schuman continues with the new show.


 * * * * 


On Saturday morning, newstalk WJR-AM (760) morning host Paul W. Smith presided over the 40th anniversary of the famous Christmas Sing at the Somerset Collection in Troy. (For those with long memories, the event began with ’JR’s legendary J.P. McCarthy and for years was sponsored by the Action Line staff at the Detroit Free Press.) Anyway, on Monday, Smith hits the road again to broadcast his morning show live from Pricewaterhouse Coopers offices in downtown Detroit.

Meanwhile, WJR is helping Volunteers of America adopt 2,500 families so they can have a merry Christmas. To help out, call (248) 353-4862.


 * * * * 


Good news for fans of Larry McDaniel’s “Arkansas Traveler” bluegrass show and Matt Watroba’s “Folks Like Us” folk music show, which were cut from public radio WDET-FM (101.9) some 15 months ago. New WDET general manager Michael Coleman is putting both shows back into the weekend lineup soon, but the station has parted company with longtime afternoon host Martin Bandyke.


 * * * * 


The radio world is buzzing loudly about HD — and that does not stand for Holi-Daze. HD is high-definition radio, and, like HDTV, it’s far better than what you’re used to getting. Basically, it makes AM sound like FM and FM sound perfect. It’s also another way the industry is trying to combat new forms of competition, especially satellite radio. As part of the fight, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has rolled out a new campaign, ditching their previous slogan of “Radio: You Hear It Here First.” The new tagline is “Radio: You Shouldn’t Have to Pay for It.” This comes as only 2 percent of the available audience is listening to satellite radio, though traditional broadcasters are reacting as though that figure was 50 percent or more.

The HD Radio Alliance has an impressive roster of most all of the biggest companies in the radio business, and they should be encouraged by the results of a new J.D. Powers survey, which states that “high-definition radio outranked satellite radio after consumers weighed a one-time cost of $150 against satellite radio’s $12.95 per month subscription fee.” The jury is still out, but 2006 will be a pivotal turning point for radio’s new technologies.And a good backdrop for national shock Howard Stern, whose last live broadcast on free radio, heard locally on hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1), is set for Friday. After that, he’ll start Jan. 9 on Sirius.

Tom Bender, who runs rock WRIF-FM (101.1), pop WMGC-FM (105.1) and classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7) is a big fan of HD radio and told broadcasters at a recent seminar, “We get this wrong, and we’re out of business.” Strong words from a respected local professional.


 * * * * 


Once the program director of the old WWWW-FM here in Detroit, Dave Van Dyke now runs Bridge Ratings & Research, and he has another statistic to make radio executives nervous. His research shows that 85 percent of 12 to 24-year-olds prefer listening to their MP3 players than traditional radio (based on a national sample of 2,000 12 to 24-year-olds). Kind of scary, since radio keeps chasing younger audiences with little concern for the older people who still believe in the medium — and have the money to buy what the advertisers are selling.


 * * * * 


Speaking of younger listeners, Detroit’s nationally famous rap singer Eminem seems to be exclusively talking on-air to “Mojo in the Morning” on hits WKQI-FM (95.5). Why ’KQI? Seems Em’s daughter is a big Mojo fan, and that’s why he went on with Mojo to reveal that he’d like to remarry his ex-wife, Kim.


 * * * * 


On Dec. 2, WTVS-Channel 56 aired the superb documentary “Radio Revolution: The Rise and Fall of the Big 8 CKLW” — and the public TV outlet drew a record audience and above-average pledges. The Big 8 doc ran again Saturday night, but if you missed it, it’s available on DVD with a $75 tax deductible donation to Detroit Public TV. Call (248) 305-3900.


 * * * * 


Set Your Dials: Host Tom Wilson replays the music of Fred Waring & His Pennsylvanians at 6 p.m. tonight on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... catch old holiday radio shows on “When Radio Was” with host Stan Freberg at 11 p.m. weeknights on nostalgia CKWW-AM (580).


 * * * * 


Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, December 18, 2005

By: Mike Austerman


Raise your hand if you were surprised to hear the changes at public radio WDET-FM (101.9) this week. Me, too. After all, it was just in September, 2004 when several popular NPR and weekend shows were dropped as former general manager Caryn Mathes tried to develop a more consistent focus for the station’s Adult Alternative music programming.

