Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, July 23, 2006
By: Mike Austerman
Looks like the country ratings battle between WYCD-FM (99.5) and WDTW-FM (106.7) will be an interesting one. In the just-released spring ratings book, WYCD tied for first place among all listeners with urban WJLB-FM (97.9). Although WDTW-FM The Fox was 18th, the station did improve its ratings from the winter with only a few weeks of its new sound included in the survey.
Talk about perfect timing for a format change. Give WDTW's Dom Theodore, regional vice president of programming, credit for calling for the change at 106.7 when he did. Country is hot, and there’s no doubt that listeners are sampling the new kid on the block, but will they remain loyal to WYCD?
Sports WXYT-AM (1270) enjoyed good ratings news, as they pushed back ahead of rival WDFN-AM (1130) for their second quarterly win in the last three books. The Detroit Tigers’ success on the field has helped boost listenership of WXYT’s coverage of the team. But the question with WXYT is whether the move away from sports in morning drive — with shock jocks Opie & Anthony in its place — will affect the station’s ratings this fall.
Rock WRIF-FM (101.1) and adult urban WDMK-FM (105.9) also enjoyed nice audience gains since winter among all listeners. The ’Rif moved to fourth place overall with a .7 share increase behind another number one book from morning duo Drew & Mike. WDMK bumped up .8 and finished in 10th place. Also of note was news-talk WJR-AM (760) pushing back ahead of all-news WWJ-AM (950).
The adage that change is the only constant is especially true when looking at radio ratings considering that the top eight stations among listeners age 12+ are only separated by .6 of a share.
* * * *
Back at WDTW-FM, the station has been building its on-air staff. Ericka Lynn will join for middays starting Aug. 2, and Rob Gramm is already on the job doing evenings. That leaves the morning and afternoon drive open, along with overnights.
With the combination of WDTW-owner Clear Channel launching a new syndicated morning program featuring Whoopi Goldberg on July 31 and that open morning slot, I have to wonder whether there might be some shuffling done within Clear Channel/Detroit to get Whoopi on a station here. One possible scenario could be to move either Chris Edmonds or Kevin O’Neill from soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) over to 106.7 for mornings. Both guys are longtime Detroiters and outstanding jocks. If a decision is made to add Whoopi in Detroit, why not fully utilize the talent that is already in-house to fill mornings at The Fox? Stay tuned to this one.
* * * *
Major kudos to WDFN afternoon hosts Mike Stone and Bob Wojnowski — you know them as Stoney & Wojo — for helping raise more than $155,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society recently. Hard to believe that these guys have been doing their 28-hour radiothon for nine years — and that this is the first one without former ’DFN personality Sabrina Black, who succumbed to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in March.
The event was a who’s who of Detroit sports personalities, including retired Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman, who donated an autographed pair of gloves that he wore during his last playoff game. Donations are still being accepted at wdfn.radiothon.org.
* * * *
Last month I asked whether Detroit radio personalities — and specifically WJR’s Mitch Albom — violate the trust of listeners when they endorse products that aren’t American made or whether it’s just a sign of the times.
The majority of the responses reflected that listeners weren’t concerned about what hosts endorse; rather, it’s that they personally “endorse” anything at all.
Joan’s comment summed up well the bulk of what I received: “I turn Mitch off before he comes on due to his violation of trust in many areas — self-serving endorsements of people and agendas as well as products make his word mean nothing. He used to be a great sports writer, but moving into the arena of ideas has been too big a leap for him. Can we vote him off the air?”
That’s harsh, but having hosts live-read commercials seems like a dangerous proposition. While stations get the most money for those kind of advertisements, they risk alienating listeners by airing too many of those ads. And, naturally, fewer listeners means less ad revenue. I don’t envy the sales managers who have to make those decisions — it’s not an easy job.
* * * *
Heal-up-soon wishes to classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3) afternoon host Tom Ryan, who had double knee replacement surgery and will be off the air for approximately three weeks while he recovers. Ron Tavernit has been filling in ... Thoughts and prayers are with former talk WKRK-FM (97.1) host Gregg Henson as he deals with the illness of his mother, who has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
* * * *
Set Your Dials: “Somewhere in Time” hosts Tom Wilson and Heather Novak explore the magic of theater pipe organs featuring West Coast organist Don Thompson with a program that includes everything from classics to pops.
* * * *
Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.