Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, May 14, 2006
By: Mike Austerman
As an admitted sports junkie, I love to keep tabs on the ratings race between WDFN-AM (1130) and WXYT-AM (1270). After WXYT beat out The Fan for the first time in last fall’s ratings book, I was quick to state that ’XYT’s victory was due to being the better sports station. But looking at the recent winter ratings book, WDFN proved me wrong and once again jumped ahead of WXYT, especially in the male listener categories. WDFN’s strongest program continues to be the afternoon duo of Stoney & Wojo, which finished fourth place overall with men ages 25-54, compared to the 11th-place finish for WXYT’s “Big Show” with Doug Karsch and Art Regner.
The folks at WDFN kindly pointed out to me that their weak autumn was at least partially due to serious transmitter problems and that better winter ratings were expected. I’ve also learned that The Fan is committed not only to sports coverage, but also to being an all-around entertainment package. After nearly 12 years on the air, the station has enough ratings history to know that big chunks of its audience tune out when the focus is solely on sports, so expect to keep hearing more of the same. Even if it means sometimes excluding picky listeners like me with too much blue humor and diversions from pure sports talk. I’ll take my crow with a side of ketchup, please.
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Will you be making Whoopi to your radio soon? Maybe. Behemoth broadcaster Clear Channel has inked superstar Whoopi Goldberg to a deal that will have her hosting a new 5-9 a.m. program for adult contemporary stations across the country starting July 31. Goldberg is an unquestionable major talent who has proven her ability to succeed in many types of entertainment. But how long before she burns out from getting up early for morning radio five days a week? Will they try to fake it by prerecording her program and letting co-hosts handle making the show appear as if it’s live? Here in Detroit, with the exception of Steve Harvey on WMXD-FM (92.3) and Tom Joyner on WDMK-FM (105.9), nationally syndicated programs don’t fare well on music stations — just ask Howard Stern, Bob & Tom, Rover and Delilah. As much as I respect Whoopi’s obvious talent, I just don’t see her show working on one of our soft rock stations. Besides, isn’t radio supposed to be local — especially in the morning?
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Those of you tired of the high cost of gas, be on the lookout for classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7) giving out free gasoline each Friday through Sept. 15 at various metro Detroit Ford dealerships. There will be a minimum of $1,200 in gas given away at each two-hour event. Visit www.wcsx.com for the schedule and locations.
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Country WYCD-FM’s (99.5) huge Downtown Hoedown is set for next weekend at Hart Plaza. This year’s lineup of free concerts includes hitmakers Clay Walker, Terri Clark and Josh Gracin. Visit www.wycdhoedown.com for more.
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Condolences to the family and friends of “Big 8” CKLW jock Dave Shafer, who died in Florida last weekend at age 73. There will be a public memorial May 23 at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home in Clawson, with visitation at 11 a.m. and the service at 1 p.m. While best known for his days at CKLW, Shafer also spent time at the former WJBK-AM, WCZY-FM and WCAR-AM, in addition to WOMC-FM (104.3). Fellow columnist Art Vuolo commented that at last year’s Detroit radio reunion, “Emcee Dick Purtan, who had some great zingers for most in the room, could not say anything bad about Dave Shafer.” Purtan related on his show this week that the reason he moved to WCZY from CKLW was mostly because Shafer was the program director at Z-95. Sad to see another great voice of Detroit radio silenced.
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Set Your Dials: “Somewhere in Time” host Tom Wilson examines the careers and styles of Detroit Big Band singers/sisters Marian and Betty Hutton at 6 p.m. tonight on WMUZ-FM (103.5). You’ll hear the romantic songs of Marian with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and contrast those with the wild singing style of Betty ... smooth jazz WVMV-FM (98.7) morning host Alexander Zonjic’s charity concert for the Windsor Downtown Mission will be broadcast 7-9 p.m. today on that station ... public WDET-FM (101.9) will air a special hourlong documentary, “24/7: The Rise and Influence of Arab Media,” at 6 p.m. today. Hosted by David Brancaccio, the show examines the dramatic expansion of open media in the Arab world and its impact on the United States, the Middle East, and the rest of the world.
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Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.