On The Radio Columns: October 2006 Archives

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, October 1, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

With today’s completion of baseball’s regular season, it’s time for the Tigers playoff hype to get going in full force.

No matter where you tune your dial, the upcoming playoffs are the hot topic, making it hard for non-fans to escape. But even if you don’t like baseball, it’s easy to understand the thirst that has developed in the 19 years since the Tigers were a playoff team.


 • • • • 


It sure looks like the lineup changes at sports WXYT-AM (1270) late last month were timed perfectly. While I’m on record as not being a big fan of most nationally syndicated programming, ESPN radio’s “Mike & Mike,” now heard on 6-10 a.m. weekdays on ’XYT, is a great place to take in the national perspective on sports.

The Mikes — Greenberg and Golic — present one of the few straight-ahead sports talk programs heard in our area. They rarely stray from pure sports conversation and regularly feature ESPN personalities/experts, along with numerous other big-name guests.

Having a sports program back in the morning drive on WXYT will pressure WDFN-AM (1130) morning hosts Jamie Samuelsen and Greg Brady to be at the top of their game during whatever run the Tigers make in the playoffs. That’s something that that benefits all us sports radio junkies.


 • • • • 


With the addition of “Mike & Mike,” the times for other shows on WXYT were adjusted. “The Sports Inferno” moved back an hour and now runs 10 a.m.-2 p.m., followed by “The Big Show” from 2-6 p.m. Removed from the daytime schedule was the program hosted by Dan Wetzel and Scott Anderson. Anderson is doing fill-in work and hosting “Tigers Spotlight” evenings before game coverage, while Wetzel is no longer heard in a regular timeslot on WXYT.


 • • • • 


And thanks to the Tigers’ great summer, the overall ratings for WXYT in the second summer-ratings trend easily outpaced those of WDFN. Tigers play-by-play is getting its best numbers ever since moving to WXYT from WJR — and just in time for the Tigers to be shopping for a new radio deal starting with the 2007 season.

It’ll be interesting to see where we’ll be tuning our dials next April. You can bet that WXYT will play, er, hardball to keep the team, but there’ll also be other interested suitors.

By the way, rumors that “Sports Inferno” co-host Mike Valenti is accepting donations of throat lozenges are untrue. On Monday, Valenti led an on-air rant about Michigan State’s loss to Notre Dame that was so hard, he lost his voice and didn’t complete his air shift.

The passion for MSU displayed by Valenti makes for some of most entertaining radio in the market. I hope he survives the upcoming U-M vs. MSU week with his voice fully intact.


 • • • • 


Adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3) continues as the most-listened-to station among all listeners in that latest ratings trend, followed by urban WJLB-FM (97.9), news-talk WJR-AM (760), rock WRIF-FM (101.1) and Top 40 WKQI-FM (95.5).

More country listeners appear to be splitting their loyalty between WYCD-FM (99.5) and WDTW-FM (106.7), causing numbers to fall at WYCD and increase at WDTW.

Finally, the folks at hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1) hope that the addition of Opie & Anthony mornings will help turn around the sinking ratings at that station, which finished in 20th place overall.


 • • • • 


Happy 30th birthday today to Bloomfield Hills’ WBFH-FM (88.1). The station celebrated its Oct. 1, 1976, sign-on with a big shindig at the Pontiac Country Club and by allowing some of its famous alumni to once again grace the airwaves of the 100-watt station.

Major kudos to station manager Pete Bowers, who has held that role for the entire existence of WBFH and also teaches radio broadcasting for the Bloomfield Hills School District. Under Bowers’ watch, WBFH has won numerous state and national awards and helped launch the careers of current area broadcasters Jackie Purtan of WOMC-FM (104.3), Scott Anderson of WXYT and Heather Catallo of WXYZ-Channel 7, among many others.

While easily overlooked, don’t underestimate the influence stations like WBFH have on the broadcasters of tomorrow.


 • • • • 


Public radio WDET-FM (101.9) hired Detroit native Amy Miller as its new local host for 5-10 a.m. weekday broadcasts of NPR’s “Morning Edition.” She arrives from a public radio station in Missouri and, before that, a group of public outlets in Alaska.

“It’s great to be back home in Detroit,” Miller says. “I’m looking forward to serving WDET listeners and bringing the community the important stories of the day. It is an honor to be a part of the WDET newsroom, which has a reputation for excellence in news coverage.”


