Entries in On The Radio Columns Category

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, January 1, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

After several years of relative stability on the Detroit radio, 2005 saw enough changes to require a look into the crystal ball for 2006 to see if even more change is on the horizon.


Country music enjoyed a resurgence in listeners across the country last year — but was it enough to bring a second full-market country station to our area? There’s word that country radio might be making a comeback in Toronto. If that happens with any measure of success, I predict that a Windsor station will try on a 10-gallon hat and boots and give WYCD-FM (99.5) something to be concerned about.


It’s tough to write off a morning show before it even starts, but I don’t see Rover’s Morning Glory standing much of a chance as a replacement for Howard Stern on hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1). The WRIF-FM (101.1) morning duo of Drew and Mike are just too strong, coupled with having the advantage of being able to talk about the Pistons, Red Wings, and anything else local whenever they want.


By the end of 2006, listeners will have grown tired of ’80s rock and either WDRQ-FM (93.1) or WDTW-FM (106.7) will make a major change. I believe the ratings for both adult urban stations — WMXD-FM (92.3) and WDMK-FM (105.9) — will remain strong, led by morning show stars Steve Harvey and Tom Joyner, respectively.


I also can foresee big things from contemporary hits WKQI-FM (95.5); it’ll become the most-listened to station in Detroit this summer, knocking off news-talk WJR-AM (760). When that happens, there will be a lot of speculation about another station changing its format to compete, but that won’t happen until after Jan. 1, 2007.


Dick Purtan and Purtan’s People will set another record with next month’s Radiothon for the Salvation Bed & Bread Club, comfortably topping last year’s $1.7 million intake. And Purtan’s home, WOMC-FM (104.3), will continue to be one of America’s best-performing oldies stations anywhere.


I’m predicting a big year for High Definition radio after an agreement is reached with several automakers to include the new receivers as optional equipment on new cars. The price for after-market receivers will drop, getting more receivers into the hands of consumers. Every Michigan-based FM station will offer several different format choices locally on their HD stations, giving listeners more options than ever before. HD on AM won’t catch on as quickly though.


Satellite radio will still be talked about a lot, but with strong competition from HD radio, subscriber numbers won’t increase as dramatically as they have in previous years.


The crystal ball gets rather fuzzy when looking at the AM band. Two of the area’s most successful stations, WJR and all-news WWJ-AM (950), have no reason to shake things up, and many of the area’s other AM’s have found their niche and will likely stay the course in 2006. Salem Broadcasting, already owner of talk WDTK-AM (1400), is in the process of closing on the purchase of Christian WLQV-AM (1500) and might do something — possibly a swapping of formats between the two — once it takes control of ’LQV.


If there are shake ups in sports play-by-play, I’d suggest that either WXYT-AM (1270) or WDFN-AM (1130) might consider a different direction, but they’re just as likely to stick with their all-sports focus too. Radio Disney WFDF-AM (910) will get the rights to at least one of the area’s big sports teams as a way to generate interest for the station. Sports play-by-play will make other headlines as the Red Wings and Tigers deal with WXYT expires and the University of Michigan looks for a home for its football and basketball broadcasts.


All in all though, I wouldn’t expect a whole lot of big changes from your radio this year. While it’s fun to speculate sometimes, the truth is, most of what you hear coming from your radio these days is heavily studied and isn’t changed all that easily. Radio is big business, and changes only happen once the folks in charge are pretty certain that making a move will result in higher revenue and ratings. Here’s to a fun 2006 anyhow.


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The Doo Wop Show hits the Detroit Opera House on Saturday, with legendary jock and TV host Rockin’ Robin Seymour coming to town from California to host the event. The performers include Adam Wade, the Willows, the Falcons, the Impalas, Jimmy Charles, Mel Carter, Fred Johnson’s Marcels, Harvey Fuqua and the Moonglows. Tickets range from $23 to $58 and are available through Ticketmaster, (248) 645-6666 or www.ticketmaster.com.


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Set Your Dials: A perfect way to celebrate the New Year is with an evening of big band dance music from Lester Lanin. Tune in to “Somewhere in Time” at 6 p.m. tonight on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


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Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, January 8, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

Some big changes coming this week for the “great voice of the Great Lakes.” Starting Monday, news/talk WJR-AM (760) will begin an altered afternoon line-up, trimming Mitch Albom Inc. to a 5-7 p.m. weekday slot. While ’JR boss Mike Fezzey says the change is a move that “allows Mitch the time to address other demands of his career,” it’s also known that ABC Radio has been pushing to get syndicated conservative yakmeister Sean Hannity on live in Detroit afternoons.

Which is what happened, as Hannity will now fill the 3-5 p.m. slot; previously, he’d been tape-delayed evenings on ’JR. The “Sports Albom” show will still air 7-8 p.m. Mondays, but in that slot Tuesdays through Fridays will be “The Big Story,” a local news and interviews show hosted by ’JR’s Lloyd Jackson. Meanwhile, the dulcet tones of Dr. Laura will fill the 8-11 p.m. block, and a new conservative host, Mark Levin, will scorch the Earth of liberals in the 11 p.m.-1 a.m. slot.


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Freak out: The New Year got off to a rough start for evening jock Tic Tak and co-hosts Stick and Limpy, when they were released by contemporary hits WKQI-FM (95.5) earlier this week. The “Freak Show” on Channel 9-5-5 had been Mr. Tak’s second go-round as a night jock in town; prior to joining ’KQI, his show was on Top 40 WDRQ-FM (93.1) with an in-between stint in Pittsburgh. Betcha part-time show contributor “Mr. Positive” isn’t feeling so upbeat, as ’KQI program director Dom Theodore searches for a new show that will match the amount of energy presented daily by Tic Tak and posse.


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Fans of former public radio WDET-FM (101.9) afternoon host Martin Bandyke can show their support for him — and get to hear some great music, too, on Friday at Clutch Cargo’s iLounge in Pontiac. Beginning at 9 p.m., Bandyke will spin an eclectic batch of music, from stuff he played on ’DET in the 1980s to new music from ex-Kinks lead singer Ray Davies and English singer-songwriter Beth Orton. Admission is $10 and all door proceeds benefit the now-unemployed Bandyke thanks to Clutch Cargo’s owner Amir Daiza. The iLounge is next to the Clutch Cargo’s entrance at 65 E. Huron St. in downtown Pontiac. Call (248) 333-2525.


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It’s never too early to think spring. With that in mind, classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7) is setting up a new motorcycle club called the WCSX Classic Rock Riders. A $9.47 membership fee gets you access to bike nights, cruises, parties, and chances to win prizes. To join, visit the WCSX booth at the annual motorcycle show today at the Rock Financial Showplace in Novi or visit www.wcsx.com. Proceeds benefit the Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan.


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With the NFL playoffs under way, you’ll be hearing more and more about all kinds of activities linked to next month’s Super Bowl XL in Detroit. The first big radio tie-in has been announced with adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3) helping sponsor the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration featuring huge names such as Patti LaBelle, the Winans, Mary Mary, the Clark Sisters and Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Choir. It takes place Feb. 3 at the Masonic Temple; tickets are $45-$75 and available through Ticketmaster.

In its seventh year, the gospel celebration evolved from Christian NFL players wanting an inspirational, family-oriented event during the big weekend. Now part of the NFL Concert Series, it’s drawn thousands and proven to be one of most-attended events of the annual Roman numeraled weekend.


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Syndicated WMXD morning host Steve Harvey visits town with a live broadcast 6-10 a.m. Friday at the Breakfast House on Woodward in downtown Detroit, following by “The World’s Largest Old-School Skating Party” on Saturday night at Skate World in Troy. Tickets for the skating party are $9.23 at Ticketmaster and the Skate World box office.


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Coming soon: Radio columnist Art Vuolo returns here next Sunday with a look at the huge Consumer’s Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a report on the spread of satellite radio, and highlights of some of the new broadcast gadgets coming our way. Personally, I’m still waiting for a gadget that’ll give me enough money to afford all these new gadgets!


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Set Your Dials: Hosts Heather Novak and Tom Wilson dish up the Big Band sounds of Russ Morgan at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5). You also can catch their “Somewhere in Time” show at www.wmuz.com, and Wilson says he’s already heard from listeners in New York thanks to the Internet presence ... “The Insane World of Mike Sain” has returned to Oldies WPON-AM (1460) from 9-10 a.m. Wednesdays with trivia contests, jokes, and stories on the oldies theme.


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Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, January 15, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

His Sunday morning classical show was a longtime fave on public radio WDET-FM (101.9), and at 10 a.m. today, host Chris Felcyn unveils “The Listening Room” on his new home, public WRCJ-FM (90.9). Word is he’s also considering bringing back his tongue-incheek “Symphony Bowl,” which spoofs some big football game.


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The biggest radio thing at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas? The omnipresence of XM Satellite Radio, which seemed to be everywhere. On the flipside, competitor Sirius opted not to have even one display booth at the huge show, a distinct change from last year when the subscription radio service had two lavish sets with live broadcasts and new products galore. This year, the New York based sat-caster was holed up in a suite at the Bellagio Hotel, plus seen in a small display buried in an auto stereo booth in the back of the North Hall. That left many attendees to joke that Sirius had invested so much money to hire Howard Stern that there was nothing left for the trade show.

With Sirius at 3.3 million subscribers, the XM camp had big banners proclaiming they’d topped the 6 million customer mark. And the XM logo was all over the show, on bags, signs, kiosks, even a banner in the sky behind an airplane — while their booth was packed with people watching live broadcasts and big name entertainers. At the XM booth, people were checking out a new, tiny, iPod-style XM radio due out soon by both Pioneer and Samsung. The thing holds 50 hours of music — theirs or yours — can broadcast on any FM frequency and dazzled the crowd. It all underlined the fact that satellite radio is not going away anytime soon.

Adjacent to the XM display were booths for HD Radio and Troy-based Delphi, the world’s largest manufacturer of satellite radios, which announced a deal to bring satellite radio to Europe within three years.

Inside the full-color handout at the HD Radio booth was a photo of and a strong endorsement by Tom Bender, the VP/GM of Detroit’s Greater Media Radio, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. As for HD, the stations broadcasting in super-clear high definition have increased from 200 to more than 625 in the past year.

Another trend seen at the show is that iPods and various forms of MP3 players continue to be a thorn in the side of AM and FM radio stations, but the best such music system wasn’t even on the show floor. In a suite at the Hilton Hotel, exhibitors were showing the SongBook by Tivoli Audio. At $160, it features a durable design in many colors, is made for travel and has incredible sound and super selectivity. Learn more at www.tivoliaudio.com.


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Stern Redux: When the self-proclaimed “king of all media” premiered on Sirius last week, he said there would be no swearing on the first show. He must have been kidding since according to Family Media Guide, Stern used the “F-word” more than 75 times on his first show — along with a litany of other words that would make the FCC blush.

And how will he do for the sat-caster? Well, New York Post radio writer John Mainelli has penned a piece in a talk radio trade magazine headlined: “How the 500 million dollar man will single-handedly sink Sirius.” While it’s too early to tell, Mainelli says, “Stern, like Don Imus and a few other incredibly wealthy, spoiled and one-time (radio) greats, has been phoning it in in recent years, knowing that he can count on a fiercely loyal core who will keep listening at least three months after he’s dead.” Ouch.


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Local Quick Hits: Friday saw another live and local visit from syndicated morning host Steve Harvey at pop-urban WMXD-FM (92.3); he’s catching on locally and offering major competition to urban WDMK-FM (105.9) host Tom Joyner ... soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) has welcomed new program director Don Gosselin up from a short stint in New Orleans. He previously was running soft rock WRVF-FM (101.5) and legendary rocker WIOT-FM (104.7) in Toledo ... one-time Big 8 and “The Groove” jock “Brother” Bill Gable is now doing afternoons at standards CHWO-AM (740) a 50,000-watter in Toronto, which better radios can pick up here ... the furor over WDET’s dumping of daytime music continues as former fans have created the Web site SaveDetroitRadio.com and promise more protests ...


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Set Your Dials: Pretend mild weather is here — with the Hawaiian music of Don Ho at 6 p.m. tonight on “Somewhere In Time” on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... Martin Luther King Jr.’s 30-minute “I Have A Dream” speech, first given in Detroit in June 1963, airs at 8:30 a.m. Monday on WDET ... and don’t forget to check out your favorite radio hosts at the auto show.


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

 

New Mix goes to the max in fall ratings

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Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, January 22, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

The fall quarter ratings book, released earlier this month, demonstrates some interesting changes in our radio listening habits. The first eye-opener was the tie at the top in all-day listening between news-talk WJR-AM (760) and adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3) among listeners ages 12 and older. WMXD’s success was fueled by Steve Harvey, who scored big numbers over The Mix 92.3’s former morning man Tom Joyner, now heard on adult urban WDMK-FM (105.9). So far, it looks like listeners are pleased with the new Mix and are showing their loyalty.

The rest of the Top 5 stations overall were smooth jazz WVMV-FM (98.7), contemporary hits WKQI-FM (95.5) and the all-Christmas sounds of WNIC-FM (100.3). It was a strong book for WNIC, but not nearly as big as a year ago, when it surged to the top spot even amid direct competition from fellow soft rocker WMGC-FM (105.1). Magic 105.1, which opted for a more traditional and later approach to Christmas music this season, finished in 12th place. The ratings for both WNIC and WMGC were down from last year but up from the summer ratings period.

What’s surprising is the absence of news WWJ-AM (950) from the Top 5, since the all-newser routinely competes for the market’s top spot but fell to ninth place overall this fall. Just don’t blame WWJ’s soft ratings on its morning team — in the morning numbers, Joe Donovan, Roberta Jasina and Larry Henry placed second behind Drew & Mike on rock WRIF-FM (101.1) and ahead of ’MXD’s Harvey and Dick Purtan and Purtan’s People on oldies WOMC-FM (104.3), which tied for third place.

The Mojo in the Morning crew at WKQI also had reason to be happy with their performance. For the first time, they notched a Top 5 finish in every demographic they target, including being tops in women listeners ages 18-34 and 25-34.

Meanwhile, the sports radio battle took a twist with WXYT-AM (1270) moving well ahead of WDFN-AM (1130) for the first time that I can remember, as WXYT’s emphasis on being all local all day certainly seems to be having a positive impact. To my ears, WDFN has lost its way as a sports-focused station, with hosts talking about just about anything but sports for longer and longer periods of time — when there aren’t commercials airing for what seems like minutes on end.


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Speaking of sports, I was really annoyed with our local sports radio stations last Sunday when I tried to tune in the football playoff game between the Colts and Steelers. Neither WXYT nor WDFN had the game, but luckily, I found it on CHOK-AM (1070), which broadcasts from Sarnia, Ontario. How sad is it that I had to listen to American football on a Canadian radio station in one of the United States’ largest radio markets?!?


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Major kudos to WJR morning man Paul W. Smith for guest-hosting the Rush Limbaugh afternoon politico gabfest Wednesday and Thursday. The timing couldn’t have been better for a Detroit spotlight during auto show week and just as all the Super Bowl hoopla gets going in earnest. It’s great to hear good things about our area on national media for change.


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Still, I’m sad that the days of “radio row” during the auto show are long gone due to the space constraints at Cobo Center. One of the highlights for radio fans like me was being able to check out the freebies from nearly every radio station on the dial in one quick walk. I wish I had kept some of those classic bumper stickers from stations like the old WABX, WLLZ and CKLW... These days, if you can even find any of the few radio booths in the exhibit hall, you’re lucky to score even a key ring. I’d vote for a bigger Cobo Center just to get Radio Row back!


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For something completely different, classical/jazz WRCJ-FM (90.9) is offering Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Party Packs to celebrate the composer’s 250th birthday on Friday. Available by sending an e-mail to wolfgang@dptv.org, the packs include info on Mozart, a quiz, recipes and more. The station also will dish up broadcasts from Salzburg, Austria, as part of the celebration Wednesday and Thursday and all day Friday. So party down with Wolfie!


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Legendary ABC TV newsman Ted Koppel will join National Public Radio in June, offering commentaries and analysis during news events. Noted Koppel, “I have been an unabashed fan of NPR for many years and have stolen untold excellent ideas from its programming. It’s time to give something back.” His deal is for one year.


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Mark your calendar and save your pennies: Dick Purtan’s annual radiothon to benefit the Salvation Army Bed and Bread Club will be Feb. 24 at Oakland Mall in Troy. The goal is to break last year’s amazing tally of more than $1.7 million.


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Set Your Dials: Chris Felcyn’s “Listening Room” brings “Winter” from Haydn’s “The Seasons,” album excerpts from Nnenna Freelon and Ann Arbor composer William Bolcom, plus the timeless comedy of Mike Nichols and Elaine May, from 10 a.m.-noon today on classical/jazz WRCJ-FM (90.9) ... hosts Tom Wilson and Heather Novak pull out the stops with dance music on a Wurlitzer organ at 6 p.m. on Christian music WMUZ-FM (103.5).


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Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, January 29, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

HD (high-definition) radio is really in the news right now as the big players roll out their new HD formats on what is known as the “sidechannel.” With an HD radio, AM sounds like FM and FM sounds like a CD. You can tune to an FM station and select HD-1 or HD-2. Available only on HD sets, the second channel, in theory, doubles your choices of programs or formats. Except that it won’t. That’s because the two biggest radio companies locally, Clear Channel and CBS (formerly Infinity), have unveiled their new HD-2 offerings — and it’s not pretty. Or very innovative.

Urban WJLB-FM (97.9) will offer classic hip-hop; urban pop WMXD-FM (92.3) will do gospel; Top 40 WKQI-FM (95.5) will play “new” Top 40; classic hits WDTW-FM (106.7) will deliver “live rock”; and pop WNIC-FM (100.3) will play pop ballads and love songs. The four CBS FMs aren’t much better. Country WYCD-FM (99.5) will play something called “Future Country”; smooth jazz WVMV-FM (98.7) will have traditional jazz; hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1) will do (hot?) news; and oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) will present — ta-dah! — the “History of Rock & Roll.”

Will these “exciting” and “new” formats entice you into spending $350-plus for a new HD Radio? Where are the under-represented formats? Why not channels that offer full-time classical, pre-Beatles oldies, beautiful music, traditional country and adult standards? While the radio industry preaches that “content is king,” this type of content is not king. It’s also why people pay $13 per month for satellite radio, which does cater to just about every musical taste. It’s the same reason so many people pay up to $100 per month for premium cable and satellite TV — because they became disenchanted with the offerings of network television.

A good part of the audience is now feeling the same about radio. But the audience — that’s you — no longer has to tolerate mediocrity. You have the power to influence broadcasters. This was evidenced by the cancellation of “The Book of Daniel” by NBC after religious and family watchdog organizations deemed the show offensive and led a campaign to kill it. While HD radio does sound incredible, the initial offerings seem lame.


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Speaking of offensive, Howard Stern has brought so much attention to his “free speech” program on Sirius Satellite Radio that the FCC is now looking into censorship of both Sirius and XM. Can HBO and Showtime be far behind? This could really get ugly.


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It’s been more than 90 days since WJR-AM (760) dumped U-M sports for MSU and still no replacement stations have been named for this fall’s 12-game football season. I say let’s get the Wolverines on FM. The Lions are on WKRK-FM (97.1), and nearly a dozen NFL teams have FMs as their flagship stations. A powerful FM would be ideal with equal coverage both day and night. Expect a decision soon — along with the final word on which company might buy ABC Radio (which owns WJR and three other local stations) from Disney, in a deal worth billions.


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We’re one week away from Super Bowl XL Sunday, and all this week, the world will focus on Detroit, as will the jokes from Jay Leno, David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel. Many of your favorite radio stations will be all over the big event. For instance, Mojo in the Morning on WKQI is pulling out all of the stops — even giving away free tickets to the game. Super Bowl XL will be Xtra Large for local radio.


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Recent times have been bittersweet for WKQI programmer Dom Theodore, who lost his dad to cancer and a few days later was promoted to VP of regional programming for Clear Channel Radio in Michigan. Theodore is both loved and respected by local staffers, and did not select the new HD formats. They were chosen by corporate brass and the HD Radio Alliance, a broadcasting group put together to popularize the new technology.


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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: Martin Bandyke, the popular 22-year radio personality formerly of public WDET-FM (101.9), will be the new morning host at Ann Arbor’s alternative WQKL-FM (107.1), which can be heard by much of western Oakland County ... urban talk/gospel WCHB-AM (1200) has greatly juggled its schedule. Mildred Gaddis will continue to host mornings, but the rest of the day’s programs will come from the African-American Talk Network of Radio One, which owns the 50,000-watt station.


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Set Your Dials: Home improvement whiz Murray Gula broadcasts live with John McCullough from the Home Show at the Rock Financial Showplace in Novi, from noon to 3 p.m. today on WJR ... host Tom Wilson features “Chick” Webb’s big band at 6 p.m. tonight on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... stay up late to catch indie pop star Ashton Allen performing in-studio with host Liz Copeland, after 12:30 a.m. Thursday on WDET.


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, February 5, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

It’s been quite the week in the media world with nonstop coverage of Super Bowl XL and all the events leading up to it. While dialing around this week, I was disappointed to hear a couple segments that just made me cringe. Tuesday on sports WXYT-AM (1270), “Big Show” hosts Art Regner and Doug Karsch were interviewing ESPN reporter Suzy Kolber. What was a decent interview quickly went into the land of embarrassing, when the topic of the infamous Joe Namath kiss request from two years ago was brought up by Regner. With Kolber taking the high road by essentially dismissing it, the “Big Show” folks went ahead and played back audio clips of the event, accompanied by hosts laughing at their own attempt at humor. As a listener, I was embarrassed at the bush-league treatment they were giving Kolber. There was nothing at all funny about how the ’XYT hosts handled that interview.

Then on Wednesday, hosts Jeff Deminski and Bill Doyle of talk WKRK-FM (97.1) played an absolutely horrible clip that’s floating around the Internet that ridicules Detroit and Pittsburgh running back Jerome Bettis. There was no comedic value in the segment and it had no business being played on a major market radio station. In a town that is hyper-sensitive about its image, why do these members of the media insist on adding fuel to the fire?


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If you ever doubted that radio programmers have less and less control over their own stations, here’s proof enough. WKRK owner CBS Radio has announced that Jim Cramer, host of the syndicated financial program “Real Money,” will begin airing on a number of the company’s stations across the country beginning Feb. 13. The show will run 1-2 p.m. on WKRK — right smack in the middle of Jay Towers and Michelle McKormick’s “Motor City Middays” program, which is currently airing 11 a.m.-3 p.m. How’d you like to be WKRK boss Rich Homberg? Does he run MCM on a split schedule or move Penn Jillette to the 2-3 p.m. hour — where he’d air live — from his tapedelayed spot at 10 p.m.? Although Cramer’s show is a bit edgy when it comes to money-talk shows, it hardly fits with the rest of WKRK’s weekday lineup. Radio is a strange business indeed.


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Classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7) continues its great work for the Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan, raising more than $210,000 during last weekend’s 28-hour radiothon, hosted by morning voices Jim Johnson and Lynne Woodison. The gang at ’CSX has now raised more than $2.7 million for CLF over the years and will continue their efforts by restoring another vehicle this spring and summer in another Stone Soup project. WCSX.com has details on the selection of a new project car.


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Country WYCD-FM (99.5) is helping host a fund-raising event with country superstar Clint Black at the Melting Pot restaurant in Troy on Thursday. The “Clint Black Tie Affair” will raise money to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and its fight against childhood cancers. “Each year, WYCD raises funds for the hospital, and this year we’ve added a new exciting and fun event to help the kids,” says program director Tim Roberts. “Clint Black is a huge artist and he’s been very generous to devote an evening to helping these kids,” adds WYCD morning host Doctor Don Carpenter. Tickets are $100 per plate through WYCD, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at 26555 Evergreen, Ste. 675, Southfield.


