Fund-raiser rocks — and pays tribute to local radio great, too




By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioHard to believe that it’s been nearly one year since Sabrina Black — best known for her work at sports WDFN-AM (1130) until illness forced to her to leave her job back in 2003 — died from complications of a six-year battle with Hodgkin’s disease.

The man she loved, Steve Black, who’s the weekend jock at rock WRIF-FM (101.1), launched the Sabrina Black Foundation in May 2006 to honor his late wife, establishing the foundation’s mission to raise money to help individual cancer patients by paying off their entire hospital bills.

Right now, the foundation may only be able to assist one or two people every year, but by doing so, they let the recipients know that an angel has heard their prayers and hopefully has helped change their lives forever.

The foundation will hold its first-ever public event on April 10th at the Emerald Theatre in Mount Clemens with a fund-raising concert and auction. Headlining the concert will be blues-rock guitarist
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, while the auction will feature autographed guitars, artwork and many other items.

Tickets are $30.50 at Ticketmaster. Find more details about the event and the group at



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Hearing the Detroit Red Wings broadcasts on talk WKRK-FM (97.1) for the past month or so has been a nice upgrade for sports fans who have grown weary of interference and static while trying to listen to play-by-play on sports WXYT-AM (1270).

One regular reader (hi, Dad) tells me that he’s really looking forward to hearing the static-free call of the Tigers on Live 97.1, too, when he’s in the car during night games.

It’s nice to see that all the complaints in recent years from listeners about struggling to hear the games have been resolved in such a positive manner. Thank you to both CBS Radio and the Illitch organization.

When you think about it, we are very blessed now when it comes to coverage of sports play-by-play on local radio. Michigan State football and basketball is heard clearly on news-talk WJR-AM (760), University of Michigan football has a powerful home on FM at WOMC-FM (104.3), and the U-M men’s basketball is on WWJ-AM (950) and WCHB-AM (1200). Even NASCAR racing has a high visibility slot on country WDTW-FM (106.7).

The Lions have been on Live 97.1 for several years now, and with Red Wings and Tigers joining them — along with still being heard on AM 1270, which remains the flagship station for the Wings and Tigers — there is really not much more that could be done for the listener.

OK, maybe shorter commercial breaks would be nice.

The next team looking for an upgrade has to be the Pistons. While the team does have a fine station as its flagship in WDFN, that station’s signal at night is lacking, causing the same complaints that listeners used to have about the Wings and Tigers broadcasts.

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The broadcasting students of the Bloomfield Hills School District have claimed top honors for WBFH-FM (88.1) for the second year in a row in a national awards program. On March 3, WBFH was named as the best high school radio station in the country during the fifth annual John Drury Awards in Naperville, Ill., after students from Andover High won 17 awards in eight categories.

Nine WBFH students were nominated for 23 awards — the most of any high school entering the competition, and nine more than last year. WBFH students won seven first-place, four second-place and six third-place awards.

The big award was presented to the WBFH management team consisting of station manager Pete Bowers, assistant manager/chief engineer Randy Carr and remote supervisor Ron Wittebols.

“This was the third year we sent entries to the John Drury Awards,” Bowers said. “I’m very proud of the students who won and for WBFH finishing first for best high school radio station again.”

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The Copyright Royalty Board of the Library of Congress this week issued new guidelines that may very well cause a large number of radio broadcasters to remove their popular online Web streams, because of dramatically increased royalty costs that anyone who streams copyrighted music would have to pay.

If the new rules are put into effect, royalty fees will change from a percentage of an Internet broadcaster’s revenue to a per-song, per-listener fee.

It’s been predicted that some Net broadcasters could see their expenses for the service go up anywhere from double to tenfold of what they had been paying.

What a shame it would be if there was a major shutdown of this service, as a study from ratings service Arbitron and Edison Media Research found that about 52 million Americans had listened to Internet radio in the previous month.

 • • • • • • • • 

Noncommercial classical/ jazz WRCJ-FM (90.9) is set to launch its spring fund-raising drive, starting March 22 and running through March 30. Although it’s only been on the air with its current format for less than two years, WRCJ’s ratings numbers are very competitive with longtime area public stations WDET-FM (101.9) and WUOM-FM (91.7).

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Set your dial: WRCJ continues its series of Detroit Symphony Orchestra concerts at noon today. Andrey Boreyko conducts the DSO with a program featuring Shostakovich, Kodaly and Richard Strauss ... “Somewhere in Time” host Tom Wilson features Thomas “Fats” Waller at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5) and 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, March 11, 2007







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

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