 • • • • 


Set your dial: “Somewhere in Time,” airing 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5), features Big Band leader and vocalist Skinnay Ennis ... Then at 10 p.m. today, WDET’s Ralph Valdez features an interview with former Detroiter Heidi Ewing, co-director of the new documentary “Jesus Camp,” which is scheduled to open Friday at the Maple Art Theatre. The film looks at the recruitment of born-again Christian children to become part of American politics.


 • • • • 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, October 8, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

Some weeks back, I reported on the combo confabs of two major radio conventions running simultaneously in Dallas. It was a double effort of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and trade giant Radio and Records (R&R). It was hoped that there would be intermingling between the two conventions, but they were seemingly more segregated than the South in the 1950s. The suits were at the NAB, while the casuals were at the R&R.

Don’t misread my comment. There was simply less interaction than organizers had hoped for. It was a noble effort though, and each gathering had stellar lineups of panels and activities where attendees learned much about the future of the business.

I felt that satellite radio was overly portrayed as radio’s worst enemy. It’s not. At television conventions, cable stations such as HBO, Bravo, the History Channel and CMT are not positioned as enemies. It’s all just TV. Why can’t AM, FM, HD, XM and Sirius all be accepted as radio?

A great deal of awards were handed out at both confabs. At the R&R, the big winner, as outlined previously, was rock WRIF-FM (101.1), but former Detroiter Rob Striker won for Manager of the Year in markets 101-plus, as he now runs the Citadel Group in Lansing. Our own Dick Purtan at classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3) also won as the oldies personality of the year.

The Marconi Awards, radio’s version of the Oscars that’s put on by the NAB, had no Detroit-area winners. The only Michigan nominee was pop WLHT-FM in Grand Rapids.

Bob & Tom, heard statewide except in Detroit, won their fifth Marconi and two more R&R awards. They’re good.


 • • • • 


It’s been a while since I’ve recommended a book for fans of the wireless, but Don Tanner’s newly released “No Static at All” (iUniverse, $15.95) is a winner. I found it difficult to put down. Tanner, who did time as a radio DJ and a reporter for news WWJ-AM (950), has written a quick read of fewer than 200 pages that takes the reader down a scenic road of radio and pop music in the past 35 years. It’s laced with the names of many stations you will recognize and the radio personalities who made them a part of our lives.

I was surprised to see positive musings about Ann Arbor-native John Records Landecker in Chicago and even a nice plug for “the little radio station that could,” classic hits WHMI-FM (93.5) from Howell. Livingston County’s only station is owned by award winning Detroit native Greg Jablonski and wife Marcia. It’s a true “mom and pop” station that superserves it’s audience. Landecker is a Chicago radio legend who inspired a plethora of young people to enter the broadcasting industry.

Pick up a copy at Amazon.com or order direct at www.iuniverse.com. If you have even a slight passion for radio, this is the book for you.


 • • • • 


Nostalgia CKWW-AM (580) will welcome a new host to “When Radio Was” as the venerable Stan Freberg retires from the program. He will be succeeded by radio historian Chuck Schaden. The show airs 11 p.m. weekdays and is worth a listen, even though the 580 signal is a tough pull in western sections of Oakland County.


 • • • • 


A little more than a year ago, the last Detroit Radio Reunion was held at the Sheraton in Novi. (DVDs are still available from that event through www.vuolovideo.com.) Well, on Oct. 27, that same venue will be the place to celebrate Halloween 2006, thanks to pop WMGC-FM (105.1). Mark your calendars now and learn more at www.magic1051.com.


 • • • • 


Are you a part of a local band? Would you like to open for the Barenaked Ladies on Oct. 27 at The Palace? It’ll happen for one lucky local band, thanks to pop-contemporary WDVD-FM (96.3). The “play-off” will be Oct. 21 at Memphis Smoke in Royal Oak. Details and official rules are at www.963wdvd.com.


 • • • • 


Do you remember the tunes of the Prohibition era, played at establishments known as speakeasies? Well, Tom Wilson will feature the music of Fred E. Finn and his banjo-playing wife, Mickie, on the “Somewhere in Time” program at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 • • • • 


On Saturday, Michigan fans got to once again hear the Wolverines over powerful news-talk WJR-AM (760), as it was the annual “backyard brawl” between U-M and MSU. The only problem for U-M supporters was George Blaha’s blatant bias toward the Spartans. What time did that game end? Most fans had fun finding their cars in the dark. Thank goodness for the mild weather.


