WKRK-FM experiences the cold side of business

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By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioA little over a week ago, the lines at the Secretary of State offices were long as people feared a state government shutdown. But those lines were not as long as the unemployment line outside of what used to be hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1).

Vice President/ General Manager Kevin Murphy was brought to Detroit by CBS Radio because he’s very good at “adjusting the bottom line” which often requires displacing of personnel. Business can be very cold, but this past week, despite our unseasonably warm weather, generated a considerable chill in the air. With the somewhat unexpected shift of sports WXYT-AM (1270) over to the 97.1 frequency several free FM staffers were let go.

Names you may know with uncertain futures include, Johnny D, Jay Towers, Bill McAllister, Shila Nathan and producer Jon Klaft. The AM side of the new combo billed as “Detroit’s Sports Powerhouse,” lost the Mike and Mike Show, and the FM side waved goodbye to New York City-based Opie and Anthony. You can still hear and see Mike and Mike on ESPN 2 via cable TV, and Opie and Anthony continue to be carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 202.

McAllister had been with the station as a key part of several midday shows for the past seven years, stretching back to just after Ed Tyll left town.

Johnny D, in contrast, was only with the station for about six months. He left a morning show at Toledo/Monroe top 40 WTWR-FM (98.3) to come here. He continues to pull the afternoon shift down in Lima, Ohio, at Wild 93.9 FM. As a huge University of Michigan fan, perhaps an opportunity may present itself with the new sports FM.

A well-known name, Jay Towers, who weekends on Fox 2 WJBK-TV, is exploring new opportunities since sports is not his arena of expertise. This is his second time to be displaced by an abrupt format change. The last time was when top 40 WDRQ-FM (93.1) suddenly became “Doug-FM.” Stay tuned for his next move.

Shila Nathan came to Motown from heritage top 40 power house WKRZ in northeast Pennsylvania, and insiders say that CBS is trying to find a place for her within the company. She, Johnny D and Klaft all got the short end of the stick.

The only survivors were top-rated Jeff Deminski and Bill Doyle, with producer Bill “Beaver” Tortoriello and phone screener Rudy DeSantis. D&D are unsure what the future holds after their contract expires in December. Represented by topnotch local agent Mike Novak, the duo wants to stay together and wants to stay in Detroit.

Reports that Deminski would return to his former NJ 101.5 FM are untrue, but ex-midday host Casey Bartholomew (without Scott Hasick) did return to the New Jersey FM talker.

Personal commentary: This is a transition with 1270 AM and 97.1 FM to swing the sports audience from AM to FM, which has the far superior signal. Then CBS will probably re-launch 1270 AM as a mainstream talk station with programming largely supplied by CBS-owned Westwood One and other networks, which offer several of the nation’s top talk shows.

Syndication costs less than live local shows, which 97.1 is placing a high emphasis on. Also, wouldn’t Parker and The Man sound great on the “new” 97.1 FM? And what is to become of Parker fill-in host Bernie Fratto, who still does those excellent Lions post-game shows? Will another station fill the FM Talk hole locally?

 • • • • • • • • 

Quick Hits: Top 40 WKQI-FM (95.5) has been offering apologies all week for last Tuesdays stunt on the Big Boy (not related to the restaurant) Show when he suggested a Britney Spears suicide watch.

Tasteless, but it did generate huge amounts of publicity, PD Dom Theodore, is one of the most decent radio executives in Detroit, but he took the heat, as morning host Mojo expressed his disgust for the stunt. Ironically, morning show co-host Spike is conducting a benefit walk for suicide prevention at Kensington Park in Milford this morning at 11 a.m. Whoa!

 • • • • • • • • 

Citadel Communications, the new owner of news-talk WJR=AM (760) has pulled the plug on nighttime HD broadcasting, so after-dark listening will be more interference-free. With big 50,000 watt AM’s in HD at night, WSB-AM (750) in Atlanta and WABC-AM (770) in New York, also owned by Citadel, put a major “squeeze” on WJR outside the immediate Detroit area.

 • • • • • • • • 

Speaking of Citadel, reports say they are thisclose to signing Don Imus in New York, perhaps for WABC which makes us wonder if he’d be carried in Detroit on 760 AM, 96.3 or 93.1 FM, all owned by that company.

 • • • • • • • • 

Oldies CKWW-AM (580) has added a Donny Osmond ’70s feature called “8 track playback” with the emphasis on the ’70s, which airs daily at 12:50 p.m. The station has also launched a new toll-free request line (866) 554-5858. AM 580 features ’50s, ’60s and ’70s oldies.

 • • • • • • • • 

While down in Charlotte, N.C., for the NAB/R&R Radio Conventions, I met Twist legend Chubby Checker, who just celebrated a birthday Oct. 3. He looks sensational and has a new CD entitled “Knock Down the Walls.” Both pop and urban stations should check this out. Visit www.chubbychecker.com.

 • • • • • • • • 

Lastly, do those TV spots for new cars showing an iPod plugged into the dashboard radio bother you as much as they do me?

 • • • • • • • • 

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, October 7, 2007

 

6 Comments

CBS screwed up pretty badly this time around. While they're likely to see some success with their sports-FM in markets that didn't have a strong sports presence, being able to carry an all sports format in the detroit area isn't going to be easy. Look at WDFN: they're not rolling in ratings. Also, part of the reason WKRK was still viable was the 18-35 female demographic. I know my wife listened to WKRK as background noise. She was listening to D&D right up until their move to the 6-10am slot. CBS isn't going to get those numbers back any time soon, and unless they can make a powerhouse station, they'll likely be making another format change in the next 6 months to 2 years.

And you know why iPod decks are getting so popular in cars? Because of the pablum that passes for music these days on terrestrial radio. Station Managers need to start taking some risks to help differentiate their stations from one another. I shouldn't be able to go to any major rock station in the country and hear the same music, save for a few local favorites. I should be able to hear radio being dangerous again; not because of on-air antics, but because of content that makes me think, and challenges me. I spend most of my day listening to podcasts of things that would never make it into a major radio station, and judging from the interference I get on the road from my transmitter, many people are heading down that same path. I know my wife is exploring pocasts to fill her afternoon void now that WKRK is essentially off the air.

What is the fate of Bob Bauer's Outdoor World?

wXYT should return to local talk and some syndication. If David Newman is up to it he should return to local radio. I can see them picking up Bill O'Reilly, and possibly Michael Savage as his show is tape delayed at WDTK. Hard to pick-up at night. There are a lot of other sybdicated show that could be used including some local shows.

Mike and Mike are on XM also.....Jay tower's show bored me...Bob Bauer was always eating on air smacking his lips so I shut that off months ago. I would love to see D&D succeed sine ding and dong (drew and mike) bore the hell out of me now that I'm over 35....D&D need to target the 36+ male and/or female to succeed and develop their niche. Howard Stern and everyone else flopped in The big D. D & D need sports, stocks, entertainment, and Big toys news...latest cars, TV's, Computers that cost$$$, Ipods, phones, Political topics and Michigan travel...go somewhere for the weekend and tell us about it! We are bored but have money!!!!!!!!!

this show sucks and i no that everyone i no that listens feel that they lost many family members, as do i, and i think that whomever is running this station now are gonna be sssooooooo sorry--- they should hang on to d&d because sports all day, every day, SUCKS!!!!! and deople are gonna get sick of it

BRING BACK BOB BAUER'S OUTDOOR WORLD, 97.1 SUCKS S SPORTS RADIO

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This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on October 7, 2007 8:21 AM.

West Michigan: Newsmakers Oct 7, 2007 was the previous entry in this blog.

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