Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, May 7, 2006
By: Art Vuolo
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.
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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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.