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Rocker WRIF-FM (101.1) will help out one of its own Feb. 16 with a concert at the Emerald Ballroom in downtown Mount Clemens to benefit former sports WDFN-FM (1130) reporter Sabrina Black. Sabrina, the wife of ’RIF weekend jock Steve Black, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease in 2000, and since then has been fighting the disease with two bone marrow transplants and numerous chemo and radiation treatments. She continues to fight an unfair amount of complications but, remarkably, hasn’t given up hope. In addition to a rockin’ lineup of local bands and ’RIF’s Doug Podell as host, there’ll be a silent auction with rock and sports memorabilia. Arthur Penhallow will broadcast live from Johnny G’s restaurant next door from 3 to 7 p.m., and evening jock Meltdown will host his 7 p.m.-midnight show from the Emerald that night. Doors open at 7 p.m. Admission is $10 with all proceeds benefiting the Sabrina Black Fund. Visit www.wrif.com.


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Check out Glenn Haege of WDFN’s “The Handyman Show” and dozens of household helpers at the Ultimate Home Show next weekend at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in Dearborn. Haege will broadcast his weekend shows live from the event. Admission is free. Find details at www.wdfn.com.


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Set Your Dials: For an alternative to the Big Game, tune into WRCJ-FM (90.9) from 10 a.m. to noon today for Chris Felcyn’s “Listening Room Symphony Bowl Preview Show and Tailgate Party” ... Girl groups from the 1940s and ’50s are featured on this evening’s “Somewhere in Time” with hosts Tom Wilson and Alison Harris. Tune in at 6 p.m. on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... Ralph Valdez welcomes self-described “gender-terrorist” Stephanie Loveless (formerly Tom Ness) and her wife of 20 years, Susan Trescott, to his program 10 p.m. tonight on WDET-FM (101.9).


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Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, February 12, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

After months of anticipation, the huge deal between Disney/ABC Radio and Citadel Broadcasting has become a reality. Worth a cool $2.7 billion, the deal is the biggest in broadcast history. So what does this mean for local listeners? Locally, ABC owns four stations — news-talk WJR-AM (760), Radio Disney WFDF-AM (910), adult hits WDRQ-FM (93.1) and pop hits WDVD-FM (96.3). The sale includes three of these, but not the Disney outlets, as Disney/ABC is keeping those and ESPN Radio. Locally, we don’t have an ESPN outlet, although some ESPN programming is featured on sports WDFN-AM (1130).

What type of changes can listeners expect? Nothing immediately, but you can bet some will be made after the new company takes over, though they’re not known for wholesale house-cleaning. It will take most of this year to complete the transaction, which will make Las Vegas-based Citadel the third-largest radio owner in America behind Clear Channel and CBS. Currently, Citadel owns AM and FM stations primarily in small and medium markets; the largest till now has been Providence, R.I. In Michigan, Citadel owns stations in Grand Rapids, Flint, Saginaw and Lansing.

The Lansing stations were purchased a few years ago from metro Detroiter Bob Liggett, who owns a group of stations in Port Huron. Once a DJ at WJBK-AM (1500) in the early 1960s under the name Bob Layne, Liggett also owns the Big Boy Restaurant chain.


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Speaking of Big Boy, it’s no longer just a fine family restaurant — it’s also the name of the new guy in town at hits WKQI-FM (95.5), from 7-11 p.m. weeknights. He replaces Tic-Tac, who segued to sister station WKSC-FM in Chicago. Big Boy comes up to Detroit from Memphis; program manager Dom Theodore says he’s been a fan for years. “I first found Big Boy while looking for jocks for other (Clear Channel) markets and I set his (audition) tape aside. I held on to it for a year and a half, just waiting for the right opportunity; how funny it is that the opportunity turned out to be right here.” Welcome to Motown, Big Boy.


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Last week, I picked up a new Boston Acoustics HD Radio, enabling me to hear for myself the new high definition radio that’s been in the news so much of late. So far, the technical quality of the stations is superb, but, as noted here a couple of weeks ago, the formats leave much to be desired. For instance, why does oldies WOMC-FM’s (104.3) HD offering (WOMC-FM-2) play the same basic oldies as FM-1? Why not offer the 1955-64 pre-Beatles tunes so rarely heard on the original station?


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Quick hits: Mark your calendar for Feb. 24, the date of the 19th annual Dick Purtan Salvation Army Radiothon live from Oakland Mall ... soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1) is taking nominations for its fifth annual “Women Who Make Magic” Awards through May. Send the name, address and phone of a deserving woman to: Women Who Make Magic c/o WMGC, 1 Radio Plaza, Detroit 48220; or e-mail your nomination to women@detroitmagic.com ... HD radio fan and WMGC senior VP Tom Bender has been named Market Manager of the Year at the 2006 Radio Wayne Awards at the Radio Advertising Bureau’s recent Dallas conference ... National Public Radio has named former newspaper guy Bill Marimow as its new VP of news ... Kudos to country WYCD-FM (99.5) on last week’s Country Cares for Kids Radiothon to benefit St. Jude’s Research Hospital. Last year, they raised more than a half-million dollars. Fellow radio writer Mike Austerman will have the final tally next week ... Final Super Bowl note: On classical WRCJ-FM (90.9), host Chris Felcyn pitted Pittsburgh’s symphony against Seattle’s in his “Symphony Bowl” show on Super Bowl morning — and the Pittsburgh Symphony won. The tongue-in-cheek show caught the attention of national media, including the Seattle Times and Sports Illustrated’s Paul Zimmerman.


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Set Your Dials: Music by swing-era crooners will be an early Valentine’s gift from host Tom Wilson on WMUZFM (103.5) at 6 tonight ... in other romantic news, between 10 p.m.-midnight tonight, WDET-FM (101.9) host Ralph Valdez interviews music legend Burt Bacharach plus HOUR Detroit’s George Bulanda on his “10 Seductive CDs”.


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, February 19, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

The area’s biggest and best radiothon takes place on Friday at Oakland Mall in Troy as oldies WOMC-FM’s (104.3) Dick Purtan and Purtan’s people hold their annual live 16-hour radiothon to benefit the Salvation Army’s Bed and Bread Club. Every year, the community rallies behind Purtan and crew to help raise a record amount of money for single-day radio fundraisers. Last year’s tally of $1,723,088 will be hard to top — but that’s the goal. Don’t underestimate the power and loyalty of Purtan’s radio audience, sponsors, and co-workers — if anyone can set a new record this year, they can.

Friday’s event, from 6 a.m.-10 p.m., will include live performances by local musicians, comedians and local school kids. There’ll also be live interviews with local celebrities, sports figures, politicians, business leaders and metro area children who came up with creative ways to collect money for the drive. All the money raised will benefit the Salvation Army’s Bed and Bread program, which provides hot meals, shelter, and compassion to the homeless, hungry, and destitute in metro Detroit. As a result of Purtan’s efforts since 1988, the Army now provides more than 6,000 meals each day to the homeless in shelters and on the streets of metro Detroit — and every bit of the more than $10.5 million raised so far has remained in town as part of the local Bed and Bread program.

If you’ve never witnessed great radio in person, head to Oakland Mall on Friday. You can observe a great radio program do good work and make a donation — it’ll be time and money well spent. The event is a labor of love for Purtan and his co-workers and a great tribute to former cast members Gene Taylor and Mark Andrews, both of whom were big supporters of the Bed and Bread program and died too young.


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It must be radiothon month. Last weekend’s effort for St. Jude’s Hospital by country WYCD-FM (99.5) netted $802,812 — an impressive increase over last year’s tally of just above $500,000. “I’m absolutely thrilled with the listeners’ response,” says WYCD program director Tim Roberts. “You can see how much people in Detroit truly care, when they pour out their hearts for children like they have.” And sister station news WWJ-AM (950) spent 30 hours on Friday and Saturday raising money for The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW), which provides emergency winter energy assistance to households in 65 countries throughout Michigan. It’s the third year that WWJ has helped out.


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In a recent column, I mentioned that a possible reason for sports WDFN-AM (1130) falling behind sports WXYT-AM (1270) in the ratings was ’DFNs lack of focus on sports. A reader, Bob from Auburn Hills, challenged me on this, so I did some WDFN sampling this week — and unfortunately, I wasn’t surprised by what I heard. On Tuesday afternoon, WDFN afternoon host Mike Stone was discussing cybersex and self-gratification, while WXYT was discussing American skier Ted Ligety winning Olympic gold. Wednesday morning, WDFN was chatting about proper handwashing techniques. ’XYT was on the Pistons’ Darko Milicic trade. I was especially glad I didn’t have my young sons in the car with me during Stone’s cybersex bit. That’s not the kind of “sports” radio that should be on the air at 5 in the afternoon and why I won’t listen when my kids are present. While it may not be fair to compare stations by this type of unscientific sampling, I stand by my opinion — WXYT has become the stronger sports station because of better sports coverage.


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Carl Grapentine has been named as the play-by-play announcer at Michigan Stadium, replacing Howard King who has retired after holding the job since 1972. University of Michigan fans will recognize Grapentine as the voice of the Michigan Marching Band, a role he’ll keep in addition to calling plays via the stadium’s PA. Grapentine was once an on-air host at classical WQRS-FM (105.1) here in Detroit and is now the morning host at Chicago’s classical WFMT-FM (98.7). “I have loved being part of Michigan football for the last 36 years, but now to be the voice of Michigan Stadium is an unbelievable honor,” Grapentine says.


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It’s official — Oakland County just got a new radio station. The kids’ targeted WFDF-AM (910) is now licensed to Farmington Hills after being assigned to Flint since first signing on the air in May 1922. Station owner Disney moved the broadcast facilities from Genesee county to Monroe county last year to give the station coverage of the larger Detroit market.


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Set Your Dials: Hosts Tom Wilson and Heather Novak listen in on the pipe organ music of Leonard Leigh at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... Celeste Headlee will produce a new feature on local cultural events at 6:50 and 9:50 each Friday morning on WDET-FM (101.9) AM. She’ll also begin hosting a onehour weekly cultural-based program on WDET in April.


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Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, February 26, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

Your traveling radio reporter spent time last week at the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, an event that gives broadcasters who embrace “America’s Music” unprecedented contact with country artists, record executives and promo folks. Locally, country WYCD-FM (99.5) was represented by program director Tim Roberts and music director Ron Chatman. Which reminds me that a couple of years ago, I saw Dr. Don at the seminar sporting a yellow Tshirt that read “Hire me” across his chest. Someone apparently paid attention, as he’s now hosting WYCD’s morning drive show along with Bob Schuman and newcomers Rachel Hunter and Steve Grunwald. Country music is enjoying a resurgence right now — and the new acts look more like pop and rock stars with longer hair, earrings and facial stubble. Artists like Keith Urban, Clay Walker — who’s still clean cut — Dierks Bentley and rookie Keith Anderson had many women at the seminar swooning.


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Since the University of Michigan has yet to select a new radio partner for the 2006 football and basketball season, which local AM or FM station(s) do you feel would serve fans best? And, just as important, which announcers should call the games? My personal favorites are Frank Beckmann, Jim Brandstatter and Steve Courtney for the pigskin and Larry Henry for the roundball. What do you think? Send me an e-mail and we’ll report the results — and share them with the U-M.


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Dick Purtan is probably still sleeping after his marathon 16-hour radiothon benefiting the Salvation Army Bed and Bread Fund on Friday. Colleague Mike Austerman and I both stopped by the Oakland Mall on Friday to donate to the cause. The crowds were incredible, as Detroit’s No. 1 radio philanthropist and his cast of dozens raised an unbelievable, over-the-top $1,808,440 in a one-day effort. Everyone who contributed to this annual event is to be congratulated. Oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) should be proud of the power they have (not just in their wattage) in our community; promotions manager Kassie Kretzschmar also must be pleased.


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And how about a hardy Tip o’ the Hat to all the radio stations helping in the efforts to save the Detroit Zoo? Pop WDVD-FM (96.3) morning hosts Blaine and Lisa got Detroit councilwoman Barbara Rose Collins on the phone to “face the music.” After failing to answer the pair’s well-phrased questions, Collins hung up on the pair. Which perfectly illustrates how we got in this mess.


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Just Askin’: What was former Tic-Tac poet Mr. Positive doing on Alan Almond’s “Pillow Talk” show on soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) last week? And will Tic-Tac successor Big Boy at hits WKQI-FM (95.5) add the rhyming reader to his show?


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A reader e-mailed me recently wondering when we’ll be listing the HD formats in our Radio Guide, both the one in the paper and the ones that I’ve been publishing for the past 34 years. Well, mine will be happening very soon, as more stations provide — we hope — unique new formats on their “side-channel” since high-definition FM stations can have two stations, FM-1 (the regular broadcast) and FM-2, on the same frequency. Recently, General Motors announced it will equip all of its cars with On-Star and XM Satellite Radio hardware. The HD Radio Alliance needs to get that type of support from GM and the other automakers so this new technology can become successful and not turn out to be the bust that, sadly, AM-Stereo was.


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If you’re a fan of those hard-to-find oldies, check out the Dr. Doo Wop Show on talk-and-oldies WPON-AM (1460) and streaming online at www.wpon.com. From 5-7 p.m. Wednesdays, Dr. Roman Franklin and Benny of the Benny and the Jets Band, really pour their hearts into this show, and it’s worth a listen.


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In a statement sent to the media this month, longtime public radio host and programmer Judy Adams tersely wrote: “I voluntarily retired my position as program director with Wayne State University and WDET-FM (101.9) effective Dec. 12, 2005. Any statements or reports to the contrary are not accurate. I will be making no further comments concerning my former employment at Wayne State University and WDET.” Numerous supporters and former supporters of this NPR station have had doubts about the word “voluntarily.”


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Mark your calendar now for another comedian Steve Harvey visit to Detroit on March 14, presented by urban/pop WMXD-FM (92.3). The station is presenting a special premiere of Harvey’s newest film, “Don’t Trip, He Ain’t Through With Me Yet,” at the AMC Star 20 Theatre in Southfield; win tickets by listening to the Mix. Could be an evening to remember.


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Set Your Dials: Fred Astaire performs the music of Gershwin at 6 p.m. tonight on “Somewhere in Time” on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, March 5, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

That huge whining sound you heard out of New York City this week was from the top brass at CBS Radio. They filed a 43-page lawsuit against former employee Howard Stern, his agent and Sirius Satellite Radio seeking compensation for the deal that left CBS without its main radio man. CBS claims Stern violated his contract by constantly chatting up Sirius during his final months on terrestrial radio; failing to properly inform CBS about his contract talks with the satcaster; and failing to turn over recordings of his programs aired by CBS. Talk about crying over spilled milk!

I know it’s easy to rip Howard, but in this case, I don’t see how CBS/Infinity stands a chance of winning. They allowed Stern to continue broadcasting his seemingly non-stop promotion of Sirius during his last months on CBS, when they could have — and maybe should have — pulled the plug. That he was moving to satellite was one of the worst-kept secrets in the business. “We had tons of discussion about my plans,” Stern said on his new show. “You know what they want? They want alimony from me.”

Either that or both parties have agreed to drum up some controversy to help draw attention to their new offerings. CBS Radio’s stations in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago all showed huge audience dropoffs in their first month without Stern and could use the attention. And Stern needs all the buzz he can get to keep people signing up for Sirius’ pay-to-listen service. Betcha after a bit more posturing, they’ll reach a quiet settlement.


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Stern’s former home here, hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1), didn’t suffer the same ratings fate as its out-of-state brethren in its first month of ratings without Stern — only a slight drop in daylong ratings. But that’s probably because the morning tandem of Drew & Mike on rock WRIF-FM (101.1) continue their stranglehold on pretty much the same audience targeted by WKRK in morning drive.

Speaking of ratings, the top-rated station in the latest ratings trend was soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) thanks to its all-Christmas music blitz, followed by news-talk WJR-AM (760), smooth jazz WVMV-FM (98.7), adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3), and oldies WOMC-FM (104.3). Country WYCD-FM (99.5) also saw a nice bump up in its ratings along with WNIC; notably slipping was contemporary WKQI-FM (95.5).


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ABC Radio apparently has found a replacement for commentator Paul Harvey, heard locally on WJR, who’s halfway through a 10-year contract. Former U.S senator and current “Law & Order” star Fred Thompson has been tapped as Harvey’s principal fill-in host and senior correspondent. Guess when your featured host is 87 years old, it’s best to be prepared, but let’s hope Harvey keeps his gig till he’s 100. The deal also means that ’JR morning man Paul W. Smith, who’s often filled in for Harvey, will remain in the Fisher Building — at least for now.


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With the classic rock and oldies formats moving closer together in playing hits of the ’60s and ’70s, you’ve no doubt heard many of the same songs on WCSX-FM (94.7) and WOMC. But have you noticed a difference between the same songs on each station? The oldies format typically features the shorter, singles versions of songs, while classic rock plays the longer album cuts. For a great example, pay attention the next time you hear the Eagles’ “Lyin’ Eyes” on each station and see if you notice the missing stanza on the version ’OMC plays.


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Quick Hits: Former talk WDTW-AM (1310) morning host Nancy Skinner has announced she’s seeking the Democratic nomination to run against U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg, who serves western Oakland County ... Paul Edwards, formerly of religious WRDT-AM (560), returns to the airwaves March 13 as he takes over the 5-6 p.m. hour on religious WLQV-AM (1500). The station was recently purchased by Salem Broadcasting, also the owner of talk WDTK-AM (1400).


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Set Your Dials: Hosts Tom Wilson and Alison Harris bring you the swingin’ dance music of the Bobby Sherwood Orchestra at 6 p.m. on Christian music/talk WMUZFM (103.5) ... afternoon host Ann Delisi talks movies with Detroit Film Theatre curator Elliott Wilhelm at 5 p.m. Thursdays on classical/jazz WRCJ-FM (90.9).


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Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, March 12, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

This past week, the trade publication Radio & Records presented the 11th annual Talk Radio Seminar in Washington, D.C. The confab drew nearly 400 attendees from around the country, but sadly, Detroit was very underrepresented. Aside from myself, the only other local radio guy was Pat Sheehan from Glenn Haege’s “Handyman Show” on WDFN-AM (1130). Embarrassing. Where were the folks from the various local news and talk stations?

It also was the last year for ABC Radio to be there, as the company has been sold to Citadel Communications. While the ABC name is being retained for TV, in name ABC Radio will no longer exist. It’s the end of an era.

The seminar underlined how huge talk radio is, while various sessions addressed such topics as FM talk, non-political shows and, in one feisty session called “What Do Women Want?,” how to target women listeners. That’s because talk stations aimed at women are popping up across America, usually on FM. We don’t have a dedicated female talk station in Detroit, although Jim Harper and his show on pop WMGC-FM (105.1) attracts a lot of women, as does Chris Edmonds on pop WNIC-FM (100.3).

Last week, Mike Austerman mentioned Fred Thompson, who’s been slated as Paul Harvey’s eventual replacement. At the conference, Thompson pointed out that while he’s been chosen to succeed Harvey, talk’s elder statesman is “irreplaceable.” Highlighting the seminar was a keynote address by Rush Limbaugh, who was very candid about his addictions and even fielded questions from the broadcasters. (He’s heard locally on WJR from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays.) The seminar also featured lots of publicity on Dave Ramsey, who makes talking about money fun and truly entertaining. He’s now on talk CKLW-AM (800) from 8 to 9 p.m. weeknights and is well worth a listen.


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Ever wonder who does the radio ratings? A tour last week of the headquarters of Arbitron, the giant audience ratings company that measures who’s listening to what and when all across the country, provided a fascinating inside look at how scientific the process is. Seeing firsthand how selected listeners fill out ratings diaries and all the various ways listeners remember the names of stations is eye-opening. I could have spent an entire day reviewing and learning about how the ratings are taken, tabulated and tallied for stations and advertisers. Time well spent and highly educational for this reporter.


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Longtime area radio pro Dave Barber has exited Flint talker WWCK-AM (1570) and moved to Providence, R.I., powerhouse talker WPRO-AM. In addition to his many years on the Flint airwaves, Barber once held court on WXYT-AM (1270) and, more recently, on liberal talk WDTW-AM (1310). He’s one of a kind.


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This past week, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer named radio station owner Entercom in a suit over the payola scandal profiled recently on ABC-TV’s “Prime Time Live.” Entercom does not own any stations in Detroit, but expect to see other companies that are locally represented to also be named.


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Meanwhile, the investigation continues at Michigan Public Radio WUOM-FM (91.7) following the departure of station boss Donovan Reynolds. We’ll be watching how this affects station fund-raising.


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Speaking of which, Wayne State’s WDET-FM (101.9) is inviting listeners back in to answer phones during its spring fund-raiser starting March 31. The station, which recently put its music programming online at www.wdetfm.org, had been using a professional phone service recently. Call (313) 577-4550 for details on how to pitch in.


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The Rock Girl Search for WRIF-FM (101.1) continues with a casting call Monday at Second City inside Andiamo Novi. Listen in or check out www.wrif.com for more details. By the way, whatever happened to Kelly Harmon, ’RIF’s original bay-buh?


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And don’t forget the very special premiere of Steve Harvey’s new movie on Tuesday at the AMC Southfield 20 complex. You can win tickets only via urban pop WMXD-FM (92.3). Harvey, the ’MXD morning host known as the “King of Comedy,” will personally be on hand, bringing a touch of Hollywood to Oakland County.


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Set Your Dials: For the music of Les Brown and his Band of Renown at 6 p.m. tonight on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... Detroit native Alex Harding and his jazz quartet perform live in-studio on the W. Kim Heron show at 8 p.m. tonight on WDET.


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, March 19, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

Earlier in the week, the Federal Communications Commission released a bunch of fines against television stations for broadcasting what the FCC determined to be indecent programming. The government’s next target will be radio, and there are predictions of big fines coming soon that will put the indecency controversy back on the front burner. Traditional broadcasters will likely take this fight to court for at least some of these fines to get clarification on just what constitutes an indecent broadcast and, more important to them, seeking the same kind of regulatory control over media such as cable TV, satellite radio and the Internet. I’m sure this is one issue you’re going to be reading more about in the coming weeks.


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The king of indecency fines himself, Howard Stern, has continued his expected self-publicity tour, both on TV and radio. After pretty much taking over an entire David Letterman broadcast last Monday, he made a two-hour appearance Tuesday on Sean Hannity’s talk program.He spent the time defending himself against the lawsuit CBS has filed against him for moving to Sirius satellite radio, blasting his former employers at CBS — and trying to lure Hannity into a discussion about his sex life.

Listeners to news-talk WJR-AM (760) missed the 5-6 p.m. hour of the Hannity/Stern chat, as ’JR switches to local talk with Mitch Albom at that time. How’d you like to be running WJR when something like this happens? On the one hand, your audience expects and wants local programming. But on the other, there were probably a bunch of people upset that they couldn’t hear the ending of Hannity’s show that day. Mind you, those with satellite radio could hear the entire show — both XM and Sirius carry the ABC News & Talk channel, which carries the show in its entirety each day.


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The University of Michigan has tapped Steve Schram as the interim director of Michigan Public Media, the organization that oversees radio stations WUOM-FM (91.7) in Ann Arbor, WFUM-FM (91.1) in Flint, WVGR-FM (104.1) in Grand Rapids, and PBS TV station WFUM-TV (28). Schram has 17 years of senior leadership experience in the Detroit radio and TV market, including executive positions with Infinity Broadcasting, Clear Channel Broadcasting, and at Channel 2. Currently, he is president of Schram Communication Group, a newly formed media and management consultancy.

“I am very pleased to join the team at Michigan Public Media,” Schram said. “These dynamic broadcast voices educate and inform their listeners at the very highest levels of excellence. I look forward to growing their impact and success.” Schram replaces Donovan Reynolds, who resigned earlier this month in the midst of a criminal investigation at Michigan Public Media. A very proud graduate of Michigan State, I wonder if they’ll make Schram trade in all his “S” apparel for those bearing the Michigan “M” before they let him in the building?


