On The Radio Columns: November 2005 Archives

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.


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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.


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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.)


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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!


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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.


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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.”


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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.

 

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About this Archive

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

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

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