Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, May 21, 2006
By: Art Vuolo
It’s been a bumpy road for classic hits WDTW-FM (106.7) formerly known as “The Drive.” On Wednesday, the entire air staff — including Dave Fuller, Heather MacGregor, Joe Thomas and Rockin’ Randall, a.k.a. Randy Bhirdo — was let go. The rumor mill is spinning off its axis as radio enthusiasts speculate what the new format will be. As you read this, they may have already launched a new sound, but for the past several days, the station has been asking listeners for help in deciding a new direction. I have a problem with that.
Dom Theodore, vice president of programming at Clear Channel Detroit, is a smart man and a sharp programmer. It seems improbable that a major radio station would let its entire roster of personalities go and not have any idea what they’re going to do. Clear Channel is currently high on doing news-talk on FM and has done so in cities such as Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and, most recently, New Orleans. So, it was thought 106.7 would embrace that format. The other possibility is country, considering WYCD-FM (99.5) has enjoyed a monopoly in that musical category since September 1999, when W-4 became Alice@106.7. Also, this is the weekend of the WYCD-sponsored Downtown Hoedown in Hart Plaza. Coincidence? I think not.
Plus, 106.7 was a huge country music powerhouse as W-4 from 1981-99, and Clear Channel still has the WWWW-FM call letters out in Ann Arbor at 102.9. Country music seems to make the most sense.
The final guess is some sort of “Jack”-style format, similar to Doug-FM, playing what you want with few, if any, on-air DJs. We can only stay tuned.
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After months of speculation and rumors, the University of Michigan has reached a final decision regarding the radio home for their sports teams. This was like one of those “worst kept secrets” in Hollywood. Back on Oct. 13, WJR announced it would repaint the Blue room with Green paint. Michigan supporters were shocked when they replaced U-M with MSU.
This September, fans can hear the Wolverines on Ferndale-based classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3), which has their massive tower right here in Oakland County. Additionally, the games will be carried on the Canadian powerhouse CKLW-AM (800), which reaches from Fort Wayne, Ind., to the far side of Cleveland. The long delay was due to negotiations with WJR-AM (760) management over the university’s desire to have Frank Beckmann call the games while remaining a key mid-morning talk host on ’JR. Jim Brandstatter will remain with Frank; they have a chemistry and fans love ’em. Sadly, Steve Courtney, who is WJR’s morning sports reporter on the Paul W. Smith show, will not be working with B&B. The new field reporter will be WXYT-AM (1270) fashion-statement Doug Karsch Near Yard-lines — but lets not call it DKNY.
The fate of the U-M tailgate shows is still unknown.
Basketball is scheduled for news WWJ-AM (950), and we can only hope it will include Larry Henry for play-by-play. Henry is the best in the business and is currently sports director at WWJ. According to Michigan Associate Athletic Director Bruce Madej, “We hope to have this all wrapped up this coming week, and we may have urban-talk WCHB-AM (1200) also on board for Michigan basketball.” U-M hockey will be on WXYT when not conflicting with the Red Wings.
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Don’t forget this Tuesday is the Memorial Service for former CKLW great Dave Schafer. Visitation is 11 a.m.-1 p.m. followed by the service at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 1368 N. Crooks in Clawson.
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And until next time, have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend.
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Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.