Radio 2006: Howard, handymen and havoc

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Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, December 31, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

In looking back at Mike Austerman’s predictions for 2006, a year ago, he was about 90 percent correct with his forecast. I doubt that mine will be as accurate, but first let’s quickly look back at some of what happened across your radio dial this past year.

Shane French, known better as Rover, arrived in January on hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1) with “Rover’s Morning Glory” to replace Howard Stern, who made a much ballyhooed move to Sirius satellite radio. By September, Rover was replaced by “Opie & Anthony,” another NYC show that cares little about Detroit. And Stern took only about 30 percent of his terrestrial listeners to Sirius, considerably less than anticipated.

Local consultant Fred Jacobs wrote a piece entitled, “Did You Hear What Howard Said This Morning?” Neither did anyone else, as the self-proclaimed “King of All Media” has slipped off the front page.


 • • • • 


We saw the year start out with a departure of Martin Bandyke at public WDET-FM (101.9) and Tic-Tak ousted, along with the eclectic Mr. Positive, at hits WKQI-FM (95.5).


 • • • • 


It took until spring to announce new stations for Michigan football after being jettisoned by WJR-AM (760). Talk CKLW-AM (800) and oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) are the new home for the Maize and Blue and they will carry the Rose Bowl tomorrow, offering U-M fans an alternative audio choice. Let’s hope the synchronization of the radio audio and TV visuals is at least close.


 • • • • 


We were witness to numerous fund-raisers from WRIF-FM (101.1), WCSX-FM (94.7), WYCD-FM (99.5), WJR, and WOMC’s Dick Purtan, whose annual Radiothon raised $1.8 million in one day for the Salvation Army.


 • • • • 


ABC Radio was sold to Citadel in a $2.7 billion deal that, nearly a year later, has yet to be solidified.


 • • • • 


One of the good guys, MSU alum Steve Schram, who ran several Detroit area stations, took over U-M’s Michigan Public Radio.


 • • • • 


This past year, it was musical chairs for the radio handymen. Joe Gagnon left WXYT-AM (1270) for WAAM-AM (1600) in Ann Arbor. Glenn Haege left sports WDFN-AM (1130) and wound up in the Fisher Building at WJR. A few months earlier, the mighty 760 waved goodbye to Murray Gula, who has found a new home at WXYZ-Channel 7; as of Jan. 4, he starts a weekly Webcast, “Lunch with Murray,” at noon Thursdays at www.wxyz.com.


 • • • • 


Format flips included CIDR-FM (93.9) from Lite-FM to The River; WDTW-FM (106.7) from classic hits (The Drive) to country (The Fox); and CKWW-AM (580) from standards to oldies.


 • • • • 


We miss departed on-air talents who were recipients of “pink slips” — among them, Brad Bianchi, Gene Maxwell, Don Swindell, Tom Mazeway and Art Regner. And we just got word that Rob Parker and Mark Wilson of WKRK’s “Parker and the Man” and Michelle McKormick of “Motor City Middays,” also at WKRK, were shown the door.


 • • • • 


Obituaries over the past year included Sabrina Black, Dave Schaffer, Jim Ellis, Nellie Knorr, Captain Rick Jagger, Bud Davies and Jason Alexander.


 • • • • 


In other notables, WWJ’s Sonny Eliot marked 60 years in local media, and Dick Kernen at Specs Howard hit 50 years in radio. Rachael Hunter and Steve Grunwald segued from WDRQ-FM (93.1), eventually to WYCD, while Jay Towers moved to WKRK. And timing was not good for WJR, which dropped Michigan football (11-1) in exchange for Michigan State (4-8). Hopefully, the Spartans will be better in 2007.


 • • • • 


And that brings me to some predictions for 2007, which is always risky. Tigers and Red Wings fans will not be pleased to learn that neither team will be returned to mega-power WJR, but will get simulcast on both WXYT and Live 97.1 (might this bring back Tom Leykis when sports aren’t on?).


Dick Purtan will top last year’s amount raised for the Salvation Army as he celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Radiothon.


Channel 7 home improvement team leader Murray Gula will get back on a local radio station.


“Mojo in the Morning” will top the morning ratings in the coming year.


Syndicated shows such as Opie & Anthony will not last the year, while entertaining programs including talker Joey Reynolds and funsters Bob & Tom will hopefully land a local affiliate.


And listeners will remain loyal to some of the best radio in America through a year James Bond would approve of, 2-007.


 • • • • 


In current news, Jennifer Williams, the longtime promotions manager at Greater Media’s WCSX, will assume the new title of director of interactive sales and database marketing for all three stations in Greater Media — WCSX, WRIF and WMGC.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: Tonight, Tom Wilson’s New Year’s Eve gift is the dance music of Lester Lanin at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 • • • • 


By the way, don’t make me M.A.D.D. by drinking and driving tonight. But do have a happy New Year from Mike, myself and everyone at The Oakland Press.


 • • • • 


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

 

1 Comments

Opie and Anthony are the best show in the history of radio. You should thank God that you can even listen to them in all their glory.

Repent now for the things you have said about them or feel the wrath of the pests.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on December 31, 2006 10:06 AM.

Metro Detroit: Newsmakers Dec 29, 2006 was the previous entry in this blog.

Michiguide.com 2006 News Archive is the next entry in this blog.

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