On The Radio Columns: December 2007 Archives

By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioDid you see the piece on CBS-TV’s “60 Minutes” a couple of weeks ago titled “The Millennials?”

It was a scary report about the generation born between 1980 and 1995, and how they expect and demand everything. It’s something that everyone in the radio industry should watch. I archived it to DVD. It is a keeper.

The story shows emphatically that today’s “Millennials” also treat radio in ways very different than previous generations. The last place they go for music is their radio.

If they access it at all, it’s for news, sports, weather or traffic and (for some) the high-profile morning shows that feature strong personalities and entertainment. They download most of their music from the Internet. It’s never thought of as stealing, just borrowing and it has nearly destroyed the record business.

Today’s young audience, which was once the most sought after demographic by contemporary music stations, is no longer knocking on radio’s door. The only on-air talent these days who should feel a little safer are the morning shows, which lets face it, play far less (if any) music.

 • • • • • • • • 

Speaking of how you start your day, changes are in the offing. I hope you didn’t get too used to Jeff Deminski and Bill Doyle on WXYT (The Ticket) 97.1 FM since the countdown clock is ticking. and they have just 10 days left on the air in Detroit.

It’s a shame because they do a great job, but unless CBS Radio has a change of heart, they’ll keep them off the air locally thanks to a non-compete clause in their contract. Who loses? You do, the listening audience, but corporate radio is far more concerned with the bottom line than with your happiness.

Local media agent, Mike Novak, who represents Deminski and Doyle, indicated that they’ve made it known that they don’t want to work for CBS, which they call “Cheap Beyond Suspicion.” Could money be the issue? Money is always the issue. Some insiders feel the duo should swing over to rocker WRIF-FM (101.1) if Drew & Mike don’t reunite, and, oh, yeah if that contract clause thing can be worked out. I’m not predicting, just listening.

 

By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioIf you’ve ever wished you could check out the inner workings of the hugely popular Mojo in the Morning program on hits WKQI-FM (95.5), this might be your best opportunity.

A Michigan Association of Broadcasters Foundation online auction item features the opportunity for the highest bidder and seven guests to watch the Mojo in the Morning gang broadcast live in the studio for one hour.

Along with this rare opportunity to get inside a radio station, the auction also features a Detroit Pistons mini-vacation package that includes four tickets to the April 4 home game against the New Jersey Nets, dinner for four and hotel accommodations in Birmingham.

The auction supports MABF programs including scholarships, internships and education programs for students and young professionals interested in the broadcasting industry.

To bid and for more detailed information on these items, visit www.michmab.com and click on the Online Auction button — hurry as the auction is scheduled to end Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. You might just make some radio or Pistons fan very happy on Christmas morning!

 • • • • • • • • 

If CBS Radio could have picked a better time to change FM 97.1 to an all-sports format, I don’t know when that would have been.

Although the call sign remains WXYT-FM, they very well could have gone back to one they were using in the 1980s, WJOI-FM, to describe the exuberance that was expressed by all of their on-air hosts and most of the callers upon the announcement that the Detroit Tigers had pulled off a huge trade that many agree greatly enhances the team’s chances of returning to the World Series.

With the Detroit Lions suffering a late-season swoon and the search for a new head football coach at the University of Michigan thrown into turmoil, it was refreshing to hear the giddiness that was nearly universally expressed on WXYT and on rival WDFN-AM (1130) last week instead of the usual expected Lions-related hand wringing.

 

By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioAccording to certain holiday songs this is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, unless you work for one of the big radio conglomerates.

Two weeks ago, I said that the popular “The Deminski and Doyle Show” on sports WXYT-FM (97.1) was counting down its last 10 shows. They have apparently not been able to agree on a new contract with the station. In a move that some insiders call “questionable,” WXYT station management pulled the plug a week early, as Mike Austerman reported last Sunday. Some listeners have contacted us, calling the move “gutless” and “unfair” since the duo of the station’s top-rated show did not have a chance to say goodbye to their many fans. Both Austerman and I agree.

Only God knows who will be coaching University of Michigan football and if Jeff Deminski and Bill Doyle settle with CBS for an extension on their contract. If I could have it my way, Les Miles will take the U-M job, and Deminski and Doyle will remain on the air in Detroit. Stay tuned.

 • • • • • • • • 

Half of the “Jamie and Brady” team has resurfaced at The Fan, sports WDFN-AM (1130), just as we expected. But where is Gregg Brady? It appears that Clear Channel management, which, like so many radio owners, is trimming overhead and could not yet come to agreeable terms with Brady. Meantime Rob Otto remains on board with Jamie Samuelsen. This is not unique to just Detroit. In Los Angeles, Kim Amidon of the popular KOST morning show, “Mark and Kim,” was let go and her replacement is working for far less money. In Chicago, a popular local morning show was dropped by WGCI for syndicated funnyman Steve Harvey. Harvey is locally on Mix 92.3 FM, WMXD.

 

By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioThey’re baaaack. The familiar voices of Jay Towers and Bill McAllister will be returning to WXYT-FM (97.1), this time for mornings, beginning Jan. 2 at 6 a.m. The duo were co-hosts of “Motor City Middays,” along with Shila Nathan, until October when the station switched from talk to sports and both have remained under contract with CBS Radio. They will be joined by producer Jon Klaft for the 6-10 a.m. time slot. Nathan, who moved back to Pennsylvania, is not part of the current plans as the details of what will be called “Motor City Mornings” are still being worked out.