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It’s never easy to report on illness, but this story is especially distressing. Former sports WDFN-AM (1130) reporter Sabrina Black is now in hospice care as reported in an e-mail sent by her husband, rock WRIF-FM (101.1) weekender Steve Black. He said the year 2006 has not been kind to Sabrina, with multiple trips to the hospital for heart failure and pneumonia, all as a result of her battle with Hodgkin’s disease. Steve states that her strength is gone and she’s now “ready for heaven.” I found Sabrina to be inspiring throughout her illness. She never felt sorry for herself and has always been most gracious in sharing details about her battle with cancer. Former WDFN co-worker Gregg Henson shared two personal stories about Sabrina that I found especially touching on his blog at www.gregghenson.com. His Web site is usually a source for much negativity by visitors, but in the case of Sabrina, you can see by their responses how highly people think of her.

Current WDFN afternoon hosts Stoney and Wojo showed a lot of class with their pledge to donate a $10,000 first prize to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society should they win ESPN’s NCAA tournament bracket contest. If there ever was a time for a miracle, this is it.


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Congratulations to the local winners of the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Station of the Year awards — WUOM/WFUM/WVGR won in the public category, and WJR was the recipient among commercial radio stations. Station of the Year awards are based on the cumulative number of points scored from the MAB’s Broadcast Excellence competition across 13 categories.


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Set Your Dials: Tom Wilson and Heather Novak host “Somewhere in Time” at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5). Tune in to hear Charlie Balogh play Big Band music on the world’s largest Wurlitzer theater pipe organ, located in Mesa, Ariz., and featuring more than 5,500 pipes.


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Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, March 26, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

On Wednesday, more than 700 conservatives jammed the ballroom at the Marriott Hotel in the RenCen to see superstar Sean Hannity, making it the “right” placed to be. The introduction was by newstalk WJR-AM (760) morning personality Paul W. Smith, who was warmly received. Hannity is now heard afternoons 3-5 p.m. on the mega-power talk station, but interestingly, when Smith announced the on-air WJR schedule, everyone received applause — except Mitch Albom, who follows Hannity from 5-7 p.m. Demand had been strong from both listeners and ABC Radio for WJR to air the program live. It had been running on a tape-delayed basis at night, as Hannity runs 3-6 p.m. nationally. Two hours of Sean and two hours of Mitch seemed like a good compromise, but the crowd chanted, “All three hours!”

Hannity’s keynote was repeatedly interrupted by applause, but his willingness to meet fans, sign autographs and pose for photos for more 45 minutes was impressive. He was then whisked off to a studio to do his Fox TV “Hannity & Colmes Show.” Unlike some of Hannity’s counterparts he’s genuinely a nice guy.


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On Tuesday, the Detroit Automotive Press Club had a demonstration of high definition radio. The price of the new radios is dropping and many stations are offering, what they feel is, unique and provocative programming. Sadly, I believe the formats on these HD-2 stations are far too similar to what’s being offered on their respective primary FM channels, which are available to everyone. HD on an AM station, such as news WWJ-AM (950), makes it sound like FM, and with HD radio, AM can broadcast in stereo.


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The blood is still flowing outside the building at talk WAAM-AM (1600) in Ann Arbor where avant-garde host Thayrone was dropped by the station, in addition to Steve Ames, its vice president and general manager. Locals fear this marks even more the demise of “local radio.”


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Detroit’s favorite “Double D’s,” Deminski and Doyle at hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1), hosted a memorable St. Patrick’s Day Party. They invited me to provide video coverage on a slew of big screen TVs at Malarkey’s Irish Pub in Westland. The wacky crew, with a very strange menu of bizarre audience participation, complained they are never mentioned in this column. So I did them one better, putting a tape in the camera and captured video “suitable for framing.”


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Quick hits: The Michigan Associated Press recognized public WDET-FM (101.9) with seven awards, including the General Excellence Award for the fifth consecutive year ... Bloomfield Hills School District radio broadcasting students won 16 awards from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB). Andover’s WBFH, known as “The Biff,” was named the 2006 High School Station of the Year by the Broadcasters. This was the fourth year in a row that WBFH won or tied for the honor. Station Manager Pete Bowers and Assistant Manager/Chief Engineer Randy Carr are understandably proud ... Nostalgia CKWW-AM (580) now broadcasts “The Blue Plate Special” at noon, featuring five songs with a common theme. Check it out with Wayne Stevens on the little Windsor station that needs more power ... “Somewhere in Time” with Tom Wilson plays memories from the early 1950s on WMUZ-FM (103.5) at 6 p.m. today.


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Have you noticed that dyedin-the-wool Michigan alumnus Paul W. Smith now works at the new MSU flagship station WJR, while proud Michigan State Spartan Steve Schram becomes manager of Michigan Public Radio in Ann Arbor? Schram had a ready explanation: “They may be blue, but they pay in green.”


 * * * * 


Sad news is always difficult, but as Mike stated last week, it’s particularly hard to handle as we have to report the passing of Sabrina Black. She was a proud Specs Howard grad who worked in research at rock WRIF-FM (101.1), later at “The Bear” WWBR-FM, now WHTD-FM (102.7), and at sports WDFN-AM (1130). Her husband, Steve Black, who hosts the “Chop Shop Guitar Show” on The Riff, said, “It’s comforting to know that we did not waste one single day in our nine years together.” Sabrina was remembered by an extraordinary number of friends and radio colleagues this week at an emotional memorial service in Clawson. Cards may be sent to: Steve Black c/o WRIF, 1 Radio Plaza, Detroit 48220.


 * * * * 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, April 2, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

The local radio scene is buzzing about the stunning results of the just-posted ratings numbers. The No. 1 station continues to be pop-hits WNIC-FM (100.3), so new program director Don Gosselin must feel good about what he inherited from his predecessor Darren Davis. Davis is now in Chicago and just secured Detroit’s nicest DJ, Kevin O’Neill, to do afternoons on Windy City soft-rock giant WLIT-FM. But local fans need not be concerned — Kevin will do the Chicago show through the “magic (whoops bad choice of words) of radio” and physically remain in Motown as the afternoon host at WNIC. A side perk is that Kevin’s son, Brendon, who lives in Chicago, can now listen to dad on the radio.

In second place is country WYCD-FM (99.5), which recently revamped the Dr. Don morning show and held a hugely successful St. Jude Hospital fundraiser. Country music is hot right now and this should further prove the point. Top-rated Mix, the pop-urban WMXD-FM (92.3) is third, followed by urban sister station WJLB-FM (97.9) in a fourth place tie with news WWJ-AM (950). Channel 955 has two fives in its name, and as such, WKQI-FM (95.5) finished fifth.

So, where’s the “big dog?” Well news-talk WJR-AM (760) is in a three-way tie for sixth place with smooth jazz WVMV-FM (98.7) and oldies WOMC-FM (104.3). What a set of numbers. By the way, have you noticed ’OMC is not using the word “oldies” very much anymore?


 * * * * 


Birmingham-based Jacobs Media has rolled out the results of another one of their reports that shows Howard Stern’s former listeners are sticking with regular AM and FM radio. In fact, 70 percent of Stern’s audience have remained with the terrestrial band over satellite radio. So what about the three Howard “replacements?” Well, David Lee Roth on the East Coast is a train wreck bigger than the one in “The Bridge on the River Kwai.” On the West Coast, comic Adam Corolla isn’t doing much better. Radio personality Shane French, the man who’s known as Rover on Rover’s Morning Glory, heard locally on hot-talk WKRK-FM (97.1), is doing the best. Getting listeners to wrap their arms around you ain’t easy.


 * * * * 


On the flipside of the Jacobs report, CIBC World Markets predict that collectively Sirius, which hosts Stern, and XM Satellite Radio will likely see a combined 37 million subscribers by 2010. The study concludes “radio must concentrate on local programming to remain relevant.”


 * * * * 


A new book release, “The Radio Funny Book” (Infinity Publication, $13.95) by Bob Doll, captures some of the craziest moments in the radio business providing radio-types with some good laughs in this soft-cover collection of humorous stories.


 * * * * 


Remember Gene Elzy from his many years on WJR and public WDET-FM (101.9)? Well, the master of jazz is retiring, and we wish him well. Speaking of ’DET, former host Martin Bandyke is currently hosting mornings on alternative WQKL-FM (107.1) from Ann Arbor. If you have trouble pulling the signal over the air, the station is now streaming online at www.annarbors107one.com. Gotta love the Internet.


 * * * * 


Soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1) will hold its first-ever Wine Tasting Event at 7 p.m. Friday at the Marble & Granite Gallery on Telegraph in Southfield. It should be a memorable event, but tickets are available only through the station.


 * * * * 


Just askin’, but in radio, a jock who signs off at midnight would never suggest that his audience tunes in for the early morning show. So why do all of the TV news anchors sign off at 11:35 p.m. urging viewers to wake up with their morning news block at 5 a.m.? Strange.


 * * * * 


Congrats to Handyman Productions President Rob David, who was honored with the Michigan Association of Broadcasters first-ever MAB Associate of the Year Award at the recent Great Lakes Broadcasting Conference and Expo in Lansing.


 * * * * 


Set your dials: The big band music of Tommy Dorsey’s brother Jimmy will be featured 6 p.m. tonight on “Somewhere in Time” on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 * * * * 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, April 9, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

Payola, radio’s biggest bugaboo, is once again rearing its ugly head. Clear Channel, the country’s biggest radio operator, has offered the federal government a tidy $1 million to get itself off the hook from a huge investigation that alleges radio companies have been taking money — and other forms of compensation — from record companies in exchange for increased airplay of songs that might not otherwise get as many spins.

Payola has been illegal since the 1960s and is again under scrutiny by the FCC after an investigation in New York state turned up evidence that the practice of payfor-play had become widespread throughout the industry.Some of the other big companies being studied include CBS Radio, Citadel and Entercom. Locally, Clear Channel owns seven radio stations in the Detroit area plus four in Ann Arbor; CBS Radio owns six area stations; and Citadel is in the process of acquiring three stations from ABC.

In the face of increased competition from the Internet, MP3 players and satellite radio, the last thing radio needs is a huge black eye like another payola scandal to further drive listeners away from the medium.


 * * * * 


Pop oldies CKWW-AM (580) launches a new program 10 a.m.-noon today called the “Sunday Morning Oldies Show.” The locally produced program will feature great oldies from the ’50s and ’60s, with some early ’70s mixed in, too. Hosted by CKWW morning man Charlie O’Brien, each week’s show will feature a Top 3 countdown from the current week in history, highlighting past music charts from former Top 40 juggernauts CKLW, Keener 13 and WXYZ. O’Brien brings a wealth of musical knowledge from the Motor City music scene as a former “CKLW-Big 8” jock, and he’ll mix in plenty of listener requests along with the stories behind the songs. Break out the Brylcreem!


 * * * * 


“Appliance Doctor” Joe Gagnon has exited the weekend lineup at sports WXYT-AM (1270) and landed on Ann Arbor talker WAAM-AM (1600) from 8-10 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. It’s a reunion of sorts for Gagnon — he got his radio start providing solutions to appliance problems as a guest there 21 years ago.


 * * * * 


XM Satellite Radio just announced it has hit 6.5 million subscribers on its way to what it hopes will be 9 million by the end of the year. Helping it get to that target will be some way-cool new portable receivers that will hit the streets soon. The Pioneer Inno and Samsung Helix are small and light (4 1 /2 ounces, 3.7-by-2.2-by-0.6 inches) and will feature the ability to both record and playback XM programming along with your own MP3 files. They’ll also integrate with Napster, so you can purchase songs you don’t already own.

XM also has announced big changes to its programming lineup. The service will soon feature six new regional news/ talk channels provided by Clear Channel, bringing listeners coverage for every area of the continental United States, complementing the recent addition of Cincinnati talker WLW-AM. New music channels also will be added this spring and early summer.


 * * * * 


Remember the outcry when Detroit Tigers broadcasts left news-talk WJR-AM (760) for WXYT a few years back? It’s no secret that WXYT can’t compete with WJR’s coverage area, leaving many baseball fans unhappy with the relatively weak signal of WXYT, especially at night. Well, a similar thing is happening this season in St. Louis, where the Cardinals have left powerhouse KMOX-AM (1120) in favor of a weaker station that’s now owned by the Cardinals. The move has left many Cards fans outside the metro St. Louis area without a radio station to get the games on, generating verbal protests similar to the ones we’ve had here in Detroit. So the Cardinals came up with a solution — they’re going to give away 50,000 XM radios to fans who can no longer hear the games on KMOX and don’t have a local affiliate they can tune in to. Marketing genius, I’d say, for both XM and the Cardinals.

I wonder — would the Tigers consider doing something similar for listeners across Michigan who experience the same trouble getting the games? Already this year, the Tigers network has suffered downgrades in Lansing — moving from FM to AM 730, which has a very limited nighttime signal — and Traverse City — moving from AM 580 to AM 1310. Between the very limited free TV coverage and a weak radio network, is it any wonder the Tigers continue to struggle to generate interest?


 * * * * 


Set Your Dials: “Somewhere in Time” turns the clock back to 1948 for a show featuring the tunes of Irving Berlin and the movie “Easter Parade” at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 * * * * 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, April 16, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

Becoming a parent sure has changed the way I listen to the radio. Gone are the carefree days of listening to whatever I wanted to without being concerned about song lyrics and, more importantly, what the DJs and hosts are saying. Why is it that three of our local talk stations — namely WKRK-FM (97.1), WDFN-AM (1130), WXYT-AM (1270) — no longer police themselves from the use of what I term as “mild” cuss words? You can hardly listen to even one segment of any local talk show without hearing them.

I know the days of “Ozzie and Harriet” are long gone, but what I fail to understand is why the people running these stations are knowingly excluding listeners, like me, by allowing so much of this kind of talk. It’d be one thing if it only happened occasionally to emphasize especially strong opinions, but these words are just part of casual conversation for most of the local personalities on these three stations. The only time I’m comfortable listening is when I’m alone, which, as a parent, is pretty rare.

I’d love to see research stating that people 18 and older gravitate to a radio station because of the constant use of the language in question. The thinking has to be that the more popular programs will succeed at making the listener think he or she is having a conversation between friends at a local watering hole. Only thing is, when most of us listen to the radio, it’s not when we’re at a bar. It’s when we’re taking kids to baseball games or driving around with our significant others. Is this really the way these guys talk when their own young kids are around?

It seems that the focus of radio companies to target only a specific audience has gone too far, to the point of not caring about people who get turned off by this kind of behavior. The days of broadcasting are definitely over. The attitude now, from both the hosts and the managers, is, “If you don’t like it, turn it off — we don’t need you.” And that’s what more and more of us are doing with CDs, MP3 players and satellite radio. Would it really be that difficult to host a talk show and use speech like you would at the dinner table? Come on, show some respect to all of your (potential) listeners.


 * * * * 


Fans of Michigan sports in Ann Arbor will continue to find the games on WTKA-AM (1050), as that station has reached an agreement with the university and production company Host Communications to continue its maize-and-blue tradition. Word from A-squared is a deal for a Detroit flagship station for U-M football and basketball has been agreed to in principle and is going through all the necessary legal reviews before it’s announced. Former Michigan flagship news-talk WJR-AM (760) is now the home of Michigan State University broadcasts; the Spartans’ last home locally was WXYT.


 * * * * 


Yes, even radio stations sometimes admit they make mistakes. Once-popular syndicated morning man Russ Parr has returned to the airwaves on hip-hop WHTD-FM (102.7) after being taken off the station when it moved to 102.7 from FM 105.9 — where it was known as WDTJ — last summer. It’ll be interesting to see if Parr can recapture his old audience, as many have probably switched loyalties elsewhere on the dial. Former morning host Suga Rae has moved to the 10 a.m.-2 p.m. weekday slot, which, in turn, bumps Spudd to afternoons 2-6 p.m., and Tune Up shifts to weekend afternoons.


 * * * * 


U-M’s public radio offering on WUOM-FM (91.7) received a resounding show of support from listeners despite recent allegations of embezzlement made against three former staffers. The station boasted nearly a 14 percent increase in pledge dollars over last year, totaling more than $766,000 for its spring pledge drive.

Public WDET-FM (101.9) GM Michael Coleman, indicted in the WUOM case, didn’t see that kind of support from ’DET listeners. That station’s pledges were well off last year’s numbers, possibly either because of the station’s move away from daytime music or because of the charges against Coleman in the U-M case. Wonder if we’re going to soon witness another radio station admitting it made a mistake or two...


 * * * * 


Itching to get your hands on the latest radio technology? ABC Warehouse has agreed to start carrying high-definition (HD) home receivers required to hear both the digital main programs and secondary offerings from most Detroit FM stations. The Boston Acoustics sets are pricey, starting around $250, but you’ve gotta experience hearing all-news WWJ-AM (950) in digital form — Sonny Eliot never sounded so good!


 * * * * 


Set Your Dials: Tom Wilson and Heather Novak feature a look at the famous Detroit jazz orchestra McKinney’s Cotton Pickers on tonight’s “Somewhere in Time” program at 6 p.m. on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 * * * * 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, April 23, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

This Tuesday, the National Association of Broadcasters will induct Dick Purtan into the NAB Radio Hall of Fame at their huge convention out in Las Vegas. The celebrated morning host on oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) is already in the Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago and the Michigan Radio Hall of Fame, and has both won and emceed the NAB’s Marconi Radio Awards. The “Dickster” has seemingly done it all, and the recognition is most certainly deserved.


 * * * * 


My thanks to fellow radio writer Mike Austerman, who pulled double-duty while I enjoyed a rare 10-day vacation in Florida, where I discovered how different radio is down South. The challenge in Miami is finding a station that broadcasts in English; Spanish and rhythmic formats are the most popular. Because of the language barrier and a rental car with a standard radio, I opted — and forgive me, local broadcasters — for XM, which I take with me on every trip.

Speaking of XM, satellite radio continues to make major news, as this past week it was announced that New York radio “bad boys” Opie & Anthony will replace rocker David Lee Roth on CBS FM stations in several large East Coast cities. O&A, if you recall, are the pair who were fired by CBS Radio for the famous simulated sex in St. Patrick’s Cathedral fiasco back in 2002. Now the company is bringing them back to counter the poor ratings Roth generated.

Howard Stern, Sirius’ big draw, hated O&A, but the duo always wanted to go up against him. Now they will, and they’ll still be carried on XM Channel 202 and promote the satellite service at the same time.

Locally, CBS-owned hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1) won’t be replacing Rover’s Morning Glory with O&A.


 * * * * 


XM has just added a number of new channels with more coming soon, such as the one featuring musical poet Bob Dylan on May 3. Sunny 24, XM’s exceptionally popular beautiful-music channel, has moved to 78 and is renamed “The Escape.” A new Southern gospel channel (34) called “enLighten” is the brainchild of Country Dan Dixon, an ex-Detroit DJ from WCXI and WDEE in the 1970s and ’80s.

Back in the 1930s and ’40s, Cincinnati’s WLW radio operated at a staggering 500,000 watts and was called “The Nation’s Station.” Now, about 70 years later, 700 WLW is available, once again, nationwide on XM Channel 173. The afternoon host is the creative Gary Burbank, a former Big 8 CKLW jock in the ’70s, who’s now available once again in Detroit — and across America.


 * * * * 


After seeing a billboard on the Jefferies Freeway for WKRK-FM morning man “Rover” then remembering TV feature stories done by that station’s midday co-host Jay Towers on Fox 2 and other reports by hits WKQI-FM (95.5) morning guy Mojo, I wondered why no television station has tapped Blaine Fowler or Lisa Jesswein from pop/hits WDVD-FM (96.3). With no disrespect to the others, Blaine and Lisa are considerably more attractive.


 * * * * 


High-definition radio is something we’ve talked about extensively in this column, and if you want to read more about this new technology, check out Oakland Press Business Editor Gary Gosselin’s in-depth story in today’s business section.


 * * * * 


Sad news from Washtenaw County with the passing of William V. “Bill” Swisher, at 77. The longtime head of the speech and broadcasting department at Eastern Michigan University, “Swish” was the man most responsible for the development of NPR/jazz WEMU-FM (89.1). He took it from a 10-watt “peashooter” to one of Michigan’s finest public radio stations with a full-market, 15,550-watt signal. There’s a long list of broadcasters and radioholics who owe an expression of gratitude to this man, and I’m one of them.


 * * * * 


Wishing a speedy recovery to Gail Henson, the mother of Gregg Henson, formerly with sports WDFN-AM (1130), sports WXYT-AM (1270) and, most recently, WKRK-FM. Henson is with a sports station in Austin, Texas, and his mother recently underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor at Henry Ford Hospital. Many Live 97.1 listeners are familiar with Gail through her regular segments on “Motor City Middays” with Henson and Michelle McKormick. If Gail Henson could survive Gregg’s childhood, surly she will give cancer a good fight.

Reorts are that Gregg may be coming home to Detroit. Could there be a reunion for Gregg and Michelle on a different station? Stay tuned.


 * * * * 


Quick Hits: Michael Coleman, general manager at NPR/WDET-FM (101.9), has pled not guilty to embezzlement charges. The trial is set for May 18 ... Circle May 19-21 on your calendar for the country WYCD-FM (99.5) Downtown Hoedown, with Clay Walker, Terri Clark, Josh Gracin and others.


 * * * * 


Set your dials: The big organ sounds of Jelani Eddington returns to WMUZ-FM (103.5) at 6 pm today.


 * * * * 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, April 30, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

Most listeners probably didn’t notice, but WOMC-FM (104.3) has followed a nationwide trend and dropped the term “oldies” when describing itself. Instead, it’s opting to use the somewhat clumsy phrase “Motor City’s 104.3 WOMC.” Although the station’s music hasn’t dramatically changed, the overall sound of the station has shifted from 1950s - ’60s tunes, from when the station went all-oldies in 1989, to the current focus on late- ’60s and ’70s tunes. “We are proud of our heritage in the Motor City, and oldies seems too limiting for what WOMC is overall,” says Steve Allan, ’OMC’s program director. So instead of hearing Buddy Holly and Elvis, you’re much more likely to hear Chicago, Donna Summer and the Steve Miller Band along with traditional tunes from the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Motown artists.

Along with the new name, WOMC also has launched a simulcast of the station on its Web site, www.womc.com. One of the neat features of the online programming is hearing comedy segments from morning man Dick Purtan and crew instead of commercials. Interesting, too, is how close the new name for WOMC is to the one being used by CKWW-AM (580), which goes by “Motor City Favorites” and does play the music of the 1950s and early ’60s along with softer rock tunes through the ’80s and ’90s.


 * * * * 


While we’re on the subject of WOMC, I’d be remiss without offering my kudos to Purtan on his induction to the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame last week. About 800 people attended the luncheon in Las Vegas, including Dick’s six daughters and their spouses, his wife Gail, his 94-year-old father, Paul Purtan, and Paul’s wife, Christine. Purtan joked with the crowd, “We had six beautiful daughters and we paid for seven weddings. My wife, Gail, should get all the credit for the family. It took her 54 months and me only six minutes.” He is the only Detroit-based radio personality to be inducted in the NAB’s Hall of Fame. Fellow radio writer Art Vuolo was on hand, and he says, “It would make any Detroit radio listener proud to have seen this very classy event and hear the accolades heaped upon one of Detroit’s most beloved radio personalities.”

Hard to believe, but Purtan’s been waking us up on ’OMC for 10 years already — and just recently signed on for 5 more.


 * * * * 


Checking the mailbag, Betty writes that classical/jazz WRCJ-FM (90.9) “has been my favorite station for some time, but lately I have been upset at all the talk that has taken the place of the beautiful music. I am really am not interested in all the yak, yak between hosts and recipes — I can go to a cooking channel for that. Please, can we have a return to the beautiful music with only brief interruptions to let us know what piece we are about to hear? I would have sent a donation, but changed my mind when the music was replaced by yakety-yak and recipes.”

