On The Radio Columns: November 2006 Archives

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, November 5, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

Are you as anxious as I am to get past Election Day? If I hear or see one more mud-slinging, name-calling and reputation-bashing spot on the air anywhere, I feel as though I’m going to lose my mind.

Regardless of your political lean, you must admit that all of this very negative advertising is seemingly appreciated by no one except the sales departments of local stations. They always embrace anything that increases the bottom line. When cigarette advertising was banned from radio and television, it was thought that the economic impact would devastate the broadcasting industry. It didn’t.

Remember when your parents told you, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything all”? If that mantra was only followed, there would be no political ads at all.

Pardon me while I step down from my soapbox. Only two more days to go, folks.


 • • • • 


This past Friday, I returned from a video shoot at the U.S. Marine Boot Camp facility at Parris Island, S.C. The nationally syndicated “Joey Reynolds Talk and Variety Show” invited me to document the event for WOR radio in New York City. Because this column was written before my close encounter with the “sir, yes sir” demographic, which I’m certain did not resemble anything ever seen on “Gomer Pyle,” any radio stories will have to wait for a future edition of “On the Radio.”


 • • • • 


Ever since Rich Homberg was given the reigns of allnews WWJ-AM (950) exclusively, CBS Radio has been searching for a new manager for sports WXYT-AM (1270) and hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1), which is now best known as Free FM. In a smart economic move, they awarded the job to Kevin Murphy, who’s the manager of classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3). Still somewhat new to Detroit after a tour of upstate western New York, Murphy will learn Motown quickly, as each of his three stations are in three separate locations throughout Oakland County. Yikes! Murphy is a sharp businessman and will do a fine job, but you can send him your secret locations for cheap gas.


 • • • • 


My column two weeks ago drew numerous e-mails from readers reminding me that former WJR-AM home improvement host Murray Gula is still on Bob Allison’s “Ask Your Neighbor” show on multilingual WNZK-AM (690) at 10:30 a.m. Fridays. My oversight.

Gula also is now doing a call-in radio show on the Internet via www.wxyz.com for Channel 7. It premiered this past Thursday at noon. Check the Web site for upcoming interactive call-in shows online. Gula hopes to return to local over-the-air radio soon.


 • • • • 


Speaking of handyman help, the nationally syndicated Glenn Haege will be back on the radio starting next weekend at noon-2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays on news-talk WJR-AM (760) — that is, unless there is a conflict with MSU sports. It was rumored that Haege was headed for the golden tower of the Fisher Building, and in radio, rumors often come true.


 • • • • 


Listeners to the “Doc of Rock” Doug Podell on rock WRIF-FM (101.1) can tune in to the unique poet lariat “Mr. Positive” at noon Fridays. Trust me, this guy’s for real and he’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard. His previously stint was on all-hits WKQI-FM (95.5) with night jock Tic-Tac.


 • • • • 


At talk WDTW-AM (1310) there could be some programming changes in the offing, since its primary source of programming, the Air-America Network, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Considering that the country seems to be politically split fairly even between the right and the left, it’s amazing how right-leaning conservative talk radio tends to be, while TV is said to be run by a heavily liberal crowd. Go figure.


 • • • • 


Country music fans, mark your calendar now for the huge Christmas concert at The Palace staring Big & Rich and Livonia’s own Josh Gracin. It’s presented by country WYCD-FM (99.5) and scheduled for Dec. 16. More details can be found at www.wycd.com.


 • • • • 


Longtime Detroit personality Joe Wade Formicola has left WRAL down in Raleigh, N.C., where he had been program director for the past seven years. His immediate plans are unknown, but this comes as a surprise. He had a major following at both country stations WYCD and the old W4 at 106.7, and he would have been ideal for the recent open morning show spot at The Fox WDTW-FM (106.7) — if Rick Miller hadn’t been hired first.


 • • • • 


Fans of the 1960s radio farce known as “Chickenman” can hear the adventures of the most dangerous crime fighter the world has ever known on XM satellite radio’s “60s on 6” channel. It’s the original series — not remastered for radio.


 • • • • 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, November 12, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

Make sure you have your radio locked on to classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3) for this Saturday’s Michigan-Ohio State football game, which is set to kick off from Columbus at 3:30 p.m.

For U-M fans, there is absolutely no other way to take in all the excitement of The Game than by getting the call from Frank Beckmann and Jim Brandstatter with Doug Karsch on the sidelines. True, you are allowed to watch on WXYZ-Channel 7, too, but do yourself a favor and turn down the sound on the TV and crank up that radio.

