Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, November 12, 2006
By: Mike Austerman
Make sure you have your radio locked on to classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3) for this Saturday’s Michigan-Ohio State football game, which is set to kick off from Columbus at 3:30 p.m.
For U-M fans, there is absolutely no other way to take in all the excitement of The Game than by getting the call from Frank Beckmann and Jim Brandstatter with Doug Karsch on the sidelines. True, you are allowed to watch on WXYZ-Channel 7, too, but do yourself a favor and turn down the sound on the TV and crank up that radio.
Oh, and you might want to get the nonfootball fans out of the house, as they just won’t understand.
• • • •
Soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) pulled a fast one on its listeners this week, and no, I’m not talking about the Nov. 3 launch of the annual overdose of all-Christmas music by Kevin O’Neill and special guest Barry Manilow. Rather, this surprise is the dumping of hugely popular jock Gene Maxwell, who had been a midday fixture at ’NIC for more than 25 years.
It’s likely that Maxwell was a victim of budget cuts by owner Clear Channel, as similar moves have been happening at other stations owned by the media behemoth in other parts of the country, including New York.
Industry speculation has been running wild about Clear Channel possibly making itself a private company or finding a buyer for all or part of its massive media holdings, which include more than 1,000 radio stations, 30 television stations, billboards, several radio networks and other properties.
Seeing Maxwell exit certainly underscores the fact that for many in the radio industry, the financial pressures are not unlike those faced at companies, particularly the Big Three. To me, though, that’s still not a good enough excuse to dispatch one of the best jocks in the market.
I’m sure that most of us have gone through similar happenings where we work, but when it happens to a public figure like Gene, it affects more than just those left at WNIC who will miss him. His huge radio family deserves better, and I hope someone else in town can somehow make room for him.
WNIC has absorbed Maxwell’s former noon-3 p.m. shift by extending Theresa Lucas’ show from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. and O’Neill’s from 2-7 p.m.
Spirit of the Season WNIC? Hardly.
• • • •
Up the dial a notch at country WYCD-FM (99.5), they’ve collected well-wishes from thousands of listeners on what the station is calling the World’s Largest Yellow Ribbon and will ship it to Iraq with morning show co-host Steve Grunwald, who will be embarking on 10-day goodwill mission to the war-torn country in association with the U.S. Department of Defense.
Grunwald comments via WYCD’s Web site: “This is the best thing I have ever done in all my years in radio. We should all be proud of how happy we are making people and all of us working so hard together as a team to make it happen. That includes all of you, who have given such an overwhelming show of support. Not only support for our station, and support for myself, but, most importantly, you have really stepped up in supporting all of the families and all of our troops in Iraq. Thank you to everyone who has helped to make this happen.”
Now that’s the Christmas spirit in action — even if it’s still almost two weeks before Turkey Day.
• • • •
Checking in with soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1), which isn’t playing Christmas music yet but is displaying plenty of holiday spirit, we find that morning host Jim Harper and crew helped raise $94,000 and four trucks of clothing during a daylong broadcast earlier this month in support of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.
That’s a huge increase over last year’s tally of $33,000, and all that cash will help feed hungry families and provide school supplies and clothing for kids. It’ll also help keep the doors open at Capuchin’s library and computer center.
“When great people come together for a great cause, you get great results,” says Marcy Cyburt, Magic 105.1’s general sales manager. “Our listeners are wonderful.”
• • • •
If you’re trying to select a fine wine for your upcoming holiday table, WMGC will be hosting “The Magic Wine Down” at 6 p.m. Friday at the Marble & Granite Gallery on Telegraph Road between Eight Mile and Nine Mile roads in Southfield.
The event will feature about 10 showcase wines with experts on hand to educate attendees about which one might go best with your turkey, along with hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction with proceeds benefiting Toys for Tots.
Several Magic personalities are scheduled to be on hand, including Linda Lanci, Mike Bradley, Fay Samona, Mitzi Miles, Jim Paolucci, Shannyn Caldwell and Johnny Williams.
Tune in to WMGC to win tickets, as they won’t be available for purchase.
• • • •
And now that I’ve got you thinking Christmas ... XM satellite radio has announced it will serve up several commercial-free channels during the holiday season — Holly (XM 103) will launch tomorrow, followed by Holiday Traditions (XM 104), A Nashville Christmas (XM 105), A Classic Christmas (XM 106), and Special X-Mas (XM 107), all on the day after Thanskgiving.
Sirius will likely also add special holiday channels soon, but details on them weren’t yet available.
• • • •
Set your dial: “Somewhere in Time,” Detroit’s only nostalgic radio show for seniors, recalls the emotional days of World War ll with a special program of music to salute Remembrance Day, or as many will recall, Armistice or Veterans Day. Fran Wilson hosts at 6 p.m. on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... Ron Edwards, weekday morning news host on talk WDTK-AM (1400), hosts “The Edwards Notebook” every Saturday at 9:30 a.m., with a repeat airing on sister station WLQV-AM (1500) at 2:30 p.m. the same day. Edwards’ unique commentary is sure to make you stop, listen and think.
• • • •
Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.