So I posed Betty’s question to Dave Wagner, WRCJ’s program director and morning host. He comments that “the recipe feature that we have on middays is one of our most popular features, and I think it is something that (host) Chris Felcyn handles with charm and grace. I don’t think our commentaries are particularly long and I’m proud of the amount of music that we play each hour, more than 50 minutes of music per hour in both our classical and jazz portions.

“We also feature recordings by Detroit musicians and ensembles,” he adds. “However, one person’s ‘yakety-yak’ is another person’s information and entertainment. We do listen and try to respond to all of our listener comments both positive and negative, and will continue to strive to be the best classical/jazz station that we can be for our listeners.”

I’d hazard a guess that over the long term, a radio station that spends even just a small amount of time interacting with its listeners with some local talk and features will develop a much bigger fan base than one that is essentially a jukebox. That’s an important factor for a station such as WRCJ, which is relying on financial support from those loyal listeners. It’s wonderful that Detroit once again has its own fine arts station — and one that’s not afraid to make an effort to connect with more than just its music.


 * * * * 


This week’s University of Michigan broadcast sports update includes affiliate announcements for Flint’s WTRX-AM (1330) and Toledo’s WTOD-AM (1560), but still no word on a new metro Detroit station. The Toledo announcement is especially curious — WTOD doesn’t broadcast after sundown, which rules out coverage of all but a few basketball games and would be the ultimate in frustration for listeners to 3:30 p.m. football games late in fall that go past the station’s required sign-off time.

Meanwhile, murmurs persist that there might be two stations signing on locally — one with a big-name FM morning host, the other with a big AM signal, eh? Stay tuned!


 * * * * 


Set Your Dials: Tune in to “Somewhere in Time” on WMUZ-FM (103.5) at 6 p.m. today, when hosts Alison Harris and Tom Wilson feature the swing band of Ziggy Elman.


 * * * * 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, May 7, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

The winter book — a.k.a. the ratings — was cold for a number of stations including classic hits The Drive WDTW-FM (106.7), adult hits Doug-FM WDRQ-FM (93.1), urban pop Kiss-FM WDMK-FM (105.9), even perennial powerhouse news-talk WJR-AM (760). Yes, WJR and all-news WWJ-AM (950) are fierce competitors, and right now the atmosphere in the hallways of WWJ is a bit more pleasant. But both stations do a superb job of serving this community with important news and information. The interesting part of the “winter book” was a three-way tie for second place between urban WJLB-FM (97.9), WWJ and country WYCD-FM (99.5). Talk about diversity. Interestingly, WYCD, which has been enjoying exceptional ratings of late, just hosted in-studio guest Kenny Rogers (the singer, not the Tigers' player) on Friday. Another odd twist is the fact that last Thursday, the AdCraft Club of Detroit held its annual Radio Day luncheon with guest speaker Steve Harvey, the nationally known comic/morning host now carried on urban-pop WMXD-FM (92.3). With perfect timing, WMXD, known as Mix 92.3, is Detroit’s No. 1 station in the latest ratings. What more could they have asked for?

Mojo in the Morning on hits WKQI-FM (95.5) has much to be happy about. The recent ratings have him a fraction of a point from the always dominant Drew & Mike on rock WRIF-FM (101.1) and have helped propel their station ahead of WJR. In addition to all of this, their new “Phone Scams” CD is available for sale at all Post Bar locations for just $11. Funny stuff indeed.


 * * * * 


Speaking of The Riff, the station selected a local young woman as the official WRIF “Rock Girl.” Known as Lisa W., she gets a $30,000 salary and a two-year lease on a new sporty Pontiac Solstice among many other perks. Across the hall at sister station, classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7), a new billboard campaign has been launched featuring various heritage Detroit personalities such as J.J. & Lynne, Ken Calvert, Karen Savelly and Steve Kostan teamed up with major classic rock artists. Look for them along a highway near you, taking classic rock to a “new level.”


 * * * * 


The engineers at both satellite radio companies, XM and Sirius, may be somewhat concerned about the FCC’s allegations that their radios, many of which feature built-in FM transmitters, are illegal. It’s a way for the music to play through virtually any FM radio in your home or in your car without wires, but the FCC is getting complaints about signals traveling too far and causing interference with other radios, especially in automobiles. If you have such a device with XM or Sirius, or even an iPod or MP3 player, you also may have noticed how difficult it is to find an “open frequency” to play your music on. There are so many stations that locating a spot on the dial without a station either on that frequency or right next to it is nearly impossible. And finding the right spot on the dial is totally reliant on your geographic location. In a moving vehicle, good luck.

Regarding the signals from the sky, XM and Sirius now have a combined list of subscribers that tops 10 million, but 94 percent of the country still listens to free terrestrial radio. It makes me wonder just how uphill a battle high definition radio will have, considering new technologies often take a while to catch on.

One last comment about the sat-casters. Bob Dylan’s new show premiered last Wednesday on XM Channel 40 at 10 a.m. and was “different,” with a unique mix of music and very old radio jingles. Dylan actually acts as the DJ and tells some great inside stories. Clear Channel added its new channels to XM and revised Channel 24 with a musical playlist so wide, it wouldn’t fit on Woodward Avenue in Birmingham. Also new is Nashville’s top-rated country station WSIX with legendary morning host Gerry House, who’s almost as good as Dr. Don on WYCD.


 * * * * 


Kudos to Paul W. Smith, who, in a very classy move, had Dick Purtan from WOMC-FM (104.3) on his WJR program just prior to Purtan’s induction to the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame about 10 days ago. Smith also just completed a week of broadcasting from all over Michigan. He is now reportedly resting comfortably.


 * * * * 


Set your dials: Tom Wilson will feature music of the “Fabulous Fifties” on “Somewhere in Time” at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5). Combined with warm springtime weather, it should sound extra special.


 * * * * 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, May 14, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

As an admitted sports junkie, I love to keep tabs on the ratings race between WDFN-AM (1130) and WXYT-AM (1270). After WXYT beat out The Fan for the first time in last fall’s ratings book, I was quick to state that ’XYT’s victory was due to being the better sports station. But looking at the recent winter ratings book, WDFN proved me wrong and once again jumped ahead of WXYT, especially in the male listener categories. WDFN’s strongest program continues to be the afternoon duo of Stoney & Wojo, which finished fourth place overall with men ages 25-54, compared to the 11th-place finish for WXYT’s “Big Show” with Doug Karsch and Art Regner.

The folks at WDFN kindly pointed out to me that their weak autumn was at least partially due to serious transmitter problems and that better winter ratings were expected. I’ve also learned that The Fan is committed not only to sports coverage, but also to being an all-around entertainment package. After nearly 12 years on the air, the station has enough ratings history to know that big chunks of its audience tune out when the focus is solely on sports, so expect to keep hearing more of the same. Even if it means sometimes excluding picky listeners like me with too much blue humor and diversions from pure sports talk. I’ll take my crow with a side of ketchup, please.


 * * * * 


Will you be making Whoopi to your radio soon? Maybe. Behemoth broadcaster Clear Channel has inked superstar Whoopi Goldberg to a deal that will have her hosting a new 5-9 a.m. program for adult contemporary stations across the country starting July 31. Goldberg is an unquestionable major talent who has proven her ability to succeed in many types of entertainment. But how long before she burns out from getting up early for morning radio five days a week? Will they try to fake it by prerecording her program and letting co-hosts handle making the show appear as if it’s live? Here in Detroit, with the exception of Steve Harvey on WMXD-FM (92.3) and Tom Joyner on WDMK-FM (105.9), nationally syndicated programs don’t fare well on music stations — just ask Howard Stern, Bob & Tom, Rover and Delilah. As much as I respect Whoopi’s obvious talent, I just don’t see her show working on one of our soft rock stations. Besides, isn’t radio supposed to be local — especially in the morning?


 * * * * 


Those of you tired of the high cost of gas, be on the lookout for classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7) giving out free gasoline each Friday through Sept. 15 at various metro Detroit Ford dealerships. There will be a minimum of $1,200 in gas given away at each two-hour event. Visit www.wcsx.com for the schedule and locations.


 * * * * 


Country WYCD-FM’s (99.5) huge Downtown Hoedown is set for next weekend at Hart Plaza. This year’s lineup of free concerts includes hitmakers Clay Walker, Terri Clark and Josh Gracin. Visit www.wycdhoedown.com for more.


 * * * * 


Condolences to the family and friends of “Big 8” CKLW jock Dave Shafer, who died in Florida last weekend at age 73. There will be a public memorial May 23 at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home in Clawson, with visitation at 11 a.m. and the service at 1 p.m. While best known for his days at CKLW, Shafer also spent time at the former WJBK-AM, WCZY-FM and WCAR-AM, in addition to WOMC-FM (104.3). Fellow columnist Art Vuolo commented that at last year’s Detroit radio reunion, “Emcee Dick Purtan, who had some great zingers for most in the room, could not say anything bad about Dave Shafer.” Purtan related on his show this week that the reason he moved to WCZY from CKLW was mostly because Shafer was the program director at Z-95. Sad to see another great voice of Detroit radio silenced.


 * * * * 


Set Your Dials: “Somewhere in Time” host Tom Wilson examines the careers and styles of Detroit Big Band singers/sisters Marian and Betty Hutton at 6 p.m. tonight on WMUZ-FM (103.5). You’ll hear the romantic songs of Marian with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and contrast those with the wild singing style of Betty ... smooth jazz WVMV-FM (98.7) morning host Alexander Zonjic’s charity concert for the Windsor Downtown Mission will be broadcast 7-9 p.m. today on that station ... public WDET-FM (101.9) will air a special hourlong documentary, “24/7: The Rise and Influence of Arab Media,” at 6 p.m. today. Hosted by David Brancaccio, the show examines the dramatic expansion of open media in the Arab world and its impact on the United States, the Middle East, and the rest of the world.


 * * * * 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, May 21, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

It’s been a bumpy road for classic hits WDTW-FM (106.7) formerly known as “The Drive.” On Wednesday, the entire air staff — including Dave Fuller, Heather MacGregor, Joe Thomas and Rockin’ Randall, a.k.a. Randy Bhirdo — was let go. The rumor mill is spinning off its axis as radio enthusiasts speculate what the new format will be. As you read this, they may have already launched a new sound, but for the past several days, the station has been asking listeners for help in deciding a new direction. I have a problem with that.

Dom Theodore, vice president of programming at Clear Channel Detroit, is a smart man and a sharp programmer. It seems improbable that a major radio station would let its entire roster of personalities go and not have any idea what they’re going to do. Clear Channel is currently high on doing news-talk on FM and has done so in cities such as Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and, most recently, New Orleans. So, it was thought 106.7 would embrace that format. The other possibility is country, considering WYCD-FM (99.5) has enjoyed a monopoly in that musical category since September 1999, when W-4 became Alice@106.7. Also, this is the weekend of the WYCD-sponsored Downtown Hoedown in Hart Plaza. Coincidence? I think not.

Plus, 106.7 was a huge country music powerhouse as W-4 from 1981-99, and Clear Channel still has the WWWW-FM call letters out in Ann Arbor at 102.9. Country music seems to make the most sense.

The final guess is some sort of “Jack”-style format, similar to Doug-FM, playing what you want with few, if any, on-air DJs. We can only stay tuned.


 * * * * 


After months of speculation and rumors, the University of Michigan has reached a final decision regarding the radio home for their sports teams. This was like one of those “worst kept secrets” in Hollywood. Back on Oct. 13, WJR announced it would repaint the Blue room with Green paint. Michigan supporters were shocked when they replaced U-M with MSU.

This September, fans can hear the Wolverines on Ferndale-based classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3), which has their massive tower right here in Oakland County. Additionally, the games will be carried on the Canadian powerhouse CKLW-AM (800), which reaches from Fort Wayne, Ind., to the far side of Cleveland. The long delay was due to negotiations with WJR-AM (760) management over the university’s desire to have Frank Beckmann call the games while remaining a key mid-morning talk host on ’JR. Jim Brandstatter will remain with Frank; they have a chemistry and fans love ’em. Sadly, Steve Courtney, who is WJR’s morning sports reporter on the Paul W. Smith show, will not be working with B&B. The new field reporter will be WXYT-AM (1270) fashion-statement Doug Karsch Near Yard-lines — but lets not call it DKNY.

The fate of the U-M tailgate shows is still unknown.

Basketball is scheduled for news WWJ-AM (950), and we can only hope it will include Larry Henry for play-by-play. Henry is the best in the business and is currently sports director at WWJ. According to Michigan Associate Athletic Director Bruce Madej, “We hope to have this all wrapped up this coming week, and we may have urban-talk WCHB-AM (1200) also on board for Michigan basketball.” U-M hockey will be on WXYT when not conflicting with the Red Wings.


 * * * * 


Don’t forget this Tuesday is the Memorial Service for former CKLW great Dave Schafer. Visitation is 11 a.m.-1 p.m. followed by the service at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 1368 N. Crooks in Clawson.


 * * * * 


And until next time, have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend.


 * * * * 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, May 28, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

Normally when there is a major change on the radio dial, there is a lot of excitement that goes along with it. And normally I write with a positive outlook on a business that sorely needs people to be excited about its product. Not this time.

When “The Drive” WDTW-FM (106.7) pulled the plug on its struggling rock format, I readily admit I was rooting for a change to country. At one time, W4 Country was my favorite radio station, and I’d always hoped for a return at 106.7. But this week’s format change has left a bitter taste in my mouth.

I chuckled at WDTW’s attempt at fooling you into thinking that by voting on the Internet, you’d be choosing the station’s new format while it was playing songs that ranged from Frank Sinatra to Big & Rich and Twisted Sister. It was pretty humorous to think the folks at Clear Channel would allow a radio station worth millions of dollars to be programmed solely by a short “survey”- especially during last weekend's huge Country Hoedown sponsored by now-rival WYCD-FM (99.5).

But what really has me upset is how disingenuous the station was during the naming “contest”. Listeners were asked to vote for their favorite name on the Web up through last weekend, then instructed to check back Monday morning, when you could vote for one of the top three vote-getters. When I checked online early Monday morning, the 3 choices to vote for were ‘W4’, ‘The Wolf’, and ‘The Fox’. Knowing that WYCD was already using “The Wolf” for a feed on its digital side channel, it was pretty clear that there would be no Wolf howling on 106.7. So imagine my surprise at 9:30 a.m. when I saw the WDTW Web site had already posted that the name we “selected” was The Fox, complete with logos — even while the radio station was still asking people to vote! It took over an hour before that mistake was removed, but by then it was too late. I’d seen it and told several others about it too. At noon Monday the official announcement came that we had a new Fox in town.

It was obvious to me that local radio executives were playing us for fools. I believed it when I read a quote from one of these execs stating that the W4 Country name was “one of the options you can vote for.” Too bad they apparently ignored that vote and did what they obviously had pre-planned. They do not care what you and I think, because they are the experts and we’re just the listeners. I sent e-mail and tried to contact Market Manager Til Levesque and Vice President of Programming Dom Theodore via telephone, hoping for some kind of explanation for what I observed, but I didn’t receive any replies before this column had to be finalized.

The irony of all this? The name selected for the new station is the same one used on the 99.5 frequency in the 1990’s before it became country as WYCD. In one of the best radio stunts in this town’s history, current WYCD morning man Dr. Don “killed” the Fox on Christmas Eve 1992 as Cowboy Hugh, with the help of “Dr. Kervorkian”. (If you’re interested in hearing that monumental event, visit www.detroitradioflashbacks.net and click on the 99.5 dial position.)

Apparently, the people who run 106.7 don’t think Detroit listeners pay attention to things like this and can’t remember the Fox on 99.5 or W4 Country at 106.7. They also probably don’t believe there are a number of us who still have fond memories of The Big 8, Keener 13, Honey Radio, even The Big D on AM 1500. The folks at Clear Channel Detroit had a huge opportunity to score a ton of points with country music fans by actually listening to what we were saying and bringing back W4 Country. Instead, they chose to expose themselves and their dishonest promotions.

This potential listener is disenfranchised.


 * * * * 


Adult urban WDMK-FM (105.9), hip-hop WHTD-FM (102.7), and talk WCHB-AM (1200), along with Art Van Furniture, will be hosting a “Drive Thru Job Fair” on Wednesday at the Art Van Stores on Greenfield Road in Southfield and on 8 Mile in Warren. Anyone looking to find new employment are encouraged to stop by the stores, where on-air personalities from the stations will be giving out information and applications for employment opportunities at many area companies — including Art Van. The Southfield event will run 11 a.m-2 p.m. and the Warren one from 5-8 p.m.


 * * * * 


And getting back to WYCD, congratulations go out to evening host Jyl Forsyth on her recent marriage and decision to adopt a baby from China. Says Jyl, “We are so excited. Being a mom, is the one thing I haven’t done yet in life that I really want to do.” With Jyl’s passion for life, I’m certain she’ll be a great mom.


 * * * * 


Channel 9 (the former CKLW-TV) will run “Radio Revolution: The Rise and Fall of the Big 8,” a documentary on CKLW-AM, at 10 p.m. Tuesday, and the show will be repeated twice that night, at 1 and 4 a.m. The show also will air at 10 p.m. Saturday and again at 1 a.m. ... “Somewhere in Time” celebrates “Decoration Day” at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 * * * * 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, June 4, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

Some weeks back, I was trying to guess in what direction Clear Channel Detroit was going to take former classic hits WDTW-FM (106.7) best known as “The Drive.” Now we all know that they flipped back to country music. Last week, Mike Austerman expressed his personal disappointment at the station’s decision not to reinstate the WWWW-FM call letters and the strong brand of W4 Country.

The original name at 106.7 was WDTM, doing mostly classical music up through the end of the 1960s. When radio pioneer Gordon McLendon, one of the originators of the Top 40 music format, bought the station in 1969, he renamed it WWWW because in the newspaper listings it stood out the most. The station originally was a clone of his San Francisco beautiful-music FM, KABL. It later switched to solid gold oldies, then to rock with Howard Stern. Finally, in the early ’80s, it flipped to country music, which lasted almost 20 years.

Interestingly, the name never changed, until September 1999, when it abandoned country. So, why after 30 years did management feel they couldn’t bring back a set of heritage call letters?


 * * * * 


Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the death of oldies radio in both New York City and Chicago, when Infinity Broadcasting (now CBS Radio) switched two legendary stations to the “Jack-FM” format. New York is still without an oldies or country station on “regular” radio. Oddly enough, two oldies start with “The Third of June” as their opening lyric; “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry in 1967 and “Desiree” by Neil Diamond in 1977. Spooky.


 * * * * 


Here’s a name you haven’t heard in a while — Crazy Al, the wacky ’50s-style DJ who once graced the airwaves of Oakland County on oldies/talk WPON-AM (1460). Broadcasting his daily show from high atop a high-rise in downtown Pontiac to the world over the Internet, this one-of-a-kind personality is now starting to land terrestrial radio affiliates. His first is WBCB in suburban Philadelphia’s Bucks County and Trenton, NJ. He also could wind up on oldies powerhouse WLNG-FM on Eastern Long Island. “Crazy Al’s Radio Party” can be heard at www.industrialinfo.com. Check it out mornings 6-11 a.m.


 * * * * 


Another name you may recall from the “glory days” of Detroit radio is Lee Alan, who recently relocated to Las Vegas. His superb program saluting the music of Frank Sinatra will start today on Sin City’s KJUL-FM. You can hear the program 8-10 p.m. online at www.kjul1047.com. Alan was a major radio star at WXYZ-AM (1270) in the early- to mid-’60s. In more recent years, his voice was heard on countless car dealer radio commercials.


 * * * * 


Unfinished business; Belated kudos to Deminski & Doyle, the afternoon duo on hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1). In a recent newspaper poll, they were voted Detroit’s No. 1 afternoon drive radio show. Who said a boy from St. Louis and a kid from New Jersey couldn’t make it in Motown?


 * * * * 


Quick hits: Fierce competitors news-talk WJR-AM (760) and all-news WWJ-AM (950) were on hand Friday, broadcasting live from the 2006 Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference at the Grand Hotel. We are lucky to have two excellent information stations in this area ... At soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1), the fifth annual Women Who Make Magic awards banquet will be June 12 at Andiamo in Warren. This event benefits HAVEN, whose mission is to eliminate domestic violence and sexual assault throughout Oakland County and surrounding communities. Call (586) 268-3200 for tickets ... Rocker WRIF-FM (101.1) is zeroing in on HarleyFest, which will host a true bike-rstyle wedding for one lucky couple. The wedding day is set for June 17, and this promotion benefits the Karmanos Cancer Institute. Learn more at www.wrif.com ... Blues/jazz WGPR-FM (107.5) and mid-day host Maxine Michaels have parted ways due to what has been described as her inability to correctly execute the format. No official word yet on her replacement.


 * * * * 


Mitch albums used to be known as sing-a-longs, not as a writer or a broadcaster. This Mitch is a man named Miller and his music is featured 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5) with Tom Wilson’s “Somewhere in Time.”


 * * * * 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, June 11, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

There’s been a revolution going on at classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3) recently. Instead of making noise with a shocking format change that instantly alienates listeners — similar to what happened last year at former oldies outlets in New York and Chicago — WOMC has quietly broadened their playlist and managed to create a rejuvenated sound for itself while retaining its listeners.

I’m enjoying the shift in music that now includes a blend of 1960s classics — especially Motown and the Beatles — along with up-tempo hits from ’70s and early ’80s. Even Elvis still gets his spins on ’OMC, but instead of “Hound Dog”-era tunes, you’ll now hear the “Kentucky Rain” Presley.

“We see this is an evolution of a heritage radio station and have worked very hard to make that happen smoothly,” WOMC program director Steve Allan explained. “Our listeners have remained quite loyal to the Motor City’s 104.3 and we appreciate that.”

The updates are encouraging. Many times, it seems local programmers simply plug in the flavor-of-the-month that’s pushed by corporate-based managers. Instead, ’OMC’s changes are driven by Allan with an eye on what local listeners enjoy hearing. With the oldies format losing outlets in many other markets, ’OMC’s progression keeps a favorite station viable and focused on Detroit, even if it means fewer spins of songs from the late ’50s and ’60s. A stronger 104.3 ensures fans of legendary personalities Dick Purtan and Tom Ryan that their favorite drive-time hosts won’t be replaced by a computer anytime soon.

“I think WOMC’s musical evolution has added a certain freshness to our sound,” Allan continued. “We are playing a lot of songs that have never been aired on 104.3 and the feedback we are getting from our listeners has been overwhelmingly positive. Yes, we do think this has made WOMC a stronger station. We believe — and our market research supports — that this fresh music has made WOMC more appealing to a larger audience. Combine this with personalities like Dick Purtan plus the addition of Michigan football and we feel like WOMC is a radio station that Detroit will continue to embrace for many years to come.”


 * * * * 


On the flipside is the change that sports WXYT-AM (1270) just made. New to mornings is syndicated shock-jock duo Opie & Anthony, who are rapidly gaining affiliates across the country in one of those situations that smacks of corporate-pushed programming. With no more sports talk during the morning drive, former co-host John Lund was let go, while fellow co-host Scott Anderson was moved to 1-3 p.m., where he’s joined by newcomer Dan Wetzel.

The move is a head-scratcher; Jamie & Brady on sports WDFN-AM (1130) now have a virtual monopoly on morning sports gab, while O&A compete for the same audience that sister-station talk WKRK-FM (97.1) targets with “Rover’s Morning Glory.” That’s also the same group of listeners that rock WRIF’s (101.1) Drew & Mike have had a stranglehold on for years.

It seems that CBS Radio is caught between giving Rover a fair shot and, at the same time, pushing O&A into as many markets as possible. O&A fans are very loyal to the show and claim it’s one the funniest programs on the radio, which contrasts from the lack of any emotion from the few that listen to Rover locally.

So why didn’t they put O&A, this month’s flavor, on 97.1 and bump Rover to 1270 if they wanted both programs on in Detroit badly enough to disrupt the format of WXYT? O&A’s show doesn’t mesh well with the station’s all-sports lineup the rest of the day, and it especially seems to clash with the family-friendly playby-play of the Detroit Tigers.

