Country radio’s still hot, as recent conference attests

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By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioRemember that old country song with the lyric line “I wanna go home to Dee-troit City?” Well, that’s me after a couple of weeks of living out of a suitcase.

The last time we met, I indicated that I’d be covering two big radio conventions back-to-back. Well, I did. First to Nashville for the Country Radio Seminar, followed the next week by the Talk Radio Seminar in Los Angeles, presented by trade publication Radio & Records. And I return with more than a few observations about these two very popular radio formats.

In Nashville, Tim Roberts and John Trapane, the program directors of country stations WYCD-FM (99.5) and WDTW-FM (106.7), respectively, were in attendance. Also there was Ron Chatman, music director and air personality at WYCD, who was one of only about six African-Americans at the conference. Roberts was honored with a special scholarship established at his alma mater, Central Michigan University, a nice highlight at the CRS.

While in Music City, I met a ton of major stars, and I don’t mean to be a name-dropper, but I’ve got to mention Jon Bon Jovi, Mac Davis, Toby Keith and comic Bill Dana, a.k.a. Jose Jimenez. One of my personal favorites was meeting Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel. I’m a major weather-freak.



Country radio is more popular than ever. Case in point: as the CRS was in progress, San Francisco got a new country station and attendees got to hear the sign-on.

The line between country and pop music is getting thinner every day. Much of today’s country music is a far cry from the old twang steel guitar music of days gone by. I was most impressed by a live performance by the Drew Davis Band. Google them for more information, but Davis himself is a clean-shaven, good-looking guy with no tattoos or piercings, and their energy was unmatched.

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After barely recovering from all the country action in Nashville, it was off to the left coast for the talk-fest in L.A. All-night host Art Bell was given the TRS’ lifetime achievement award for years of talking about — and to — aliens and people who love the paranormal. It was presented by current overnight talk-maven and Detroit native George Noorey. That program is heard midnights on talk CKLW-AM (800).

The opening talk session was best remembered for the comments of consultant John Parikahl, who hit the nail on the head so often he could have built a house. He was frightfully honest, but many broadcasters can’t handle the truth. That sounds familiar. So he blasted Madison Avenue ad agencies who still think people over 50 don’t spend money, and when asked about HD Radio, he said it “was DOA” — which, if you recall, means “dead on arrival.” Yikes. I have the whole thing on videotape, and it’s a real eye-opener.

Another “moment” occurred when former WJR PD Phil Boyce, who’s now at WABC in New York, proclaimed how show after show, talking politics is what the people seem to want; while Dave Ramsey representative Bill Hampton swears that there’s more to talk radio than just politics, and I think he’s right. Ramsey does a wildly entertaining financial show helping people with their money problems. Sadly, it’s not on in Detroit.

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Hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1) is adding Shila Nathan from Wilks-Barre, Pa., to co-host “Motor City Middays” with Jay Towers from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. starting April 9. She will fill the slot formerly occupied by Michelle McKormick and most recently by producer and weekend “Hamtramick House Party” co-host Bill McAllister.

Insiders say that Gregg Henson, McKormick’s former co-host, is returning to Detroit. Will it be to radio or in another capacity? Stay tuned.

Get well wishes go out to Jeff Deminski, Live 97.1’s afternoon co-host, who landed in the emergency room for an appendectomy early last Sunday. While he recovers, co-host Bill Doyle has been carrying on with producer Bill “Beaver” Toriello and phone screener/ rock star Rudy DeSantis.

Deminski seemed to be most worried about his inability to drive for the next week and the very real possibility of his missing the station’s St. Patrick’s Day bash at Malarkey’s in Southgate this past Friday. At press time we’re not sure if he made it, but if not, he was there in “spirits.”

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Basketball fans caught up in March Madness can have fun with second guessing the jocks at both classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7) and rocker WRIF-FM (101.1). Get more details at and Hoop, there it is!

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Finally, this past week saw the Michigan Association of Broadcasters give out lots of awards up in Lansing at the Great Lakes Broadcast Expo. Top college radio station went to MSU’s WDBM-FM (88.9) and top honors at the high school level went to Plymouth-Salem’s WSDP-FM (88.1), known as The Escape. Station of the year was WWJ-AM (950), while WDET-FM (101.9) took honors for best hard news and best special interest programming.

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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, March 18, 2007



Hi, Just a note to correct you that Coastto Coast is on CKLW at 1:00 am not midnight. Also Dave Ramsey is on WPHM-AM 1380 in Port Huron. Also the last hour of Sean Hannity's weekday program is also on that station for those that can pick it up. Thanks,David

What the??? WKRK bringing in some other female co-host to Motor City Middays? Hey, Michelle McKormick is AVAILABLE! Bring her back! Get a new manager who knows what he's doing for this station.






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This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on March 18, 2007 12:31 PM.

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