Those changes, however, brought a softness in both ratings and pledge drive support so new boss Michael Coleman undid those changes — and then some. Back on the schedule at the Wayne State-owned station are popular NPR programs “Fresh Air,” “Car Talk” and the “Tavis Smiley Show,” along with local music shows hosted by Matt Watroba, Larry McDaniels, Robert Jones and Chuck Horn. In addition, “News & Notes” hosted by Detroit native Ed Gordon, “Democracy Now” and other talk-based shows have been added, replacing all of the station’s daytime weekday music programs.

Coleman believes the changes will help give Detroit the kind of premier public radio service it deserves. “Our entire community needs access to intelligent, thoughtful and diverse voices about the issues and challenges facing all of us,” he notes.

But while many may rejoice at the return of Click & Clack the Tappet Brothers and Terry Gross, other fans of the old ’DET will argue that the dramatic cutback of music and departure of longtime hosts Martin Bandyke, Judy Adams — who’d been program director — Willy Wilson and John Penney has squelched an important part of our area’s music culture. ’DET had been the only station offering daily music programming covering local artists with a variety of styles — and providing a spotlight likely to never be replaced.

So now WDET is just like most other public radio stations across the country — with a focus on mostly syndicated news/ talk and public affairs during prime listening hours. And although Ed Love keeps his evening jazz show and Liz Copeland is still on board with music overnight, much of WDET’s uniqueness is gone. And how’d you like to have pledged in the fall drive for a music show that now has disappeared?


 * * * * 


Just Askin’: With both WDET and WRCJ-FM (90.9) airing jazz in the evenings, isn’t there an opportunity for an agreement between them? Ed Love could move to WRCJ instead of the satellite-provided jazz service, making room on WDET for Bandyke and/or Adams on WDET. And maybe WRCJ would be interested in hiring Wilson and Penney to bolster its weekend lineup. The stations could cross-promote one another, generating wider interest and monetary support. Could be a win-win situation… which is probably why it’ll never happen.


 * * * * 


Now that Howard Stern is done on regular radio — his “best of” shows are set to air on talk WKRK-FM (97.1) through the end of the year — it’s going to be interesting what happens after he moves to Sirius satellite radio starting Jan. 9. Stern’s audience, which had been about 12 million listeners daily, will be notably smaller since Sirius has about 3 million subscribers and it’s anybody’s best guess how many of those will tune in to Stern. And how outrageous will he be as he attempts to build an audience and move his free radio fans to Sirius in order to make his contract worth the reported $500 million he’s getting in the next five years? If he goes too far over the decency line, industry insiders believe Congress and the FCC will act to put the same kinds of restrictions on satellite radio content that exist on AM and FM radio — restrictions Stern claims have limited his creativity and ability to do the type of show he wanted.

For now, with the threat of FCC fines lifted, Stern will be able to show us if he is indeed the self-proclaimed “King of All Media” or if he’s someone whose better days are gone and who used government interference as an excuse.


 * * * * 


Glancing at November’s monthly ratings report card, there are a few eyebrow raisers as we await the final fall quarterly numbers available next month. The very early returns show that soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) didn’t get a boost at all in November with its all-Christmas music marathon, while competitor WMGC-FM (105.1) enjoyed increased numbers with its regular music rotation. It's still too early though to get the full picture on that situation. The introduction of morning man Steve Harvey on adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3) helped push that station’s ratings back on an upward trend and further ahead of competitor WDMK-FM (105.9), the home of Tom Joyner. At Top 40 WKQI-FM (95.5), the Mojo in the Morning crowd is celebrating improvements in every category and has achieved a Top Five ranking in every demo and the No. 1 rating in every female demo. Meanwhile, rock WRIF-FM (101.1) duo Drew and Mike continue to reign overall in morning drive.


 * * * * 


Set Your Dials: For holiday music from organists Elani Eddington and Scott Smith of Lansing at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 * * * * 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, December 25, 2005

By: Art Vuolo


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours from Mike Austerman and me, your local radio reporters for more than four years. Today, let’s look back on the many changes Detroit radio has undergone in the last 12 months.