 • • • • 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, October 15, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

More ch-ch-ch-changes from across the river. Now Windsor’s CKWW-AM (580) has shifted more toward an oldies format that features top hits from the 1950s through ’70s, with less focus on the soft rock tunes it’s been playing since May 2005, when the station shifted away from adult standards.

The “Great Fun, Great Oldies” sound now leans heavily on tunes from artists such as Elvis, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Buddy Holly, the Platters, and Ricky Nelson, along with rare oldies and plenty of hometown artists from the Motown era.

The music adjustment provides a new outlet for much of the music from the late ’50s and early ’60s that’s rarely heard on the airwaves of classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3) since ’OMC’s playlist recently went forward in time.

CKWW’s biggest challenge in metro Detroit is getting listeners to use their AM radios for music, especially considering that there’s more interference than ever on the AM band. The station hopes to get an Internet stream up and running soon to alleviate some of those concerns; check the station’s Web site at www.am580radio.com for details.

By the way, CKWW sister station, CIDR-FM (93.9), last month also changed its format. It’s moved from pop to adult alternative to take advantage of public WDET-FM’s (101.9) shift away from weekday music programming late last year.


 • • • • 


Don’t forget that from 4-9 p.m. Friday, XM satellite radio’s “60s on 6” channel will feature a tribute to the Top 40 sound of the Big 8, CKLW-AM (800).

Host Terry “Motormouth” Young’s “Sonic Sound Salutes” feature station jingles, air personalities and local happenings from the ’60s, and it’ll be something for fans of the Big 8 to not miss.

What? You’re not an XM subscriber? Then visit the XM Web site at www.xmradio.com and sign up for a risk-free, three-day trial. You’ll have to listen in via your computer, but it’ll be well worth it!


 • • • • 


XM subscribers who are Tigers fans and live outside of the normal reception range of sports WXYT-AM (1270) — and even outside of Michigan — have enjoyed the call of every game of the ALCS from Dan Dickerson and Jim Price. The satcaster provides the broadcasts from both teams for every game during the championship series’ and will do so during the World Series, too.

I really hope that regular stations across Michigan move the ballgames to more powerful FM stations in order to increase the ability for baseball fans to tune in if they have to be away from their TVs. Yeah, it’s that important!


 • • • • 


Satellite radio continues to gain subscribers, albeit at a slower rate than many investors are comfortable with. XM saw an increase of 285,000 subscribers in the third quarter, pushing its total to just above 7.1 million. Sirius continues to grow faster than XM and now claims more than 5.1 million subscribers with a third-quarter gain of 441,000.

Both companies are banking on big gains during the upcoming Christmas shopping period. XM has stated a year-end goal of between 7.7 million and 8.2 million, while Sirius is hoping for 6.3 million. But XM just might get a boost from Acura, which announced this week that all of its used cars will now come with three free months of XM service.


 • • • • 


Quick hits: The ratings service Arbitron has moved the Detroit market down from the ninth largest market to the 10th, behind Atlanta. While that’s not a big deal, falling out of the top 10, which appears inevitable, takes away a lot of the luster of being a “Top 10” market ... Talk WKRK-FM (97.1) has re-upped with “Motor City Middays” co-host Michelle McKormick. Now teamed with Jay Towers, McKormick signed on at WKRK in 2003, when she joined Gregg Henson to launch the popular midday talkfest ... Nice to see WOMC go all out for last weekend’s Michigan/Michigan State football game. Along with a snazzy new tent, the entire Purtan’s People gang was on hand to tailgate on the air, drawing a big crowd and lots of laughter ... Interesting that WXYZ-Channel 7 anchor Frank Turner has walked away from the station completely, as he followed his heart into the realm of Christian preaching and teaching. He’d probably still be on TV if WXYZ had allowed him to moonlight as a midday radio host on religious WEXL-AM (1340), something that the TV station likely feared would harm his credibility as an anchorman. But how much harm could it have caused to allow Turner to preach on a radio station most people don’t even know about? Well, they do now.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: At 6 p.m. today, “Somewhere in Time” hosts Tom Wilson and Heather Novak will feature the pipe organ music of Dan Ballomy on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 • • • • 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, October 22, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

Yes it’s a radio column, but how ’bout them Tigers? And have you noticed that whenever they show truly exciting moments in sports on TV, they use radio audio? All the clips of when the Tigers won the American League title a week ago featured Dan Dickerson’s call from sports WXYT-AM (1270). nd when longtime director Bob Lipson runs an amazing moment of Wolverine football on “Michigan Replay,” you certainly don’t hear Brent Musberger on ABC — it’s Frank Beckmann from Host Communications. And it’s just better.