For their part, the Tigers claim to be pleased that WXYT continues to be primarily focused on sports and concedes that the station makes their own programming decisions. The Tigers hope fans continue to tune in to the games, even with the change in mornings.

Interestingly, the deal that landed the Tigers and Red Wings on AM 1270 nearly six years ago runs out with the conclusion of the current baseball season, and one of the big provisions of that deal was that WXYT change its format to focus on sports talk. All this makes me wonder if more changes will be coming to either 1270 or 97.1 — or both — sooner rather than later and whether the Tigers and Red Wings might go shopping for a new home after this summer.


 * * * * 


Modern rock CIMX-FM (88.7) is turning 15 years old, and the station’s longevity will be celebrated at the huge 89X Birthday Bash on June 18 at the State Theatre, the Fox Theatre and the Woodward Outdoor Stage. Gary Graff’s Oakland Press column in Friday’s Marquee will have a rundown on some of the bands scheduled to appear.


 * * * * 


Set your dials: Heather Novak and Tom Wilson feature a battle of the bands between Glenn Miller Orchestra and Andrej Hermlin’s Swing Dance Orchestra on “Somewhere in Time” at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 * * * * 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, June 18, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

Each year, there are an amazing number of radio conventions covering most formats across the dial. For country broadcasters, it’s the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, offering unprecedented interaction with country music stars. The Radio & Records Talk Radio Seminar has provided many memorable moments and major star players. And each spring, the National Association of Broadcasters meets in Las Vegas, but with a heavy emphasis on all aspects of TV. Summer brings the second talk get-together at the New Media Seminar in New York. July spotlights The Conclave up in Minneapolis known as “The Learning Conference.” August features the Morning Show Boot Camp designed for DJs who wake you up each day. This year it’s in Chicago. The season wraps up in September with the NAB Radio Show; this year, it’s in Dallas, co-located with the Radio & Records Convention for a combination supershow. Toss in smaller meetings for alternative rock, Christian and Hispanic formats, and that adds up to a lot of hotel bills.

The New Media Seminar, presented by trade publication Talkers, was at a hotel overlooking Ground Zero in Manhattan, featuring a whirlwind schedule of sessions and talk radios biggest personalities. Sadly, again this year, Detroit was very poorly represented. One of the conference sessions was a real eye-opener regarding the enormous amount of competition facing radio. Radio’s biggest enemies are unquestionably the iPod and wireless Internet. In fact, the C. Crane Company has a new radio that tunes in stations that stream on the Internet without a computer. Some of the less optimistic feel radio is about to go “pop!” Actually, radio will simply re-adjust to the new technologies just as it always has.


 * * * * 


One of the real highlights of the New York trip was hanging out with the legendary Joey Reynolds from the WOR Radio Network. He’s in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and was the first to play “Sherry” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Oddly enough, he’s not recognized in the top Tony winning Broadway show “The Jersey Boys,” the story of Valli and his band. Although not carried on a local station, you can hear Reynolds midnights on www.wor710.com, and you also can order Joey’s hot new DVD at www.officialjoeyreynolds.com. It was radio that made the super groups national icons, and the DJs who played their music are owed gratitude for all they did, back when gut-feeling programmed the stations instead of a computer.

One of the hottest personalities on XM, Phlash Phelps on the ’60s oldies channel — who is as wacky on the air as Reynolds in his younger days — saw “The Jersey Boys” with Four Seasons producer Bob Crewe, who proclaimed him creative, funny and a sensational talent. Phelps is scheduled to appear at the GM display in Birmingham on Aug. 19 as part of this year’s Woodward Dream Cruise.


 * * * * 


From the “Strange but True” department, today XM is wrapping up four days of coverage of the U.S. Open Golf Tournament. Many find golf on TV boring, so how does it work on radio, where you can’t even look at the birdie?

Clear Channel Radio, the broadcaster that seems to own everything, is testing one-second commercials. Didn’t they try that with one-frame ads in movies about 30 years ago? Remember a split-second “Have a Coke”? Bob Dylan, who is now an XM DJ, had it right — these times, they are a changin’.


 * * * * 


Rick Gillette, a one-time programmer at the old Power 96 WHYT-FM (96.3) —now WDVD — is returning to the Midwest in a similar role at Chicago’s Kiss-FM WKSC-FM. Perhaps he could pick up some of the available jocks from what used to be The Drive WDTW-FM (106.7), maybe Chicago native Joe Thomas or Heather McGregor?


 * * * * 


Finally, kudos to KC, Ken Calvert of classic rock WCSXFM (94.7), as the “Casual One” gets honored by Catholic Social Services this Wednesday. Your old teachers at Brother Rice High School would be proud.


 * * * * 


And happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there.


 * * * * 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, June 25, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

Now that summer is in full swing, many of our local radio stations are celebrating in similar ways — by either giving away gasoline or hosting golf outings. Among those giving away free fuel are sports WDFN-AM (1130), adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3), and classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7).

For the golfers, WDFN’s second annual $1 million golf scramble is tomorrow at Majestic Golf Course at Lake Walden in Hartland. The event’s highlight is a chance to knock in a hole-in-one to win a cool million bucks.

Dick Purtan of classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3) presents his ninth annual outing at Oakland University on July 10 to benefit the Gail Purtan Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. Then, country WYCD-FM (99.5) afternoon hosts Chuck Edwards and Linda Lee host their sixth annual St. Jude Golf Classic at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Macomb Township on July 17. WYCD’s event features a hole-in-one competition, silent auction, and appearances from stars of country music, with proceeds benefiting St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

And on July 23, news-talk WJR-AM (760) will once again attempt to set a world’s record for the fastest round of golf at northern Michigan’s Alpine course at Boyne Mountain. WJR is looking for volunteers to participate in the free event.

For details on all these events, visit each station’s Web site. Don’t know what they are? You can access a list of Detroit radio stations with links at www.michiguide.com/dials/detroit.html.


 * * * * 


The spring ratings period wrapped up earlier this week and we’ll know next month who the real winners and losers were when those numbers are released. In the meantime, the ratings trends for the month of May show that adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3) led the way among listeners age 12 and older, followed by a surging rock WRIF-FM (101.1), which will no doubt benefit from WDTW-FM’s (106.7) change from rock to country in May. Contemporary hits WKQI-FM (95.5), all-news WWJ-AM (950) and WYCD all finished in a tie for third place; in fact, the May trend showed that the stations in positions 2-8 were only separated by 0.4 of a rating share, which might make for a very interesting final spring report card.


 * * * * 


In recent weeks, a lot of the shine has come off the satellite radio industry. Several radio trade and business publications have been expressing concern about the long-term financial prospects for both XM and Sirius. The honeymoon is over, even with XM’s pending arrival of a channel featuring Oprah Winfrey and Howard Stern’s arrival at Sirius. Both companies have made statements that it might make sense for them to merge, but analysts are uncertain if the Federal Communications Commission would allow such a transaction to take place. Now it looks like the companies are backing off from preventing subscribers to own a radio that would be able to pick up channels from both services.

A company called Interoperable Technologies claimed to be working on such a radio with the support of both XM and Sirius, but the Web site stating such a device would be available later this year was removed this week. It’d make a lot of sense to give consumers as much flexibility as possible with this emerging technology. Anybody else remember when it was tough to get an FM radio in your car?


 * * * * 


Checking the mailbag, Shelly from Rochester inquires: “I have not been able to identify why I have not enjoyed (WJR’s) Mitch Albom’s shows in the past four to six months. Is it the new time slot? Has Kenny’s (Brown) participation changed? Is it because the woman has been given more time lately, yet they canned Rachel for what seems to be the same role? Is it Bruce who mostly says ‘Yep’ in agreement with Mitch? All equally annoying elements, but I’m not sure.

“Then tonight it hit me: Mitch’s endorsement of Toyota just rubs me the wrong way. Mitch is a Detroit guy, Detroit newspapers, Detroit television, Detroit author, Detroit celebrity, and although the rational part of me says Toyota is a terrific automaker, they are not Detroit. I find myself shutting him off after the first hour because I can’t take anymore! Is it me?”

What do you think? Do Detroit radio personalities violate the trust of listeners when they endorse products that aren’t totally Red, White, & Blue? Or it is just another sign of the times?


 * * * * 


Finally this week, a tip of the hat to the students and staff at Bloomfield Hills’ WBFH-FM (88.1). The station and its students won a total of 11 national and 42 state awards this past school year, setting a record for the station that surpassed the former record of six national and 35 state awards won last year. The 11 seniors on the radio staff graduated this month, having won a career total of 73 state broadcasting awards and nine national awards for a total of 82 awards. We’ll be looking forward to their contributions in the years to come.


 * * * * 


Set your Dials: “Somewhere in Time” looks at the music of Detroit’s Theodore Salavatore Fio Rito and his band at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 * * * * 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, July 2, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

When you write a radio column in a major metropolitan area, you have occasions best described as a slow news week. This was not one of them. The most shocking news of all was the weekend programming change at newstalk WJR-AM (760), which saw popular personality and consumer watchdog Murray Gula leave the building. It's not clear what actually lead to the changes -- station staffer and program co-host John McCulloch had no comment -- but it's clear that the audience is not pleased with the decision. I've received a number of e-mails wanting to know why this happened. Advertisers, on the seemingly always-sold-out program, also have expressed their disappointment.

The listener response has been overwhelming in support of Gula, who had become a staple of helping people with home improvement problems throughout WJR's massive coverage area. In late-breaking news, however, it looks as though Gula will remain as spokesperson for a number of his on-air supporters. He can be reached via his Web site, www.murraygula.com. Gula will continue to guest on Bob Allison's show on multilingual WNZK-AM (690) at 10:30 a.m. Fridays. He also did a home improvement special on WXYZ-Channel 7. Insiders have indicated more involvement with the popular television station could be in the offing. Stay tuned.


 * * * * 


Another amazing "turn" of events is at all-news WWJ-AM (950). Some radio insiders felt they should install a revolving door at the entrance of the building. After an almost-unheard-of 25 years, all-night news man Brad Bianchi was let go in a move that has the Internet message boards buzzing. One local broadcaster said, "Do you realize how many morning guys in this town have listened to Brad on their way into work for years?" The answer is, a lot of them. WWJ management would not comment, but forgiveness is a hard commodity to come by these days in the radio biz. After so many years of service, one might have thought whatever it was, Bianchi should have been offered another chance. Plus, who can you even get to do overnight news for five hours and sound as professional as Brad? Reports say that former WXYT program director Rob Sanford will take over that shift.

Before we leave Detroit's first radio station, we wanted you to know about yet another body spun through the revolving exit door on American Drive in Southfield -- and that's WWJ's weekend news anchor and former "Auto-Beat" reporter Mike Campbell. I've said it before -- radio has never been a bastion of stability, and that is true now more than ever.


 * * * * 


In the late '80s, those of you who tuned to WCZY, better known as Z-95.5, would surely recognize the voice of Jim Ellis. Sadly, Jim died a week ago from a heart attack while visiting locally from his home up in Traverse City. He even drove himself to the hospital, but a second heart attack while "on the table" took his life shortly after his 48th birthday. Ellis also worked at WLLZ -- now WVMV-FM (98.7) -- and did the morning show after leaving Detroit at St. Louis' legendary K-SHE 95. Up North, Ellis worked at rock powerhouse WKLT-FM (97.5 and 98.9), where he was teamed with current WJR newsman Pete Misiak. Former Z-95.5 jock Brian Patrick, now working under his real name Brian Peck, at pop WTMX-FM (101.9) in Chicago, flew in for the memorial service and remembered Ellis as a funny guy with a heart of gold.


 * * * * 


A local guy making it big nationally is WJR's Paul W. Smith, who will be subbing for talk host and newsmaker Rush Limbaugh from noon to 3 p.m. Monday. Paul does a superb filling-in for El Rushbo.


 * * * * 


Tune in for great patriotic music with Tom Wilson on "Somewhere in Time" at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 * * * * 


Have a safe Independence Day -- and may the best fireworks continue to be on the radio!


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, July 9, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

The composition of these words were started from my hospital bed at the Cleveland Clinic, perhaps one the most prestigious medical facilities in the world. As I sit here thinking of all the work that’s piling up, my type-A personality is making me even crazier than I usually am. My trip to Cleveland and Pittsburgh was rerouted to the hospital because of a return bout with a skin infection known as cellulitis; I never made it to the Steel City. Thank God for my Tivoli Song Book AM/FM radio and a top-floor room with a large window to my left that faces west. I’m pulling FM’s from Toledo and even from Detroit, but I think some of that might have been due to extraordinary atmospheric conditions. My XM radio also was a godsend.

I was discharged Monday after four days of care and drove home early on the Fourth of July with little to listen to on AM, FM or XM. All the funny shows were off the air. Even the “best of” repeats were missing. No entertainment, just lots of overplayed boring music. I never appreciated Warren Pierce so much as he filled in for Paul W. Smith; it was the only thing that kept me awake on newstalk WJR-AM (760).


 * * * * 


By the way, U of M fans can rejoice. CKLW-AM (800), although not what it once was, still throws a very strong signal across Lake Erie and the entire north coast of Ohio so you’ll still be able to hear the Wolverines. I even pulled in UM’s FM counterpart, classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3), at the Cleveland Clinic, but again, I think the air was a bit overcharged that weekend. Next to WJR, CKLW truly gets out the farthest, so it was an excellent choice by the Michigan Athletic Department.


 * * * * 


Last week, I also had an MRI on my left leg at one of the area’s finest medical facilities. They offer you headphones to counter the loud noise the machine makes and you can usually chose the station, but the radio — a Sony shelf-system stereo — had very poor FM reception. I checked it out, and wouldn’t you know it, the antenna was an AM loop stand-up connected to the FM input on the back. So I got a single strand of wire and connected it with far better results. The staff couldn’t have been more appreciative. The point is, to all radio broadcasters, it’s shocking how few people know how to even hook up an antenna to a radio, how to switch between bands or can recognize, by just the frequency, if 96.3 is an AM or an FM station. Yikes — that is very scary indeed. How are they ever going to figure out HD radio with two stations on the same frequency? I sense a train wreck coming.


 * * * * 


All-news WWJ-AM (950) is preparing a special tribute to funny weather guru Sonny Eliot as he celebrates 60 years on the local airwaves. Sonny created the concept of the wacky TV weatherman when he was on Channel 4, back in TV’s early days when the word Doppler was virtually unknown. More details coming.


 * * * * 


Also, this Tuesday is the birthday of WOMC’s Dick Purtan, holding steady at ... well, he says he’s 39. When your birthday is on 7-11, you’ve heard all of the jokes.


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Speaking of Slurpees, beef jerky and sandwiches, the winner of Motown radio’s “Super Sub” is undoubtedly Bernie Fratto. He’s the very reliable fill-in host on the “Parker & the Man” show at hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1) Free FM. The “other Bernie,” who recently celebrated two years at Live 97.1, has developed quite a following with his quick wit and deep knowledge of sports, pop culture, history and current events. Plus, who can say no to an Italian sub?


 * * * * 


Today is the day for the soft hits WMGC-FM (105.1) Magic Family Picnic. It’s noon-5 p.m. at CJ Barrymore’s, 21750 Hall Road (M-59) in Clinton Township. Sounds like a super time. Check out www.detroitmagic.com for more details.


 * * * * 


Detroit’s “NICest guy,” Kevin O’Neill, the popular soft-rock WNIC-FM (100.3) afternoon personality, also was holding down the same shift at sister Clear Channel station WLIT in Chicago — by way of voice-tracking, which is a common practice in radio these days. They replaced O’Neill with a live local jock. So Kevin’s son in Chicago can no longer hear dad, but perhaps a Cleveland Clear Channel station will import his voice so mom can tune in along the North Coast.


 * * * * 


Speaking of Cleveland, after 12 different morning shows in nine years, heritage rocker WMMS-FM (100.7) recently added America’s funniest syndicated morning show — “Bob & Tom,” based in Indianapolis. You may have heard their outrageously entertaining program on stations throughout out-state Michigan, as it’s on in 150 cities nationwide but not in Detroit. With no disrespect to Drew and Mike, Harper, Purtan, Smith, Edmonds and all of the great local morning talent, I still wish we had these award-winning guys on the air locally. We can never have too many laughs.


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, July 16, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

The big “Remember the Motor City Reunion” is finally here — July 19-22 in downtown Detroit. Eileen Trombley-Glick, a former Detroiter and 1966 grad of Regina High School, is orchestrating this huge reunion for next week. She truly echoes that line from Martha and the Vandellas’ hit song “Dancin’ in the Street” — can’t forget the Motor City!

You’ll be amazed at the number of activities and the big names expected to be on hand for this nostalgic gathering throughout downtown Detroit. A few of the names scheduled to be here include: Robin Seymour, Lee Alan, Paul Cannon, Johnny Ginger, Marv Welch, Irv (Ricky the Clown) Roming, Art (Bozo) Cervi and Detroit historian Stewart McMillin.

As one who has worked on putting together three Detroit Radio Reunions, I know firsthand what a huge undertaking it is. And, that’s a good word to use, because it nearly killed me, and most of our committee.

You can learn more by visiting www.detroitmemories.com/reunion.html. If you don’t have Internet access, you can call for more information at (480) 785-4616 or toll-free at (866) 633-7737. If you can’t wait for the Woodward Dream Cruise on Aug. 19, this sounds like the perfect fix to please anyone who grew up in the ’50s, ’60s or ’70s in Southeast Michigan. There will certainly be a strong presence of legendary radio — and TV — personalities at this reunion.


 * * * * 


A couple of weeks ago, as I lay in a hospital bed in Ohio, I thought how good it would be if only I had brought my laptop computer. With a computer you can spend hours — if not days — checking out a seemingly endless number of Web sites that cater to those of us still in love with radio. One of my closest friends, now working for XM’s classic country channel 10, is Country Dan Dixon. He even worked locally at the old WDEE-AM (1500) and WCXI-AM (1130) now WDFN-AM. Dan tipped me off to a Web site that was a major flashback for those of us who as kids treasured our transistor radios. Check out www.transistor.org/collection/collection.html and you can spend hours clicking all over the pages of classic transistor radios — one of which is probably just like one you once owned.

If you like to wear radio station apparel, like I do, than the site for you is unquestionably www.radiologoland.com. It is incredible how many shirts, hats, coffee mugs and the like can be had with the original logo of your favorite station from yesteryear. Last Christmas, a radio pal in San Diego gave me a brand new high-quality sweatshirt with the first-ever logo for WKNR-Keener 13. Very cool, indeed.


Mike Austerman’s site, www.michiguide.com, features not only past postings of this column, but also an entire listing of Web links with ties to radio enthusiasts, including station histories and the meanings of call letters. And my site, www.vuolovideo.com, is being heavily referenced by people nationwide looking for audio and video recordings of great radio stations from around the country.

A couple of other sites that will thrill anyone with a passion for radio include: the Classic CKLW Page (www.thebig8.net), and the WKNR site (www.keener13.com). And there is a lot of Detroit radio memorabilia at www.detroitradioflashbacks.net, and to actually hear old radio broadcasts, including my 1971 “History of Detroit Radio” documentary, check out www.putmeontheair.com. Make sure you have a lot of time before you do.


 * * * * 


Quick Hits: Gregg Henson, the always colorful one time co-host of Motor City Middays on hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1) is not returning to Detroit. The former sports guru from both WXYT-AM (1270) and WDFN has landed a sweet job as program director of Philadelphia’s newest all-sports station WPEN-AM (950), owned by Greater Media, which also owns classic rocker WCSX-FM (94.7), where Henson had his first job many moons ago.

Set your dial for more of that great Wurlitzer organ music from Don Thompson on Tom Wilson’s “Somewhere in Time” program at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


My colleague Mike Austerman who pens this column on alternate weekends, is on a well-deserved family vacation, and will return.


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, July 23, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


Looks like the country ratings battle between WYCD-FM (99.5) and WDTW-FM (106.7) will be an interesting one. In the just-released spring ratings book, WYCD tied for first place among all listeners with urban WJLB-FM (97.9). Although WDTW-FM The Fox was 18th, the station did improve its ratings from the winter with only a few weeks of its new sound included in the survey.

Talk about perfect timing for a format change. Give WDTW's Dom Theodore, regional vice president of programming, credit for calling for the change at 106.7 when he did. Country is hot, and there’s no doubt that listeners are sampling the new kid on the block, but will they remain loyal to WYCD?

Sports WXYT-AM (1270) enjoyed good ratings news, as they pushed back ahead of rival WDFN-AM (1130) for their second quarterly win in the last three books. The Detroit Tigers’ success on the field has helped boost listenership of WXYT’s coverage of the team. But the question with WXYT is whether the move away from sports in morning drive — with shock jocks Opie & Anthony in its place — will affect the station’s ratings this fall.

Rock WRIF-FM (101.1) and adult urban WDMK-FM (105.9) also enjoyed nice audience gains since winter among all listeners. The ’Rif moved to fourth place overall with a .7 share increase behind another number one book from morning duo Drew & Mike. WDMK bumped up .8 and finished in 10th place. Also of note was news-talk WJR-AM (760) pushing back ahead of all-news WWJ-AM (950).

The adage that change is the only constant is especially true when looking at radio ratings considering that the top eight stations among listeners age 12+ are only separated by .6 of a share.


 * * * * 


Back at WDTW-FM, the station has been building its on-air staff. Ericka Lynn will join for middays starting Aug. 2, and Rob Gramm is already on the job doing evenings. That leaves the morning and afternoon drive open, along with overnights.

With the combination of WDTW-owner Clear Channel launching a new syndicated morning program featuring Whoopi Goldberg on July 31 and that open morning slot, I have to wonder whether there might be some shuffling done within Clear Channel/Detroit to get Whoopi on a station here. One possible scenario could be to move either Chris Edmonds or Kevin O’Neill from soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) over to 106.7 for mornings. Both guys are longtime Detroiters and outstanding jocks. If a decision is made to add Whoopi in Detroit, why not fully utilize the talent that is already in-house to fill mornings at The Fox? Stay tuned to this one.


 * * * * 


Major kudos to WDFN afternoon hosts Mike Stone and Bob Wojnowski — you know them as Stoney & Wojo — for helping raise more than $155,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society recently. Hard to believe that these guys have been doing their 28-hour radiothon for nine years — and that this is the first one without former ’DFN personality Sabrina Black, who succumbed to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in March.

The event was a who’s who of Detroit sports personalities, including retired Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman, who donated an autographed pair of gloves that he wore during his last playoff game. Donations are still being accepted at wdfn.radiothon.org.


 * * * * 


Last month I asked whether Detroit radio personalities — and specifically WJR’s Mitch Albom — violate the trust of listeners when they endorse products that aren’t American made or whether it’s just a sign of the times.

The majority of the responses reflected that listeners weren’t concerned about what hosts endorse; rather, it’s that they personally “endorse” anything at all.

Joan’s comment summed up well the bulk of what I received: “I turn Mitch off before he comes on due to his violation of trust in many areas — self-serving endorsements of people and agendas as well as products make his word mean nothing. He used to be a great sports writer, but moving into the arena of ideas has been too big a leap for him. Can we vote him off the air?”

That’s harsh, but having hosts live-read commercials seems like a dangerous proposition. While stations get the most money for those kind of advertisements, they risk alienating listeners by airing too many of those ads. And, naturally, fewer listeners means less ad revenue. I don’t envy the sales managers who have to make those decisions — it’s not an easy job.


 * * * * 


Heal-up-soon wishes to classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3) afternoon host Tom Ryan, who had double knee replacement surgery and will be off the air for approximately three weeks while he recovers. Ron Tavernit has been filling in ... Thoughts and prayers are with former talk WKRK-FM (97.1) host Gregg Henson as he deals with the illness of his mother, who has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.


 * * * * 


Set Your Dials: “Somewhere in Time” hosts Tom Wilson and Heather Novak explore the magic of theater pipe organs featuring West Coast organist Don Thompson with a program that includes everything from classics to pops.


