On The Radio Columns: June 2005 Archives

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.







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About this Archive

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

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

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

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