On The Radio Columns: March 2005 Archives

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


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.







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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the On The Radio Columns category from March 2005.

On The Radio Columns: February 2005 is the previous archive.

On The Radio Columns: April 2005 is the next archive.

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