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Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, July 30, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

Eileen Trombley-Glick was encouraged by hundreds of positive responses to have a great Detroit Reunion, but after a year’s worth of preparations, the event fell short of its attendance goal. Unlike the three Detroit Radio Reunions since 1988, this one was to be open to the public. The shortfall wasn’t for lack of effort on Eileen’s part. She contacted all the major local media, but found a lack of cooperation. Along with local marketing maven Mike Seltzer, who worked with us on all three radio reunions, I attended the Detroit Memories breakfast July 21 at the Roostertail. The room should have been packed. Fewer than 100 were on hand. Most heard about it from this paper or the Internet.

Mike and I realized later that this may have been the last time we’ll see the likes of Johnny Ginger, Marv Welch, Ricky the Clown, Art (Bozo) Cervi and Robin Seymour reminiscing about the great times in the Motor City. Our hats are off to Eileen for an outstanding effort. In fact, Seltzer said it best: “The local Detroit media should be ashamed of themselves for providing no coverage of this event, and it exemplifies the apathy that is apparent here. Detroit was once a thriving, vibrant and exciting city, and thank goodness we have our great memories of those glory days because they are, unfortunately, as Ernie Harwell might say, ‘long gone.’”


 * * * * 


Paul W. Smith, morning host on news/talk WJR-AM (760), deserves major kudos last week as he reunited a Dearborn family in war-torn Tyre, Lebanon, via ABC newsman Matt Gutmann. This was live radio drama unlike anything I’ve ever heard, as an emotional Smith relished in his ability through a series of coincidences, good luck and his years of radio experience to reconnect a registered nurse at Detroit Children’s Hospital with his wife and daughter.

When asked what the mother and daughter would do when they returned home, they said they want pizza. And Paul immediately heard from Little Caesars CEO Chris Illitch, who will provide the family with all the pizza they want. Rather than trying to recount all that transpired on the air, go to www.wjr.com and you can actually hear Tuesday’s gripping 18 minutes of audio.


 * * * * 


One can only wonder what type of chemicals may have leaked into the air ducts in the Clear Channel building in Farmington Hills. Talk WDTW-AM (1310) took the call-letters of Ann Arbor Country W4 and is now WWWW-AM, but the format is unchanged. Yet, new country The Fox remains WDTW-FM (106.7). Strange.


 * * * * 


After Glenn Haege’s “Ask the Handyman” program today, he’s reportedly being shown the door. America’s Master Handyman did not have his contract renewed at sports WDFN-AM (1130). His program is nationally syndicated to more than 200 stations nationwide.

Could he be headed for the Fisher Building? Is Glenn out to replace recently ousted Murray Gula? Well, it turns out that Gula’s sizeable roster of big-name advertisers is sticking with him. This type of loyalty is rarely seen in broadcasting these days. Perhaps WJR brass should reconsider the “Murraygo-round” as advertising revenues followed the big guy out the door.

On the flip side of the home improvement coin, Gula has signed a contract with WXYZ-Channel 7 for several one-hour “watch dog” specials. He will be actively involved with Murray’s Blog and providing tips via the popular Channel 7 Web site (www.wxyz.com).


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Set your dials: Big Band lovers can check out the music of Benny Goodman on Tom Wilson’s “Somewhere in Time” at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, August 6, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

When Public Radio WDET-FM (101.9) shifted its direction away from daytime music during toward its current weekday all-talk format late last year, the reaction was immediate – and loud. Fundraising goals were revised downward, favorite hosts left the station and protesters tried to get station owner Wayne State University to change the format back, overruling the decisions of station general manager Michael Coleman, who had directed the programming shift.

Now it appears that WDET’s new weekday lineup, along with restored weekend music programs like ‘Arkansas Traveler’ and ‘Folks Like Us’, is beginning to find its sea legs as for the second consecutive ratings book WDET’s listener totals have increased. The station reports a 14,800 listener increase in the spring of 2006, which followed a fall increase of over 11,000 listeners. Coleman comments, “We're glad to see our audience continue to grow. We're building a flagship public radio service for the Detroit community, and we welcome the thousands of new and returning listeners to the WDET family." If the station is able to generate the money it needs this fall during its next big fundraising drive, it’ll be a pretty safe bet that the changes Coleman implemented will be sticking around for a long time – much to the distain of those that preferred WDET’s old format.


 * * * * 


Another public radio station that is successfully finding an audience is classical-jazz WRCJ-FM (90.9), which celebrated its one year anniversary on August 1st. Behind program director and morning host Dave Wagner, WRCJ enjoys one of the most loyal audiences in the market with its listeners spending an average over of 6 hours tuned in each time. WRCJ is also the home former WDET’ers Ann Delisi and Chris Felcyn, who in addition to holding down the midday shift during the week hosts “The Listening Room” Sunday mornings from 10-11am – a show once heard on WDET for about 20 years.

Former classical WQRS-FM (105.1) host Jack Goggin, who possesses an encyclopedic knowledge and passion for film music, plans on returning to the air at WRCJ soon to bring back “Film Classics”, a show that aired on WQRS for nine years. Listeners will soon be hearing Goggin offering “film factoids” during other programming.

And for those of you that can’t hear WRCJ over the air, the station is working on an Internet stream of its programming – keep an eye on www.wrcj909fm.org for an announcement. Congrats to everyone at WRCJ and owner Detroit Public Schools on a great first year!


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While we’re on the topic of former WDET hosts, current Adult Alternative WQKL-FM (107.1) Ann Arbor morning jock Martin Bandyke is enjoying great success at his new radio home, helping push that station’s ratings up to their highest levels ever. “107 one” saw its overall numbers rise by 1.5 share to 4.8, making it the 4th most listened to station in A-squared. The jump in adult listeners age 25-54 was even more dramatic, moving from a daylong 3.0 share to 7.3. Bandyke’s first morning report card shows he helped improve the age 25-54 rating of WQKL from 2.3 to 5.7. While the station is obviously more commercial than WDET, it’s still a great listen for those that might miss the old sound of ‘DET, if you’re lucky enough to be in western Oakland County where the station is easier to receive. For the computer savvy, visit www.annarbors107one.com to listen via the Internet.


 * * * * 


Quick hits: John Mason, well known for his work as the Detroit Pistons’ public address announcer, is without a radio gig for now as he’s left Adult Urban WDMK-FM (105.9). In his place afternoons is a syndicated show hosted by Wendy Williams based out of New York City … New to weekend mornings at Sports WDFN-AM (1130) is ‘At Home’ with Gary Sullivan, a syndicated show farmed in from Cincinnati, replacing Glenn Haege who hosted his last WDFN shows last weekend … Mega congratulations to Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts VP Dick Kernen who recently marked 50 years in the broadcast biz. He was the first program director of Rock WRIF-FM (101.1) back in 1968 and remains a true visionary in the field … Todd Mundt, morning voice at Public WUOM-FM (91.7) and chief content officer for Michigan Public Media, exits for a major role with Iowa Public Radio … Somewhere in Time spins back the clock to the pre-1935 era when the top dance orchestra in America was the Dorsey Brother's Band, featuring the sax of Jimmy and the trombone of Tommy, at 6pm today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


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Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, August 13, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

Less than 10 days ago, a multitude of radio broadcasters shivered at the front-page story. It proclaimed automakers were about to integrate easy-to-use iPod docking stations into new 2007 model cars. Yikes! Using the old theory that people simply aren’t happy unless they have something to worry about, the death of radio has been predicted numerous times over the past 50 years or more.

Radio is turning 86 years old Nov. 2. While all-news WWJ-AM (950) took to the air Aug. 20, 1920, as experimental station 8MK, purists give the nod to Pittsburgh’s KDKA-AM (1020), which has been on the air continuously since Nov. 2, 1920. Interestingly the number 86 is often referred to as doing away with something no longer needed. Yikes again.

Radio’s biggest threat was television, and it’s still far from a friendly sibling. TV takes better than 80 percent of every ad dollar spent, even though its audience has been fragmented even more than radio’s. Many people still feel the only place they can listen to the radio is in their vehicles. However, that once sacred domain has been breached by cell phones, satellite radio, CD and DVD players, even GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) units, which keep us from getting lost.

Now, the iPod is out to kill off radio, which must fight for every listener. Former Detroit DJ Country Dan Dixon, now at XM’s classic country channel 10, offers some insight, calling the iPod “nothing more than a New Age cassette recorder.”

“I have tons of CDs and compilations I made myself but don’t listen to them much anymore,” he says. “I happen to like entertainment! And so do the people who subscribe to XM. “Music is important,” he adds, “but I believe that the reason people listen to me is because they want to feel like they’re part of my show. They feel like they’re a friend of mine, and they are! Most of the people who listen have been cooped up in their vehicles and want to be entertained. They love being able to call in or send an e-mail to the person who is visiting with them on their radio. Our wide music variety is important, but it’s the one-on-one communication that terrestrial radio has seemingly forgotten about. Many of my listeners have told me that they hardly ever listen to FM or AM anymore.”

Some claim that people will purchase a new car just because it’s “iPod ready.” If this is true, watch how fast our Big Three automakers react. In fact, they already have. On the flip side of the car radio coin, how are the folks in the HD radio camp going to deal with this as they also fight for dashboard space?

Despite all the gloom-anddoom reports, it’s doubtful radio is going to die anytime soon.


 * * * * 


On Tuesday, Buddy’s Pizza celebrated its 60th anniversary with the unveiling of its new “Wall of Fame” at its Farmington Hills location on Northwestern and Middlebelt. Owner Robert Jacob thought it was a way of honoring a host of loyal supporters from local radio, TV and other media. Some of the celebrities on hand included Rachael Hunter from country WYCD-FM (99.5), Cindy Canty from pop WMGC-FM (105.1) and Rachel Nevada of news-talk WJR-AM (760). From the TV side, both Diana Lewis and Don Shane from WXYZ Channel 7 were there, and Danny Raskin from The Jewish News made sure the pizza was kosher. Former Detroit Tiger Frank Tanana was on deck with an eye on one of the many TV screens watching his old team take on the Minnesota Twins.


 * * * * 


Set your dial: the big band music of Fletcher Henderson is being featured on Tom Wilson’s “Somewhere in Time” at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5) at 6 p.m. And get ready this week for the Woodward Dream Cruise, because the best music will be on the radio.


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, August 20, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

Nellie Knorr, who led the launch of Keener 13 WKNR-AM (1310) on Oct. 31, 1963, recently passed away at age 89. As the owner of WKNR, Knorr had the vision to launch the revolutionary sound of 1960s radio in Detroit and helped shape what you hear on radio even today. It was under Knorr’s watch that a young Dick Purtan arrived at Keener 13 in 1965. And you can still hear a take-off of Keener’s “Music Power” jingle every day on XM Radio’s “’60s on 6” channel. It became crystal clear just how much influence Knorr had on Detroit radio at last year’s big Radio Reunion, where she was the guest of honor. Her introduction and the standing ovation that followed were enough to send chills down the spine of even those that are just a tad too young to remember Keener in its heyday. The love that was shown to Knorr that night was unmistakable, as was her influence on Motown radio history. Be sure to visit www.keener13.com for much more on Knorr and Keener13.


 * * * * 


You’re going to be hearing more and more about digital radio in the days and months to come. Most local FM stations already offer digital broadcasts, witnessed by the countless promotions you hear for HD radio on a good number of stations up and down the FM dial. The upside, if you happen to own an HD radio, is nearly CD-quality sound and the capability to hear not only the main station, but also any secondary programming that is offered. The downside is extra interference on the band; it’s much tougher to hear stations from neighboring cities such as country WWWW-FM (102.9) and Top 40 WIOG-FM (102.5) with HD turned on at urban WHTD-FM (102.7).

On the AM band, the story is quite different. The interference factor is much higher, so much so that AM stations have to cease their digital broadcasts at sundown for fear of causing too much interference to distant stations. Also, many listeners notice a difference in the sound of their favorite AM station in the daytime when they are broadcasting in digital. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these listeners are still listening on analog radios and the difference is that the station’s audio quality has been noticeably decreased.

News-talk WJR-AM (760) recently dropped AM stereo, a requirement to use the most common type of digital broadcast equipment, and to my ears, WJR’s audio has sounded terrible ever since. The audio is softer and more muddled and actually causes me fatigue. I’m sure there are some tweaks that can be made, but it seems like sacrificing audio quality for a minority of listeners is a questionable move.

Another example came via e-mail. A listener reports that ever since religious WRDT-AM (560) started broadcasting in digital, picking up easy-listening CKWW-AM (580) has become nearly impossible south of Detroit.

It seems like there needs to be some serious reconsideration given to the idea of digital radio on AM before it drives even more listeners away from the band.


 * * * * 


As Art Vuolo reported in this space several weeks ago, talk AM 1310 mysteriously changed its call sign from WDTW to WWWW in July, but it has continued to run its progressive talk format identifying itself as 1310 WDTW. It looks like the move to change the call sign was to keep those famous W4 call letters under the control of owner Clear Channel, as an announcement is expected that the current four-station group of stations owned by CC in Ann Arbor has been moved to Cumulus as part of a large deal between the two companies.

Ironically, country WWWW-FM, adult alternative WQKL-FM (107.1), sports WTKA-AM (1050), and talk WLBY-AM (1290) were sold by Cumulus to Clear Channel back in 2000, and after the sale was completed, Clear Channel moved the WWWW calls to FM 102.9 from 106.7 Detroit, where they had resided since the 1960s. Will Clear Channel also retain the rights to the name W4 Country?


 * * * * 


Fred Jacobs, founder of Southfield-based Jacobs Media Consulting and creator of the classic rock format, recently was inducted into the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. “I’m truly honored by this acceptance into the Hall of Fame, joining other broadcasting luminaries from Michigan,” Jacobs commented. “I’m proud to be a part of such a vibrant entertainment community. Michigan has led the way in developing some of the greatest minds and legendary talent in the broadcasting industry. When I travel around the country to visit our clients, I’m amazed by the array of talent that began in our state.”


 * * * * 


Set your dials: Hosts Tom Wilson and Alison Harris serve up a program of World War II tunes and old-time Campbell’s Soup ads on today’s edition of Somewhere in Time at 6pm on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 * * * * 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, August 27, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

Holy cow! Could it be that one week from today Michigan and MSU will have already played their first football games? Where did the summer go?


 * * * * 


So much is going on that often I wonder who and what is running the radio industry. Well, we certainly know what, and that’s money. It’s the great equalizer, and the bottom line is greatly responsible for just about everything that happens across the dial. Now recent reports from Wall Street have the big-money people screaming for a merger between the two satellite radio companies.

I was an early supporter of both XM and Sirius because they offered a number of formats and music choices that are simply not available on terrestrial radio anymore. However, a plethora of articles with headlines including “The Bloom is off the Rose” have painted a rather depressing picture for this new technology.

In a related story, General Motors recently announced that the price of XM in a new vehicle has just been lowered from $325 to $199. The price of after-market (i.e., install it yourself) XM radios also is tumbling. The same thing is happening in the Sirius camp. The sat-casters are learning that the money is made not from the shaver, but from the blades. And one of their biggest problems is getting car dealers to explain what satellite radio is and how to activate the service. Knowledge is power.


 * * * * 


Last week, Mike Austerman passed along the sad news about the death of former WKNR owner Nellie Knorr. A memorial service has been scheduled for Sept. 9. Mark your calendars if you were a Keener 13 fan. Details will follow.


 * * * * 


As I alluded to, don’t forget that next Saturday, the Spartans of Michigan State will play Idaho on their new flagship station, news-talk WJR-AM (760), while the Michigan Wolverines take on Vanderbilt at their new stations, classic top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3) and talk CKLW-AM (800).

Speaking of college football, Steve Courtney has handed over his tailgate party microphone to fellow WJR stablemate Warren Pierce. You may recall Pierce was the football side-line reporter at the Big House in Ann Arbor for several years on the U-M broadcasts. Now that the Spartans are on WJR, Pierce will have to trade in his maize-and-blue outfits for ones featuring green and white. You’ll find Warren with an all new broadcast set up in East Lansing next Saturday.

We’re not sure what to expect out in Ann Arbor.


 * * * * 


Kudos to WJR’s Paul W. Smith as his Golf Classic to benefit “Think Detroit PAL” netted an unbelievable $325,000 to help thousands of young people in the Detroit area with academics, athletics and leadership skills they wouldn’t have access to without these two great organizations (Think Detroit and the Police Athletic League (PAL) merged to become one). Paul W. is obviously proud and thankful for all of the hard work by his team and the generosity of his many sponsors, truly making a difference in so many lives.


 * * * * 


While we’re passing out compliments, let’s not overlook The Riff. Rock WRIF-FM (101.1) scored a record-breaking five nominations for the upcoming Radio & Records Industry Achievement Awards. The station is up for Active Rock Station of the Year in major markets, Tom Bender is up for General Manager of the Year in major markets, and Doug Podell is up for Program Director of the Year for rock radio. Up for best music director at a major market rock station is Mark Pennington, while morning yucksters Drew & Mike are up for top morning show.

Other Detroit nominations include smooth jazz WVMV-FM (98.7) with their program director Tom Sleeker, urban WJLB-FM (97.9) and urban/pop WMXD-FM (92.3) along with their PD Jamillah Muhammad. Also in the running are country WYCD-FM (99.5) with their programmer Tim Roberts and music director Ron Chatman, and topping it off is their morning show with Dr. Don, Rachael, Grunwald and Bob Schuman. Pop WDVD-FM (96.3) is up for an award, plus classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7) PD Bill Stedman and everyone’s favorite, Dick Purtan at WOMC.

So it looks like the Motor City will be well represented at the R&R Convention next month in Dallas.


 * * * * 


Set your dial: Tom Wilson has the true jazz stylings of Milton Cross at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 * * * * 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, September 3, 2006

By: Mike Austerman

On The Radio

As the image of summer fades in the rearview mirror, your favorite radio station is getting ready for fall, a season that many consider to be the most important ratings period of the year. You can bet the promotions departments are in serious planning on how to get your attention in order to claim ratings success, which leads to increased advertiser interest and, hopefully, higher station revenues.

Right now, the Detroit radio market is incredibly competitive in terms of overall listenership. Take, for example, the first summer ratings trend. Country WYCD-FM (99.5), which tied for the highest rated station with urban WJLB-FM (97.9) in the spring, fell to seventh place — no doubt because of the competition with country newcomer WDTW-FM (106.7). Adult urban WMXD-FM was the new No. 1, followed by WJLB, rock WRIF-FM (101.1), news-talk WJR-AM (760), and classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3). WDTW finished at 17th place.

In years past, there was a consistent top-rated station that would hold the crown for long periods. Now, each rating trend seems to feature a new top dog as the ratings differences between stations have become increasingly small. This is probably because the differences between radio formats has grown smaller, too, and it’s hard for many radio consumers to find any real difference between stations that are focused on the same audience.

So those promotions departments have to come up with something to set themselves apart from the pack. For now, there are just questions, among them, when will soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) launch its all-Christmas sound? Will WMGC-FM (105.1) beat them to the punch and push the start of Christmas ahead of Halloween this year? What station will come up with a promotion big enough to generate water cooler buzz? Will there be any big personality or format changes? After a summer of calm, I look forward to an interesting autumn on the radio.


 • • • • 


One of those big personality changes might be on the horizon at adult urban WGPR-FM (107.5). A published report earlier this week claims that John Mason is poised to make a return to morning radio on WGPR, possibly as soon as Sept. 12. He’s trying to buy his own air time on ’GPR and is looking to do the same on other stations across the country from a $600,000 studio he paid for in downtown Detroit.

Although Mason is unquestionably one of the biggest names in local radio, he’ll have stiff competition from Tom Joyner of WDMK-FM (105.9) and Steve Harvey at WMXD. If Mason does land at 107.5, he’d arguably be that station’s biggest “name” personality since the Electrifying Mojo held night court there in the ’80s.


 • • • • 


Things are bubbling at CBS Radio locally, which is the new home of University of Michigan sports. According to VP/GM Rich Homberg, “the single issue we have focused our entire week on is the successful launch of the new U-M/CBS partnership.” Therefore, he had no comment on the hot rumor that current sports WXYT-AM (1270) morning duo Opie and Anthony will be shifting over to hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1). If this is true, it will send Rover’s Morning Glory off Live 97.1 Free FM. The rumor mill further suggests that ESPN’s Mike & Mike, a syndicated program, would fill the vacancy left by O&A at WXYT. Stay tuned.


 • • • • 


Detroit public radio WDET-FM (101.9) brings “Democracy Now” host Amy Goodman to Detroit on Sept. 22 at the Hilberry Theatre. She’ll be visiting to promote her new book, “Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back,” (Hyperion, $23.95), co-written with her brother, David. The 7 p.m. event also is a fundraiser for WDET. For a gift of $150, donors will receive a pair of gold circle seats along with a copy of the Goodmans’ book and can attend a private catered reception with the author. Seating is very limited and can only be purchased through WDET by calling (800) 959-WDET or going online to www.wdetfm.org. General admission seats for the performance only also are available for $12.


 • • • • 


If you’ve been thinking about signing up for satellite radio but have held off waiting for a compelling reason, here it is. XM’s “60’s on 6” channel will feature the sound of CKLW-AM (800) during its heyday as the Big 8 in the late 1960s from 4-7 p.m. Oct. 20. Afternoon drive host Terry “Motormouth” Young features a different legendary Top 40 station each Friday afternoon, complete with jingles and actual recordings of the DJs during the era. WKNR-Keener 13, has been featured several times, but this will be the debut of the legendary ’CK. Personally, I can hardly wait, as it was CKLW that truly turned me on to the magic of radio.


 • • • • 


Speaking of Keener 13, the memorial service for former WKNR owner Nellie Knorr — who died Aug. 10 at age 89 — will be 3 p.m. Saturday at Christ Church Cranbrook, 470 Church Road, Bloomfield Hills.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: Join Somewhere in Time host Tom Wilson as he turns back the pages of time to profile the original American crooner, Rudy Vallee, this evening on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 • • • • 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, September 10, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

Somebody across the river at the CHUM Radio Group must love Coca-Cola. As you may recall, Coke admitted it made a mistake and brought back the original taste of America’s favorite soft drink, renaming it “Classic Coke.” Well, “pop” CIDR-FM (93.9) is back to calling itself “The River.”

CHUM dumped its under-performing Lite-FM music to return to a form of adult album, which some insiders feel may be too similar to the alternative rock format of sister station CIMXFM (88.7) best known as 89X. Since the 93.9 FM signal with 100,000 watts screams into Toledo, it might get confusing for the ratings companies, as soft hits WRVF-FM (101.5) also is called “The River.” Let’s see (and hear) if this latest format adjustment, well, floats.


 • • • • 


After two University of Michigan football games, fans seem to like the clarity of the rich and powerful signal at WOMC-FM (104.3), but some lower-row fans tell me they’re better off with Ann Arbor’s U-M affiliate sports WTKA-AM (1050). Talk CKLW-AM (800) also carries the games. What seems to be the most annoying is the seven second delay so any obscenities can be deleted after the FCC’s imposed stiff new fines. TV also is delayed, so the two mediums are almost in sync.


 • • • • 


Jayne Bower at news WWJ-AM (950) says, “Sonny Eliot will throw out the first pitch at the Sept. 13, 2006, Tigers vs. Texas game to mark his 60 years on WWJ. He claims to have been a pitcher about 50 years ago — remarkable given that he is only 38!”

Well stated, Jayne, and kudos to the man who invented “the funny TV weatherman.” These days, Sonny is delivering his witty forecasts at 4:20 and 5:20 in the afternoon on Newsradio 950.


 • • • • 


Classic rocker WCSX-FM (94.7) is celebrating the release of Bob Seger’s “Face the Promise,” his first new album in the past 11 years. The station is giving away the new CD all weekend long, and at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Seger will join morning host Jim “J.J” Johnson for a live, 90-minute one-on-one. It’s not to be missed.


