Funny how you can pick up local news in the Caribbean

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By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioOne of my favorite columnists was the late Bob Talbert who, although not a media writer, often penned his thoughts about radio and did a considerable amount of “thinking out loud.” That’s just what I’m going to do on this cold winter’s Sunday.

Eight days ago I stepped off a beautiful Royal Caribbean cruise ship after a week of nice warm weather, overeating and trying to relax. It seemed surreal that I could flip on my portable XM radio and, in the middle of acres of blue Caribbean waters, dial up the Detroit channel and hear local weather reports and just how heavy the traffic was on I-696 through Oak Park.

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The major buzz seems to still surround all the changes at hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1), the new home of the Tigers and Red Wings that’s also been carrying the Lions. The only major team missing is the Pistons, which will remain on sports WDFN-AM (1130).

Insiders are wondering who will listen to the baseball games on sports WXYT-AM (1270) when they’ll be available on crystal-clear FM. It’s a trend happening throughout the country; the Pittsburgh Pirates, after decades on the legendary KDKA-AM, will segue over to an FM talk station this spring.

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When stations change format or on-air personnel, listeners are uncomfortable. They hate change, but managers and programmers continue to seemingly care little about what you, the audience, want.

In New York, 18 months after America’s most famous oldies station was “blown up” to make room for Jack-FM — a format similar to Doug-FM here on WDRQ-FM (93.1) — the listeners there are still upset. The Big Apple also lacks any station doing country, active rock, standards or soft easy listening.

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I was amazed how bad radio is in southern Florida. Just finding an Englishspeaking station is a challenge, and there’s an overproliferation of Hispanic and hip-hop offerings with seemingly nothing for anyone above 50 years old. Considering the regional demographics, that seemed nuts. So it looks like we don’t have it so bad here in the Detroit area.

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Getting back to WKRK, midday host Michelle McKormick seems to be sorely missed at Live 97.1. First they jettisoned her controversial but always entertaining co-host Gregg Henson, replacing him about a year ago with ex-WDRQ morning jock Jay Towers. By the time the chemistry was finally jelling between the duo, they dump Michelle, and the outcry has been loud.

McKormick is getting hundreds of e-mails every day from listeners who miss the only female voice on the testosterone-driven FM station. You can log onto her site,, to stay updated on her situation. It would not surprise me to hear the original combo back on the radio before the year is over.

And what’s going to happen to sports guy Bernie Fratto, who was left without a show to contribute to when “Sports Night with Parker & The Man” got axed in favor of “Sporting News Radio”?

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If you got a portable MP3 player or satellite radio receiver over the holidays and want to play it in your car, there’s some good news.

Anyone who made it to the Auto Show this past week may have noticed that several carmakers, including Chrysler and Nissan, are now featuring a jack on the front of their radios that’s an auxiliary input. This is a way to not have to search for an open FM frequency to hear the unit through your car radio. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to locate a spot on the dial without a station, which can cause interference.

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If you love radio and its rich history like I do, a new book came out last week that is an absolute must-read. I have many books and have read very few, but this one, I could not put down. It’s called “Something in the Air: Radio, Rock, and the Revolution That Shaped a Generation,” by Marc Fisher, who writes about radio and feature stories for The Washington Post.

I’ve seen many books about radio, but this one is good and has numerous Detroit area references. It even addresses Uncle Russ Gibb’s famous “Paul McCartney is Dead” rumor, and where is started at WOIA-FM (102.9) in Ann Arbor, which is now W4 Country.

It’s available at bookstores or, and you can learn more plus read reviews and excerpts at

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Quick Hits: Congrats to Free-FM 97.1 afternoon co-host Jeff Deminski on the birth of his second child, a girl named Mina Belle ... Condolences to WCSX-FM (94.7) weekend jock John O’Leary on the passing of his mother Ethel at a young 101 ... If you want to take a trip through an incredible archive of Detroit radio, check out It’s unbelievable! ... That Sacramento station became a “weed-wacker” as former WKQI-FM (95.5) PD Steve Weed was a victim of the woman who drank too much water contest ... Enjoy more great Wurlitzer organ music of the swing era on WMUZ-FM (103.5) at 6 p.m. today with Tom Wilson’s nostalgic “Somewhere in Time” program. Stay tuned and stay warm.

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Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Contact him at

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, January 21, 2007



Thanks very much, Art--I appreciate the kind words.

Your link to detroit radio flashbacks appears to be incorrect. I beleive the link should be






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This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on January 21, 2007 8:15 AM.

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