Towers commented that the opportunity came as a big shock, especially considering his recent appointment as midday host and music director for sister station Oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) — positions he will give up to move back into talk radio full-time. He commented, “I’ve really loved my time at WOMC and working for program director Scott Walker, who was working in the Philadelphia area, where I grew up. It’s been a dream come true working for Scott — but the opportunity to do mornings again was something I just couldn’t pass up.”

A new multi-year deal was cut through Los Angeles-based agent Glenn Goldstein who represents all three of the “new” guys and signals that WXYT management has decided to stick with a mainstream-style show in the morning that will focus on a variety of topics instead of only sports gab. Towers knows he’s not a sportstalk guy, but is comfortable calling on the knowledge of McAllister and all the other WXYT hosts when big sports-related stories are making news.

Plugging in a show that was already familiar to listeners gives the station an advantage of not having to start building a new audience from scratch and gives a clear example of why you rarely see radio personalities go out of their way to burn their bridges.

 • • • • • • • • 

The announcement of the Towers/McAllister combo marked the official end to the tumultuous relationship between CBS Radio management and former morning hosts Jeff Deminski and Bill Doyle who will be officially terminated on Dec. 31. Deminski and Doyle rejected a final contract offer from CBS about a week ago with the primary sticking point between the two sides being the length of the deal. CBS proposed two years with a six-month non-compete clause while D&D were seeking a one-year agreement so that everyone could better assess how the show matched up with the sports format of 97.1. Talking about their program’s listeners, Deminski commented, “People here are underestimated just like our show was. They are smarter, tougher, funnier, kinder and just plain better than the rest of the country gives them credit for. I’ve never had more fun or felt closer with any other group of fans. They deserved a farewell show, and so did we.”

When listeners invest in getting to know radio hosts, it’s tough to accept that the bond can be broken over what turns out to be a business decision. In a long-form talk program like D&D offered, listeners become more like friends because of how personal their show was at times. It’s a sad commentary that the link between listeners and radio hosts seems to be forgotten in the negotiation room.

Just like any other talk program, there were topics on the Deminski and Doyle program that weren’t appealing to everyone, but what shouldn’t be overlooked is that these guys worked extremely hard to learn the market and indeed became fully embraced by fans as fellow Detroiters.

As Deminski prepares to either sit out a one-year non-compete clause or take a job in another city he commented, “I want to wish the station and CBS much success. Plenty of good, hard-working people are still there behind the scenes, and I hope they keep them.”

 

Area radio losses cast a pall over 2007

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By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioThe year 2007 was one of the most tumultuous ever in the history of Detroit area radio. Sadly, we said goodbye to former J.P. McCarthy producer Hal Youngblood, along with Jim Davis, Marv Welch and out in Ann Arbor, Mr. Talk Radio, Ted Heusel.

Almost back to back were the double losses of Paul Christy of WNIC (100.3 FM) and WYUR (AM 1310), plus the untimely death of traffic reporter and WMUZ-FM (103.5) morning co-host Rhonda Hart.

Our very first helicopter traffic reporter Barney Stutesman of WXYZ flew over the rainbow, and we said farewell to Dr. Wendell Cox, who co-founded WCHB-AM and created Bell Broadcasting Co. with Dr. Haley Bell. Jim Harper’s longtime producer Mike Bradley lost his mom, and Paul W. Smith lost his dad, William D. Smith, but it was great to hear his recording of “A Letter to a Friend” which is also available on the web site www.wjr.com. The memorable Gregg Henson’s father died shortly after his mother. Gregg is currently in Austin, Texas.

 • • • • • • • • 

Many of our friends had their voices removed from the local airwaves, either by moving on, or in most cases not being renewed, or being let go by their respective stations. Names now missing include Michelle McKormick at 97.1 FM, along with Johnny Dee and Shila Nathan, followed two weeks ago by Jeff Deminski and Bill Doyle. Johnny Williams left Magic 105.1, Dana Masucci departed the midday slot at WOMC (104.3 FM), only to be followed a few months later by Tom Ryan and Mindy Markowitz, which really upset a lot of listeners, including me. Before that Ryan was told to talk less and play the oldies. We waved goodbye to Opie (Gregg Hughes) and Anthony (Cumia), who never really took root in Detroit, along with syndicated sports guys “Mike and Mike” at WXYT. Grad Brady and Matt Shepard are among the more recently departed, and the familiar voice of David Hall at Rock Financial is now just a memory.

 • • • • • • • • 

This past year started off with marathon shifts by Jay Towers and Bill McAllister at (what was then) Live 97.1 Free FM. Now they’re back but with more respectable hours. There was a huge push for HD Radio at the North American International Auto Show, and the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings joined the Lions on FM. Could the Pistons be jealous as the only local professional sport left on AM? Sports fans were also disappointed to hear Rob Parker of “Parker and the Man” ousted from FM and have to search for a new home, which they finally did at WCHB-AM (1200) complete with No. 1 sub Bernie Fratto.

A woman died in Sacramento, Calif., at a radio contest gone horribly wrong, and stations around here did a lot of rethinking about such promotional escapades. John Mason came back to the airwaves for at least a little while at WGPR-FM (107.5), and Steve Schram, enjoying greater stability at public radio in Ann Arbor, put up a higher tower for WVGR-FM (104.1) over in Grand Rapids. At country WYCD-FM (99.5), Ron Chatman was bumped up to director of digital technology but was gone by the middle of August. WJEW debuted at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield Township, as the brainchild of Corey Berkowitz, and is still alive and kicking at www.wjew.net.

 

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About this Archive

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

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

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