Ford sees HD radio as the way of the future




By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioIf you’re planning on buying a new or late-model used Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle, it just got a whole lot easier to be able to check out over-the-air digital HD radio. Earlier this week, Ford announced that it’s now offering HD receivers as a dealer installed option on most of its 2008 models as well as on many earlier models from 2005, 2006 and 2007.

“We believe HD Digital Radio will be an important part of Ford’s commitment to delivering innovations with mass appeal,” said Kim Irwin, vehicle personalization and accessories manager for Ford’s Customer Service Division.

“We’re helping our customers stay connected by supporting the features and functions they want in their vehicles. The dramatically improved audio, text and data features of HD Digital Radio — along with its hundreds of new radio stations — create a compelling combination at the right price.”

The HD Radio Alliance also announced this week that there are now 1,500 stations across the country broadcasting with the technology.

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Rock WRIF-FM (101.1) scored some nice awards from Radio & Records this week with Doug Podell being named as Active Rock Program Director of the Year and Mark Pennington being named as the format’s Music Director of the Year. Podell also collected the same award in 2006 while Pennington was also a winner in 2005.

Other potential winners from the area weren’t available at press time. Nominees for Station of the Year in their respective formats included country WYCD-FM (99.5), hot adult contemporary WDVD-FM (96.3), urban WJLB-FM (97.9), urban adult contemporary and WMXD-FM (92.3) along with WRIF. (Update: WRIF was named as Active Rock Station of the Year)

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Last year, ratings service Arbitron bumped the Detroit market down to the 10th largest in the country, slipping it behind Atlanta. This year brings more bad news as Detroit officially loses the prestige of being a top 10 market, dropping to 11th place behind Boston. Arbitron estimates locally there are 3,866,500 potential radio listeners age 12 and above, just 8,100 people behind the Boston. Maybe we could annex Flint, Toledo, Windsor and Ann Arbor to help out with those numbers.

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Radio giant Clear Channel was successful this week in convincing its shareholders to let the company become privately held after several failed votes earlier in the year. The huge deal will result in the company significantly slimming itself down by selling off many of its smaller-market stations. Some of that activity has already taken place in Michigan with station sales in the process of closing in Ann Arbor and Battle Creek.

Clear Channel’s seven local stations, including WMXD, WKQI-FM (95.5), WJLB, WNIC-FM (100.3), WDTW-FM (106.7), WDFN-AM (1130) and WDTW-AM, (1310) are expected to remain in the fold after the final approvals for the privatization are given by various federal agencies.

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Martin Bandyke, morning drive host at adult alternative WQKL-FM (107.1) Ann Arbor, will be hosting his Friday shows live from 6-10 a.m. at various Espresso Royale locations throughout Ann Arbor through mid-December. Bandyke will be giving away CDs, concert tickets and limited edition signature coffee mugs, plus there will be $1.07 coffee drink specials and other goodies. For the full list of locations, visit

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While the song says that video killed the radio star, fellow columnist Art Vuolo has been capturing video of radio stars since 1978. In 30 years, he has assembled an amazing library of video air checks and radio events to prove that video, instead, enhances the stars of radio.

Vuolo was on the road with his video camera again this week at the Radio & Records convention in Charlotte but will return to this space next week. In the meantime, check out his Web site at and browse through his video offerings — and wish him a happy birthday while you’re at it.

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Set your dial: Merv Griffin, who passed away in August at age 82, was more than just a television star. Somewhere In Time hosts Tom Wilson and Heather Novak explore the musical career of Griffin at 6 tonight on WMUZ-FM (103.5) and WRDTAM (560). WDET-FM (101.9) offers the second installment of its five-part series “Stories From the Heart of the Land” at 10 tonight. Hosted by Jay Allison, the series features some of the country’s best radio producers capturing the human connection to land and landscape.

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Finally, condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Wendell Cox, co-founder of Bell Broadcasting, the former owner of WCHB AM (1200) and what was WJZZ-FM (105.9) who died earlier this month at the age of 92. In 1956, Dr. Cox joined with fellow dentist Dr. Haley Bell to build WCHB and added WJZZ in 1960. Bell Broadcasting was the second oldest black-owned broadcasting company in the nation when it sold the stations to current owner Radio One in 1998. A memorial service for Dr. Cox was held on Friday in Detroit.

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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, September 30, 2007







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This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on September 30, 2007 11:52 AM.

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