Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, September 3, 2006
By: Mike Austerman
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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).
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Columnist Mike Austerman has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.