Stations aim to bring in big bucks for charity




By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioI admittedly have a soft spot for plugging radio stations when they are trying to help the community with fund-raisers and radiothons. So this week, I’m dedicated to spreading the word about three area stations, all owned by CBS Radio, that are devoting a lot of their time this month to help raise money for some excellent causes.

First off, country WYCD-FM (99.5) helped listeners pledge $572,209 during the station’s eighth annual Country Cares for St. Jude Kids radiothon. The event kicked off Wednesday at Oakland Mall in Troy with a personal appearance on the Dr. Don morning show by country singing legend Clint Black and ended Thursday.

The program began in 1989, after Randy Owen, lead singer of the music group Alabama, met St. Jude founder Danny Thomas and helped team the organization with country radio stations across the United States. Since its inception, Country Cares has grown to be one of the most successful radio fund-raising events in the nation, with more than 200 radio station partners helping raise $280 million-plus in pledges.

For more information on the amazing work that St. Jude’s does for kids, click on



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On Friday and Saturday, all-news WWJ-AM (950) took over the fund-raising banner with its fourth annual Winter Survival Radiothon for THAW (The Heat and Warmth Fund).

The organization is made up of representatives from Michigan businesses, community human services organizations, government agencies and concerned private citizens working in partnership with area utility companies and other energy providers to help Michigan families keep their heat and electricity on during the cold winter months. Last year, WWJ listeners helped 3,200 area families keep the lights on and the furnace running with their pledges.

If you missed this year’s event on WWJ, it’s not too late to help. Visit or call (800) 866-THAW.

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And I trust that your calendars have been marked for the granddaddy of all Detroit radio fund-raisers, Dick Purtan’s 20th annual radiothon to benefit The Salvation Army’s Bed and Bread Club. It’ll be at the center court of Oakland Mall from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Feb. 23, and once again it’ll feature a who’s who of Detroit personalities, along with many other fun features.

It’ll all be aired live on classic Top 40 WOMC-FM (104.3), Purtan’s radio home since 1996.

You’ll become an official member of the Bed & Bread Club by making a contribution of $120 or more, but every donation helps feed and provide shelter for more than 8,000 metro Detroiters each day.

And once again this year, every donation of $240 or more will land you what the station calls “a very special gift that every Dick Purtan fan will love.” I can’t image how they will top 2006’s Big Al bobble-belly figurine.

Last year’s event helped raise more than $1.8 million for the local Salvation Army program, every penny of which stayed in the Detroit area and was used directly to feed and shelter those who need it. Purtan’s People have helped raise $12.3 million since the radiothon was launched, and that’s a great legacy for both Purtan and the man who really helped get the thing started, the late Gene Taylor.

Reflecting the area’s bleak economy, most of the area’s charities and fund-raising efforts have fallen short of their goals this year. Considering that, it’s going to be real challenge this year to top the 2006 record total. But wouldn’t it be great if the community could somehow go above and beyond? The Bed and Bread program is now more important than ever to so many people and I’d love to see that total hit $2 million as it’s gone so well over 20 years. To donate now, visit

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Art Vuolo and I would like to send condolences to former WDFN/WXYT/WKRK personality Gregg Henson on the passing of his dad last week from bone cancer. It’s been a tough year for Henson, having now lost both his mother and father to illness, along with leaving his hometown to follow his career. Gregg is currently the program director and morning host at Philadelphia sports station WPEN-AM.

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Quick hits: Interesting days in Flint at country WFBE-FM (95.1), where morning host Dave Geronimo has left the building. Apparently his successor has already been picked, and I’m wondering if it’s someone who might be very familiar to the ears of country radio fans in southeast Michigan ... Dave Barber, hugely popular in Flint from his days at WFDF-AM (910) and later WWCK-AM (1570), has left his midday gig in Providence, R.I. ... Congrats to “Ask Your Neighbor” host Bob Allison, who on Tuesday marked his 45th year of hosting the program. The show airs 9-11 a.m. weekdays on WNZK-AM (690).

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Set your dial: “Somewhere in Time” hosts Tom Wilson and Heather Novak feature Wally’s Warehouse Waifs, one Michigan’s top jazz-Dixie bands, at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5), which is simulcast on WRDT-AM (560).

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

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, February 11, 2007







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This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on February 11, 2007 10:48 AM.

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