On The Radio Columns: May 2006 Archives

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.

 

Loading

 


 

 


 

Home Page | Contact | Station Listings | History | Links

Search | About | Shop | Sitemap | Weather

 

 

Twitter Facebook E-mail Feed

 

About this Archive

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

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

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

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

 

 

 

Archives