It's amazing what radio lacks during a holiday break

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Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, July 9, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

The composition of these words were started from my hospital bed at the Cleveland Clinic, perhaps one the most prestigious medical facilities in the world. As I sit here thinking of all the work that’s piling up, my type-A personality is making me even crazier than I usually am. My trip to Cleveland and Pittsburgh was rerouted to the hospital because of a return bout with a skin infection known as cellulitis; I never made it to the Steel City. Thank God for my Tivoli Song Book AM/FM radio and a top-floor room with a large window to my left that faces west. I’m pulling FM’s from Toledo and even from Detroit, but I think some of that might have been due to extraordinary atmospheric conditions. My XM radio also was a godsend.

I was discharged Monday after four days of care and drove home early on the Fourth of July with little to listen to on AM, FM or XM. All the funny shows were off the air. Even the “best of” repeats were missing. No entertainment, just lots of overplayed boring music. I never appreciated Warren Pierce so much as he filled in for Paul W. Smith; it was the only thing that kept me awake on newstalk WJR-AM (760).


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By the way, U of M fans can rejoice. CKLW-AM (800), although not what it once was, still throws a very strong signal across Lake Erie and the entire north coast of Ohio so you’ll still be able to hear the Wolverines. I even pulled in UM’s FM counterpart, classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3), at the Cleveland Clinic, but again, I think the air was a bit overcharged that weekend. Next to WJR, CKLW truly gets out the farthest, so it was an excellent choice by the Michigan Athletic Department.


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Last week, I also had an MRI on my left leg at one of the area’s finest medical facilities. They offer you headphones to counter the loud noise the machine makes and you can usually chose the station, but the radio — a Sony shelf-system stereo — had very poor FM reception. I checked it out, and wouldn’t you know it, the antenna was an AM loop stand-up connected to the FM input on the back. So I got a single strand of wire and connected it with far better results. The staff couldn’t have been more appreciative. The point is, to all radio broadcasters, it’s shocking how few people know how to even hook up an antenna to a radio, how to switch between bands or can recognize, by just the frequency, if 96.3 is an AM or an FM station. Yikes — that is very scary indeed. How are they ever going to figure out HD radio with two stations on the same frequency? I sense a train wreck coming.


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All-news WWJ-AM (950) is preparing a special tribute to funny weather guru Sonny Eliot as he celebrates 60 years on the local airwaves. Sonny created the concept of the wacky TV weatherman when he was on Channel 4, back in TV’s early days when the word Doppler was virtually unknown. More details coming.


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Also, this Tuesday is the birthday of WOMC’s Dick Purtan, holding steady at ... well, he says he’s 39. When your birthday is on 7-11, you’ve heard all of the jokes.


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Speaking of Slurpees, beef jerky and sandwiches, the winner of Motown radio’s “Super Sub” is undoubtedly Bernie Fratto. He’s the very reliable fill-in host on the “Parker & the Man” show at hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1) Free FM. The “other Bernie,” who recently celebrated two years at Live 97.1, has developed quite a following with his quick wit and deep knowledge of sports, pop culture, history and current events. Plus, who can say no to an Italian sub?


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Today is the day for the soft hits WMGC-FM (105.1) Magic Family Picnic. It’s noon-5 p.m. at CJ Barrymore’s, 21750 Hall Road (M-59) in Clinton Township. Sounds like a super time. Check out www.detroitmagic.com for more details.


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Detroit’s “NICest guy,” Kevin O’Neill, the popular soft-rock WNIC-FM (100.3) afternoon personality, also was holding down the same shift at sister Clear Channel station WLIT in Chicago — by way of voice-tracking, which is a common practice in radio these days. They replaced O’Neill with a live local jock. So Kevin’s son in Chicago can no longer hear dad, but perhaps a Cleveland Clear Channel station will import his voice so mom can tune in along the North Coast.


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Speaking of Cleveland, after 12 different morning shows in nine years, heritage rocker WMMS-FM (100.7) recently added America’s funniest syndicated morning show — “Bob & Tom,” based in Indianapolis. You may have heard their outrageously entertaining program on stations throughout out-state Michigan, as it’s on in 150 cities nationwide but not in Detroit. With no disrespect to Drew and Mike, Harper, Purtan, Smith, Edmonds and all of the great local morning talent, I still wish we had these award-winning guys on the air locally. We can never have too many laughs.


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

 

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on July 9, 2006 9:00 AM.

West Michigan: Newsmakers June 26 - July 2 was the previous entry in this blog.

Metro Detroit: Newsmakers July 11, 2006 is the next entry in this blog.

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