 • • • • 


Thursday marks 25 years since the death of Bob Ufer, the most passionate man to ever broadcast a U of M football game. He died of cancer 10 days after the Iowa game in 1981, but his memory lives on through countless albums, CDs and videos, which benefit the Ufer Scholarship Fund. Learn more at www.ufer.org. Entire games, with Ufer calling the action, can be obtained at www.vuolovideo.com.

That also means that Beckmann has been broadcasting Michigan games for more than a quarter-century — originally over news-talk WJR-AM (760) and now on classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3), talk CKLW-AM (800) and Ann Arbor’s sports WTKA-AM (1050). Kudos to Frank who, along with Jim Brandstatter and Doug Karsch, does a great job of conveying the thrills and excitement of the Wolverines during one of their best seasons ever.


 • • • • 


“Dr. Phil” McGraw, Oprah Winfrey’s No. 1 advice-giver, is getting his own radio show, but whether any station in the Detroit area picks it up is currently unknown. McGraw’s son, author/producer, Jay McGraw, also is heavily involved in the new radio venture, and it also was recently announced that sports/talk host Bob Costas is going to try the radio route, too.

Personally, it bothers me that people who are already pulling down large bucks on TV want to do radio, too, especially when so many very talented radio people are currently out of work.


 • • • • 


Readers continue to ask the whereabouts of the two best-loved home improvement radio hosts in Detroit — Glenn Haege, who just celebrated 10 years in syndication, and Murray Gula. Well, last weekend, both were seen at the Home Show in Novi, but neither are on a local station. Adam Helfman is now on WXYT, and Gary Sullivan, syndicated out of Cincinnati, is on sports WDFN-AM (1130), but the “big guys” are still missing in action on the radio.

Still, you can look for Gula on WXYZ-Channel 7 and on the station’s Web site, www.wxyz.com.


 • • • • 


Teen listening is down. Wow, what a shocker that news is. New Jersey-based Edison Media Research reports that radio listening among teenagers has dropped off considerably because of intense competition from iPods, Web surfing, cell phones, video games, movies, television and the chime of instant messages. The report also states “radio’s unwillingness to target listeners in the 12- to 24-year-old demographic. Most stations target the 25- to 54-year-olds, known in the industry as the ‘money demo.’” Listening dropped almost 21 percent for 18- to 24-year-olds in the last 10 years, but it’s much less for the under-18 crowd.


 • • • • 


The Country Radio Broadcasters (CRB) presented its annual Scholarship to Central Michigan University’s School of Broadcast and Cinematic Arts on Oct. 14. The $25,000 scholarship has been named after CRB VIP and CMU alumni Tim Roberts. Kudos to Tim, who is PD of country WYCD-FM (99.5).


 • • • • 


Recent ratings held no major surprises other than urban-pop WMXD-FM (92.3) still on top with even higher numbers, a major jump also for hits WKQI-FM (95.5) and a rebound of news-talk WJR, could it be due to MSU football?


 • • • • 


WOMC-FM (104.3) kicks off a scavenger hunt this week that will run for four weeks. Each day, Dick Purtan will announce in the 7 a.m. hour an item that listeners will have to acquire, with 20 total items in all. All contestants will be asked to join WOMC on Nov. 17 and must bring all their collected items to a location to be announced. Dana Masucci and Ridin’ Home with Ryan (Tom Ryan) will broadcast live from that site that day — Dana from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and Tom from 3-7 p.m. What does the winner get? A cool $25,000 and a two-year lease on a 2007 Cadillac CTS.


 • • • • 


Speaking of WOMC, a familiar voice but perhaps not a familiar name has been temporarily silenced as production manager J.R. Nelson endures chemotherapy for cancer of the lymph nodes. Nelson also worked locally at WYCD and helped launch the legendary Z-100 in New York City more than 23 years ago. He’s one of the good guys in the business and he’d love to hear from you. You can e-mail him at jamesmarik@yahoo.com or send good wishes to: J.R. Nelson, 3128 Walton Blvd., PMB #239, Rochester Hills 48309. Get well soon, J.R.


 • • • • 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, October 29, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

Had your fill of sports yet? Now that the end of the baseball season is near — weather issues aside — it’s incredible to think how close we came to having all four of our local professional teams playing games that count all at the same time. Well, your radio dial is about to be even more focused on sports this coming Wednesday.

