On The Radio Columns: July 2005 Archives

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



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).







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About this Archive

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

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

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