On The Radio Columns: September 2006 Archives

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, September 3, 2006

By: Mike Austerman

On The Radio

As the image of summer fades in the rearview mirror, your favorite radio station is getting ready for fall, a season that many consider to be the most important ratings period of the year. You can bet the promotions departments are in serious planning on how to get your attention in order to claim ratings success, which leads to increased advertiser interest and, hopefully, higher station revenues.

Right now, the Detroit radio market is incredibly competitive in terms of overall listenership. Take, for example, the first summer ratings trend. Country WYCD-FM (99.5), which tied for the highest rated station with urban WJLB-FM (97.9) in the spring, fell to seventh place — no doubt because of the competition with country newcomer WDTW-FM (106.7). Adult urban WMXD-FM was the new No. 1, followed by WJLB, rock WRIF-FM (101.1), news-talk WJR-AM (760), and classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3). WDTW finished at 17th place.

In years past, there was a consistent top-rated station that would hold the crown for long periods. Now, each rating trend seems to feature a new top dog as the ratings differences between stations have become increasingly small. This is probably because the differences between radio formats has grown smaller, too, and it’s hard for many radio consumers to find any real difference between stations that are focused on the same audience.

So those promotions departments have to come up with something to set themselves apart from the pack. For now, there are just questions, among them, when will soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) launch its all-Christmas sound? Will WMGC-FM (105.1) beat them to the punch and push the start of Christmas ahead of Halloween this year? What station will come up with a promotion big enough to generate water cooler buzz? Will there be any big personality or format changes? After a summer of calm, I look forward to an interesting autumn on the radio.


 • • • • 


One of those big personality changes might be on the horizon at adult urban WGPR-FM (107.5). A published report earlier this week claims that John Mason is poised to make a return to morning radio on WGPR, possibly as soon as Sept. 12. He’s trying to buy his own air time on ’GPR and is looking to do the same on other stations across the country from a $600,000 studio he paid for in downtown Detroit.

Although Mason is unquestionably one of the biggest names in local radio, he’ll have stiff competition from Tom Joyner of WDMK-FM (105.9) and Steve Harvey at WMXD. If Mason does land at 107.5, he’d arguably be that station’s biggest “name” personality since the Electrifying Mojo held night court there in the ’80s.


 • • • • 


Things are bubbling at CBS Radio locally, which is the new home of University of Michigan sports. According to VP/GM Rich Homberg, “the single issue we have focused our entire week on is the successful launch of the new U-M/CBS partnership.” Therefore, he had no comment on the hot rumor that current sports WXYT-AM (1270) morning duo Opie and Anthony will be shifting over to hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1). If this is true, it will send Rover’s Morning Glory off Live 97.1 Free FM. The rumor mill further suggests that ESPN’s Mike & Mike, a syndicated program, would fill the vacancy left by O&A at WXYT. Stay tuned.


 • • • • 


Detroit public radio WDET-FM (101.9) brings “Democracy Now” host Amy Goodman to Detroit on Sept. 22 at the Hilberry Theatre. She’ll be visiting to promote her new book, “Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back,” (Hyperion, $23.95), co-written with her brother, David. The 7 p.m. event also is a fundraiser for WDET. For a gift of $150, donors will receive a pair of gold circle seats along with a copy of the Goodmans’ book and can attend a private catered reception with the author. Seating is very limited and can only be purchased through WDET by calling (800) 959-WDET or going online to www.wdetfm.org. General admission seats for the performance only also are available for $12.


 • • • • 


If you’ve been thinking about signing up for satellite radio but have held off waiting for a compelling reason, here it is. XM’s “60’s on 6” channel will feature the sound of CKLW-AM (800) during its heyday as the Big 8 in the late 1960s from 4-7 p.m. Oct. 20. Afternoon drive host Terry “Motormouth” Young features a different legendary Top 40 station each Friday afternoon, complete with jingles and actual recordings of the DJs during the era. WKNR-Keener 13, has been featured several times, but this will be the debut of the legendary ’CK. Personally, I can hardly wait, as it was CKLW that truly turned me on to the magic of radio.


