On The Radio Columns: July 2007 Archives

By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioWith summer vacation season fully kicking in this week, local radio stations are hoping you’ll include them in your local barbecue and beach plans.

Oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) will present its “Firecracker 500” starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, featuring tunes voted on by listeners who visited the station’s Web site at www.womc.com. In case you’re wondering, I’m the one who voted for the Supremes, Buddy Holly and Johnny Nash.

Not to be outdone, classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7) will present “USA to Z” on Wednesday, featuring all-American bands in alphabetical order, from Aerosmith to ZZ Top. Then, starting July 9, the station brings back its popular “Classic Rock A to Z,” featuring nearly 2,000 songs spanning “A Day in the Life” to “Ziggy Stardust.”

News WWJ-AM (950) is broadcasting live from Greenfield Village from 6-11 p.m. through Tuesday to help celebrate The Henry Ford’s 2007 Salute to America, featuring concerts by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performing favorite patriotic songs. Each concert concludes with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture during a spectacular fireworks display and live cannon fire. Visit www.thehenryford.org for more information.

Public WDET-FM (101.9) will air “Radio Lab,” a science show for people who think they don’t like science, beginning on Wednesday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and then 8 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 5. “Radio Lab” claims to break the mold of lifeless, technical summaries of academic scientific findings to re-create the thrill of “A-ha!” moments in scientific breakthroughs. If only they could figure out what makes the mustard splatter all over my shirt every time I eat a hot dog.

 

By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioIf I were to choose a theme song for these mid-summer weeks, it would have to be Rick Nelson’s “Travelin’ Man.”

Last Sunday, I returned from a Midwest regional radio conference known as The Conclave. Unlike many such events, this one is an excellent combination of teaching and socializing. It also goes by the handle of “The Learning Conference” and has strong ties to Southfield-based Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts.

The mantra that I was echoing at that meeting is simple. Rather than micro-dissecting formats and music rotation, more time should have been spent figuring out how to get people to just listen to the radio more often. In other words, beware of the white wires. When we see thin white wires hanging out of people’s ears, they’re not listening to radio, they are plugged into their iPod.

Take note as to the number of white wires you see these days in places where radios were once prevalent. If you’re in the radio industry, it should really scare you.

On Independence Day, I was invited to the beautiful home of friends who live on Commerce Lake. In their expansive kitchen that seemingly had everything, what was missing? A radio. There was a TV, but no radio.

At the talk radio convention I attended last month a panel moderator asked if anyone brought a radio to the gathering. I was the only one who did. When asked how many had a cell phone, nearly 100 percent of the hands went up.

The number of people who stood in line for the debut of the iPhone speaks volumes. When have you seen people lined up for a new radio? Not for satellite, and not for HD.

Broadcasters need to figure out a way to make radio cool again.

 

By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioThe big news in radio this week came from New York City, where WCBS-FM (101.1) reverted back to an oldies format on Thursday after an unsuccessful two-year run as variety hits “Jack FM.”

Fans of the oldies format in the Big Apple basically refused to embrace the station’s new direction and continued to clamor for a return of the old WCBS, which had carried the oldies banner since July 1972 before 2005’s switch to Jack.

When Jack was launched, short-sighted radio executives had decided that the term oldies was a bad word in terms of ad revenue and listeners and began making changes to many oldies outlets around the country — including locally at WOMCFM (104.3), which stopped using the oldies name but kept much of the same sound.

CBS radio management acknowledged that both ratings and revenue fell short of what they originally anticipated and decided the best course of action was to return a legendary station to the airwaves.

Now thanks in part to new research coming from Philadelphia, which is using a new ratings system called the Personal People Meter, it’s being determined that the oldies format indeed still has life left in it — much to the joy of oldies lovers in New York.

Now if we could just get CBS Radio bosses to free WOMC’s Tom Ryan and give him back his show again ...

 

By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioThere are weeks when either Mike Austerman or myself ask each other, “How are we gonna fit it all in?” Then there are times such as these mid-summer weekends in July when radio news seems to be happening everywhere except here. In our business, it’s called a slow news week. Of course, there’s always the temptation to print rumors, but the current news comes first.

As regular readers of this column know, I’ve been doing a great deal of traveling of late. My doctor suggested that I slow down. Thus far this month, I have been in Minneapolis, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, Phoenix, New York, and the New Jersey Shore.

This column was written while I was in the far Pacific Northwest visiting family and friends in Bellingham, Wash., a city reminiscent of the Peoples Republic of Ann Arbor in the 1960s. This college town, home to Western Washington University, is about 100 miles north of Seattle and not far from the Canadian boarder.

All of the commercial radio stations in Bellingham are owned by Detroit radio owner Ed Christian, whose well-respected Saga Communications is based in Grosse Pointe. On this Sunday, I’m in Neptune, N.J., celebrating a big Radio Greats NYC Reunion.

 • • • • • • • • 

A couple of weeks ago, I experienced the insanity of Atlanta and the first of five Sean Hannity Freedom Concerts. It went well, but security measures made the TSA at the airport look tame by comparison. Hannity, who is featured 3-5 p.m. weekdays on news-talk WJR-AM (760), is a god to his legions of fans, some of whom traveled many miles to see this show and support the troops in the Iraq War.

The remainder of his tour includes San Diego this week, followed by Dallas-Fort Worth, Cincinnati and wrapping up Sept. 11th in central New Jersey. More information can be found at www.hannity.com.

 

By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioThe spring ratings book is out, and news-talk WJRAM (760) continues to lead the parade of stations among all radio listeners. Adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3) jumped up to second place, followed by urban WJLB-FM (97.9), rock WRIF-FM (101.1), and Top 40 WKQI-FM (95.5).

Country WYCD-FM (99.5) was a big winner, with its number jumping from 3.4 in the winter to 4.4 and putting considerable distance between itself and competitor WDTW-FM (106.7), which fell to 2.3 from 3.0.

Pop WDVD-FM (96.3) also enjoyed a big jump in its overall rating, carding its best book in recent memory and climbing into the top 10 overall. Sports talker WXYT-AM (1270) put some distance between itself and competitor WDFN-AM (1130) once again, likely due to the Detroit Tigers returning to action during the spring.

Joining WDTW-FM in the what-did-we-do-wrong category were soft rockers WNIC-FM (100.3), which, interestingly, teased listeners with Christmas music last weekend, and WMGC-FM (105.1), along with classic rock WCSXFM (94.7).

WRIF’s Drew & Mike reign as the morning champs among all listeners, followed by Joe Donovan and Roberta Jasina on all-news WWJ-AM (950) and WMXD’s Steve Harvey. WRIF also was the top station in the highly sought-after age 25-54 listener group.

 • • • • • • • • 

WDET-FM (101.9) has lured Pat Batcheller into the world of public radio and hired him as the host for the station’s local segments during “All Things Considered,” heard afternoons 4-7 p.m. Regular listeners to WWJ will recognize the voice and name, as Batcheller spent the last nine years there.

A native of the area, Batcheller grew up in Trenton and is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts.

“Being the youngest in my family, I was always the last to know what was going on — I think that is why I got into news,” Batcheller says. “I hope after hearing a newscast, listeners feel that they learned some things and got to know their community a little better.”

 

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About this Archive

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

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

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

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