On The Radio Columns: December 2006 Archives

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, December 3, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

Oldies CKWW-AM (580) just started streaming its audio signal via the Internet at www.am580radio.com, where it will reach listeners from the Motor City and beyond. According to program director Charlie O’Brien, “Live Web streaming is the number one most requested online feature. Now people will be able to listen to us in those hard-to-reach places.”

Frankly, my scan feature won’t even stop on 580 in the Novi area, and some of the best stations have the worst signals.

“Motor City Favorites” CKWW also has launched the “AM 580 Online Store,” where listeners can purchase great oldies music and a variety of classic DVDs. And entering contests and joining the AM 580 Loyal Listener Club can be done in one easy step via the site.

Also, throughout the month of December, AM 580 will air holiday-themed episodes of classic radio shows on “When Radio Was,” weeknights at 11 p.m. with host Chuck Schaden. The complete December schedule is available — you guessed it — on the station’s Web site.


 • • • • 


Last Wednesday the who’s who of the local radio community showed up to pay tribute to the often quoted Dick Kernen at the Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts in Southfield. He just celebrated 50 years in the business and has been responsible for launching the careers of countless of people in the radio industry.

One of the highlights was a video featuring lots of major local radio stars, many of who were wildly entertaining, in addition to the presentation to Kernen of a custom made bobblehead of himself. And in the spirit of Oprah, everyone in the audience received one.


 • • • • 


Hats off to news-talk WJR-AM (760) management for the classy move of its extensive coverage of Bo Schembechler’s memorial service, considering that the station dropped U-M sports in favor of MSU this past year. And Mike Austerman’s full column review in last Sunday’s “On the Radio” of all of the activities surrounding Bo’s passing was superb.


 • • • • 


Pop WMGC-FM (105.1) morning host Jim Harper and his Magic Morning Show began the 28th season of making magic with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and their Toys For Tots Campaign. Harper and company broadcast live each morning this past week at various area mall locations. The station set a goal of raising $25,000 by week’s end. Those who were unable to make it to one of the malls last week can still drop off donated toys at Art Van, Chicken Shack, Farmer Jack and several other locations, all of which are listed at www.detroitmagic.com.

Now, if you’re thinking that Magic hasn’t been around for 28 years, you’re right. Even the previous Magic (WMJC) which was at 94.7 FM didn’t add up to nearly three decades, but Jim Harper has been here that long at previous stations, the longest run being at WNIC-FM (100.3). He and most of his co-hosts were lured up the dial back in the mid-summer of 2001, but they’ve never stopped helping the kids at Christmas.


 • • • • 


Notably, Peter Smyth, president and CEO of Greater Media, which owns WMGC, was just named Radio Executive of the Year by trade publication Radio Ink. In this era of huge broadcast conglomerates, Greater Media is practically a “mom and pop” operation.


 • • • • 


Blaine, Lisa and Allyson made a strange discovery during their morning show on contemporary WDVD-FM (96.3). Listeners noted that some malls are opting to have a chair next to Santa opposed to kids sitting on Santa’s lap to avoid any issues or lawsuits from parents who think there was any inappropriateness.

Is this crazy talk or what? Sitting on Santa’s lap is part of the whole going-to-see Santa experience.

Anyway, they asked their listeners what they thought of this new policy happening at some malls, and the overwhelming feeling from them was that it was lame. Ring-master Blaine Fowler, himself, the father of a couple of kids, gets my kudos for exposing this insanity. Don’t rob the kids of precious experiences.


 • • • • 


Bad news at sports WXYT-AM (1270). The station handed pink slips to a couple of names you may know — Don Swindell and Tom Mazeway — and just in time for Christmas, too.


 • • • • 


And good news: Dick Purtan’s “Purtan’s People” calendars, featuring the morning gang from WOMC-FM (104.3), are available for just $12 at participating Kroger stores benefiting Detroit Children’s Hospital. Get yours before they sell out.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: Enjoy a Glenn Miller Christmas at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5) with Tom Wilson’s “Somewhere in Time.”


 • • • • 


This coming Saturday, join Paul W. Smith and Santa as they host the 41st annual WJR Christmas Sing at the Somerset Collection North in Troy from 11 a.m.-noon. Bring your family for a morning of caroling and fun!


 • • • • 


If you’re doing some holiday shopping this week, consider the gift of a new radio. It can be an AM, FM, HD, XM or Sirius, but make it a radio for someone you love.