Oh, and you might want to get the nonfootball fans out of the house, as they just won’t understand.


 • • • • 


Soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) pulled a fast one on its listeners this week, and no, I’m not talking about the Nov. 3 launch of the annual overdose of all-Christmas music by Kevin O’Neill and special guest Barry Manilow. Rather, this surprise is the dumping of hugely popular jock Gene Maxwell, who had been a midday fixture at ’NIC for more than 25 years.

It’s likely that Maxwell was a victim of budget cuts by owner Clear Channel, as similar moves have been happening at other stations owned by the media behemoth in other parts of the country, including New York.

Industry speculation has been running wild about Clear Channel possibly making itself a private company or finding a buyer for all or part of its massive media holdings, which include more than 1,000 radio stations, 30 television stations, billboards, several radio networks and other properties.

Seeing Maxwell exit certainly underscores the fact that for many in the radio industry, the financial pressures are not unlike those faced at companies, particularly the Big Three. To me, though, that’s still not a good enough excuse to dispatch one of the best jocks in the market.

I’m sure that most of us have gone through similar happenings where we work, but when it happens to a public figure like Gene, it affects more than just those left at WNIC who will miss him. His huge radio family deserves better, and I hope someone else in town can somehow make room for him.

WNIC has absorbed Maxwell’s former noon-3 p.m. shift by extending Theresa Lucas’ show from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. and O’Neill’s from 2-7 p.m.

Spirit of the Season WNIC? Hardly.


 • • • • 


Up the dial a notch at country WYCD-FM (99.5), they’ve collected well-wishes from thousands of listeners on what the station is calling the World’s Largest Yellow Ribbon and will ship it to Iraq with morning show co-host Steve Grunwald, who will be embarking on 10-day goodwill mission to the war-torn country in association with the U.S. Department of Defense.

Grunwald comments via WYCD’s Web site: “This is the best thing I have ever done in all my years in radio. We should all be proud of how happy we are making people and all of us working so hard together as a team to make it happen. That includes all of you, who have given such an overwhelming show of support. Not only support for our station, and support for myself, but, most importantly, you have really stepped up in supporting all of the families and all of our troops in Iraq. Thank you to everyone who has helped to make this happen.”

Now that’s the Christmas spirit in action — even if it’s still almost two weeks before Turkey Day.


 • • • • 


Checking in with soft rock WMGC-FM (105.1), which isn’t playing Christmas music yet but is displaying plenty of holiday spirit, we find that morning host Jim Harper and crew helped raise $94,000 and four trucks of clothing during a daylong broadcast earlier this month in support of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.

That’s a huge increase over last year’s tally of $33,000, and all that cash will help feed hungry families and provide school supplies and clothing for kids. It’ll also help keep the doors open at Capuchin’s library and computer center.

“When great people come together for a great cause, you get great results,” says Marcy Cyburt, Magic 105.1’s general sales manager. “Our listeners are wonderful.”


 • • • • 


If you’re trying to select a fine wine for your upcoming holiday table, WMGC will be hosting “The Magic Wine Down” at 6 p.m. Friday at the Marble & Granite Gallery on Telegraph Road between Eight Mile and Nine Mile roads in Southfield.

The event will feature about 10 showcase wines with experts on hand to educate attendees about which one might go best with your turkey, along with hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction with proceeds benefiting Toys for Tots.

Several Magic personalities are scheduled to be on hand, including Linda Lanci, Mike Bradley, Fay Samona, Mitzi Miles, Jim Paolucci, Shannyn Caldwell and Johnny Williams.

Tune in to WMGC to win tickets, as they won’t be available for purchase.


 • • • • 


And now that I’ve got you thinking Christmas ... XM satellite radio has announced it will serve up several commercial-free channels during the holiday season — Holly (XM 103) will launch tomorrow, followed by Holiday Traditions (XM 104), A Nashville Christmas (XM 105), A Classic Christmas (XM 106), and Special X-Mas (XM 107), all on the day after Thanskgiving.