 • • • • 


Speaking of Keener 13, the memorial service for former WKNR owner Nellie Knorr — who died Aug. 10 at age 89 — will be 3 p.m. Saturday at Christ Church Cranbrook, 470 Church Road, Bloomfield Hills.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: Join Somewhere in Time host Tom Wilson as he turns back the pages of time to profile the original American crooner, Rudy Vallee, this evening on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 • • • • 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, September 10, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

Somebody across the river at the CHUM Radio Group must love Coca-Cola. As you may recall, Coke admitted it made a mistake and brought back the original taste of America’s favorite soft drink, renaming it “Classic Coke.” Well, “pop” CIDR-FM (93.9) is back to calling itself “The River.”

CHUM dumped its under-performing Lite-FM music to return to a form of adult album, which some insiders feel may be too similar to the alternative rock format of sister station CIMXFM (88.7) best known as 89X. Since the 93.9 FM signal with 100,000 watts screams into Toledo, it might get confusing for the ratings companies, as soft hits WRVF-FM (101.5) also is called “The River.” Let’s see (and hear) if this latest format adjustment, well, floats.


 • • • • 


After two University of Michigan football games, fans seem to like the clarity of the rich and powerful signal at WOMC-FM (104.3), but some lower-row fans tell me they’re better off with Ann Arbor’s U-M affiliate sports WTKA-AM (1050). Talk CKLW-AM (800) also carries the games. What seems to be the most annoying is the seven second delay so any obscenities can be deleted after the FCC’s imposed stiff new fines. TV also is delayed, so the two mediums are almost in sync.


 • • • • 


Jayne Bower at news WWJ-AM (950) says, “Sonny Eliot will throw out the first pitch at the Sept. 13, 2006, Tigers vs. Texas game to mark his 60 years on WWJ. He claims to have been a pitcher about 50 years ago — remarkable given that he is only 38!”

Well stated, Jayne, and kudos to the man who invented “the funny TV weatherman.” These days, Sonny is delivering his witty forecasts at 4:20 and 5:20 in the afternoon on Newsradio 950.


 • • • • 


Classic rocker WCSX-FM (94.7) is celebrating the release of Bob Seger’s “Face the Promise,” his first new album in the past 11 years. The station is giving away the new CD all weekend long, and at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Seger will join morning host Jim “J.J” Johnson for a live, 90-minute one-on-one. It’s not to be missed.


 • • • • 


Who knows where home improvement guru’s Murray Gula and Glenn Haege are? Haege is expected back to radio soon, and Gula may show up in your neighborhood in the weeks ahead, taping segments for his new role at WXYZ-Channel 7.


 • • • • 


Regular readers — and even a few who use laxatives, harhar — know that along with a great deal of talented local morning radio shows, one of my favorites is Bob & Tom. This duo, who actually met Up North in Harbor Springs, originate their very funny show from down in Indianapolis. At 9 p.m. Saturday, they’ll be seen nationally with a one-hour special on Comedy Central. It’ll be loaded with hysterical comedians and should be lots of laughs. Bob & Tom can be heard in various parts of Oakland County on Toledo’s rock WIOT-FM (104.7), Flint’s rock WWBN-FM (101.5) or Lansing’s rock WJXQ-FM (106.1).


 • • • • 


In Milwaukee, a station owned by Clear Channel is asking listeners, via the Internet, to “help them build a new radio station.” Gee, where have we heard that before? Stations still seem to be unable to come up with original ideas.


 • • • • 


Bloomfield Hills High School station WBFH-FM (88.1), known as “The Biff,” wins more awards than any such station that I know of. On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, it’ll be celebrating its 30th anniversary. More details coming soon.


 • • • • 


Crazy Al, the wacky jock who once graced the airwaves at talk/oldies WPON-AM (1460), has picked up another great station for his syndicated program. He’s now on Long Island’s legendary oldies WLNG in Sag Harbor at the far end of the island. According to station owner Paul Sydney, they love him back East. You can hear Crazy Al at www.industrialinfo.com.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: The music of bandleader Oswald George Nelson, whom you may remember from “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriett,” is profiled 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 • • • • 


Tomorrow is a most solemn five-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack on America. I invite any readers with a computer to visit www.vuolovideo.com and hear a 13-minute mini-documentary that I was proud to produce for a talk radio seminar in February 2002. It showcases what radio did in New York and D.C. on that awful day. It’s very strong, but it must be heard. It’s also downloadable for radio stations who may want to air it, and there is no charge to anyone.


