Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, October 29, 2006
By: Mike Austerman
Had your fill of sports yet? Now that the end of the baseball season is near — weather issues aside — it’s incredible to think how close we came to having all four of our local professional teams playing games that count all at the same time. Well, your radio dial is about to be even more focused on sports this coming Wednesday.
With the Pistons kicking off their regular season against the Milwaukee Bucks, The Palace of Auburn Hills will play host to 16 local radio stations that will be broadcasting remotely all day long. It’s a clever marketing move to generate excitement for basketball and bring back fans who might have been focused on the Tigers’ World Series run and forgotten about the hoopsters.
Leading the coverage will be the Pistons’ flagship sports WDFN-AM (1130) with “Jamie and Brady” from 6-9 a.m. and “Stoney and Wojo” from 3-7 p.m., in addition to pre- and post-game shows. Game coverage begins at 8 p.m. with play-by-play host Mark Champion and color analyst Rick Mahorn. Every Pistons contest will air on WDFN, along with a network of about 10 outstate radio stations.
In addition to WDFN, the Pistons’ Tom Wilson, Bill Laimbeer, George Blaha and others from the organization will make the rounds to a huge list of local FM and AM stations discussing the upcoming NBA season and the Pistons’ hopes for another trip to the NBA Finals. The first live remotes start at 5 a.m., and the last will end at 11 p.m. That’s enough sports talk for even the most rabid fans.
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Visitors to www.wnic.com, the Web site for soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3), can now vote for when they want the station to change its format to all-Christmas music — something it did Nov. 1 last year. Choices range from “Start Today” and “Beginning of November” to “Mid-December” and “Never! Bah Humbug!” You also can connect to a Web stream that’s already all-Christmas all the time.
I’m sorry, but listening to Christmas music before Halloween is just something I can’t adjust to. Still, it’s a proven ratings winner for WNIC, and I bet that Burl Ives will be coming to a radio near you sometime sooner rather than later.
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Last Friday’s XM tribute to the sound of CKLW-AM (800) during the ’60s almost didn’t happen because of threatened legal action from the Toronto-based CHUM Group, CKLW’s current owner. Fellow “On the Radio” columnist Art Vuolo was notified of the issue by XM about 30 hours before the re-creation of the Big 8 was to set air and was able to smooth things over after hours of phone calls and a fair amount of begging and pleading.
Happily, the five-hour special did get on the air and even featured a faux report from former Big 8 helicopter reporter Jo-Jo Shutty-MacGregor, who still does real traffic for AAA of Michigan.
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“Jukebox John” Bartony sent an e-mail to remind me of WPON-AM (1460), which currently features tons of Oldies music as the primary part of its format. He comments that there are a number of loyal listeners enjoying the station both over the air and through the station’s Web feed (www.wpon.com).
On Friday afternoons, a series of flashback shows created by John air noon-2 p.m. and feature the popular songs and local events from a particular day from 1956-69. You also might stumble upon tributes to WKNR, WXYZ and CKLW.
The folks at WPON admit they are signal-challenged, but hope to have some improvement in the spring when the station relocates its broadcast towers and returns to full power. WPON has been operating at reduced power for some time after a contractor damaged the station’s transmission lines. One great thing about stations like WPON is that they’re very responsive to their listeners — remember how much fun it is to hear your request played on the radio?
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Oldies CKWW-AM (580) continues a Halloween tradition with the commercial-free broadcast of Orson Welles’ original “War of the Worlds” 1938 radio play at 10 p.m. Tuesday after the trick-or-treaters get to bed. And in addition to playing some favorite spooky tunes throughout the day Tuesday on CKWW, the syndicated series “When Radio Was” will be airing Halloween programs from the golden age of radio at 11 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. On Monday, an episode of “Fibber McGee & Molly” called “Halloween Pranks” will air. Then Tuesday, after “War of the Worlds,” it’s a full hour of “Suspense” and an episode called “Ghost Hunt.”
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Bud Davies, a CKLW legend from the late 1950s and early ’60s, passed away Oct. 20 in Florida. Davies was in his mid-80s and was unable to make last year’s Radio Reunion because of questionable health.
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Set your dial: Classical/jazz WRCJ-FM (90.9) features a different concert from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra each Sunday at noon. This week’s program features Barber’s “The School for Scandal Overture”, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 ... Tune in to WMUZ-FM (103.5) at 6 p.m. Sunday to hear “Somewhere in Time,” which highlights various big bands playing swing music ... CKWW will debut the “60s at 6,” a full hour of all 1960s tunes, starting 6 p.m. Monday. The feature is set to air every day except Sunday.
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Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.