By: Art Vuolo
Is it me or is radio just not the same anymore? As those of you who are regular readers of this column know, I’ve been on the road quite a bit this year, and as I travel I listen to the radio — a lot of radio — and much of it sounds the same.
At a recent radio convention (I seem to go to nearly all of them), consultant Mike McVay hosted a panel called “Keeping Adults on the Radio.” He spoke about growing up near Pittsburgh and listening to a talk show by the name of Party Line on KDKA-AM (1020). It was hosted by a husband and wife team, Ed King and wife Wendy, and no delay was necessary because you never heard the callers on the air.
Oddly enough, as a kid, I used to listen to that same program while growing up in Indianapolis, a city in which I spent my “wonder years.”
McVay said it was truly a compelling radio show, and it was that type of programming that made him want to get into the business. How much of what’s on the air today is truly compelling, and does anything you hear today make you feel like getting into the radio industry?
Last week while I was in Pittsburgh, and after more than 40 years, I had the chance to meet Wendy King. She saw the video of McVay and heard his comments about Party Line, and she was impressed with his insightfulness.
For me, it was a thrill to meet the true first lady of talk radio.
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Speaking of KDKA, this past Friday marked the 87th birthday of the first commercial radio broadcast. Interestingly, radio will celebrate its 100th anniversary on Nov. 2, 2020, but what it’s going to sound like in another 13 years?
Personally, I think it’s strange that our own news WWJ-AM (950), which also claims to be the oldest station in the United States, and KDKA are currently both owned by CBS. As a further tie-in, ace morning news reporter Rob Milford at KDKA will be one of the more distinguished alumni returning to Plymouth High next Saturday for a 35-year reunion celebration of the school’s WSDP-FM (88.1), known as “The Escape.” Milford was one of the students who helped put the station on the air. He’s also been heard numerous times on WWJ and over on 97.1 FM with Deminski and Doyle.
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There are a couple of new books hitting the shelves that will be of interest to radio and music lovers, and by the next time we meet, I will give you a full (book) report.
One is from legendary DJ Cousin Bruce Morrow in New York and the other is from former WKRK-FM programmer John Gorman, now based in Cleveland.
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Quick Hits: More home improvement news. Adam Helfman’s “Hire It Done” on sports-talk WXYT-AM (1270) and FM 97.1, plus oldies WOMC-FM (104.3), is now history. But because Helfman owns the show’s name, he’s taking it to another station. WXYT has replaced it with a program called “Remodel It Right.” Helfman vows to return to the airwaves soon. It might be on a music station, and it could be on FM. Stay tuned.
MoJo and his whole crew have been renewed at WKQIFM (Channel 955), so we should ready ourselves for several more years of phone scams and some of the wilder stunts on local radio. Congratulations to the MoJo in Morning Show. They love Detroit.
Yesterday, the University of Michigan vs. Michigan State University game was back on WJR-AM (760). Since ’JR is now the Home of the Spartans, who took on the Wolverines, the game was on The Big Stick again, but with George Blaha instead of their own Frank Beckmann. Strange.
Former country WYCD-FM (99.5) general manager Maureen Lausord transferred out to Los Angeles about three years ago to run heritage CBS oldies station KRTH, known as K-Earth 101. In a budgetary move, she is now without a job looking for her next opportunity. Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz” best described the radio business with one line: “My, people come and go so quickly around here.”
A reader last week wondered “what is the oldest FM station in Detroit.” Oddly enough, it was the FM counterpart to WWJ at 97.1 FM, which today is sports WXYT-FM. The second oldest is urban WJLB-FM (97.9). The first independent FM, not affiliated with an AM station, was WLDM-FM (95.5) which featured instrumental beautiful music for many years in the ’50s and ’60s.
General manager Tom Bender of Greater Media, which owns WRIF, WCSX and WMGC, is a local native who was named GM of the Year by Radio Ink magazine. Bender is unquestionably one of the most respected in the business.
Tom Wilson plays the music of the Ink Spots on his Somewhere in Time program over WMUZ-FM (103.5) and WRDT-AM (560). Oh yeah, did you set your clocks back an hour last night?
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Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, November 4, 2007