Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, August 6, 2006
By: Mike Austerman
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.
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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.
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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.