Sirius will likely also add special holiday channels soon, but details on them weren’t yet available.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: “Somewhere in Time,” Detroit’s only nostalgic radio show for seniors, recalls the emotional days of World War ll with a special program of music to salute Remembrance Day, or as many will recall, Armistice or Veterans Day. Fran Wilson hosts at 6 p.m. on WMUZ-FM (103.5) ... Ron Edwards, weekday morning news host on talk WDTK-AM (1400), hosts “The Edwards Notebook” every Saturday at 9:30 a.m., with a repeat airing on sister station WLQV-AM (1500) at 2:30 p.m. the same day. Edwards’ unique commentary is sure to make you stop, listen and think.


 • • • • 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, November 19, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

For many years, the majority of commercial broadcasters have expressed doubts that the two satellite radio companies would ever reach the cashflow break-even point, but XM is poised to perhaps prove them wrong. Reaching break-even on operations is still a long way from showing a bottom-line profit, but it is an important milestone for a new company. Both XM and Sirius, however, now face the problem that subscriber additions may be reaching a plateau phase many years earlier than projected.

This upcoming holiday sales season will be key. Howard Stern is old news, so Sirius has to come up with a new pitch to get people to buy its service. XM has to find a way to reclaim new receiver sales and market share from Sirius. To put things in perspective, satellite radio will have achieved 4 1/2 percent penetration of the U.S. population. And this is the new competitor that is supposed to wipe out AM and FM radio? Terrestrial radio broadcasters have nothing to worry about in the immediate future.

As I’ve stated in the past, I use both XM and Sirius to fulfill programming needs not available on free over-the-air radio. I enjoy pre-Beatles oldies, beautiful music, standards and classic country, and those are clearly not available on any local AM and FM stations. HD Radio needs to start providing more of these formats that cater to older audiences who are neglected, even though most of them have the money for the new HD radios and still listen to the medium.


 • • • • 


Last week my colleague, Mike Austerman, related the sad news about WNIC-FM (100.3) letting the station’s longtime early-afternoon host Gene Maxwell go. My feeling is that local management likely did everything in their power to prevent reductions of additional personnel scheduled to be cut in a nationwide effort by megapower Clear Channel Radio, which owns more than a half-dozen stations in our area. In fact the Detroit market was largely spared extensive layoffs when compared to other Clear Channel cities.

This past week, Clear Channel accepted a bid for the company at just over 26 billion dollars and the company is selling off nearly 500 stations in smaller markets several here in Michigan, but not in Detroit.

Maxwell couldn’t opt for less money and/or a longer shift because he is exclusively an on-air talent, and most of the big radio companies insist that employees multitask; for example, Theresa Lucas, the other WNIC mid-day host, doubles as assistant program director and music director at WNIC. My only hope is that Gene received a financial severance that will get him through the holidays. We all know that it’s a bad time to be unemployed.


 • • • • 


If you’re already looking for stocking stuffers for the upcoming Christmas holiday, drop by your nearest Borders and pick up the new Mojo in the Morning “Phone Scams Volume 9” CD. It’s only $11.95 and it’s guaranteed to provide lots of laughs. Mojo and his Channel 955 crew — Spike, Sara, Kyra and Chad — truly offer one of the best morning shows on local radio. Check it out on hits WKQI-FM (95.5).


 • • • • 


Popular smooth jazz WVMV-FM (98.7) will be well represented in the coming weeks via morning host Alexander Zonjic, who will present several upcoming concerts on both sides of the boarder. One U.S. concert is Dec. 9 at Dearborn’s Community and Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $25 and $100; latter price includes preferred seating and an afterglow. Learn more at (313) 943-2354 or visit www.dearbornfordcenter.com.


 • • • • 


Specs Howard grad Glenda Lewis and her TV legend mom, Diana Lewis, were recognized this past week as the only mother/daughter news anchors in the United States. The testimonial resolution was presented to them by Martha Reeves and the Detroit City Council. They also are being recognized by the Museum of TV & Radio in New York City.

The duo first co-anchored Channel 7 “Action News” on Mother’s Day 2004. I spoke with Diana, who made an appearance in the first “Rocky” movie in 1976, and she is rightfully proud of Glenda, who says she will keep the historic team of “Lewis and (Stephen) Clark” around for years to come.


 • • • • 


West Coast Theatre organist John Seng, besides playing concerts around the world, had an unusual avocation. He wrote many radio jingles we’ve all heard. McDonald’s, United Air and Greyhound were some of his customers. John died in 2002, but some of those long lost tapes will be featured at 6 p.m. Sunday on “Somewhere in Time” on WMUZ-FM (103.5). Additionally there will be music from “The Nutcracker Suite,” just in time for the holiday season.


