On The Radio Columns: November 2007 Archives

By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioIs 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.

 • • • • • • • • 

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.

 

By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioThe sudden dismissal of Tom Ryan and ‘Matinee’ Mindy Markowitz from WOMC-FM (104.3) a week ago Friday after nearly 18 years together as a duo on the oldies station, the last 11 of them in afternoon drive, was the start of two bad days for local radio.

Markowitz and Ryan were hired both by WOMC in 1984; Mindy as a sales assistant and Tom as a veteran jock who moved from CKLW-AM (800).

As for why the duo was fired, general manager Kevin Murphy explained to them that the station was simply moving in a new direction — a reason that is particularly hard for fans to grasp. Many listeners view the pair as friends and aren’t fond of the idea having something changed that, in their eyes, wasn’t broken.

Meanwhile, rumors became reality when WOMC announced that former FM 97.1 host Jay Towers had joined the station, not as a replacement for Ryan and Markowitz, but as midday host and assistant program director.

Evening jock Bo Derek moved to afternoons temporarily to provide a live voice in afternoon drive. Other than the morning show hosted by Dick Purtan and crew, the lineup at WOMC has been in flux seemingly more than it’s been stable. Until Towers started on Friday, last week’s lineup consisted of one regular program, Purtan’s, followed by three fill-in hosts.

Going in a new direction seems to have become a habit at WOMC. Dana Masucci was fired for the same reason from middays earlier this year; she was the replacement for Tom Force — who also was given the new direction speech about three years ago.

Both Ryan and Markowitz remain upbeat. In an e-mail, Ryan said, “Mindy and I had a great run at WOMC, and we owe it all to the great listeners who tuned us in every day. It started in the mornings and then when Dick arrived, we continued our silliness on the ‘Ridin’ Home with Ryan’ show.”

“The Internet has made it possible for Mindy and I to know the listeners better, either through contests or just daily hellos. I will miss WOMC greatly, mostly because of the people we worked with daily, what a great group. We all became like a family. But this business is crazy and things like this happen.”

Markowitz commented, “We both used to love doing personal appearances and remotes because we got out of the studio and were able to meet the people that listened to us and enjoyed the program. I have so many wonderful memories of our time on the show, and I’m only going to look forward. Hopefully, someone will pick us up, and we’ll be back on the airwaves in no time.”

I talked with Art Vuolo who was in Florida as this news broke. “My cell phone rang and it was Mindy fighting tears as she related to me what had happened to her and Tom. I was stunned. The next morning, I spoke to Dick Purtan who was equally surprised by the news that his longtime friends had been eliminated from the staff.”

“I also spoke with Elaine Baker, who had been the general manager of WOMC for nearly 21 years. She expressed disappointment in the decision to oust these staples of afternoon drive-time indicating, ‘Tom is about Detroit and all the things that are good about the city.’ ”

It’s not easy to replace great people like Ryan and Matinee Mindy. Especially when their dismissal has been handled in what appears to be such a heartless fashion.

 

By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioHow about that Michigan/Ohio State game Saturday? One thing’s for sure, it’s providing lots of fodder for sports radio talk shows, but what is happening to the morning shift at WDFN-AM (1130), known as The Fan?

Mike Austerman and I both felt surely that Greg Brady and Jamie Samuelsen would be returning, making less money, but at least with a job. So it was a surprise to me when Rob Otto popped up last week. Perhaps management felt he would represent an “otto-matic” fix, while talks continue with Brady and Samuelsen.

 • • • • • • • • 

Dennis Dale McLain back on the radio? Well, if Denny was making that call, the famous Tigers pitcher from the late ’60s would jump at the opportunity. Dan Zampillo, program director of WXYT FM/AM (now known as The Ticket), said “it’s been over a year since I’ve spoken to McLain, and we’re very happy with our current lineup.” That could squash other rumors that, current morning hosts, Deminski and Doyle might segue over to a music station replacing a top-rated program elsewhere on the FM dial.

As a side note, I recall McLain to be the last truly successful morning show on WXYT, and he’s savvy enough to talk about topics other than just sports, which is an important element on a morning show, even on an all-sports station. McLain is capable, but would the audience forgive and forget his well-documented sins of the past? I’d say McLain could score a home run at The Ticket, but I’ve been wrong before.

 • • • • • • • • 

Reports on the street have CBS Radio doing any number of things with 1270 AM, which is nearly a 50,000-watt afterthought right now. I felt they might return to a talk format with a roster of mostly syndicated programs, not currently available in Detroit. Other scenarios suggest selling the frequency to new owner which could take it religious or Hispanic. Stay tuned.

 

By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioThe holidays are a time for tradition, and soft rock WMGC-FM’s (105.1) Jim Harper and his Magic Morning Show compatriots will continue one of the longest-running traditions in local radio, starting Monday morning at Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, as they begin their 29th season of participation with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves’ Toys for Tots campaign.

The annual tour of area shopping malls to help collect new unwrapped toys will move to Laurel Park Place in Livonia on Tuesday, Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights on Wednesday and Macomb Mall in Roseville on Thursday and wrap up Friday at Oakland Mall in Troy.

Harper and the gang will broadcast live each morning 6-10 a.m., and each remote will feature a complimentary light breakfast, a visit from Santa and other special guests.

 • • • • • • • • 

Speaking of holiday traditions, how cool was it that classic rock WCSX-FM (94.7) aired Arlo Guthrie’s nearly 20-minute-long song “Alice’s Restaurant” not once, but four times on Thanksgiving Day? This was one “massacree” that I’m thankful hasn’t been forgotten.

 • • • • • • • • 

Public WDET-FM (101.9) is offering listeners the opportunity to attend a private reception Dec. 5 to celebrate the reopening of the Detroit Institute of Arts. A gift to WDET of $600 will give two people the opportunity to have an up-close look at the DIA’s magnificent reinstalled permanent collection and redesigned galleries.

The evening includes a strolling dinner in Kresge Court, followed by docent-led tours of the museum. Call (800) 959-9338 or visit www.wdetfm.org for more information.

 

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About this Archive

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

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

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

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