Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, October 1, 2006
By: Mike Austerman
With today’s completion of baseball’s regular season, it’s time for the Tigers playoff hype to get going in full force.
No matter where you tune your dial, the upcoming playoffs are the hot topic, making it hard for non-fans to escape. But even if you don’t like baseball, it’s easy to understand the thirst that has developed in the 19 years since the Tigers were a playoff team.
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It sure looks like the lineup changes at sports WXYT-AM (1270) late last month were timed perfectly. While I’m on record as not being a big fan of most nationally syndicated programming, ESPN radio’s “Mike & Mike,” now heard on 6-10 a.m. weekdays on ’XYT, is a great place to take in the national perspective on sports.
The Mikes — Greenberg and Golic — present one of the few straight-ahead sports talk programs heard in our area. They rarely stray from pure sports conversation and regularly feature ESPN personalities/experts, along with numerous other big-name guests.
Having a sports program back in the morning drive on WXYT will pressure WDFN-AM (1130) morning hosts Jamie Samuelsen and Greg Brady to be at the top of their game during whatever run the Tigers make in the playoffs. That’s something that that benefits all us sports radio junkies.
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With the addition of “Mike & Mike,” the times for other shows on WXYT were adjusted. “The Sports Inferno” moved back an hour and now runs 10 a.m.-2 p.m., followed by “The Big Show” from 2-6 p.m. Removed from the daytime schedule was the program hosted by Dan Wetzel and Scott Anderson. Anderson is doing fill-in work and hosting “Tigers Spotlight” evenings before game coverage, while Wetzel is no longer heard in a regular timeslot on WXYT.
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And thanks to the Tigers’ great summer, the overall ratings for WXYT in the second summer-ratings trend easily outpaced those of WDFN. Tigers play-by-play is getting its best numbers ever since moving to WXYT from WJR — and just in time for the Tigers to be shopping for a new radio deal starting with the 2007 season.
It’ll be interesting to see where we’ll be tuning our dials next April. You can bet that WXYT will play, er, hardball to keep the team, but there’ll also be other interested suitors.
By the way, rumors that “Sports Inferno” co-host Mike Valenti is accepting donations of throat lozenges are untrue. On Monday, Valenti led an on-air rant about Michigan State’s loss to Notre Dame that was so hard, he lost his voice and didn’t complete his air shift.
The passion for MSU displayed by Valenti makes for some of most entertaining radio in the market. I hope he survives the upcoming U-M vs. MSU week with his voice fully intact.
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Adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3) continues as the most-listened-to station among all listeners in that latest ratings trend, followed by urban WJLB-FM (97.9), news-talk WJR-AM (760), rock WRIF-FM (101.1) and Top 40 WKQI-FM (95.5).
More country listeners appear to be splitting their loyalty between WYCD-FM (99.5) and WDTW-FM (106.7), causing numbers to fall at WYCD and increase at WDTW.
Finally, the folks at hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1) hope that the addition of Opie & Anthony mornings will help turn around the sinking ratings at that station, which finished in 20th place overall.
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Happy 30th birthday today to Bloomfield Hills’ WBFH-FM (88.1). The station celebrated its Oct. 1, 1976, sign-on with a big shindig at the Pontiac Country Club and by allowing some of its famous alumni to once again grace the airwaves of the 100-watt station.
Major kudos to station manager Pete Bowers, who has held that role for the entire existence of WBFH and also teaches radio broadcasting for the Bloomfield Hills School District. Under Bowers’ watch, WBFH has won numerous state and national awards and helped launch the careers of current area broadcasters Jackie Purtan of WOMC-FM (104.3), Scott Anderson of WXYT and Heather Catallo of WXYZ-Channel 7, among many others.
While easily overlooked, don’t underestimate the influence stations like WBFH have on the broadcasters of tomorrow.
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Public radio WDET-FM (101.9) hired Detroit native Amy Miller as its new local host for 5-10 a.m. weekday broadcasts of NPR’s “Morning Edition.” She arrives from a public radio station in Missouri and, before that, a group of public outlets in Alaska.
“It’s great to be back home in Detroit,” Miller says. “I’m looking forward to serving WDET listeners and bringing the community the important stories of the day. It is an honor to be a part of the WDET newsroom, which has a reputation for excellence in news coverage.”
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Set your dial: “Somewhere in Time,” airing 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5), features Big Band leader and vocalist Skinnay Ennis ... Then at 10 p.m. today, WDET’s Ralph Valdez features an interview with former Detroiter Heidi Ewing, co-director of the new documentary “Jesus Camp,” which is scheduled to open Friday at the Maple Art Theatre. The film looks at the recruitment of born-again Christian children to become part of American politics.
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Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.