Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, February 12, 2006
By: Art Vuolo
After months of anticipation, the huge deal between Disney/ABC Radio and Citadel Broadcasting has become a reality. Worth a cool $2.7 billion, the deal is the biggest in broadcast history. So what does this mean for local listeners? Locally, ABC owns four stations — news-talk WJR-AM (760), Radio Disney WFDF-AM (910), adult hits WDRQ-FM (93.1) and pop hits WDVD-FM (96.3). The sale includes three of these, but not the Disney outlets, as Disney/ABC is keeping those and ESPN Radio. Locally, we don’t have an ESPN outlet, although some ESPN programming is featured on sports WDFN-AM (1130).
What type of changes can listeners expect? Nothing immediately, but you can bet some will be made after the new company takes over, though they’re not known for wholesale house-cleaning. It will take most of this year to complete the transaction, which will make Las Vegas-based Citadel the third-largest radio owner in America behind Clear Channel and CBS. Currently, Citadel owns AM and FM stations primarily in small and medium markets; the largest till now has been Providence, R.I. In Michigan, Citadel owns stations in Grand Rapids, Flint, Saginaw and Lansing.
The Lansing stations were purchased a few years ago from metro Detroiter Bob Liggett, who owns a group of stations in Port Huron. Once a DJ at WJBK-AM (1500) in the early 1960s under the name Bob Layne, Liggett also owns the Big Boy Restaurant chain.
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Speaking of Big Boy, it’s no longer just a fine family restaurant — it’s also the name of the new guy in town at hits WKQI-FM (95.5), from 7-11 p.m. weeknights. He replaces Tic-Tac, who segued to sister station WKSC-FM in Chicago. Big Boy comes up to Detroit from Memphis; program manager Dom Theodore says he’s been a fan for years. “I first found Big Boy while looking for jocks for other (Clear Channel) markets and I set his (audition) tape aside. I held on to it for a year and a half, just waiting for the right opportunity; how funny it is that the opportunity turned out to be right here.” Welcome to Motown, Big Boy.
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Last week, I picked up a new Boston Acoustics HD Radio, enabling me to hear for myself the new high definition radio that’s been in the news so much of late. So far, the technical quality of the stations is superb, but, as noted here a couple of weeks ago, the formats leave much to be desired. For instance, why does oldies WOMC-FM’s (104.3) HD offering (WOMC-FM-2) play the same basic oldies as FM-1? Why not offer the 1955-64 pre-Beatles tunes so rarely heard on the original station?
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Quick hits: Mark your calendar for Feb. 24, the date of the 19th annual Dick Purtan Salvation Army Radiothon live from Oakland Mall ... soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1) is taking nominations for its fifth annual “Women Who Make Magic” Awards through May. Send the name, address and phone of a deserving woman to: Women Who Make Magic c/o WMGC, 1 Radio Plaza, Detroit 48220; or e-mail your nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org ... HD radio fan and WMGC senior VP Tom Bender has been named Market Manager of the Year at the 2006 Radio Wayne Awards at the Radio Advertising Bureau’s recent Dallas conference ... National Public Radio has named former newspaper guy Bill Marimow as its new VP of news ... Kudos to country WYCD-FM (99.5) on last week’s Country Cares for Kids Radiothon to benefit St. Jude’s Research Hospital. Last year, they raised more than a half-million dollars. Fellow radio writer Mike Austerman will have the final tally next week ... Final Super Bowl note: On classical WRCJ-FM (90.9), host Chris Felcyn pitted Pittsburgh’s symphony against Seattle’s in his “Symphony Bowl” show on Super Bowl morning — and the Pittsburgh Symphony won. The tongue-in-cheek show caught the attention of national media, including the Seattle Times and Sports Illustrated’s Paul Zimmerman.
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Set Your Dials: Music by swing-era crooners will be an early Valentine’s gift from host Tom Wilson on WMUZFM (103.5) at 6 tonight ... in other romantic news, between 10 p.m.-midnight tonight, WDET-FM (101.9) host Ralph Valdez interviews music legend Burt Bacharach plus HOUR Detroit’s George Bulanda on his “10 Seductive CDs”.
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Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.