 • • • • 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, December 10, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

Is your shopping done yet? Unfortunately for satellite radio companies XM and Sirius, it looks as if getting a new satellite radio for Christmas is way down the list for most people this holiday season. According to a Bridge Ratings survey, satellite radio placed a dismal 45th out of 48 things on electronics wish lists.

Not surprisingly, Apple’s video iPod was on top, along with digital cameras, portable DVD players, plasma TVs, GPS navigation devices, camcorders, DVDs, cell phones and two other Apple music players in the top 10. Bridge Ratings projects that combined, XM and Sirius will sell 700,000 fewer satellite radios this October, November, and December when compared with those same three months a year ago.

Talk about a lump of coal.


Sirius has already this month bumped its expected subscriber count lower, blaming some of the consumer apathy on a dramatic cooling of the Howard Stern effect. That Bridge report also states that last year Stern influenced 52 percent of Sirius subscription decisions on average just before the launch of his uncensored show on Sirius in January as hard-core fans jumped aboard en masse to follow the dynamic jock.

Nearly one year later, the Stern effect is an influencing factor for about 17 percent of Sirius purchases since October. An estimated 1.3 million Stern fans are subscribers through November, or about 13 percent of the audience he had when he signed off terrestrial radio.

As dismal as those numbers might appear, the news over at XM is far worse when looking at the number of subscriptions its highest-profile morning team is generating. According to the Bridge survey, only about 3 percent of XM subscribers join to hear Opie & Anthony, who are now back on free radio in several markets across the country. Even though what you’ll hear from O&A on stations like talk WKRK-FM (97.1) is the censored version of what XM can run, it doesn’t appear that consumers are too worried about what they might be missing from the duo’s XM feed.


While there was some good news from XM this week with General Motors Corp. estimating that it will install 1.8 million XM radios in its 2007 vehicles, just putting the radios in new cars might not be enough to sustain either XM or Sirius as separate companies in the long run. Although I personally still enjoy the product, the rumblings will likely grow louder for some kind of merger if consumer demand continues to trend lower than what it has been in the past.

Maybe we should say, “Hoho-uh-oh ...”


 • • • • 


There’s only 15 days until Christmas, and I’ll betcha most fans of Detroit radio wouldn’t mind seeing the Dick Purtan & Purtan’s People 2007 calendar under the tree. Available now at 70 area Kroger stores, the calendar sells for $12 with proceeds benefiting Children’s Hospital of Michigan as part of classic Top 40 WOMC-FM’s (104.3) annual “Christmas is for Kids” campaign.

Each month features the gang pictured in seasonally appropriate garb and situations (my personal fav is April’s “flowers”). There also are coupons at the bottom of each month’s page.

And calendar owners will find that planning for the 20th anniversary of Dick’s Salvation Army Radiothon to benefit the Bed and Bread Club is made easy with a note on the event’s scheduled date, Feb. 23. Last February, Purtan helped raise $1,808,440, a total that will be tough to top unless plans to contribute are made now. In this season of giving, why not set aside something to help out our community when the call goes out in two months?

I know that Mr. Purtan is very modest about his role in raising all this money every year. Could there be a better way for us to show our appreciation for all he’s done these two decades than to help set a new record for the 20th anniversary radiothon?


 • • • • 


That was just an example of one of my favorite things about radio, which is the medium’s ability to reach out and help those in need. News-talk WJR-AM (760) is continuing a holiday tradition of its own by assisting Volunteers of America Michigan with an on-air “Adopt-A-Family” drive with the goal of adopting 2,500 families throughout Michigan, which will include more than 10,000 children and 200 seniors.

A donation of $140 provides toys and warm clothes for the children and food for the family’s Christmas dinner. Even if you are unable to afford the $140, other donations are still encouraged. To help, call (248) 353-4VOA through Dec. 24.


 • • • • 


Radio listeners in the northeast part of Oakland County can enjoy listening to Christian WMPC-AM (1230) from Lapeer. On Dec. 6, WMPC celebrated its 80th birthday, making it one of the oldest radio stations in the country. WMPC has featured essentially the same format since it hit the air in 1926, and it’s also always been commercial-free, supported by listener donations. Who says radio can’t be a stable business?