 • • • • 


Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, September 17, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

It’s hard for me to believe, but this column marks the beginning of the sixth year that Art Vuolo and I have been penning this feature. My first piece appeared in The Oakland Press on Sept. 14, 2001, and I vividly remember trying to put down in words what I was experiencing on the radio the evening of Sept. 11, just hours after our country had been attacked and changed forever.

It strikes me that, as we go forward, our radio dial has been moving closer to what it was in the months and years before that horrible day. Classical music has returned, albeit on public WRCJ-FM (90.9) instead of 105.1, where the format resided until 1997. Country music has returned to WDTW-FM (106.7), where it played for many years until 1999. And, just recently, Adult Alternative music returned to CIDR-FM (93.9), even using the same “The River” name that was in place until 2000.

Perhaps radio listeners long for the days before Sept. 11 more than we consciously realize.

One of the most remarkable changes to the radio landscape was the introduction of satellite radio Sept. 25, 2001, when XM started offering service to consumers in Dallas and San Diego. The influence of this still-young service became clear when one of terrestrial radio’s biggest names, Howard Stern, jumped ship to XM’s competitor, Sirius, earlier this year. As a result, satellite subscribers now have access to an incredible variety of music, talk and sports programming — something that just wasn’t thinkable for most prior to 9/11.

So, Art and I thank you for taking the time each Sunday to read our columns and for all the great e-mail and feedback we have received in the past five years. We look forward to reporting on radio’s constant evolution through an increasingly competitive technological jungle.


 • • • • 


If you’re looking for a quick and easy to reference to all of Michigan’s AM and FM radio stations, pick up a free copy of Art Vuolo’s just-released WJR/ Michigan State RADIOGUIDE at Big Boy restaurants across the state. The guides also soon will be available at the Michigan Welcome Center rest areas along Michigan’s highways.

Spartans fans will especially enjoy this year’s new green-and-white color scheme and the listings of stations carrying MSU football and basketball in 2006-07, including new flagship news/talk WJR-AM (760).

This year’s RADIOGUIDE also debuts a new sponsor, Michigan.org, the state’s award-winning travel and tourism Web site.

If you’d like to order a RADIOGUIDE by mail, just send $1 to cover postage and handling to: Michigan State RADIOGUIDE, P.O. Box 880, Novi 48376-0880.


 • • • • 


I wonder why that advertising for sports WXYT-AM (1270) is featured so prominently in the University of Michigan football program when the two Detroit stations that actually carry the games — classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3) and talk CKLW-AM (800) — are absent. I’ve heard from more than one person expecting to find the games on ’XYT, so maybe a bit more promotion of WOMC — other than on their own airwaves and in this column — is in order.


 • • • • 


Jay Butler has joined public WDET-FM (101.9) to host “Jay’s Place,” a mix of blues, R&B, and soul, from 9 p.m.-midnight Saturdays. His first program aired last night. Butler has nearly five decades of broadcast experience including tenures at WJLB-FM (97.9), WCHB-AM (1200) and WQBH-AM (1400). “I’m very excited to be hosting a program on WDET,” Butler said. “I’m looking forward to reconnecting with many longtime listeners and making a lot of new friends, as well. It’s great to be a part of a station like WDET, where the music hosts are allowed the artistic freedom to create their own programs, and Saturday nights are going to be very special. I hope everyone tunes in.”


 • • • • 


John Mason, who had expected to debut as the new morning host on Adult Urban WGPR-FM (107.5) on Sept. 12, might be waiting until the non-compete clause with his former employer WDMK-FM (105.9) expires in January 2007 before hitting the airwaves. There is a chance that a settlement could be reached before January between Mason and WDMK parent company Radio One that would allow an earlier debut of Mason’s new show on WGPR, but these things seldom seem to work out to benefit listeners.

Many other states have passed legislation that nullifies these non-compete clauses, and it’s high time the same thing happens here in Michigan. It’s not right that a broadcaster of Mason’s caliber is kept off the air by lawyers.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: The Ralph Valdez program on WDET explores the 2006 Toronto Film Festival from 10 p.m.-midnight today ... “Somewhere in Time” hosts Tom Wilson and Heather Novak feature the theater organ music of Larry Embury at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 • • • • 


Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, September 24, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

Your traveling radio reporter has just returned from yet another radio convention, the last one of the year and the biggest by far. This was a combination of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and major radio trade publication Radio and Records (R&R).

