Double standard lies between radio, TV

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By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioGood grief, what is happening to my favorite medium? Personally, I’m getting mad at the insanity of the radio industry, and I’m bothered by the double standard between radio and television. Did you see how fast the recent utterance of the F-word live on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America” was dropped from the front page and how there was no mention of a fine for ABC or any of the hundreds of affiliates that carried the show? Yet, when a radio station lets less-offensive words slip on the air, it gets blasted with fines of more than $300,000.

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The big news since we last met was more of an “inside” story than a public one, but some broadcasters are calling this one “Imus 2.” Bob Grant is a legendary New York talk show host who specializes in kicking boring callers off the air. Some have called him the pit bull of talk radio with a style similar to comic Don Rickles. Industry trade paper Radio & Records was to give Grant a lifetime achievement award at its Talk Radio Seminar in March. The award was rescinded before even being presented because of the efforts of an anti-Grant listener who launched an e-mail campaign to the top brass at VNU/Nielsen, which owns R&R.

What makes this such a big deal is that radio and its on-air talent — in a supposedly free speech country — can be so easily manipulated by one or two people who complain instead of just changing the station. R&R — no doubt acting on commands from the corporate office — folded like a house of cards, according to Grant. Now its been rumored that several talk radio superstars are suggesting a boycott of the TRS. That would be unfortunate, because then “the terrorists win.”

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The main topic under “old business” is the merger between satellite radio rivals Sirius and XM. It was supposed to be finally approved last Thursday, but we’re still waiting. How all of this is going to work is still a mystery, since the two systems are incompatible and many of the channels are similar, which will no doubt result in massive layoffs in personnel from both on and off the air. Both terrestrial and satellite radio keeps cutting the most talented people. Every week, I read about top-shelf people leaving the business because either they make too much money or they said “something” on the air that somebody didn’t like. At the risk of sounding like an old Roy Orbison song, are we all “Running Scared”?

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Locally, Don Gosselin, who was the program director of pop WNIC-FM (100.3), lost his job and was replaced by midday host Theresa Lucas at the start of this year. It seems that only people who can wear two or three hats simultaneously retain their jobs anymore. Gosselin found some “brotherly love” at WBEN-FM in Philadelphia.

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When will Drew Lane be back at the “Drew & Mike” morning show on rock WRIF-FM (101.1)? That’s as much of a mystery as whether or not David Newman will ever be back on the air in Detroit, but AM drive on The Riff could be “whole again” soon.

Speaking of WRIF, the station will get pretty “racy” this year as it signs up to carry the Indy 500, the Brickyard 400 and several other NASCAR events. FM music stations are becoming more diversified.

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Reports are circulating that former 97.1 FM stars Jeff Deminski and Bill Doyle want to remain in town but contractually cannot be on the air locally. So the conventional wisdom feels the duo might do a show from a local studio for an out-of-town facility for the next year, after which they can entertain offers from Detroit stations. “Deminski & Doyle” fans, have faith — they shall return.

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If you have never seen the superb award-winning documentary “The Rise and Fall of The Big 8, CKLW,” there will be a special free screening at the Detroit Winter Blast Film Festival the weekend of Feb. 8, so mark your calendar. It’s part of CKLW’s 75th anniversary celebration. If you grew up in the ’60s or ’70s, this is a must-see film and features a lot of names you know, including your humble radio reporter.

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Out in Ann Arbor, talk WAAM-AM (1600) had its highest ratings ever. Could that be credited to top-flight morning host Lucy Ann Lance? In a “budgetary move,” she was let go at the end of December. Quick, call her back. WAAM is adding a live afternoon show with the controversial Thayrone, but syndicated Bill Bennett in the morning won’t pull the audience Lance did. She was the best.

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Bob Dutko, longtime broadcaster on Christian WMUZ-FM (103.5), will be taking his “Defending the Truth” program to seven other states via syndication, plus locally 4-5 p.m. on WRDT-AM (560). Those same stations also feature Tom Wilson every Sunday at 6 p.m. with the music of the king of jazz, Paul Whiteman.

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A couple of days ago, the Federal Communication Commissions gave its approval for the sale of Clear Channel Radio to a large investment organization. As radio continues to be owned by bankers, instead of broadcasters, get ready for a bumpy road ahead.

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Belated happy birthday to ex-Tiger broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell, who turned 90 this past Friday and is still going strong.

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Try to stay warm, and remember the radio works in the home and office, as well as in the car.

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Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com. Contact him at artvuolo@aol.com.


Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, January 27, 2008

 

1 Comments

I too am still waiting for the return of David Newman. He is one of the best local host we ever had. I would like to see him replace Dr. Laura at 10:00 pm and move the Dr. to 1am.

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This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on January 27, 2008 10:54 AM.

Metro Detroit: Newsmakers Jan 27, 2008 was the previous entry in this blog.

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