 • • • • 


Set your dial: Charlie O’Brien will play “A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector,” one of the top rock Christmas albums of all time, in its entirety starting at 11 a.m. today on oldies CKWW-AM (580). Originally released in 1963, the LP features Christmas classics by the Crystals, the Ronettes, Darlene Love and Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans. It just wouldn’t be the holidays without hearing Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” the Crystals’ “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” or “Sleigh Ride” by the Ronettes ... XM will air “Radio Hanukkah,” featuring Jewish music and culture, from Dec. 15-23 on its Channel 108 ... A special program of holiday music featuring Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians is this week’s focus on “Somewhere in Time,” airing at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 • • • • 


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

 

Don't believe flak on satcasters

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Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, December 17, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

If Orson Welles were alive today, he’d be saying, “I told you so.” You remember how he caused panic nationwide with his “War of the Worlds” back in 1939 over the Mercury Theatre on radio. Martians were attacking New Jersey. And the “experts” say it couldn’t happen today. Ha!

Look at all this hype about the public not wanting to pay for radio. People will pay for anything they want. If what they want is available free, great. If not, they’ll pay for it. I do. Mike Austerman does, too. But even my friend and colleague in this column reported last week what trade papers and periodicals are writing nationwide. I refuse to be redundant with my views on this topic, but things are not as bad as they’re made out to be. Still, if satellite radio networks continue to tighten their playlists and imitate terrestrial radio, people will not pay for what they can get for free.

The ’50s channel on Sirius just launched a great new doowop oldies show 9 p.m.-midnight Wednesdays with T.J. Lubinsky. I tried to get through on the toll-free line for hours with no luck. Always a busy signal. So, gee, I guess no one is listening to satellite radio.


 • • • • 


This is the uphill challenge facing HD radio, for which Detroit is arguably the leading city in the country. But how many of you are well-versed on this new technology? One local radio insider said it best: “I’m chagrined at the lack of creativity the industry is showing so far. We’re working to reorient the products and make them more innovative and unique. Otherwise, who’s going to be motivated to buy the radios?”

That quote says it all. Put content on the air that the audience wants. Remember “If you build it, they will come”? Well, if you put on the good stuff, they will listen.


 • • • • 


When I wrote this column a couple of days ago, I was just in one of those moods to bark about a few things. Because next Sunday is Christmas Eve, I’ll try to be kinder and gentler. But watch out for my year-end review and predictions for 2007. It’ll come New Year’s Eve.


 • • • • 


Many stations do nice things at this special time of the year and hits WKQI-FM (95.5) is a champ with the top-rated wake-up show “Mojo in the Morning.” They’re now doing a thing called “Breaking and Entering Christmas Wish,” in which needy families are stunned when co-host Spike pulls up to a home in a Channel 955 station van filled with gifts! It’s highly emotional radio, and it’s great radio. Keep up the good work.


 • • • • 


Country WDTW-FM (106.7) has teamed up with Southland Shopping Center to gather more than 10,000 toys for the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots. The Fox just rapped up a three-day broadcast that surpassed expectations. Any listener who dropped off a toy is eligible for a grand prize of $10,000 in cash. It’s a clever way for the new station to out-Fox its competition.


 • • • • 


Speaking of that 99.5 frequency, back when it was WOW-FM and had just flipped to what was then “Young Country” WYCD, the midday host was Mark Elliott (one of several by that name.) If you venture up north this winter, you’ll hear him at either 92.5 or 94.3 on WFCX-FM — known as The Fox. Well, his “Day of 1000 Toys II” event last Friday collected new unwrapped toys for NW Michigan’s Toys for Tots campaign during a 12-hour broadcast that culminated with the donation of 85 brand-new bikes from a group of former Marines. Plus, when Elliott heard that the local St. Vincent de Paul Store had been burglarized, he rallied listeners and the manager of the local Meijer store to replace the cash and fix the door. Good goin’, Marko!


 • • • • 


Quick hits: Public WDET-FM (101.9) general manager Michael Coleman has tendered his resignation, effective Dec. 31. The station went through some turbulent days under his leadership, and supporters are hoping for improvements in the coming year.

Blaine Fowler on his pop WDVD-FM (96.3) morning show had a “brain-buster” stat that should thrill broadcasters. Apparently 59 percent of American households do not have an iPod, which is unquestionably one of radio’s biggest threats — especially with anyone under the age of 21.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: Check out the holiday music by Larry Douglas Embury at the huge Moeller organ on “Somewhere in Time” at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 • • • • 


Male alert! Men, it’s time for we guys to start our Christmas shopping, and no home can have too many radios.


 • • • • 


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

 

Christmas music coming to abrupt end

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Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, December 24, 2006

By: Mike Austerman


On The Radio

With all of the relatively mild weather we’ve enjoyed this December, Christmas Eve seems to have arrived suddenly. Fans of Christmas music on the radio enjoyed a record number of stations playing the Sounds of the Season this fall — maybe that’s part of the reason why the actual holiday seems a bit anticlimactic, at least to me.