As many of you know by now, the radio industry has been going through several years of extensive consolidation, where a single company such as Clear Channel, CBS or Greater Media owns a number of different radio stations. So, now, this phenomenon has spread to these confabs in an attempt to lure more broadcasters to a combination affair during these times of intense budget cuts.

This convention began with Southfield-based Jacobs Media putting on a mini-seminar initiated by David Rehr, newly appointed president and CEO of the NAB. The topics most seriously discussed were HD (high-definition) radio, the iPod competition and how to reach the under-25 listener.

Another interesting point raised by Rehr was his hope for a level playing field regarding terrestrial radio versus satellite radio. All radio needs to play by the same rules, he explained, as a number of people are getting satellite radio at no charge via either the Internet or satellite TV services including Dish Network and DirecTV.

He pointed out that Sirius CFO David Frear defends the practice of counting cars on dealer lots as subscribers and tells the Merrill Lynch confab in Pasadena that “it’s not a very big number” and it’s “dropping as a percentage of subscribers” over the past year from 10 percent to about 8 percent. In this case, it was 500,000-plus unsold cars that were counted as subscribers.


Local radio guru Fred Jacobs began the program with a sobering commentary — “Why my 14-year-old thinks radio sucks.” That got the attention of the crowd, which realized that reaching the 12- to 25-year-old market remains a challenge. He also reminded the radio folks on hand about a quote from local ad maven Mark Kaline, who said we need to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Talk radio and the future of the liberal network Air America were hot topics, too. Left-leaning talk host Al Franken recently told TV talk host Conan O’Brien that “we’re going to be fine.” That was after telling his own listeners, “If we do go into bankruptcy, I’ve flown on United (Airlines). They went into bankruptcy,” meaning that the show will go on. He told the New York Sun he discovered the cash-flow problems when his own paycheck stopped last week (“No cash has been flowing to me”).

The NAB/R&R Convention also was buzzing about the highly rumored return of Howard Stern to “regular radio” in addition to his Sirius gig. They had hoped Stern would bring at least 70 percent of his FM audience with him to Sirius; instead, it was a meager, disappointing 30 percent.

With the success of Opie & Anthony doing both XM and standard FM radio, the thinking is that the same can happen for Stern. Stay tuned.


A number of Detroit stations and personalities were up for awards at the big Dallas convention, and as of press time, rock WRIF-FM (101.1) did pretty well. The station won an award for best rock station in a major city, while morning yucksters Drew & Mike, program director Doug Podell and music director Mark Pennington all emerged winners. Mike Austerman will have more next week.


 • • • • 


On the home front, it came as a stunner that a new general manager is being assigned to both sports WXYT-AM (1270) and hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1), as longtime market manager Rich Homberg will handle duties exclusively for all-news WWJ-AM (950).

And the news we broke here a couple of weeks ago, although no station personnel would confirm it, has solidified. Opie & Anthony have segued over to Free FM 97.1 as “Rover’s Morning Glory” exits, and Mike & Mike from ESPN Radio take over mornings at ’XYT.

And the beat goes on.


 • • • • 


A week ago yesterday, it was exciting for me to be in attendance at the Michigan-Notre Dame game in South Bend. It was a great victory for the Wolverines among thousands of ND fans, but radio listeners seemed rather disenchanted with Don Criqui, the new Westwood One Network announcer for Notre Dame, who replaced the venerable Tony Roberts. Avid fans noted the new voice of the Fighting Irish made numerous mistakes during the football broadcast.

This is why U-M tried so hard to keep the radio team of Frank Beckmann and Jim Brandstatter together. When the chemistry is right between broadcasters, it’s magical — and you don’t want to mess with the magic.


 • • • • 


Get-well wishes go out to local WJR sales manager Bob Schick, who’s recuperating at St. John’s Hospital after being attacked by thugs on Detroit’s East Side.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: Tom Wilson will feature the music of Vaughn Monroe on “Somewhere in Time” at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 • • • • 


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 September 2006.

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

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

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