On The Radio Columns: February 2006 Archives

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.


 * * * * 


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.

 

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the On The Radio Columns category from February 2006.

On The Radio Columns: January 2006 is the previous archive.

On The Radio Columns: March 2006 is the next archive.

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