With the Pistons kicking off their regular season against the Milwaukee Bucks, The Palace of Auburn Hills will play host to 16 local radio stations that will be broadcasting remotely all day long. It’s a clever marketing move to generate excitement for basketball and bring back fans who might have been focused on the Tigers’ World Series run and forgotten about the hoopsters.

Leading the coverage will be the Pistons’ flagship sports WDFN-AM (1130) with “Jamie and Brady” from 6-9 a.m. and “Stoney and Wojo” from 3-7 p.m., in addition to pre- and post-game shows. Game coverage begins at 8 p.m. with play-by-play host Mark Champion and color analyst Rick Mahorn. Every Pistons contest will air on WDFN, along with a network of about 10 outstate radio stations.

In addition to WDFN, the Pistons’ Tom Wilson, Bill Laimbeer, George Blaha and others from the organization will make the rounds to a huge list of local FM and AM stations discussing the upcoming NBA season and the Pistons’ hopes for another trip to the NBA Finals. The first live remotes start at 5 a.m., and the last will end at 11 p.m. That’s enough sports talk for even the most rabid fans.


 • • • • 


Visitors to www.wnic.com, the Web site for soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3), can now vote for when they want the station to change its format to all-Christmas music — something it did Nov. 1 last year. Choices range from “Start Today” and “Beginning of November” to “Mid-December” and “Never! Bah Humbug!” You also can connect to a Web stream that’s already all-Christmas all the time.

I’m sorry, but listening to Christmas music before Halloween is just something I can’t adjust to. Still, it’s a proven ratings winner for WNIC, and I bet that Burl Ives will be coming to a radio near you sometime sooner rather than later.


 • • • • 


Last Friday’s XM tribute to the sound of CKLW-AM (800) during the ’60s almost didn’t happen because of threatened legal action from the Toronto-based CHUM Group, CKLW’s current owner. Fellow “On the Radio” columnist Art Vuolo was notified of the issue by XM about 30 hours before the re-creation of the Big 8 was to set air and was able to smooth things over after hours of phone calls and a fair amount of begging and pleading.

Happily, the five-hour special did get on the air and even featured a faux report from former Big 8 helicopter reporter Jo-Jo Shutty-MacGregor, who still does real traffic for AAA of Michigan.


 • • • • 


“Jukebox John” Bartony sent an e-mail to remind me of WPON-AM (1460), which currently features tons of Oldies music as the primary part of its format. He comments that there are a number of loyal listeners enjoying the station both over the air and through the station’s Web feed (www.wpon.com).

On Friday afternoons, a series of flashback shows created by John air noon-2 p.m. and feature the popular songs and local events from a particular day from 1956-69. You also might stumble upon tributes to WKNR, WXYZ and CKLW.

The folks at WPON admit they are signal-challenged, but hope to have some improvement in the spring when the station relocates its broadcast towers and returns to full power. WPON has been operating at reduced power for some time after a contractor damaged the station’s transmission lines. One great thing about stations like WPON is that they’re very responsive to their listeners — remember how much fun it is to hear your request played on the radio?


 • • • • 


Oldies CKWW-AM (580) continues a Halloween tradition with the commercial-free broadcast of Orson Welles’ original “War of the Worlds” 1938 radio play at 10 p.m. Tuesday after the trick-or-treaters get to bed. And in addition to playing some favorite spooky tunes throughout the day Tuesday on CKWW, the syndicated series “When Radio Was” will be airing Halloween programs from the golden age of radio at 11 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. On Monday, an episode of “Fibber McGee & Molly” called “Halloween Pranks” will air. Then Tuesday, after “War of the Worlds,” it’s a full hour of “Suspense” and an episode called “Ghost Hunt.”


 • • • • 


Bud Davies, a CKLW legend from the late 1950s and early ’60s, passed away Oct. 20 in Florida. Davies was in his mid-80s and was unable to make last year’s Radio Reunion because of questionable health.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: Classical/jazz WRCJ-FM (90.9) features a different concert from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra each Sunday at noon. This week’s program features Barber’s “The School for Scandal Overture”, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 ... Tune in to WMUZ-FM (103.5) at 6 p.m. Sunday to hear “Somewhere in Time,” which highlights various big bands playing swing music ... CKWW will debut the “60s at 6,” a full hour of all 1960s tunes, starting 6 p.m. Monday. The feature is set to air every day except Sunday.


 • • • • 


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

 

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About this Archive

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

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

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

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