Across the U.S. and Canada there were well more than 400 radio stations that switched to an All-Christmas format by Dec. 15, including at least 18 in Michigan. Locally, soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) started its marathon on Nov. 3 followed by oldies CKWW-AM (580) on Dec. 11. CKWW continues its holiday music presentation through Dec. 26, helping Canadians celebrate Boxing Day.

Christmas music will be easy to find up and down the dial today and early Monday, including on Classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3), which will present Mannheim Steamroller’s 2006 American Christmas starting at 9 a.m. today. That 12-hour program will be followed by 24 hours of uninterrupted Christmas music, ending at 9 p.m. Christmas Day.

With the exception of CKWW, all the radio holiday cheer will come to an abrupt end before you’re ready to head back to the stores early Tuesday morning. You might even forget that Western Christian churches roughly refer to the Christmas season as starting with Advent, four weeks before Christmas, and ending with Epiphany, on Jan. 6. So while you could hear “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” on Nov. 5 on WNIC, it’ll be nowhere to be found on Jan. 5, when it would actually be still appropriate.


 • • • • 


Another holiday tradition, and this one seems to be getting longer in duration every year, is the absence of high-profile morning and afternoon drive programs between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Many of your favorite hosts signed off for the last time in 2006 this past week and you’ll be hearing best-of clips, substitute hosts, and prerecorded shows on just about every station. In an industry that is facing stiff competition from things like MP3 players and satellite radio, is “mailing it in” for two weeks really a good idea?


 • • • • 


As 2006 draws to a close, several stations made significant personnel announcements. WNIC and “Pillow Talk” host Alan Almond agreed to terms on a new contract that will keep the soothing sounds of Almond’s nighttime program on the airwaves for what the station says is many years to come.

Over at Classical/Jazz WRCJ-FM (90.9), Carmen Garcia has been named as the new permanent weekday afternoon host, effective Tuesday. She’s a former air personality at the now defunct Jazz WJZZ-FM (105.9) and has made some recent guest appearances on WRCJ. Garcia takes over for Ann Delisi who left in September.

The highest profile change might be the departure of Art Regner from sports WXYT-AM (1270) where he’d been one of the station’s biggest names since arriving from sports WDFN-AM (1130) in 2001, right about the same time the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings moved from WJR. His sudden departure must have been a disappointment to co-host Doug Karsch as the duo had the type of on-air chemistry that is rare in radio these days.

Reports are that Regner’s exit from the station was purely budgetary — he was one of the highest-paid WXYT hosts and was due for a new contract on Jan. 1.

The new lineup on WXYT, once regular programming resumes in 2007, is Karsch along with Scott Anderson from 10 am to 2 pm, followed by Mike Valenti and Terry Foster from 2 to 6 pm.


 • • • • 


There’s no official word yet on where you’ll be tuning to hear the Detroit Tigers this spring, but no one would be surprised to see them, along with the Red Wings, move off WXYT. It’s possible the teams might go back to WJR-AM or even land on an FM station. Perhaps Regner, who is well-connected to the Red Wings, will latch on with whatever station lands the teams, if it’s not WXYT.


 • • • • 


Reports say the Rose Bowl, which pits U-M against USC on New Year’s Day, will be broadcast by Host Communications, featuring Frank
Beckmann, Jim Brandstatter and Doug Karsch. More on that next Sunday.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: Dusty Rhodes, Cincinnati radio icon and former CKLW-AM (800) morning host for a brief time, hosts a 36-hour Christmas music special on XM Channels 24 and 173 starting at noon today … Host Tom Wilson takes the Somewhere in Time audience on a special Christmas journey to the Ponderosa Ranch at 6 pm on WMUZ-FM (103.5) … Paul Edwards daily Christian talk program gains an hour each weekday starting Jan. 2 on WLQV-AM (1500) when it expands to 4-6 pm.


 • • • • 


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

 

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, December 31, 2006

By: Art Vuolo


On The Radio

In looking back at Mike Austerman’s predictions for 2006, a year ago, he was about 90 percent correct with his forecast. I doubt that mine will be as accurate, but first let’s quickly look back at some of what happened across your radio dial this past year.

Shane French, known better as Rover, arrived in January on hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1) with “Rover’s Morning Glory” to replace Howard Stern, who made a much ballyhooed move to Sirius satellite radio. By September, Rover was replaced by “Opie & Anthony,” another NYC show that cares little about Detroit. And Stern took only about 30 percent of his terrestrial listeners to Sirius, considerably less than anticipated.

