On The Radio Columns: May 2007 Archives

By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioHow do the local numbers add up? Well, news-talk WJR-AM (760) got to celebrate its 85th birthday in style on Friday by being on top of the latest quarterly ratings report among all listeners. All-news WWJ-AM (950) finished right behind, followed by urban WJLB-FM (97.9), hits WKQI-FM (95.5), and adult urban WMXDFM (92.3). The Christmas cheer at soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3) wore off with a ninth place overall finish, down from second in the fall quarterly ratings report.

Country WDTW-FM (106.7) made quite a “Fox”-y move up the ratings ladder, closing in rather closely to WYCD-FM (99.5). Year-to-year, 106.7 the Fox has doubled its numbers from 1.5-3.0, while WYCD has tumbled 5.1-3.4. Gotta admit, I didn’t see that coming.

Sports stations WDFN-AM (1130) and WXYT-AM (1270) finished tied for the winter quarter in their never-ending tussle for supremacy among sports fans. Betcha both stations are hoping for long playoff runs for the Red Wings and Pistons to get their spring numbers back up.

In the race for morning listeners, Drew & Mike of rock WRIF-FM (101.1) continue to lead Joe Donovan and Roberta Jasina of WWJ, Mojo and crew at WKQI, Paul W. Smith of WJR, and Steve Harvey of WMXD.


By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioHappy Mother’s Day! My mom and dad, whom I am blessed to still have, even at my advanced age, both listen to a lot of radio — but, of course, radio cares little about people in their age group.

Most of last week was spent in the Windy City of Chicago observing and listening, mostly to the radio. I took in a little television, mostly to see if I could spot the lovely sister of Detroit traffic maven Jo-Jo Shutty-MacGregor. Her sibling, Sharon Wright, is a news reporter for WMAQ-TV NBC 5 in Chicago and looks much like the former Big 8 CKLW chopper reporter from the ’70s. Today, Jo-Jo is still doing traffic for the Michigan AAA Network.

About 10 days ago, as part of WJR-AM’s (760) big 85th birthday celebration, the station presented “An Evening with Rush Limbaugh.” Even at $50 per ticket, the Rock Financial Showplace in Novi was packed with more than 2,000 people — and that’s a “conservative” estimate.

After an introduction by popular WJR personalities Paul W. Smith and Frank Beckmann, El Rushbo did a solid two hours with the crowd, interrupting his talk close to 100 times with applause.

Prior to his addressing the passionate crowd, a video tracing the history of WJR Radio was shown. WJR Creative Director John Marshall and I produced the video and were surprised at some of the reaction from the very vocal audience. For example, when former Tiger announcer Ernie Harwell and the late J.P. McCarthy appeared, the crowd cheered wildly. When Mitch Albom, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick popped up on the screen, the response was decidedly less enthusiastic. I witnessed something similar at last year’s Sean Hannity appearance at the Ren-Cen, also sponsored by WJR (you can see the video at www.wjr.com).


By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioScrutiny of the radio business has probably never been higher than in recent weeks, and most of the attention has not been positive.

Shock talkers have been the biggest targets, as one scandal seems to be followed quickly by another, and high-profile personalities are either getting fired or placed on long suspensions as a result of broadcasting offensive material under the guise of being edgy or funny.

Only thing is, there is no humor in racial and ethnic stereotyping, as Don Imus and New York City personalities JV & Elvis have shown, or in references to rape, as satellite radio bad boys Opie & Anthony recently did. You’ve lost your edge when you resort to making fun or taking advantage of others and label it as entertainment.

Twenty- and 30-something men are falling all over themselves across the Internet in protest of the actions being taken against these so-called talents, mostly claiming free-speech violations. The Rev. Al Sharpton, in an appearance in Troy last week, had the perfect answer, correctly explaining that free speech is a two-way street.

I commend those who exert their right of free speech against what essentially has become sanctioned bullying over the airwaves.

Most schools now have strict policies against bullying as a way to address the kinds of issues that may have played a role in the tragedies at Columbine High School in 1999 and at Virginia Tech earlier this spring. Over and over again, we hear questions of what could have been done to prevent these kinds of horrible events.

Maybe society is starting to figure out that one of the most important things we can do is be consistent in our messages. If we’re not going to accept bullying in our schools, it’s time to stop accepting that kind of programming on the radio, too.

For those who get their kicks out of hearing the bits that are now rightly under scrutiny, I invite you to talk to some victims of ethnic hate crimes or rape and see if there is anything funny about their stories. Or maybe just talk to a kid that has been bullied and honestly try to learn how that feels.

Let’s get radio back to a place where true creativity and humor take center stage without all the unnecessary degradation of people who might look or act differently. Let’s let Paul W. Smith, Dick Purtan, John Mason and countless others both locally and nationally give some lessons on how a real radio pro should act on the air.

Radio isn’t dead — it just needs to let the best rise to the top again and minimize the desire to always be in the spotlight for being on the edge. As we’re learning, hanging out on that edge might just mean you’re due to fall off.


By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioWe’re smack dab in the middle of our long Memorial Day week-end, and today’s 91st running of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled to be carried on sports WDFN-AM (1130) beginning with pre-race festivities at 10 a.m. The race can be seen on WXYZ-Channel 7, too, but despite the insane gas prices, this weekend will find many of us, including yours truly, traveling by car. Drive to arrive alive.

 • • • • • • • • 

Get your hammers and paint brushes prepared, and get ready for the triumphant return of one of this areas best loved home improvement radio hosts, Murray Gula, who debuts next weekend on sports/talk WDFNAM (1130). He will be on 8-10 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday ready to take your call at (800) 998-FIX IT (3494.)

It was a difficult six weeks recovering from major bypass surgery, but the “new” Murray is considerably slimmer and much wiser about his personal improvement, as well. He also will continue in his role on Channel 7’s Web site at www.wxyz.com with his live Web chat show, “Lunch with Murray,” at noon Thursdays, and his guest shot 10:30 a.m. Fridays with Bob Allison on ethnic/talk WNZK-AM (690). Murray’s longtime friend and co-host will continue to be Joe Giordano. Welcome back Mr. Gula, we missed you.

 • • • • • • • • 

One of XM’s two satellites went on the fritz last Monday. XM apparently was updating software one of its satellites, but things didn’t go as planned and the signal went down. The east satellite pivoted so that the signal was not pointed toward Earth.

Listeners said they first lost reception late that morning. Phone reps were telling callers the troubles could last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. It was corrected about 24 hours later.

XM’s other satellite in space continued to operate normally. The biggest problem was that just one satellite doesn’t adequately cover the entire country.







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About this Archive

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

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

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

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