Big D.C. seminar examines making talk radio for women




Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, March 12, 2006

By: Art Vuolo

On The Radio

This past week, the trade publication Radio & Records presented the 11th annual Talk Radio Seminar in Washington, D.C. The confab drew nearly 400 attendees from around the country, but sadly, Detroit was very underrepresented. Aside from myself, the only other local radio guy was Pat Sheehan from Glenn Haege’s “Handyman Show” on WDFN-AM (1130). Embarrassing. Where were the folks from the various local news and talk stations?

It also was the last year for ABC Radio to be there, as the company has been sold to Citadel Communications. While the ABC name is being retained for TV, in name ABC Radio will no longer exist. It’s the end of an era.

The seminar underlined how huge talk radio is, while various sessions addressed such topics as FM talk, non-political shows and, in one feisty session called “What Do Women Want?,” how to target women listeners. That’s because talk stations aimed at women are popping up across America, usually on FM. We don’t have a dedicated female talk station in Detroit, although Jim Harper and his show on pop WMGC-FM (105.1) attracts a lot of women, as does Chris Edmonds on pop WNIC-FM (100.3).

Last week, Mike Austerman mentioned Fred Thompson, who’s been slated as Paul Harvey’s eventual replacement. At the conference, Thompson pointed out that while he’s been chosen to succeed Harvey, talk’s elder statesman is “irreplaceable.” Highlighting the seminar was a keynote address by Rush Limbaugh, who was very candid about his addictions and even fielded questions from the broadcasters. (He’s heard locally on WJR from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays.) The seminar also featured lots of publicity on Dave Ramsey, who makes talking about money fun and truly entertaining. He’s now on talk CKLW-AM (800) from 8 to 9 p.m. weeknights and is well worth a listen.

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Ever wonder who does the radio ratings? A tour last week of the headquarters of Arbitron, the giant audience ratings company that measures who’s listening to what and when all across the country, provided a fascinating inside look at how scientific the process is. Seeing firsthand how selected listeners fill out ratings diaries and all the various ways listeners remember the names of stations is eye-opening. I could have spent an entire day reviewing and learning about how the ratings are taken, tabulated and tallied for stations and advertisers. Time well spent and highly educational for this reporter.

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Longtime area radio pro Dave Barber has exited Flint talker WWCK-AM (1570) and moved to Providence, R.I., powerhouse talker WPRO-AM. In addition to his many years on the Flint airwaves, Barber once held court on WXYT-AM (1270) and, more recently, on liberal talk WDTW-AM (1310). He’s one of a kind.

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This past week, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer named radio station owner Entercom in a suit over the payola scandal profiled recently on ABC-TV’s “Prime Time Live.” Entercom does not own any stations in Detroit, but expect to see other companies that are locally represented to also be named.

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Meanwhile, the investigation continues at Michigan Public Radio WUOM-FM (91.7) following the departure of station boss Donovan Reynolds. We’ll be watching how this affects station fund-raising.

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Speaking of which, Wayne State’s WDET-FM (101.9) is inviting listeners back in to answer phones during its spring fund-raiser starting March 31. The station, which recently put its music programming online at, had been using a professional phone service recently. Call (313) 577-4550 for details on how to pitch in.

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The Rock Girl Search for WRIF-FM (101.1) continues with a casting call Monday at Second City inside Andiamo Novi. Listen in or check out for more details. By the way, whatever happened to Kelly Harmon, ’RIF’s original bay-buh?

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And don’t forget the very special premiere of Steve Harvey’s new movie on Tuesday at the AMC Southfield 20 complex. You can win tickets only via urban pop WMXD-FM (92.3). Harvey, the ’MXD morning host known as the “King of Comedy,” will personally be on hand, bringing a touch of Hollywood to Oakland County.

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Set Your Dials: For the music of Les Brown and his Band of Renown at 6 p.m. tonight on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... Detroit native Alex Harding and his jazz quartet perform live in-studio on the W. Kim Heron show at 8 p.m. tonight on WDET.

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Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs







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This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on March 12, 2006 10:27 AM.

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