On The Radio Columns: August 2007 Archives

By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioFrom the sports desk, before the football season is officially under way, speaking on behalf of all of us who bring a radio to the game, please take your station “out of delay” during the game.

Hearing the action being described 10 to 15 seconds after it happens is not acceptable. It’s also causing fewer people to listen to radio while at the game, or watching it on TV with the sound turned down.

Ever since the days of the late Bob Ufer, radio audio is always better than the guys on TV, especially for college games.

 • • • • • • • • 

Speaking of sports, as Howard Cosell used to say, if you listened to “Parker and the Man” on WKRK-FM (97.1), you can still hear them nightly 9 p.m. till midnight over on the AM dial on WCHB-AM (1200). It’s a reasonably strong signal, even after dark.

 • • • • • • • • 

It’s time for another round of musical chairs on the Detroit urban radio scene.

Back in March, Skip Dillard left his post at Radio One, which owns and operates a trio of black stations in Motown including WDMK-FM (105.9), WHTD-FM (102.7) and WCHB-AM 1200. Finally slipping into Skip’s vacated chair is Al Payne, transferring in from Radio One in Richmond, Va.

This rotation of management was done by Jay Stevens, Radio One VP of programming content, whose old PD job at Washington, D.C.’s legendary WPGC-FM was taken by Dillard from Detroit.

If you can follow all of this, you’re better than I am. Al (I’m feeling no) Payne starts his new job in the Motor City on Aug. 13.


By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioPaperwork and electronic filing problems are likely going to cost high school radio station WBFH-FM (88.1).

The Federal Communications Commission served the Bloomfield Hills station with notice that late license renewal filings, unauthorized operations and incomplete records in its public file were severe enough violations to result in $17,000 worth of fines. The owner of WBFH, the Bloomfield Hills School District, identifies Peter Bowers as the station's general manager.

The good news in the FCC’s ruling was the official renewal of the station’s license.

WBFH, along with all the other radio stations in Michigan, was required to renew its license in 2004 to continue operations. But problems using a new electronic filing system at the FCC caused the station to miss a June deadline and then have its license lapse in October 2004 before the situation was corrected. The combination of the late filing and operations without a license drew $7,000 worth of fines.

Those problems drew the attention of Ed Czelada, co-founder of the contemporary Christian “Smile FM” group of stations in Michigan, who inspected and then reported problems with WBFH’s public file, a required set of paperwork that each station must maintain. While a petition to deny the license renewal for WBFH filed by Czelada was denied, the FCC did add on a $10,000 fine for the problems with the public file.

A petition from an out-of-state religious broadcaster to force WBFH to share the 88.1 frequency also was denied in this real-life radio soap opera.

It’s pretty clear just how cutthroat radio can be when seemingly simple mistakes result in a station putting its very existence in jeopardy. While the folks at WBFH are undoubtedly relieved to have kept their license, those fines are no doubt going to be a big downer for a station that has scored numerous awards for its on-air work.


By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioCan I finally unpack my suitcase? Don’t misunderstand me, I love to travel. I even like to fly, and now I can say unquestionably the best airline is Southwest. Period.

I just flew that friendly carrier to Chicago for the Morning Show Boot Camp, another one of a multitude of radio conventions that I attend each year. This custom confab caters primarily to high-profile (that means they make the most money) morning personalities from stations nationwide and even a few international attendees.

This year, only two Detroit morning shows felt a need to learn how to make their programs even better. They were Mojo and his whole crew from hits WKQI-FM (95.5) and Blaine Fowler, minus Lisa and Allyson, from pop WDVD-FM (96.3). Good for them — and, oddly enough, they’re neighbors on the FM dial.

If I can say this without sounding like a prude, and considering the new guidelines set by the FCC, I was amazed at the proliferation of profanity by the men and women. That damn convention had a hell of a lot of swearing.

 • • • • • • • • 

Meanwhile back on the home front, Oakland County is home to better than half of the radio stations in the greater Detroit area, and I think nearly all of them were involved to one degree or another in Saturday’s Woodward Dream Cruise.

Last year, it was very hot, but this year the weather gods were far more reasonable. If you never moved your dial off FM, you missed the great job that oldies/talk WPON-AM (1460) did all week long. You also missed the big Beatles special on oldies CKWW-AM (580).

 • • • • • • • • 

Speaking of automobiles, have you heard about the “cars for stars” program that General Motors has begun? It supplies major radio personalities — both nationally and locally — with new GM vehicles for a couple of weeks each month so that they’ll talk about them on the air.

Not a bad idea, but the people who are getting these cars are the same people who can easily afford them. However, they are the most listened to and most influential hosts on the air.

It’s a smart move by America’s No. 1 automaker, which will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2008.

It’s got to make Warren Pierce wonder about what he did wrong. You may recall that about a dozen years ago, Pierce, who hosts Saturday and Sunday mornings on news-talk WJR-AM (760), found himself in hot water for doing essentially the same thing while working at WJBK-Channel 2.

Somebody cue Bob Dylan because “the times they are a changin’.”


By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioThis past Thursday, Dana Masucci was unceremoniously dumped from the lineup at Oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) before her midday air shift as the station decided “to go in another direction.” Masucci had been with WOMC since January 2005, replacing Tom Force who was similarly given his walking papers in late 2004.

Now word on the street is that Force, who has kept his free-agent status since his firing, might be under consideration by station management to retake his spot behind the ’OMC midday mic. If that happens, maybe the first song Force should play is Huey Lewis and the News’ “Back in Time” from the “Back to the Future” movies — even if they are ’80s flicks.

 • • • • • • • • 

One of the more interesting battles for listeners on the FM dial has been occurring slightly under the radar. The ratings for public news-talk stations WUOM-FM (91.7)/WFUM-FM (91.1) and WDET-FM (101.9) are close, but WUOM/WFUM’s 1.3 rating outpaced WDET’s 1.1 rating among all listeners this past spring. That’s startling with WDET’s focus on Detroit and WUOM being located in Ann Arbor (WFUM repeats WUOM from Flint).

That 1.1 number for WDET is down from 1.4 in the spring of 2006, but holding steady from last fall. WDET is likely most concerned that there were an average of 7,900 people tuned in during any 15-minute period last spring, while during the fall and this spring there were only 6,300 listeners. While WDET does offer some unique programming from WUOM/WFUM, it appears that the station’s longtime status as the area’s most popular public radio station has been lost.

In fact, the classical and jazz format on WRCJ-FM (90.9) sits ahead of WDET with a 1.2 rating in the spring. WRCJ also boasts an impressive average time spent listening number of 6.8 hours — meaning WRCJ listeners don’t do a lot of dial flipping when they have their radios on.

In my observation, the buzz that WDET used to have around town when it was formatted with an eclectic mix of music and talk programs has now evaporated and the station has simply become just another public radio station.

It used to be that wearing a WDET T-shirt or using a logo coffee mug made a statement to others. Now, finding unique content on WDET usually means sitting through a ton of programming that’s easily available someplace else.

And other radio listeners look like they agree with that assessment as they stay away from WDET.







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About this Archive

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

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

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

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