Loyal listeners sad over loss of radio hosts




By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioHere are some final thoughts about the format change from talk to sports at WXYT-FM (97.1) now that it has been nearly a month since its big change. Many e-mails I have been receiving are exclusively on two topics: the shift of Jeff Deminski and Bill Doyle to mornings and the dispatching of Motor City Middays.

Even this week, readers continue to comment on how they miss hearing MCM hosts Jay Towers, Bill McAllister and Shila as the show had become part of their daily routines. Many of these same former listeners state they feel as if there just isn’t anything on the radio left to listen to now that their favorite hosts are gone. Others continue to express disappointment on the move of D&D from afternoons to mornings because they are unable to listen during the guys’ new timeslot.

Not one person has taken the time to complain, to me at least, about the removal of Opie & Anthony from morning drive, nor have I received any feedback about no longer being able to hear Johnny D’s mid-morning show. In fact, the latter’s move to hosting the overnight shift on WXYT turned out to be very short-lived as he completely exited the station as of last week. To be fair, neither show was on the air long enough to develop much of a loyal following.

It may be anything but smooth sailing for the station in the near future as key contributors near the end of their contracts. The station’s deal with Deminski and Doyle will expire at the end of the year, and it remains to be seen if the guys will be able to reach a new agreement, or indeed if they’ll even want to remain on an otherwise all-sports station should other opportunities present themselves in town.

It’s a similar situation for afternoon guys Terry Foster and Mike Valenti. Their deal expires in April, and Foster has already taken to lobbying for renewal on the duo’s Web site, www.sportsinferno.com. With Foster’s other job as a columnist for The Detroit News, his ties to the area are much stronger than Valenti, a New York native who attended Michigan State. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Valenti explore advancing his career in bigger markets such as Chicago. To my ears at least, he possesses the raw talent that generates just the kind of excitement and emotion that makes sports talk radio successful.

To be a true sports powerhouse though, WXYT will have to find some long-term stability in its lineup to help generate loyal listeners.

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Other e-mailers continue to ask about getting Pistons games on an FM signal with the new season tipping off Thursday. These fans complain that night games are virtually unlistenable on WDFN-AM (1130) from the parking lot of The Palace of Auburn Hills, and with all the other area pro teams now being heard clearly on FM, these basketball loyalists are feeling slighted. So far, there has been no indication that there will be a satisfactory solution to these valid complaints.

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The ratings service Arbitron released an in-depth survey of listenership levels during the spring for the satellite services XM and Sirius earlier this week — and to no one’s surprise, Howard Stern can claim to be the king of all satellite audiences. His Sirius channel “Howard 100” averages about 1.225 million listeners per week, far ahead of anything else on either service. Talk “Howard 101” is that service’s second most popular channel, followed by “New Country,” “Sirius Hits” and rock “Octane.” XM’s most popular offerings both feature pop music, “The Blend” and the more upbeat “Flight 26.” Also popular among XM listeners are country “Willie’s Place,” classic rock “Top Tracks,” hits “Top 20 on 20” and oldies “The 60s on 6” — which features what I think is XM’s most entertaining morning program, hosted by Phlash Phelps. Some of the numbers may raise eyebrows with expensive offerings from Martha Stewart on Sirius and Oprah Winfrey on XM not generating much interest. It’ll be interesting to see how these ratings reports influence the programming decisions going forward — especially if the two services are granted government approval to merge.

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On Halloween, Wednesday Oct. 31, at 10 p.m., Oldies CKWW-AM (580) will air what many consider to be the best radio drama of all time, H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds,” starring Orson Welles. When it was originally broadcast in 1938, the program convinced the nation that aliens from Mars had landed at Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, and were invading the world. The show airs in its entirety without commercial interruption — a perfect listening companion as you sort through the kids’ Halloween bags.

CKWW also airs the syndicated “When Radio Was” programs at 11 p.m. weekdays, which features Halloween-themed programs all this week.

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Public Radio WDET-FM (101.9) offers up a series of reports on suburban Warren all this week during “Morning Edition” (5 a.m.-10 a.m.), “Detroit Today” (10 a.m.-noon) and “All Things Considered” (4 p.m.-7 p.m.). As the innerring suburb turns 50 years old, WDET reporters Quinn Klinefelter, Zak Rosen, Amy Miller, Craig Fahle, Pat Batcheller, Heidi Ausgood, Noah Ovshinski, Mike Blank and Amanda LeClaire will report on city’s government, schools, business and diversity.

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Set your dial: The Somewhere in Time gang changes gears this week as hosts Tom Wilson and Heather Novak explore the beginnings of the Rock ’n’ Roll craze ands how it changed dance music tonight at 6 p.m. on WMUZ-FM (103.5) and WRDT-AM (560). Then, tune in WDET at 8 p.m. to hear “The Evolution of Jazz” with Ed Love, featuring recordings of the 1950s from artists such as Count Basie and his orchestra, Art Tatum with Buddy DeFranco, the final recordings of Charlie Parker and more.

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

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, October 28, 2007







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This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on October 28, 2007 11:20 AM.

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