Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, June 18, 2006
By: Art Vuolo
Each year, there are an amazing number of radio conventions covering most formats across the dial. For country broadcasters, it’s the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, offering unprecedented interaction with country music stars. The Radio & Records Talk Radio Seminar has provided many memorable moments and major star players. And each spring, the National Association of Broadcasters meets in Las Vegas, but with a heavy emphasis on all aspects of TV. Summer brings the second talk get-together at the New Media Seminar in New York. July spotlights The Conclave up in Minneapolis known as “The Learning Conference.” August features the Morning Show Boot Camp designed for DJs who wake you up each day. This year it’s in Chicago. The season wraps up in September with the NAB Radio Show; this year, it’s in Dallas, co-located with the Radio & Records Convention for a combination supershow. Toss in smaller meetings for alternative rock, Christian and Hispanic formats, and that adds up to a lot of hotel bills.
The New Media Seminar, presented by trade publication Talkers, was at a hotel overlooking Ground Zero in Manhattan, featuring a whirlwind schedule of sessions and talk radios biggest personalities. Sadly, again this year, Detroit was very poorly represented. One of the conference sessions was a real eye-opener regarding the enormous amount of competition facing radio. Radio’s biggest enemies are unquestionably the iPod and wireless Internet. In fact, the C. Crane Company has a new radio that tunes in stations that stream on the Internet without a computer. Some of the less optimistic feel radio is about to go “pop!” Actually, radio will simply re-adjust to the new technologies just as it always has.
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One of the real highlights of the New York trip was hanging out with the legendary Joey Reynolds from the WOR Radio Network. He’s in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and was the first to play “Sherry” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Oddly enough, he’s not recognized in the top Tony winning Broadway show “The Jersey Boys,” the story of Valli and his band. Although not carried on a local station, you can hear Reynolds midnights on www.wor710.com, and you also can order Joey’s hot new DVD at www.officialjoeyreynolds.com. It was radio that made the super groups national icons, and the DJs who played their music are owed gratitude for all they did, back when gut-feeling programmed the stations instead of a computer.
One of the hottest personalities on XM, Phlash Phelps on the ’60s oldies channel — who is as wacky on the air as Reynolds in his younger days — saw “The Jersey Boys” with Four Seasons producer Bob Crewe, who proclaimed him creative, funny and a sensational talent. Phelps is scheduled to appear at the GM display in Birmingham on Aug. 19 as part of this year’s Woodward Dream Cruise.
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From the “Strange but True” department, today XM is wrapping up four days of coverage of the U.S. Open Golf Tournament. Many find golf on TV boring, so how does it work on radio, where you can’t even look at the birdie?
Clear Channel Radio, the broadcaster that seems to own everything, is testing one-second commercials. Didn’t they try that with one-frame ads in movies about 30 years ago? Remember a split-second “Have a Coke”? Bob Dylan, who is now an XM DJ, had it right — these times, they are a changin’.
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Rick Gillette, a one-time programmer at the old Power 96 WHYT-FM (96.3) —now WDVD — is returning to the Midwest in a similar role at Chicago’s Kiss-FM WKSC-FM. Perhaps he could pick up some of the available jocks from what used to be The Drive WDTW-FM (106.7), maybe Chicago native Joe Thomas or Heather McGregor?
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Finally, kudos to KC, Ken Calvert of classic rock WCSXFM (94.7), as the “Casual One” gets honored by Catholic Social Services this Wednesday. Your old teachers at Brother Rice High School would be proud.
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And happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there.
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Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.