 • • • • 


And if you watched the game — UM vs. OSU — yesterday, I hope it was, as we suggested, with radio audio, as the TV commentators sounded like Homers for the Buckeyes. Check the sports section for all the details.


 • • • • 


Oh, and happy Thanksgiving to all.


 • • • • 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, November 26, 2006

By: Mike Austerman

On The Radio

The ties between broadcasting and sports have always been incredibly strong. Clear examples of this relationship were on display this past week through area radio and television.


When legendary University of Michigan former head football coach Bo Schembechler died Nov. 17, the news was deemed important enough to interrupt regular programming on our two sports radio stations, WXYT-AM (1270) and WDFN-AM (1130), along with news-talk WJR-AM (760) and all-news WWJ-AM (950). All four devoted considerable time and resources to covering the story, as did their TV cousins.


WXYZ-Channel 7 carried coverage of the story for several hours Friday, pre-empting regular programming and even skipping some of its regular commercial breaks. Channel 7’s work was especially courageous, considering it was in its Southfield studios where Coach Schembechler collapsed as he prepared to tape his weekly college football show. Sports reporter Don Shane appeared to be especially affected by the events and showed a ton of courage in his appearances on 7’s newscasts that evening. Anchor Dave LewAllen was rock solid as the station’s primary anchor throughout much of 7’s coverage.


WDIV-Channel 4 also provided extensive reporting and skipped some of the afternoon soaps to report a story that seemed to eclipse coverage of this past February’s Super Bowl.


Both WDFN and WXYT showed remarkable restraint in their reporting that Friday morning and afternoon. When news got out that Schembechler had collapsed and was taken to the hospital in very serious condition, neither station speculated on his condition — despite many dire reports coming from people at the hospital. And once the news of Bo’s death was made official, I was incredibly impressed by the responsibility of the discussions at both of the normally lighthearted sports stations.


Then this past Tuesday, the day of Schembechler’s memorial service at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, WJR, WWJ, WDFN and WXYT once again set aside their regular shows to cover the three-hour event without commercial breaks. WJR had Michigan play-by-play host Frank Beckmann behind the mike at the Big House to bring listeners coverage of a heartfelt ceremony featuring Jim Brandstatter, CBS-TV’s Dan Dierdorf and Bo’s son, Shemy, among others. Channels 4 and 7, along with Fox Sports Net Detroit and ESPNews, also covered the service live.


It was heartening to hear WJR step up Tuesday afternoon, as it was on its station that Schembechler co-hosted the “Brandy and Bo Show” for a number of years with Brandstatter when ’JR was the flagship for Michigan football. It was great to hear the classy description of the events by Beckmann — and especially fitting.


Bo Schembechler’s influence reaches far beyond the football field. The passion he brought to his job inspired not only his players and coaches, but even worked to trickle down to kids attending elementary school in the 1970s at the height of the “10-Year War” between Bo and Ohio State Coach Woody Hayes.


I was a student at Wilde Elementary in Warren, where a teacher named Mr. Szykula, a huge Ohio State fan, worked. He was very proud of his mustache — and he lost it in a bet with the students when a Rick Leach-led Wolverines squad defeated the Buckeyes to win the Big 10 and advance to the Rose Bowl. I can remember this as if it were yesterday, even though I was only about 10 years old then. Already a fan of Michigan football, thanks in no small part to hearing Bob Ufer on the radio, living that kind of excitement in elementary school certainly helped cement my passion for Michigan football.


While short in duration, my two brushes with Bo were both memorable. The first time was when I was introduced by fellow columnist Art Vuolo, and I found him to be incredibly easy to talk to. I left that quick conversation with a huge smile and a better understanding of just how special this man truly was.


The second time was on the concourse of Michigan Stadium before a game. He was headed to the press box as a passenger on a golf cart, and there just wasn’t much room to maneuver. Amazingly, word traveled through the crowd that Coach Schembechler was on that cart, and it was as if the path had opened by magic. He truly seemed to be basking in the shouts of encouragement from the crowd. I’ll remember forever the smile on his face as he interacted with his fans on that autumn day.


I find it appropriate that Bo’s passing happened during this week of Thanksgiving. The outpouring of thanks for his life from family and friends was thoroughly covered by the media. It offered us folks on the sidelines at least a glance into the life of one of the most influential men the state of Michigan has ever known. May he rest in peace and those closest to him find comfort in his life’s work.


 • • • • 


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 November 2006.

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

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

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