On The Radio Columns: April 2007 Archives

By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioIt’s Palm Sunday and April Fool’s Day, so beware of your favorite station pulling a prank on you, the listener.

But tomorrow is Opening Day at Comerica Park, and there’s more buzz about the Tigers this year than any other in memory. Remember, this year will be the first time ever that Detroit baseball will be broadcast FM. All the games will be carried on hot talk WKRK-FM (97.1), which, especially after sundown, when many games are played, will make reception far better than the limited nighttime coverage of sports WXYT-AM (1270).

XM subscribers, meanwhile, can hear any game anywhere in the country. When the Tigers are at home, they’ll also feature Dan Dickerson and Jim Price at the helm with the Detroit broadcast on XM. Very cool indeed. Go Tigers!

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Just in time for the baseball season is a brand new four-CD set called “Ernie Harwell’s Audio Scrapbook.” If you love the game, or know someone who does, this is a must have, containing just about every memorable Ernie moment. You can get your own copy via his Web site, www.eharwell.com. We’re so very lucky to have this special sports icon, and his beautiful wife, Lulu, in Oakland County.


By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioThankfully, the Easter holiday hasn’t become what Christmas has in recent years. If Easter were treated like Christmas on the radio, we’d have been listening to “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” on soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) since about Valentine’s Day.

For this holiday, about the only special programming you’ll hear is on a number of stations that have dedicated themselves to broadcasting the word of God 365 days a year.

The most-listened to religious station in town is WMUZ-FM (103.5), which carries a combination of talk and contemporary Christian music during different parts of the day. The rest of the area’s religious stations, all of which boast a very loyal listener base, are on the AM dial.

Gospel WEXL-AM (1340), talk WLQV-AM (1500), and talk WRDT-AM (560) all carry 24/7 Christian programming and are joined by WCAR-AM (1090) and WDEO-AM (990), both of which focus on Roman Catholic listeners. Daytime-only WUFL-AM (1030) features a combination of Christian music and talk, and WCHB-AM (1200) programs gospel-based shows evenings, overnights and weekends.

Although these stations aren’t often discussed in this column, it’s obvious by looking at the sheer number of radio outlets that remain loyal to religious-based programming year after year that the market for this type of programming is quite large — even if it’s fragmented among so many stations locally.

Interestingly, the Detroit market has no stations that focus full-time on contemporary Christian music. In the Grand Rapids area, there are several stations that feature around-the-clock Christian top 40 and soft-rock sounds that do quite well in the ratings there and enjoy much higher visibility compared to our religious radio outlets. I wonder if that some day in the future one of the big commercial operators in town might take a chance on one of these formats instead of playing “copy the cross-town competitor” when they decide to move in a new direction.


By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioIt’s amazing how much damage the media can do. I am glad the culprit is television more often than radio, but “the wireless” is not 100 percent guilt-free.

My wish for this week’s column was to make my comments without even mentioning his name. Let’s face it, Imus is a four-letter word, and before the incredible over-the-top media coverage of this past week, you were perhaps one of the thousands, if not millions of Americans who either never heard of Don Imus or certainly were unfamiliar with his radio program.

He was once carried locally by sports WXYT-AM (1270) when it was a full-service talk station. He even came to Detroit twice to do his edgy show from a local theater — and on both occasions, he failed to significantly fill the venue. He never achieved the type of ratings success here in Motown that he enjoyed at his flagship station, sports WFAN-AM (660) in New York City.

Imus was actually once a funny man. Now, he’s an old grumpy curmudgeon who rarely smiles or has anything good to say about anybody. He’s also now unemployed.

His comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team were most certainly inappropriate, but much worse things are said on morning radio shows both local and nationally every day. Talk hosts like Imus are not “shock jocks.” They do not play music, and they are not DJs.


By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioAs I prepared to write this column, it was hard to focus on anything other than the tragic murder of 32 students and staff by a fellow student at Virginia Tech University.

When the story broke late Monday morning, local radio once again jumped into action to provide coverage to those that couldn’t — or didn’t want to — watch footage on TV. I was limited in my ability to listen on Monday, but I was grateful for the coverage I did catch to get late-breaking information.

To me, though, the real challenge came the next morning, when loyal listeners tuned in to their favorite hosts to hear how they would handle the story. The Mojo in the Morning crew at contemporary hits WKQI-FM (95.5) has become a powerhouse when it comes to connecting with young adults — both in good times and bad. And Tuesday, they displayed their knack for knowing their audience by balancing commentary and information, all the while keeping a positive vibe going.

On Drew & Mike at rock WRIF-FM (101.1), morning co-host Drew Lane reminded his listeners that he’s a Virginia Tech grad, which offered a perspective that no other morning show in town could match.

Later in the morning, Lane and Mike Clark announced they had landed the cell phone number for O.J. Simpson, the subject of one of the most sensationalized news stories of the ’90s, and gave him a call. Simpson was quite cordial during the nearly 10-minute call, even managing to poke fun at himself when commenting that “I’m not the most employable person,” in the process offering a bit of comic relief in the midst of all the painful coverage of the slayings in Virginia.

The WRIF boys managed to chat with Simpson about everything from golf and visiting strip clubs to getting him to comment on the flap over Don Imus’ comments, the civil lawsuit ruling against him from the 1994 slayings of his former wife Nicole and Ron Goldman, and his feelings about the Virginia Tech shootings. It was a great “get” for WRIF — and is a clear example of why Drew and Mike continue to be near the top of the ratings heap year in and year out.


By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioOn May 4, WJR-AM (760) will be celebrating its 85th birthday in grand style. Since 1922, the news-talk station has been entertaining and informing people throughout the Midwest, the 50,000-watt Great Voice of the Great Lakes will celebrate over the course of two nights.

As a part of the big event, the station will be hosting “An Evening with Rush Limbaugh” on Thursday at the Rock Financial Showplace in Novi. Tickets went very fast, and the venue is completely sold out.

The next night features a private, invitation-only birthday party in Dearborn. A special screening also will take place of a video history of WJR, which was produced by creative director John Marshall and yours truly. I’ll be attending both events and will report to you the next time we meet.

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Strange But True Department: An XM subscriber in St. Louis says his channels carry “promotional and advertisement segments” and he’d like his complaint certified as a class-action suit. And a judge in the Gateway City is allowing a false-advertising claim to proceed.

XM asked the court to throw out the suit, stating “it’s without merit” and the accusations are “baseless” — because it doesn’t run commercials on its own music channels. To explain, Clear Channel Radio owns a small percentage of XM, and on a few channels, which they program, there are some commercials.

These insane, frivolous suits cause me to wonder what kind of people have nothing better to do with their time. As is the case with anything on the air that listeners don’t like, I say just change the station. The satellite radio companies have nearly 200 channels to choose from. Stop with the legal action — just hit the button for something better.







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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the On The Radio Columns category from April 2007.

On The Radio Columns: March 2007 is the previous archive.

On The Radio Columns: May 2007 is the next archive.

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