Six-hour program tests hosts’ inner wattage

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By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioEither there is something big brewing at talk WKRK-FM (97.1) or they intend on burning out hosts Jay Towers and Bill McAllister with their current time slot of 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Six hours is a long time to host a free-flowing talk program like “Motor City Middays,” not to mention all the time that must go in to preparing for such a long show. Even the top stars of talk radio are usually only asked to host three or four hours each day — how much can be expected over the long haul for Towers and McAllister? I honestly don’t know how Towers does it with his additional responsibilities as a weekend features reporter for Fox 2.

Now with the removal of Michelle McKormick from the Live 97.1 Free FM midday show has to have made it that much harder on both remaining hosts. With her departure, WKRK no longer has any female hosts during weekdays — and without any female perspective, aside from occasional callers, it seems that WKRK is fighting even harder for the same male-dominated audience as sister station sports WXYT-AM (1270). And both stations have passed out more than their share of pink slips in the past few weeks.

That’s why I believe there must be something more to come at WKRK and/or WXYT. When Live 97.1 finally officially announces it has landed the broadcast rights for Detroit Tigers and Red Wings games, hopefully things will settle down a bit at both stations.

 • • • • • • • • 

Why is it that local talk radio formats seem to be either geared toward men or politics? In recent years, music radio has been hyper-focused on attracting female audiences, but why hasn’t this focus crossed over to the talk genre?

My wife, who recently joined the world of satellite radio subscribers when she got a new car, is now an ardent follower of the Oprah & Friends channel (156) on XM. On many occasions over the holiday, I heard her tell family and friends about the programming on the channel — a great sales tool for XM in a niche that’s being ignored by local radio in favor of counter programming such as “Drew & Mike” on WRIF-FM (101.1) against “Opie & Anthony” on WKRK during morning drive and “Stoney & Wojo” on WDFN-AM (1130) against WXYT’s “Sports Inferno” on afternoon drive.

Whatever happened to creativity and trying something different than the other station?

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Dick Purtan and Purtan’s People of classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3) will be on hand for the 2007 AutoGlow at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit following the giant Jan. 12 auto show charity preview. Tickets are $250 with all proceeds going to The Children’s Center. Call (313) 262-1112 or visit

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Soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) is sponsoring a 2007 Valentine’s Ball, featuring former Chicago lead singer Peter Cetera, on Feb. 10 at the Sterling Inn in Sterling Heights. As is becoming the norm for these kinds of events, the only way get tickets is to listen to the station for announcements on how to get your passes.

 • • • • • • • • 

Allan Stagg, a DJ at WABX-FM (99.5) in the late 1970s-early ’80s who also worked at WOMC, WCAR-AM (1130) and WDEE-AM (1500) before his time at ’ABX, passed away New Year’s Day from complications of pneumonia at the age of 55.

Stagg, a native of Grand Rapids, had recently returned to Michigan and joined classic rock WRCC-FM (104.9) Battle Creek as program director and morning host on Thanksgiving. He enjoyed his biggest success as a jock in Chicago for nearly 20 years.

He is survived by wife Cathy and five sons who range in age from 5 to 21. A memorial service was held for him in Battle Creek yesterday.

 • • • • • • • • 

Canadian rock station CKUE-FM (95.1) has signed on a booster station in Windsor at 100.7 FM, and depending on your location, you may be able to pick up the new signal. The best bet to hear it is in the car around Detroit’s northeast side and in places such as Warren and St. Clair Shores.

The 100.7 frequency is interesting to listen to around these parts on occasion, as it’s not unusual to hear country music coming from Lansing’s WITL-FM or rock music from Cleveland’s WMMS-FM, depending on the weather and time of day. This new 100.7 might make those stations harder to hear.

 • • • • • • • • 

Set your dial: Fans of “Somewhere in Time” will be happy to learn that Christian WMUZ-FM (103.5) has agreed to continue airing the show for another year. This week, the late Ed McKenzie — better known as popular 1940s DJ Jack the Bellboy — features the Guy Lombardo Orchestra in a program that McKenzie recorded when he was 91 years old. It airs 6 p.m. today.

 • • • • • • • • 

Finally, a Bronx cheer to XM for putting its all-request “CQ USA” hours on hiatus on its all-’60s channel, XM 6. Part of the fun of the “Sixties on Six” is hearing morning host Phlash Phelps and afternoon jock Terry Young take calls from listeners all across the United States and Canada, just like radio stations used to do all the time. Don’t take away the fun, XM!

 • • • • • • • • 

Mike Austerman is the founder of and has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, January 7, 2007



Obviously, WKRK shouldn't have got rid of Michelle McKormick in the first place. In my opinion, she was their most entertaining on-air personality. I know there's a small group of Michelle-haters out there, but Motor City Middays with Jay & Michelle was better than any thing else I've heard out of Detroit talk radio. Maybe some station will wise up and get the Cadillac of morning shows on, too: Bob & Tom. Luckily here in the Thumb area, we can get them on WBNN (101.5) Flint.

Gale has to be eating,shooting,& sniffing crystal meth if she thinks Michelle Mckormick was any good. that broad was just damn awful all she did ways ramble & sniff and tell corny unfunny so called jokes. I was so glad that she is no longer apart of Detroit radio. I was so pissed off with the station when she was on there I refused to listen until Free Fm got rid of her. I even sent an e-mail to Jay Towers complaining then I saw on the net that they let her go and I have been listening to the show everyday for the past 2 weeks.

My husband listens to this station religiously, but personally I think it is scary how often Radio Personalities disappear from their format without even a word about it. This station doesn't seem very loyal so I can't understand why the listeners would be.






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This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on January 7, 2007 8:18 AM.

Sales and Transactions: Week of Jan 5, 2007 was the previous entry in this blog.

Metro Detroit: Newsmakers Jan 8, 2007 is the next entry in this blog.

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