On The Radio Columns: August 2006 Archives

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.


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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.

 

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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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?


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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.”


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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).


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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?


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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Set your dial: Tom Wilson has the true jazz stylings of Milton Cross 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.

 

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About this Archive

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

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

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

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