Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, September 17, 2006
By: Mike Austerman
It’s hard for me to believe, but this column marks the beginning of the sixth year that Art Vuolo and I have been penning this feature. My first piece appeared in The Oakland Press on Sept. 14, 2001, and I vividly remember trying to put down in words what I was experiencing on the radio the evening of Sept. 11, just hours after our country had been attacked and changed forever.
It strikes me that, as we go forward, our radio dial has been moving closer to what it was in the months and years before that horrible day. Classical music has returned, albeit on public WRCJ-FM (90.9) instead of 105.1, where the format resided until 1997. Country music has returned to WDTW-FM (106.7), where it played for many years until 1999. And, just recently, Adult Alternative music returned to CIDR-FM (93.9), even using the same “The River” name that was in place until 2000.
Perhaps radio listeners long for the days before Sept. 11 more than we consciously realize.
One of the most remarkable changes to the radio landscape was the introduction of satellite radio Sept. 25, 2001, when XM started offering service to consumers in Dallas and San Diego. The influence of this still-young service became clear when one of terrestrial radio’s biggest names, Howard Stern, jumped ship to XM’s competitor, Sirius, earlier this year. As a result, satellite subscribers now have access to an incredible variety of music, talk and sports programming — something that just wasn’t thinkable for most prior to 9/11.
So, Art and I thank you for taking the time each Sunday to read our columns and for all the great e-mail and feedback we have received in the past five years. We look forward to reporting on radio’s constant evolution through an increasingly competitive technological jungle.
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If you’re looking for a quick and easy to reference to all of Michigan’s AM and FM radio stations, pick up a free copy of Art Vuolo’s just-released WJR/ Michigan State RADIOGUIDE at Big Boy restaurants across the state. The guides also soon will be available at the Michigan Welcome Center rest areas along Michigan’s highways.
Spartans fans will especially enjoy this year’s new green-and-white color scheme and the listings of stations carrying MSU football and basketball in 2006-07, including new flagship news/talk WJR-AM (760).
This year’s RADIOGUIDE also debuts a new sponsor, Michigan.org, the state’s award-winning travel and tourism Web site.
If you’d like to order a RADIOGUIDE by mail, just send $1 to cover postage and handling to: Michigan State RADIOGUIDE, P.O. Box 880, Novi 48376-0880.
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I wonder why that advertising for sports WXYT-AM (1270) is featured so prominently in the University of Michigan football program when the two Detroit stations that actually carry the games — classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3) and talk CKLW-AM (800) — are absent. I’ve heard from more than one person expecting to find the games on ’XYT, so maybe a bit more promotion of WOMC — other than on their own airwaves and in this column — is in order.
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Jay Butler has joined public WDET-FM (101.9) to host “Jay’s Place,” a mix of blues, R&B, and soul, from 9 p.m.-midnight Saturdays. His first program aired last night. Butler has nearly five decades of broadcast experience including tenures at WJLB-FM (97.9), WCHB-AM (1200) and WQBH-AM (1400). “I’m very excited to be hosting a program on WDET,” Butler said. “I’m looking forward to reconnecting with many longtime listeners and making a lot of new friends, as well. It’s great to be a part of a station like WDET, where the music hosts are allowed the artistic freedom to create their own programs, and Saturday nights are going to be very special. I hope everyone tunes in.”
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John Mason, who had expected to debut as the new morning host on Adult Urban WGPR-FM (107.5) on Sept. 12, might be waiting until the non-compete clause with his former employer WDMK-FM (105.9) expires in January 2007 before hitting the airwaves. There is a chance that a settlement could be reached before January between Mason and WDMK parent company Radio One that would allow an earlier debut of Mason’s new show on WGPR, but these things seldom seem to work out to benefit listeners.
Many other states have passed legislation that nullifies these non-compete clauses, and it’s high time the same thing happens here in Michigan. It’s not right that a broadcaster of Mason’s caliber is kept off the air by lawyers.
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Set your dial: The Ralph Valdez program on WDET explores the 2006 Toronto Film Festival from 10 p.m.-midnight today ... “Somewhere in Time” hosts Tom Wilson and Heather Novak feature the theater organ music of Larry Embury at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).
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Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.