On The Radio Columns: May 2005 Archives

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.







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About this Archive

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

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

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