Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, January 15, 2006
By: Art Vuolo
His Sunday morning classical show was a longtime fave on public radio WDET-FM (101.9), and at 10 a.m. today, host Chris Felcyn unveils “The Listening Room” on his new home, public WRCJ-FM (90.9). Word is he’s also considering bringing back his tongue-incheek “Symphony Bowl,” which spoofs some big football game.
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The biggest radio thing at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas? The omnipresence of XM Satellite Radio, which seemed to be everywhere. On the flipside, competitor Sirius opted not to have even one display booth at the huge show, a distinct change from last year when the subscription radio service had two lavish sets with live broadcasts and new products galore. This year, the New York based sat-caster was holed up in a suite at the Bellagio Hotel, plus seen in a small display buried in an auto stereo booth in the back of the North Hall. That left many attendees to joke that Sirius had invested so much money to hire Howard Stern that there was nothing left for the trade show.
With Sirius at 3.3 million subscribers, the XM camp had big banners proclaiming they’d topped the 6 million customer mark. And the XM logo was all over the show, on bags, signs, kiosks, even a banner in the sky behind an airplane — while their booth was packed with people watching live broadcasts and big name entertainers. At the XM booth, people were checking out a new, tiny, iPod-style XM radio due out soon by both Pioneer and Samsung. The thing holds 50 hours of music — theirs or yours — can broadcast on any FM frequency and dazzled the crowd. It all underlined the fact that satellite radio is not going away anytime soon.
Adjacent to the XM display were booths for HD Radio and Troy-based Delphi, the world’s largest manufacturer of satellite radios, which announced a deal to bring satellite radio to Europe within three years.
Inside the full-color handout at the HD Radio booth was a photo of and a strong endorsement by Tom Bender, the VP/GM of Detroit’s Greater Media Radio, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. As for HD, the stations broadcasting in super-clear high definition have increased from 200 to more than 625 in the past year.
Another trend seen at the show is that iPods and various forms of MP3 players continue to be a thorn in the side of AM and FM radio stations, but the best such music system wasn’t even on the show floor. In a suite at the Hilton Hotel, exhibitors were showing the SongBook by Tivoli Audio. At $160, it features a durable design in many colors, is made for travel and has incredible sound and super selectivity. Learn more at www.tivoliaudio.com.
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Stern Redux: When the self-proclaimed “king of all media” premiered on Sirius last week, he said there would be no swearing on the first show. He must have been kidding since according to Family Media Guide, Stern used the “F-word” more than 75 times on his first show — along with a litany of other words that would make the FCC blush.
And how will he do for the sat-caster? Well, New York Post radio writer John Mainelli has penned a piece in a talk radio trade magazine headlined: “How the 500 million dollar man will single-handedly sink Sirius.” While it’s too early to tell, Mainelli says, “Stern, like Don Imus and a few other incredibly wealthy, spoiled and one-time (radio) greats, has been phoning it in in recent years, knowing that he can count on a fiercely loyal core who will keep listening at least three months after he’s dead.” Ouch.
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Local Quick Hits: Friday saw another live and local visit from syndicated morning host Steve Harvey at pop-urban WMXD-FM (92.3); he’s catching on locally and offering major competition to urban WDMK-FM (105.9) host Tom Joyner ... soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) has welcomed new program director Don Gosselin up from a short stint in New Orleans. He previously was running soft rock WRVF-FM (101.5) and legendary rocker WIOT-FM (104.7) in Toledo ... one-time Big 8 and “The Groove” jock “Brother” Bill Gable is now doing afternoons at standards CHWO-AM (740) a 50,000-watter in Toronto, which better radios can pick up here ... the furor over WDET’s dumping of daytime music continues as former fans have created the Web site SaveDetroitRadio.com and promise more protests ...
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Set Your Dials: Pretend mild weather is here — with the Hawaiian music of Don Ho at 6 p.m. tonight on “Somewhere In Time” on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... Martin Luther King Jr.’s 30-minute “I Have A Dream” speech, first given in Detroit in June 1963, airs at 8:30 a.m. Monday on WDET ... and don’t forget to check out your favorite radio hosts at the auto show.
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Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.