The year 2005 saw the Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts celebrate its 35th anniversary while Arthur Penhallow marked an equal number of years at rocker WRIF-FM (101.1). Elsewhere on the dial, Eric Harthen, the man of many voices, segued from hits WKQI-FM (95.5) to oldies WOMC-FM (104.3), and we heard the return of Dr. Don to country WYCD-FM (99.5) and, just recently, the addition of Rachael Hunter and Steve Grunwald, both refugees from the old WDRQ-FM (93.1). Rumors about the return of Eli Zaret, Denny McLain, Lee Alan and David Newman sadly did not materialize, but all are major broadcast talents.

One rather dormant frequency got a complete make-over as WXDX became WDTW-AM (1310) and took on a heavy dose of left-leaning talk from Air America, though recently, Nancy Skinner, its only local host, departed. And listeners (and especially the staff) of WDRQ were stunned in early April when the entire on-air crew (except Jay Towers, who had a contract) lost their jobs as the Top 40 hits station became “Doug FM.” And Gregg Henson made remarks that helped ease him out of the building at hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1) — only to be replaced by talk wanna-be Towers who joined the more seasoned Michelle McKormick.

Summer began with Canton’s country WSDS-AM (1480) switching to Hispanic programming, ending Detroit’s status as the only major market with no Spanish language station. Three veteran news voices also departed from news-talk WJR-AM (760) — Dan Streeter, Rod Hanson and Gene Fogel. The urban radio scene also witnessed a major round of musical chairs, as personalities and call letters were juggled between FM stations 102.7, 105.9 and 92.3. The mostly black format at WQBH-AM (1400) also was dropped by new owner Salem Radio, which installed a great number of syndicated conservative talk shows; the 1,000-watter is now known as WDTK.

Over at Christian WMUZ-FM (103.5), we heard a new morning show premier with Rhonda Hart and Jon Culbert and the station also became the new home of Tom Wilson’s “Somewhere in Time” at 6 p.m. Sundays — with a 1940s Christmas music show tonight. From the recovery room, country WYCD host Jyl Forsyth is doing fine after complications from asthma, and former WDEE and WCXI jock Country Dan Dixon (now at XM Satellite Radio) is about to return to the air after six months in recovery from serious foot surgery. Sabrina Black, wife of WRIF jock Steve Black, is still successfully battling cancer, as is Dick’s wife Gail Purtan, a tenacious survivor of more than eight years.

From the court room, we heard about lawsuits with WYCD’s Erin Weber over the perfume co-worker Linda Lee wore that “made her sick.” There also were labor union suits among employees at news WWJ-AM (950 and sports/talk WXYT-AM (1270). Amazingly, WKRK remained free of lawsuits this past year — as did radio across the country, which received no significant fines for indecency. Speaking of indecency, Howard Stern left earth — radio, that is, to become a Sirius satellite host starting Jan. 9.

The year also brought the emergence of Radio Disney at WFDF-AM (910), the dumping of U-M sports in exchange for MSU football and basketball on WJR and the return of classical music on WRCJ-FM (90.9). High-definition radio also premiered, first from Greater Media Detroit, with others following. Recent weeks brought a huge programming shake-up at public WDET-FM (101.9), while pop WNIC-FM (100.3) began beaming holiday music the day after Halloween. And WJR’s Murray Gula took his “Home Improvement” show from radio to WXYZ-Channel 7, with more specials slated for 2006.

Sadly, we lost several radio greats over this past year including controversial ex-WXYT talk host Mark Scott and Dan Koti, better known as traffic reporter Rod Holden, on WWJ.

Contemporary WDVD-FM (96.3) extended Blain & Lisa to 10 a.m. weekdays and added Jesse in afternoon drive. The no-last-names station also awarded a new car to a 28-year old mother of two in a recent philanthropic Christmas promotion. Speaking of giving, in February, Dick Purtan’s annual Salvation Army Radiothon on oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) raised a staggering $1.7 million, bringing his total to more than $10 million since 1988.

Finally, your “On The Radio” column shifted from Friday’s Marquee section to Sunday’s Entertainment section in The Oakland Press, picking up new readers.

Here’s hoping you got a gift you could actually use, and that there was at least one new radio under your tree.

 * * * * 

Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

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