 • • • • 


Who knows where home improvement guru’s Murray Gula and Glenn Haege are? Haege is expected back to radio soon, and Gula may show up in your neighborhood in the weeks ahead, taping segments for his new role at WXYZ-Channel 7.


 • • • • 


Regular readers — and even a few who use laxatives, harhar — know that along with a great deal of talented local morning radio shows, one of my favorites is Bob & Tom. This duo, who actually met Up North in Harbor Springs, originate their very funny show from down in Indianapolis. At 9 p.m. Saturday, they’ll be seen nationally with a one-hour special on Comedy Central. It’ll be loaded with hysterical comedians and should be lots of laughs. Bob & Tom can be heard in various parts of Oakland County on Toledo’s rock WIOT-FM (104.7), Flint’s rock WWBN-FM (101.5) or Lansing’s rock WJXQ-FM (106.1).


 • • • • 


In Milwaukee, a station owned by Clear Channel is asking listeners, via the Internet, to “help them build a new radio station.” Gee, where have we heard that before? Stations still seem to be unable to come up with original ideas.


 • • • • 


Bloomfield Hills High School station WBFH-FM (88.1), known as “The Biff,” wins more awards than any such station that I know of. On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, it’ll be celebrating its 30th anniversary. More details coming soon.


 • • • • 


Crazy Al, the wacky jock who once graced the airwaves at talk/oldies WPON-AM (1460), has picked up another great station for his syndicated program. He’s now on Long Island’s legendary oldies WLNG in Sag Harbor at the far end of the island. According to station owner Paul Sydney, they love him back East. You can hear Crazy Al at www.industrialinfo.com.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: The music of bandleader Oswald George Nelson, whom you may remember from “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriett,” is profiled 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 • • • • 


Tomorrow is a most solemn five-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack on America. I invite any readers with a computer to visit www.vuolovideo.com and hear a 13-minute mini-documentary that I was proud to produce for a talk radio seminar in February 2002. It showcases what radio did in New York and D.C. on that awful day. It’s very strong, but it must be heard. It’s also downloadable for radio stations who may want to air it, and there is no charge to anyone.


 • • • • 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, September 17, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

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.


 • • • • 


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.


 • • • • 


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.


 • • • • 


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.”


 • • • • 


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.


 • • • • 


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).


 • • • • 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, September 24, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

Your traveling radio reporter has just returned from yet another radio convention, the last one of the year and the biggest by far. This was a combination of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and major radio trade publication Radio and Records (R&R).

As many of you know by now, the radio industry has been going through several years of extensive consolidation, where a single company such as Clear Channel, CBS or Greater Media owns a number of different radio stations. So, now, this phenomenon has spread to these confabs in an attempt to lure more broadcasters to a combination affair during these times of intense budget cuts.

This convention began with Southfield-based Jacobs Media putting on a mini-seminar initiated by David Rehr, newly appointed president and CEO of the NAB. The topics most seriously discussed were HD (high-definition) radio, the iPod competition and how to reach the under-25 listener.

Another interesting point raised by Rehr was his hope for a level playing field regarding terrestrial radio versus satellite radio. All radio needs to play by the same rules, he explained, as a number of people are getting satellite radio at no charge via either the Internet or satellite TV services including Dish Network and DirecTV.

He pointed out that Sirius CFO David Frear defends the practice of counting cars on dealer lots as subscribers and tells the Merrill Lynch confab in Pasadena that “it’s not a very big number” and it’s “dropping as a percentage of subscribers” over the past year from 10 percent to about 8 percent. In this case, it was 500,000-plus unsold cars that were counted as subscribers.


Local radio guru Fred Jacobs began the program with a sobering commentary — “Why my 14-year-old thinks radio sucks.” That got the attention of the crowd, which realized that reaching the 12- to 25-year-old market remains a challenge. He also reminded the radio folks on hand about a quote from local ad maven Mark Kaline, who said we need to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Talk radio and the future of the liberal network Air America were hot topics, too. Left-leaning talk host Al Franken recently told TV talk host Conan O’Brien that “we’re going to be fine.” That was after telling his own listeners, “If we do go into bankruptcy, I’ve flown on United (Airlines). They went into bankruptcy,” meaning that the show will go on. He told the New York Sun he discovered the cash-flow problems when his own paycheck stopped last week (“No cash has been flowing to me”).

The NAB/R&R Convention also was buzzing about the highly rumored return of Howard Stern to “regular radio” in addition to his Sirius gig. They had hoped Stern would bring at least 70 percent of his FM audience with him to Sirius; instead, it was a meager, disappointing 30 percent.

With the success of Opie & Anthony doing both XM and standard FM radio, the thinking is that the same can happen for Stern. Stay tuned.


A number of Detroit stations and personalities were up for awards at the big Dallas convention, and as of press time, rock WRIF-FM (101.1) did pretty well. The station won an award for best rock station in a major city, while morning yucksters Drew & Mike, program director Doug Podell and music director Mark Pennington all emerged winners. Mike Austerman will have more next week.


 • • • • 


On the home front, it came as a stunner that a new general manager is being assigned to both sports WXYT-AM (1270) and hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1), as longtime market manager Rich Homberg will handle duties exclusively for all-news WWJ-AM (950).

And the news we broke here a couple of weeks ago, although no station personnel would confirm it, has solidified. Opie & Anthony have segued over to Free FM 97.1 as “Rover’s Morning Glory” exits, and Mike & Mike from ESPN Radio take over mornings at ’XYT.

And the beat goes on.


 • • • • 


A week ago yesterday, it was exciting for me to be in attendance at the Michigan-Notre Dame game in South Bend. It was a great victory for the Wolverines among thousands of ND fans, but radio listeners seemed rather disenchanted with Don Criqui, the new Westwood One Network announcer for Notre Dame, who replaced the venerable Tony Roberts. Avid fans noted the new voice of the Fighting Irish made numerous mistakes during the football broadcast.

This is why U-M tried so hard to keep the radio team of Frank Beckmann and Jim Brandstatter together. When the chemistry is right between broadcasters, it’s magical — and you don’t want to mess with the magic.


 • • • • 


Get-well wishes go out to local WJR sales manager Bob Schick, who’s recuperating at St. John’s Hospital after being attacked by thugs on Detroit’s East Side.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: Tom Wilson will feature the music of Vaughn Monroe on “Somewhere in Time” at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 • • • • 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, October 1, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

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.


 • • • • 


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.


 • • • • 


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.


 • • • • 


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.


 • • • • 


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.


 • • • • 


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.


 • • • • 


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.”


 • • • • 


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.


 • • • • 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, October 8, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

Some weeks back, I reported on the combo confabs of two major radio conventions running simultaneously in Dallas. It was a double effort of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and trade giant Radio and Records (R&R). It was hoped that there would be intermingling between the two conventions, but they were seemingly more segregated than the South in the 1950s. The suits were at the NAB, while the casuals were at the R&R.

Don’t misread my comment. There was simply less interaction than organizers had hoped for. It was a noble effort though, and each gathering had stellar lineups of panels and activities where attendees learned much about the future of the business.

I felt that satellite radio was overly portrayed as radio’s worst enemy. It’s not. At television conventions, cable stations such as HBO, Bravo, the History Channel and CMT are not positioned as enemies. It’s all just TV. Why can’t AM, FM, HD, XM and Sirius all be accepted as radio?

A great deal of awards were handed out at both confabs. At the R&R, the big winner, as outlined previously, was rock WRIF-FM (101.1), but former Detroiter Rob Striker won for Manager of the Year in markets 101-plus, as he now runs the Citadel Group in Lansing. Our own Dick Purtan at classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3) also won as the oldies personality of the year.

The Marconi Awards, radio’s version of the Oscars that’s put on by the NAB, had no Detroit-area winners. The only Michigan nominee was pop WLHT-FM in Grand Rapids.

Bob & Tom, heard statewide except in Detroit, won their fifth Marconi and two more R&R awards. They’re good.


 • • • • 


It’s been a while since I’ve recommended a book for fans of the wireless, but Don Tanner’s newly released “No Static at All” (iUniverse, $15.95) is a winner. I found it difficult to put down. Tanner, who did time as a radio DJ and a reporter for news WWJ-AM (950), has written a quick read of fewer than 200 pages that takes the reader down a scenic road of radio and pop music in the past 35 years. It’s laced with the names of many stations you will recognize and the radio personalities who made them a part of our lives.

I was surprised to see positive musings about Ann Arbor-native John Records Landecker in Chicago and even a nice plug for “the little radio station that could,” classic hits WHMI-FM (93.5) from Howell. Livingston County’s only station is owned by award winning Detroit native Greg Jablonski and wife Marcia. It’s a true “mom and pop” station that superserves it’s audience. Landecker is a Chicago radio legend who inspired a plethora of young people to enter the broadcasting industry.

Pick up a copy at Amazon.com or order direct at www.iuniverse.com. If you have even a slight passion for radio, this is the book for you.


 • • • • 


Nostalgia CKWW-AM (580) will welcome a new host to “When Radio Was” as the venerable Stan Freberg retires from the program. He will be succeeded by radio historian Chuck Schaden. The show airs 11 p.m. weekdays and is worth a listen, even though the 580 signal is a tough pull in western sections of Oakland County.


 • • • • 


A little more than a year ago, the last Detroit Radio Reunion was held at the Sheraton in Novi. (DVDs are still available from that event through www.vuolovideo.com.) Well, on Oct. 27, that same venue will be the place to celebrate Halloween 2006, thanks to pop WMGC-FM (105.1). Mark your calendars now and learn more at www.magic1051.com.


 • • • • 


Are you a part of a local band? Would you like to open for the Barenaked Ladies on Oct. 27 at The Palace? It’ll happen for one lucky local band, thanks to pop-contemporary WDVD-FM (96.3). The “play-off” will be Oct. 21 at Memphis Smoke in Royal Oak. Details and official rules are at www.963wdvd.com.


 • • • • 


Do you remember the tunes of the Prohibition era, played at establishments known as speakeasies? Well, Tom Wilson will feature the music of Fred E. Finn and his banjo-playing wife, Mickie, on the “Somewhere in Time” program at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 • • • • 


On Saturday, Michigan fans got to once again hear the Wolverines over powerful news-talk WJR-AM (760), as it was the annual “backyard brawl” between U-M and MSU. The only problem for U-M supporters was George Blaha’s blatant bias toward the Spartans. What time did that game end? Most fans had fun finding their cars in the dark. Thank goodness for the mild weather.


 • • • • 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, October 15, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

More ch-ch-ch-changes from across the river. Now Windsor’s CKWW-AM (580) has shifted more toward an oldies format that features top hits from the 1950s through ’70s, with less focus on the soft rock tunes it’s been playing since May 2005, when the station shifted away from adult standards.

The “Great Fun, Great Oldies” sound now leans heavily on tunes from artists such as Elvis, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Buddy Holly, the Platters, and Ricky Nelson, along with rare oldies and plenty of hometown artists from the Motown era.

The music adjustment provides a new outlet for much of the music from the late ’50s and early ’60s that’s rarely heard on the airwaves of classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3) since ’OMC’s playlist recently went forward in time.

CKWW’s biggest challenge in metro Detroit is getting listeners to use their AM radios for music, especially considering that there’s more interference than ever on the AM band. The station hopes to get an Internet stream up and running soon to alleviate some of those concerns; check the station’s Web site at www.am580radio.com for details.

By the way, CKWW sister station, CIDR-FM (93.9), last month also changed its format. It’s moved from pop to adult alternative to take advantage of public WDET-FM’s (101.9) shift away from weekday music programming late last year.


 • • • • 


Don’t forget that from 4-9 p.m. Friday, XM satellite radio’s “60s on 6” channel will feature a tribute to the Top 40 sound of the Big 8, CKLW-AM (800).

Host Terry “Motormouth” Young’s “Sonic Sound Salutes” feature station jingles, air personalities and local happenings from the ’60s, and it’ll be something for fans of the Big 8 to not miss.

What? You’re not an XM subscriber? Then visit the XM Web site at www.xmradio.com and sign up for a risk-free, three-day trial. You’ll have to listen in via your computer, but it’ll be well worth it!


 • • • • 


XM subscribers who are Tigers fans and live outside of the normal reception range of sports WXYT-AM (1270) — and even outside of Michigan — have enjoyed the call of every game of the ALCS from Dan Dickerson and Jim Price. The satcaster provides the broadcasts from both teams for every game during the championship series’ and will do so during the World Series, too.

I really hope that regular stations across Michigan move the ballgames to more powerful FM stations in order to increase the ability for baseball fans to tune in if they have to be away from their TVs. Yeah, it’s that important!


 • • • • 


Satellite radio continues to gain subscribers, albeit at a slower rate than many investors are comfortable with. XM saw an increase of 285,000 subscribers in the third quarter, pushing its total to just above 7.1 million. Sirius continues to grow faster than XM and now claims more than 5.1 million subscribers with a third-quarter gain of 441,000.

Both companies are banking on big gains during the upcoming Christmas shopping period. XM has stated a year-end goal of between 7.7 million and 8.2 million, while Sirius is hoping for 6.3 million. But XM just might get a boost from Acura, which announced this week that all of its used cars will now come with three free months of XM service.


 • • • • 


Quick hits: The ratings service Arbitron has moved the Detroit market down from the ninth largest market to the 10th, behind Atlanta. While that’s not a big deal, falling out of the top 10, which appears inevitable, takes away a lot of the luster of being a “Top 10” market ... Talk WKRK-FM (97.1) has re-upped with “Motor City Middays” co-host Michelle McKormick. Now teamed with Jay Towers, McKormick signed on at WKRK in 2003, when she joined Gregg Henson to launch the popular midday talkfest ... Nice to see WOMC go all out for last weekend’s Michigan/Michigan State football game. Along with a snazzy new tent, the entire Purtan’s People gang was on hand to tailgate on the air, drawing a big crowd and lots of laughter ... Interesting that WXYZ-Channel 7 anchor Frank Turner has walked away from the station completely, as he followed his heart into the realm of Christian preaching and teaching. He’d probably still be on TV if WXYZ had allowed him to moonlight as a midday radio host on religious WEXL-AM (1340), something that the TV station likely feared would harm his credibility as an anchorman. But how much harm could it have caused to allow Turner to preach on a radio station most people don’t even know about? Well, they do now.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: At 6 p.m. today, “Somewhere in Time” hosts Tom Wilson and Heather Novak will feature the pipe organ music of Dan Ballomy on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 • • • • 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, October 22, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

Yes it’s a radio column, but how ’bout them Tigers? And have you noticed that whenever they show truly exciting moments in sports on TV, they use radio audio? All the clips of when the Tigers won the American League title a week ago featured Dan Dickerson’s call from sports WXYT-AM (1270). nd when longtime director Bob Lipson runs an amazing moment of Wolverine football on “Michigan Replay,” you certainly don’t hear Brent Musberger on ABC — it’s Frank Beckmann from Host Communications. And it’s just better.


 • • • • 


Thursday marks 25 years since the death of Bob Ufer, the most passionate man to ever broadcast a U of M football game. He died of cancer 10 days after the Iowa game in 1981, but his memory lives on through countless albums, CDs and videos, which benefit the Ufer Scholarship Fund. Learn more at www.ufer.org. Entire games, with Ufer calling the action, can be obtained at www.vuolovideo.com.

That also means that Beckmann has been broadcasting Michigan games for more than a quarter-century — originally over news-talk WJR-AM (760) and now on classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3), talk CKLW-AM (800) and Ann Arbor’s sports WTKA-AM (1050). Kudos to Frank who, along with Jim Brandstatter and Doug Karsch, does a great job of conveying the thrills and excitement of the Wolverines during one of their best seasons ever.


 • • • • 


“Dr. Phil” McGraw, Oprah Winfrey’s No. 1 advice-giver, is getting his own radio show, but whether any station in the Detroit area picks it up is currently unknown. McGraw’s son, author/producer, Jay McGraw, also is heavily involved in the new radio venture, and it also was recently announced that sports/talk host Bob Costas is going to try the radio route, too.

Personally, it bothers me that people who are already pulling down large bucks on TV want to do radio, too, especially when so many very talented radio people are currently out of work.


 • • • • 


Readers continue to ask the whereabouts of the two best-loved home improvement radio hosts in Detroit — Glenn Haege, who just celebrated 10 years in syndication, and Murray Gula. Well, last weekend, both were seen at the Home Show in Novi, but neither are on a local station. Adam Helfman is now on WXYT, and Gary Sullivan, syndicated out of Cincinnati, is on sports WDFN-AM (1130), but the “big guys” are still missing in action on the radio.

Still, you can look for Gula on WXYZ-Channel 7 and on the station’s Web site, www.wxyz.com.


 • • • • 


Teen listening is down. Wow, what a shocker that news is. New Jersey-based Edison Media Research reports that radio listening among teenagers has dropped off considerably because of intense competition from iPods, Web surfing, cell phones, video games, movies, television and the chime of instant messages. The report also states “radio’s unwillingness to target listeners in the 12- to 24-year-old demographic. Most stations target the 25- to 54-year-olds, known in the industry as the ‘money demo.’” Listening dropped almost 21 percent for 18- to 24-year-olds in the last 10 years, but it’s much less for the under-18 crowd.


 • • • • 


The Country Radio Broadcasters (CRB) presented its annual Scholarship to Central Michigan University’s School of Broadcast and Cinematic Arts on Oct. 14. The $25,000 scholarship has been named after CRB VIP and CMU alumni Tim Roberts. Kudos to Tim, who is PD of country WYCD-FM (99.5).


 • • • • 


Recent ratings held no major surprises other than urban-pop WMXD-FM (92.3) still on top with even higher numbers, a major jump also for hits WKQI-FM (95.5) and a rebound of news-talk WJR, could it be due to MSU football?


 • • • • 


WOMC-FM (104.3) kicks off a scavenger hunt this week that will run for four weeks. Each day, Dick Purtan will announce in the 7 a.m. hour an item that listeners will have to acquire, with 20 total items in all. All contestants will be asked to join WOMC on Nov. 17 and must bring all their collected items to a location to be announced. Dana Masucci and Ridin’ Home with Ryan (Tom Ryan) will broadcast live from that site that day — Dana from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and Tom from 3-7 p.m. What does the winner get? A cool $25,000 and a two-year lease on a 2007 Cadillac CTS.


 • • • • 


Speaking of WOMC, a familiar voice but perhaps not a familiar name has been temporarily silenced as production manager J.R. Nelson endures chemotherapy for cancer of the lymph nodes. Nelson also worked locally at WYCD and helped launch the legendary Z-100 in New York City more than 23 years ago. He’s one of the good guys in the business and he’d love to hear from you. You can e-mail him at jamesmarik@yahoo.com or send good wishes to: J.R. Nelson, 3128 Walton Blvd., PMB #239, Rochester Hills 48309. Get well soon, J.R.


 • • • • 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, October 29, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

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.


 • • • • 


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.


 • • • • 


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.


 • • • • 


“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?


 • • • • 


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.”


 • • • • 


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.


 • • • • 


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.


 • • • • 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, November 5, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

Are you as anxious as I am to get past Election Day? If I hear or see one more mud-slinging, name-calling and reputation-bashing spot on the air anywhere, I feel as though I’m going to lose my mind.

Regardless of your political lean, you must admit that all of this very negative advertising is seemingly appreciated by no one except the sales departments of local stations. They always embrace anything that increases the bottom line. When cigarette advertising was banned from radio and television, it was thought that the economic impact would devastate the broadcasting industry. It didn’t.

Remember when your parents told you, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything all”? If that mantra was only followed, there would be no political ads at all.

Pardon me while I step down from my soapbox. Only two more days to go, folks.


 • • • • 


This past Friday, I returned from a video shoot at the U.S. Marine Boot Camp facility at Parris Island, S.C. The nationally syndicated “Joey Reynolds Talk and Variety Show” invited me to document the event for WOR radio in New York City. Because this column was written before my close encounter with the “sir, yes sir” demographic, which I’m certain did not resemble anything ever seen on “Gomer Pyle,” any radio stories will have to wait for a future edition of “On the Radio.”


 • • • • 


Ever since Rich Homberg was given the reigns of allnews WWJ-AM (950) exclusively, CBS Radio has been searching for a new manager for sports WXYT-AM (1270) and hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1), which is now best known as Free FM. In a smart economic move, they awarded the job to Kevin Murphy, who’s the manager of classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3). Still somewhat new to Detroit after a tour of upstate western New York, Murphy will learn Motown quickly, as each of his three stations are in three separate locations throughout Oakland County. Yikes! Murphy is a sharp businessman and will do a fine job, but you can send him your secret locations for cheap gas.


 • • • • 


My column two weeks ago drew numerous e-mails from readers reminding me that former WJR-AM home improvement host Murray Gula is still on Bob Allison’s “Ask Your Neighbor” show on multilingual WNZK-AM (690) at 10:30 a.m. Fridays. My oversight.

Gula also is now doing a call-in radio show on the Internet via www.wxyz.com for Channel 7. It premiered this past Thursday at noon. Check the Web site for upcoming interactive call-in shows online. Gula hopes to return to local over-the-air radio soon.


 • • • • 


Speaking of handyman help, the nationally syndicated Glenn Haege will be back on the radio starting next weekend at noon-2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays on news-talk WJR-AM (760) — that is, unless there is a conflict with MSU sports. It was rumored that Haege was headed for the golden tower of the Fisher Building, and in radio, rumors often come true.


 • • • • 


Listeners to the “Doc of Rock” Doug Podell on rock WRIF-FM (101.1) can tune in to the unique poet lariat “Mr. Positive” at noon Fridays. Trust me, this guy’s for real and he’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard. His previously stint was on all-hits WKQI-FM (95.5) with night jock Tic-Tac.


 • • • • 


At talk WDTW-AM (1310) there could be some programming changes in the offing, since its primary source of programming, the Air-America Network, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Considering that the country seems to be politically split fairly even between the right and the left, it’s amazing how right-leaning conservative talk radio tends to be, while TV is said to be run by a heavily liberal crowd. Go figure.


 • • • • 


Country music fans, mark your calendar now for the huge Christmas concert at The Palace staring Big & Rich and Livonia’s own Josh Gracin. It’s presented by country WYCD-FM (99.5) and scheduled for Dec. 16. More details can be found at www.wycd.com.


 • • • • 


Longtime Detroit personality Joe Wade Formicola has left WRAL down in Raleigh, N.C., where he had been program director for the past seven years. His immediate plans are unknown, but this comes as a surprise. He had a major following at both country stations WYCD and the old W4 at 106.7, and he would have been ideal for the recent open morning show spot at The Fox WDTW-FM (106.7) — if Rick Miller hadn’t been hired first.


 • • • • 


Fans of the 1960s radio farce known as “Chickenman” can hear the adventures of the most dangerous crime fighter the world has ever known on XM satellite radio’s “60s on 6” channel. It’s the original series — not remastered for radio.


 • • • • 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, November 12, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

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.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, November 19, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

For many years, the majority of commercial broadcasters have expressed doubts that the two satellite radio companies would ever reach the cashflow break-even point, but XM is poised to perhaps prove them wrong. Reaching break-even on operations is still a long way from showing a bottom-line profit, but it is an important milestone for a new company. Both XM and Sirius, however, now face the problem that subscriber additions may be reaching a plateau phase many years earlier than projected.

This upcoming holiday sales season will be key. Howard Stern is old news, so Sirius has to come up with a new pitch to get people to buy its service. XM has to find a way to reclaim new receiver sales and market share from Sirius. To put things in perspective, satellite radio will have achieved 4 1/2 percent penetration of the U.S. population. And this is the new competitor that is supposed to wipe out AM and FM radio? Terrestrial radio broadcasters have nothing to worry about in the immediate future.

As I’ve stated in the past, I use both XM and Sirius to fulfill programming needs not available on free over-the-air radio. I enjoy pre-Beatles oldies, beautiful music, standards and classic country, and those are clearly not available on any local AM and FM stations. HD Radio needs to start providing more of these formats that cater to older audiences who are neglected, even though most of them have the money for the new HD radios and still listen to the medium.