Local consultant Fred Jacobs wrote a piece entitled, “Did You Hear What Howard Said This Morning?” Neither did anyone else, as the self-proclaimed “King of All Media” has slipped off the front page.


 • • • • 


We saw the year start out with a departure of Martin Bandyke at public WDET-FM (101.9) and Tic-Tak ousted, along with the eclectic Mr. Positive, at hits WKQI-FM (95.5).


 • • • • 


It took until spring to announce new stations for Michigan football after being jettisoned by WJR-AM (760). Talk CKLW-AM (800) and oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) are the new home for the Maize and Blue and they will carry the Rose Bowl tomorrow, offering U-M fans an alternative audio choice. Let’s hope the synchronization of the radio audio and TV visuals is at least close.


 • • • • 


We were witness to numerous fund-raisers from WRIF-FM (101.1), WCSX-FM (94.7), WYCD-FM (99.5), WJR, and WOMC’s Dick Purtan, whose annual Radiothon raised $1.8 million in one day for the Salvation Army.


 • • • • 


ABC Radio was sold to Citadel in a $2.7 billion deal that, nearly a year later, has yet to be solidified.


 • • • • 


One of the good guys, MSU alum Steve Schram, who ran several Detroit area stations, took over U-M’s Michigan Public Radio.


 • • • • 


This past year, it was musical chairs for the radio handymen. Joe Gagnon left WXYT-AM (1270) for WAAM-AM (1600) in Ann Arbor. Glenn Haege left sports WDFN-AM (1130) and wound up in the Fisher Building at WJR. A few months earlier, the mighty 760 waved goodbye to Murray Gula, who has found a new home at WXYZ-Channel 7; as of Jan. 4, he starts a weekly Webcast, “Lunch with Murray,” at noon Thursdays at www.wxyz.com.


 • • • • 


Format flips included CIDR-FM (93.9) from Lite-FM to The River; WDTW-FM (106.7) from classic hits (The Drive) to country (The Fox); and CKWW-AM (580) from standards to oldies.


 • • • • 


We miss departed on-air talents who were recipients of “pink slips” — among them, Brad Bianchi, Gene Maxwell, Don Swindell, Tom Mazeway and Art Regner. And we just got word that Rob Parker and Mark Wilson of WKRK’s “Parker and the Man” and Michelle McKormick of “Motor City Middays,” also at WKRK, were shown the door.


 • • • • 


Obituaries over the past year included Sabrina Black, Dave Schaffer, Jim Ellis, Nellie Knorr, Captain Rick Jagger, Bud Davies and Jason Alexander.


 • • • • 


In other notables, WWJ’s Sonny Eliot marked 60 years in local media, and Dick Kernen at Specs Howard hit 50 years in radio. Rachael Hunter and Steve Grunwald segued from WDRQ-FM (93.1), eventually to WYCD, while Jay Towers moved to WKRK. And timing was not good for WJR, which dropped Michigan football (11-1) in exchange for Michigan State (4-8). Hopefully, the Spartans will be better in 2007.


 • • • • 


And that brings me to some predictions for 2007, which is always risky. Tigers and Red Wings fans will not be pleased to learn that neither team will be returned to mega-power WJR, but will get simulcast on both WXYT and Live 97.1 (might this bring back Tom Leykis when sports aren’t on?).


Dick Purtan will top last year’s amount raised for the Salvation Army as he celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Radiothon.


Channel 7 home improvement team leader Murray Gula will get back on a local radio station.


“Mojo in the Morning” will top the morning ratings in the coming year.


Syndicated shows such as Opie & Anthony will not last the year, while entertaining programs including talker Joey Reynolds and funsters Bob & Tom will hopefully land a local affiliate.


And listeners will remain loyal to some of the best radio in America through a year James Bond would approve of, 2-007.


 • • • • 


In current news, Jennifer Williams, the longtime promotions manager at Greater Media’s WCSX, will assume the new title of director of interactive sales and database marketing for all three stations in Greater Media — WCSX, WRIF and WMGC.


 • • • • 


Set your dial: Tonight, Tom Wilson’s New Year’s Eve gift is the dance music of Lester Lanin at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5).


 • • • • 


By the way, don’t make me M.A.D.D. by drinking and driving tonight. But do have a happy New Year from Mike, myself and everyone at The Oakland Press.


 • • • • 


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 December 2006.

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

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