‘White wires’ pose a dangerous threat




By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioIf I were to choose a theme song for these mid-summer weeks, it would have to be Rick Nelson’s “Travelin’ Man.”

Last Sunday, I returned from a Midwest regional radio conference known as The Conclave. Unlike many such events, this one is an excellent combination of teaching and socializing. It also goes by the handle of “The Learning Conference” and has strong ties to Southfield-based Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts.

The mantra that I was echoing at that meeting is simple. Rather than micro-dissecting formats and music rotation, more time should have been spent figuring out how to get people to just listen to the radio more often. In other words, beware of the white wires. When we see thin white wires hanging out of people’s ears, they’re not listening to radio, they are plugged into their iPod.

Take note as to the number of white wires you see these days in places where radios were once prevalent. If you’re in the radio industry, it should really scare you.

On Independence Day, I was invited to the beautiful home of friends who live on Commerce Lake. In their expansive kitchen that seemingly had everything, what was missing? A radio. There was a TV, but no radio.

At the talk radio convention I attended last month a panel moderator asked if anyone brought a radio to the gathering. I was the only one who did. When asked how many had a cell phone, nearly 100 percent of the hands went up.

The number of people who stood in line for the debut of the iPhone speaks volumes. When have you seen people lined up for a new radio? Not for satellite, and not for HD.

Broadcasters need to figure out a way to make radio cool again.

Getting back to The Conclave, it was there that I saw DJ Buck Head, who left his mark on Detroit while working at hits WKQI-FM (95.5). Buck’s now doing mornings at KKRZ in Portland, Ore. His act was almost as unique as the poetic Mr. Positive, who now pops up regularly on Doug Podell’s midday show at rock WRIF-FM (101.1).

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I’m heading to Atlanta on Monday to videotape the first of five Freedom Concerts hosted by national talk host Sean Hannity, who’s heard 3-5 p.m. on news-talk WJR-AM (760). These special events benefit the families of fallen soldiers in the Iraq War. The final concert will be in central New Jersey on Sept. 11. This year, the 9/11 date will fall on a Tuesday, the same day of the week when that tragic attack on America occurred. I’ll have a full report in a couple of weeks.

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Was yesterday a lucky day for you? After all it was 07-07-07, and 7 is considered to be a lucky number. This Wednesday, which is 7/11, marks Dick Purtan’s birthday. The morning master at oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) has been on local radio for just over 42 years. You do the math — I ain’t tellin’.

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Friday the 13th will be a lucky day for Detroit News sports columnist Bob Wojnowski (Wojo) and his co-host Mike Stone (Stoney) as they go nationwide this week. They’ve been invited to guest-host the syndicated Jim Rome show from noon-3 p.m., carried on WDFN-AM (1130). The duo’s regular slot on WDFN is 3-6 p.m. weekdays. Stoney and Wojo could see some benefit from the exposure during their July 19-20 radiothon, which benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

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Communicom Inc. has purchased gospel WDRJ-AM (1440) from Davidson Media Group for a cool $3.8 million. That’s actually an amazing price for a stand-alone AM signal licensed to Inkster with a highly directional and marginal signal.

At one time, that frequency was urban powerhouse WCHB, “Home of the Mellow Fellows.” Along with the original WJLB-AM (1400), they were the first stations to address the needs of the black audience in Detroit.

Not sure what the future holds for WDRJ, though, in this deal.

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For those of us old enough to have grown up in the Midwest under the influence of The Big 89 WLS Chicago, a DVD of its recent WLS REWIND reunion is now available via the station’s Web site (www.wlsam.com), where you can see a 10-minute preview of the event. It’s a true piece of radio history.

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Set your dial: Tom Wilson features the jazzy trumpet of Bunny Berigan at 6 p.m. today on WMUZ-FM (103.5) and WRDTAM (560).

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Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com. Contact him at artvuolo@aol.com.

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, July 8, 2007







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This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on July 8, 2007 2:33 PM.

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