 • • • • 


Last week my colleague, Mike Austerman, related the sad news about WNIC-FM (100.3) letting the station’s longtime early-afternoon host Gene Maxwell go. My feeling is that local management likely did everything in their power to prevent reductions of additional personnel scheduled to be cut in a nationwide effort by megapower Clear Channel Radio, which owns more than a half-dozen stations in our area. In fact the Detroit market was largely spared extensive layoffs when compared to other Clear Channel cities.

This past week, Clear Channel accepted a bid for the company at just over 26 billion dollars and the company is selling off nearly 500 stations in smaller markets several here in Michigan, but not in Detroit.

Maxwell couldn’t opt for less money and/or a longer shift because he is exclusively an on-air talent, and most of the big radio companies insist that employees multitask; for example, Theresa Lucas, the other WNIC mid-day host, doubles as assistant program director and music director at WNIC. My only hope is that Gene received a financial severance that will get him through the holidays. We all know that it’s a bad time to be unemployed.


 • • • • 


If you’re already looking for stocking stuffers for the upcoming Christmas holiday, drop by your nearest Borders and pick up the new Mojo in the Morning “Phone Scams Volume 9” CD. It’s only $11.95 and it’s guaranteed to provide lots of laughs. Mojo and his Channel 955 crew — Spike, Sara, Kyra and Chad — truly offer one of the best morning shows on local radio. Check it out on hits WKQI-FM (95.5).


 • • • • 


Popular smooth jazz WVMV-FM (98.7) will be well represented in the coming weeks via morning host Alexander Zonjic, who will present several upcoming concerts on both sides of the boarder. One U.S. concert is Dec. 9 at Dearborn’s Community and Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $25 and $100; latter price includes preferred seating and an afterglow. Learn more at (313) 943-2354 or visit www.dearbornfordcenter.com.


 • • • • 


Specs Howard grad Glenda Lewis and her TV legend mom, Diana Lewis, were recognized this past week as the only mother/daughter news anchors in the United States. The testimonial resolution was presented to them by Martha Reeves and the Detroit City Council. They also are being recognized by the Museum of TV & Radio in New York City.

The duo first co-anchored Channel 7 “Action News” on Mother’s Day 2004. I spoke with Diana, who made an appearance in the first “Rocky” movie in 1976, and she is rightfully proud of Glenda, who says she will keep the historic team of “Lewis and (Stephen) Clark” around for years to come.


 • • • • 


West Coast Theatre organist John Seng, besides playing concerts around the world, had an unusual avocation. He wrote many radio jingles we’ve all heard. McDonald’s, United Air and Greyhound were some of his customers. John died in 2002, but some of those long lost tapes will be featured at 6 p.m. Sunday on “Somewhere in Time” on WMUZ-FM (103.5). Additionally there will be music from “The Nutcracker Suite,” just in time for the holiday season.


 • • • • 


And if you watched the game — UM vs. OSU — yesterday, I hope it was, as we suggested, with radio audio, as the TV commentators sounded like Homers for the Buckeyes. Check the sports section for all the details.


 • • • • 


Oh, and happy Thanksgiving to all.


 • • • • 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, November 26, 2006

By: Mike Austerman

On The Radio

The ties between broadcasting and sports have always been incredibly strong. Clear examples of this relationship were on display this past week through area radio and television.


When legendary University of Michigan former head football coach Bo Schembechler died Nov. 17, the news was deemed important enough to interrupt regular programming on our two sports radio stations, WXYT-AM (1270) and WDFN-AM (1130), along with news-talk WJR-AM (760) and all-news WWJ-AM (950). All four devoted considerable time and resources to covering the story, as did their TV cousins.


WXYZ-Channel 7 carried coverage of the story for several hours Friday, pre-empting regular programming and even skipping some of its regular commercial breaks. Channel 7’s work was especially courageous, considering it was in its Southfield studios where Coach Schembechler collapsed as he prepared to tape his weekly college football show. Sports reporter Don Shane appeared to be especially affected by the events and showed a ton of courage in his appearances on 7’s newscasts that evening. Anchor Dave LewAllen was rock solid as the station’s primary anchor throughout much of 7’s coverage.


WDIV-Channel 4 also provided extensive reporting and skipped some of the afternoon soaps to report a story that seemed to eclipse coverage of this past February’s Super Bowl.


Both WDFN and WXYT showed remarkable restraint in their reporting that Friday morning and afternoon. When news got out that Schembechler had collapsed and was taken to the hospital in very serious condition, neither station speculated on his condition — despite many dire reports coming from people at the hospital. And once the news of Bo’s death was made official, I was incredibly impressed by the responsibility of the discussions at both of the normally lighthearted sports stations.


Then this past Tuesday, the day of Schembechler’s memorial service at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, WJR, WWJ, WDFN and WXYT once again set aside their regular shows to cover the three-hour event without commercial breaks. WJR had Michigan play-by-play host Frank Beckmann behind the mike at the Big House to bring listeners coverage of a heartfelt ceremony featuring Jim Brandstatter, CBS-TV’s Dan Dierdorf and Bo’s son, Shemy, among others. Channels 4 and 7, along with Fox Sports Net Detroit and ESPNews, also covered the service live.


It was heartening to hear WJR step up Tuesday afternoon, as it was on its station that Schembechler co-hosted the “Brandy and Bo Show” for a number of years with Brandstatter when ’JR was the flagship for Michigan football. It was great to hear the classy description of the events by Beckmann — and especially fitting.


Bo Schembechler’s influence reaches far beyond the football field. The passion he brought to his job inspired not only his players and coaches, but even worked to trickle down to kids attending elementary school in the 1970s at the height of the “10-Year War” between Bo and Ohio State Coach Woody Hayes.


I was a student at Wilde Elementary in Warren, where a teacher named Mr. Szykula, a huge Ohio State fan, worked. He was very proud of his mustache — and he lost it in a bet with the students when a Rick Leach-led Wolverines squad defeated the Buckeyes to win the Big 10 and advance to the Rose Bowl. I can remember this as if it were yesterday, even though I was only about 10 years old then. Already a fan of Michigan football, thanks in no small part to hearing Bob Ufer on the radio, living that kind of excitement in elementary school certainly helped cement my passion for Michigan football.


While short in duration, my two brushes with Bo were both memorable. The first time was when I was introduced by fellow columnist Art Vuolo, and I found him to be incredibly easy to talk to. I left that quick conversation with a huge smile and a better understanding of just how special this man truly was.


The second time was on the concourse of Michigan Stadium before a game. He was headed to the press box as a passenger on a golf cart, and there just wasn’t much room to maneuver. Amazingly, word traveled through the crowd that Coach Schembechler was on that cart, and it was as if the path had opened by magic. He truly seemed to be basking in the shouts of encouragement from the crowd. I’ll remember forever the smile on his face as he interacted with his fans on that autumn day.


I find it appropriate that Bo’s passing happened during this week of Thanksgiving. The outpouring of thanks for his life from family and friends was thoroughly covered by the media. It offered us folks on the sidelines at least a glance into the life of one of the most influential men the state of Michigan has ever known. May he rest in peace and those closest to him find comfort in his life’s work.


 • • • • 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, December 3, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

Oldies CKWW-AM (580) just started streaming its audio signal via the Internet at www.am580radio.com, where it will reach listeners from the Motor City and beyond. According to program director Charlie O’Brien, “Live Web streaming is the number one most requested online feature. Now people will be able to listen to us in those hard-to-reach places.”

Frankly, my scan feature won’t even stop on 580 in the Novi area, and some of the best stations have the worst signals.

“Motor City Favorites” CKWW also has launched the “AM 580 Online Store,” where listeners can purchase great oldies music and a variety of classic DVDs. And entering contests and joining the AM 580 Loyal Listener Club can be done in one easy step via the site.

Also, throughout the month of December, AM 580 will air holiday-themed episodes of classic radio shows on “When Radio Was,” weeknights at 11 p.m. with host Chuck Schaden. The complete December schedule is available — you guessed it — on the station’s Web site.


 • • • • 


Last Wednesday the who’s who of the local radio community showed up to pay tribute to the often quoted Dick Kernen at the Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts in Southfield. He just celebrated 50 years in the business and has been responsible for launching the careers of countless of people in the radio industry.

One of the highlights was a video featuring lots of major local radio stars, many of who were wildly entertaining, in addition to the presentation to Kernen of a custom made bobblehead of himself. And in the spirit of Oprah, everyone in the audience received one.


 • • • • 


Hats off to news-talk WJR-AM (760) management for the classy move of its extensive coverage of Bo Schembechler’s memorial service, considering that the station dropped U-M sports in favor of MSU this past year. And Mike Austerman’s full column review in last Sunday’s “On the Radio” of all of the activities surrounding Bo’s passing was superb.


 • • • • 


Pop WMGC-FM (105.1) morning host Jim Harper and his Magic Morning Show began the 28th season of making magic with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and their Toys For Tots Campaign. Harper and company broadcast live each morning this past week at various area mall locations. The station set a goal of raising $25,000 by week’s end. Those who were unable to make it to one of the malls last week can still drop off donated toys at Art Van, Chicken Shack, Farmer Jack and several other locations, all of which are listed at www.detroitmagic.com.

Now, if you’re thinking that Magic hasn’t been around for 28 years, you’re right. Even the previous Magic (WMJC) which was at 94.7 FM didn’t add up to nearly three decades, but Jim Harper has been here that long at previous stations, the longest run being at WNIC-FM (100.3). He and most of his co-hosts were lured up the dial back in the mid-summer of 2001, but they’ve never stopped helping the kids at Christmas.


 • • • • 


Notably, Peter Smyth, president and CEO of Greater Media, which owns WMGC, was just named Radio Executive of the Year by trade publication Radio Ink. In this era of huge broadcast conglomerates, Greater Media is practically a “mom and pop” operation.


 • • • • 


Blaine, Lisa and Allyson made a strange discovery during their morning show on contemporary WDVD-FM (96.3). Listeners noted that some malls are opting to have a chair next to Santa opposed to kids sitting on Santa’s lap to avoid any issues or lawsuits from parents who think there was any inappropriateness.

Is this crazy talk or what? Sitting on Santa’s lap is part of the whole going-to-see Santa experience.

Anyway, they asked their listeners what they thought of this new policy happening at some malls, and the overwhelming feeling from them was that it was lame. Ring-master Blaine Fowler, himself, the father of a couple of kids, gets my kudos for exposing this insanity. Don’t rob the kids of precious experiences.


 • • • • 


Bad news at sports WXYT-AM (1270). The station handed pink slips to a couple of names you may know — Don Swindell and Tom Mazeway — and just in time for Christmas, too.


 • • • • 


And good news: Dick Purtan’s “Purtan’s People” calendars, featuring the morning gang from WOMC-FM (104.3), are available for just $12 at participating Kroger stores benefiting Detroit Children’s Hospital. Get yours before they sell out.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: Enjoy a Glenn Miller Christmas at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5) with Tom Wilson’s “Somewhere in Time.”


 • • • • 


This coming Saturday, join Paul W. Smith and Santa as they host the 41st annual WJR Christmas Sing at the Somerset Collection North in Troy from 11 a.m.-noon. Bring your family for a morning of caroling and fun!


 • • • • 


If you’re doing some holiday shopping this week, consider the gift of a new radio. It can be an AM, FM, HD, XM or Sirius, but make it a radio for someone you love.


 • • • • 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, December 10, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

Is your shopping done yet? Unfortunately for satellite radio companies XM and Sirius, it looks as if getting a new satellite radio for Christmas is way down the list for most people this holiday season. According to a Bridge Ratings survey, satellite radio placed a dismal 45th out of 48 things on electronics wish lists.

Not surprisingly, Apple’s video iPod was on top, along with digital cameras, portable DVD players, plasma TVs, GPS navigation devices, camcorders, DVDs, cell phones and two other Apple music players in the top 10. Bridge Ratings projects that combined, XM and Sirius will sell 700,000 fewer satellite radios this October, November, and December when compared with those same three months a year ago.

Talk about a lump of coal.


Sirius has already this month bumped its expected subscriber count lower, blaming some of the consumer apathy on a dramatic cooling of the Howard Stern effect. That Bridge report also states that last year Stern influenced 52 percent of Sirius subscription decisions on average just before the launch of his uncensored show on Sirius in January as hard-core fans jumped aboard en masse to follow the dynamic jock.

Nearly one year later, the Stern effect is an influencing factor for about 17 percent of Sirius purchases since October. An estimated 1.3 million Stern fans are subscribers through November, or about 13 percent of the audience he had when he signed off terrestrial radio.

As dismal as those numbers might appear, the news over at XM is far worse when looking at the number of subscriptions its highest-profile morning team is generating. According to the Bridge survey, only about 3 percent of XM subscribers join to hear Opie & Anthony, who are now back on free radio in several markets across the country. Even though what you’ll hear from O&A on stations like talk WKRK-FM (97.1) is the censored version of what XM can run, it doesn’t appear that consumers are too worried about what they might be missing from the duo’s XM feed.


While there was some good news from XM this week with General Motors Corp. estimating that it will install 1.8 million XM radios in its 2007 vehicles, just putting the radios in new cars might not be enough to sustain either XM or Sirius as separate companies in the long run. Although I personally still enjoy the product, the rumblings will likely grow louder for some kind of merger if consumer demand continues to trend lower than what it has been in the past.

Maybe we should say, “Hoho-uh-oh ...”


 • • • • 


There’s only 15 days until Christmas, and I’ll betcha most fans of Detroit radio wouldn’t mind seeing the Dick Purtan & Purtan’s People 2007 calendar under the tree. Available now at 70 area Kroger stores, the calendar sells for $12 with proceeds benefiting Children’s Hospital of Michigan as part of classic Top 40 WOMC-FM’s (104.3) annual “Christmas is for Kids” campaign.

Each month features the gang pictured in seasonally appropriate garb and situations (my personal fav is April’s “flowers”). There also are coupons at the bottom of each month’s page.

And calendar owners will find that planning for the 20th anniversary of Dick’s Salvation Army Radiothon to benefit the Bed and Bread Club is made easy with a note on the event’s scheduled date, Feb. 23. Last February, Purtan helped raise $1,808,440, a total that will be tough to top unless plans to contribute are made now. In this season of giving, why not set aside something to help out our community when the call goes out in two months?

I know that Mr. Purtan is very modest about his role in raising all this money every year. Could there be a better way for us to show our appreciation for all he’s done these two decades than to help set a new record for the 20th anniversary radiothon?


 • • • • 


That was just an example of one of my favorite things about radio, which is the medium’s ability to reach out and help those in need. News-talk WJR-AM (760) is continuing a holiday tradition of its own by assisting Volunteers of America Michigan with an on-air “Adopt-A-Family” drive with the goal of adopting 2,500 families throughout Michigan, which will include more than 10,000 children and 200 seniors.

A donation of $140 provides toys and warm clothes for the children and food for the family’s Christmas dinner. Even if you are unable to afford the $140, other donations are still encouraged. To help, call (248) 353-4VOA through Dec. 24.


 • • • • 


Radio listeners in the northeast part of Oakland County can enjoy listening to Christian WMPC-AM (1230) from Lapeer. On Dec. 6, WMPC celebrated its 80th birthday, making it one of the oldest radio stations in the country. WMPC has featured essentially the same format since it hit the air in 1926, and it’s also always been commercial-free, supported by listener donations. Who says radio can’t be a stable business?


 • • • • 


Set your dial: Charlie O’Brien will play “A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector,” one of the top rock Christmas albums of all time, in its entirety starting at 11 a.m. today on oldies CKWW-AM (580). Originally released in 1963, the LP features Christmas classics by the Crystals, the Ronettes, Darlene Love and Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans. It just wouldn’t be the holidays without hearing Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” the Crystals’ “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” or “Sleigh Ride” by the Ronettes ... XM will air “Radio Hanukkah,” featuring Jewish music and culture, from Dec. 15-23 on its Channel 108 ... A special program of holiday music featuring Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians is this week’s focus on “Somewhere in Time,” airing at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 • • • • 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Don't believe flak on satcasters

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Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, December 17, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

If Orson Welles were alive today, he’d be saying, “I told you so.” You remember how he caused panic nationwide with his “War of the Worlds” back in 1939 over the Mercury Theatre on radio. Martians were attacking New Jersey. And the “experts” say it couldn’t happen today. Ha!

Look at all this hype about the public not wanting to pay for radio. People will pay for anything they want. If what they want is available free, great. If not, they’ll pay for it. I do. Mike Austerman does, too. But even my friend and colleague in this column reported last week what trade papers and periodicals are writing nationwide. I refuse to be redundant with my views on this topic, but things are not as bad as they’re made out to be. Still, if satellite radio networks continue to tighten their playlists and imitate terrestrial radio, people will not pay for what they can get for free.

The ’50s channel on Sirius just launched a great new doowop oldies show 9 p.m.-midnight Wednesdays with T.J. Lubinsky. I tried to get through on the toll-free line for hours with no luck. Always a busy signal. So, gee, I guess no one is listening to satellite radio.


 • • • • 


This is the uphill challenge facing HD radio, for which Detroit is arguably the leading city in the country. But how many of you are well-versed on this new technology? One local radio insider said it best: “I’m chagrined at the lack of creativity the industry is showing so far. We’re working to reorient the products and make them more innovative and unique. Otherwise, who’s going to be motivated to buy the radios?”

That quote says it all. Put content on the air that the audience wants. Remember “If you build it, they will come”? Well, if you put on the good stuff, they will listen.


 • • • • 


When I wrote this column a couple of days ago, I was just in one of those moods to bark about a few things. Because next Sunday is Christmas Eve, I’ll try to be kinder and gentler. But watch out for my year-end review and predictions for 2007. It’ll come New Year’s Eve.


 • • • • 


Many stations do nice things at this special time of the year and hits WKQI-FM (95.5) is a champ with the top-rated wake-up show “Mojo in the Morning.” They’re now doing a thing called “Breaking and Entering Christmas Wish,” in which needy families are stunned when co-host Spike pulls up to a home in a Channel 955 station van filled with gifts! It’s highly emotional radio, and it’s great radio. Keep up the good work.


 • • • • 


Country WDTW-FM (106.7) has teamed up with Southland Shopping Center to gather more than 10,000 toys for the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots. The Fox just rapped up a three-day broadcast that surpassed expectations. Any listener who dropped off a toy is eligible for a grand prize of $10,000 in cash. It’s a clever way for the new station to out-Fox its competition.


 • • • • 


Speaking of that 99.5 frequency, back when it was WOW-FM and had just flipped to what was then “Young Country” WYCD, the midday host was Mark Elliott (one of several by that name.) If you venture up north this winter, you’ll hear him at either 92.5 or 94.3 on WFCX-FM — known as The Fox. Well, his “Day of 1000 Toys II” event last Friday collected new unwrapped toys for NW Michigan’s Toys for Tots campaign during a 12-hour broadcast that culminated with the donation of 85 brand-new bikes from a group of former Marines. Plus, when Elliott heard that the local St. Vincent de Paul Store had been burglarized, he rallied listeners and the manager of the local Meijer store to replace the cash and fix the door. Good goin’, Marko!


 • • • • 


Quick hits: Public WDET-FM (101.9) general manager Michael Coleman has tendered his resignation, effective Dec. 31. The station went through some turbulent days under his leadership, and supporters are hoping for improvements in the coming year.

Blaine Fowler on his pop WDVD-FM (96.3) morning show had a “brain-buster” stat that should thrill broadcasters. Apparently 59 percent of American households do not have an iPod, which is unquestionably one of radio’s biggest threats — especially with anyone under the age of 21.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: Check out the holiday music by Larry Douglas Embury at the huge Moeller organ on “Somewhere in Time” at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 • • • • 


Male alert! Men, it’s time for we guys to start our Christmas shopping, and no home can have too many radios.


 • • • • 


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

 

Christmas music coming to abrupt end

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Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, December 24, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

With all of the relatively mild weather we’ve enjoyed this December, Christmas Eve seems to have arrived suddenly. Fans of Christmas music on the radio enjoyed a record number of stations playing the Sounds of the Season this fall — maybe that’s part of the reason why the actual holiday seems a bit anticlimactic, at least to me.

Across the U.S. and Canada there were well more than 400 radio stations that switched to an All-Christmas format by Dec. 15, including at least 18 in Michigan. Locally, soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) started its marathon on Nov. 3 followed by oldies CKWW-AM (580) on Dec. 11. CKWW continues its holiday music presentation through Dec. 26, helping Canadians celebrate Boxing Day.

Christmas music will be easy to find up and down the dial today and early Monday, including on Classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3), which will present Mannheim Steamroller’s 2006 American Christmas starting at 9 a.m. today. That 12-hour program will be followed by 24 hours of uninterrupted Christmas music, ending at 9 p.m. Christmas Day.

With the exception of CKWW, all the radio holiday cheer will come to an abrupt end before you’re ready to head back to the stores early Tuesday morning. You might even forget that Western Christian churches roughly refer to the Christmas season as starting with Advent, four weeks before Christmas, and ending with Epiphany, on Jan. 6. So while you could hear “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” on Nov. 5 on WNIC, it’ll be nowhere to be found on Jan. 5, when it would actually be still appropriate.


 • • • • 


Another holiday tradition, and this one seems to be getting longer in duration every year, is the absence of high-profile morning and afternoon drive programs between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Many of your favorite hosts signed off for the last time in 2006 this past week and you’ll be hearing best-of clips, substitute hosts, and prerecorded shows on just about every station. In an industry that is facing stiff competition from things like MP3 players and satellite radio, is “mailing it in” for two weeks really a good idea?


 • • • • 


As 2006 draws to a close, several stations made significant personnel announcements. WNIC and “Pillow Talk” host Alan Almond agreed to terms on a new contract that will keep the soothing sounds of Almond’s nighttime program on the airwaves for what the station says is many years to come.

Over at Classical/Jazz WRCJ-FM (90.9), Carmen Garcia has been named as the new permanent weekday afternoon host, effective Tuesday. She’s a former air personality at the now defunct Jazz WJZZ-FM (105.9) and has made some recent guest appearances on WRCJ. Garcia takes over for Ann Delisi who left in September.

The highest profile change might be the departure of Art Regner from sports WXYT-AM (1270) where he’d been one of the station’s biggest names since arriving from sports WDFN-AM (1130) in 2001, right about the same time the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings moved from WJR. His sudden departure must have been a disappointment to co-host Doug Karsch as the duo had the type of on-air chemistry that is rare in radio these days.

Reports are that Regner’s exit from the station was purely budgetary — he was one of the highest-paid WXYT hosts and was due for a new contract on Jan. 1.

The new lineup on WXYT, once regular programming resumes in 2007, is Karsch along with Scott Anderson from 10 am to 2 pm, followed by Mike Valenti and Terry Foster from 2 to 6 pm.


 • • • • 


There’s no official word yet on where you’ll be tuning to hear the Detroit Tigers this spring, but no one would be surprised to see them, along with the Red Wings, move off WXYT. It’s possible the teams might go back to WJR-AM or even land on an FM station. Perhaps Regner, who is well-connected to the Red Wings, will latch on with whatever station lands the teams, if it’s not WXYT.


 • • • • 


Reports say the Rose Bowl, which pits U-M against USC on New Year’s Day, will be broadcast by Host Communications, featuring Frank
Beckmann, Jim Brandstatter and Doug Karsch. More on that next Sunday.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: Dusty Rhodes, Cincinnati radio icon and former CKLW-AM (800) morning host for a brief time, hosts a 36-hour Christmas music special on XM Channels 24 and 173 starting at noon today … Host Tom Wilson takes the Somewhere in Time audience on a special Christmas journey to the Ponderosa Ranch at 6 pm on WMUZ-FM (103.5) … Paul Edwards daily Christian talk program gains an hour each weekday starting Jan. 2 on WLQV-AM (1500) when it expands to 4-6 pm.


 • • • • 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

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.

 

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This page is a archive of recent entries in the On The Radio Columns category.

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