Columnist bids farewell in a week of goodbyes on the radio

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By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioWhen Mike Austerman and I began writing this column in September of 2001, our country had just suffered the worst catastrophe in our lifetime and more than 75 percent of the nation's population heard about it first on radio. It was a sad way to start this run which has lasted over six and a half years

Unfortunately we're going to end in much the same way.

The biggest news of this past week was probably the worst-kept secret in Detroit radio. It was the hardly unexpected departure of Drew Lane from the top-rated Drew & Mike morning show on rock WRIFFM (101.1). It has been extensively covered in both newspapers and TV, but the saddest news came from behind the scenes at The Riff.

It was the most untimely death of Bob Kozaitis who was the director of Sales and Events and Online Marketing for WRIF. General Sales Manager John Long said "it was a very difficult week for everyone in the building and it truly puts the Drew Lane story in proper perspective."

Kozaitis was on calls for the radio station and reports say he had pulled off the M-59 freeway near Squirrel Road to check on his vehicle and stepped too close to the highway when a truck struck him. He was reportedly killed instantly. It's a tragedy and the fact that he was only 36 years old made it even worse. Bob had been with WRIF for the past 10 years, in charge of many station events including Harley Fest, and the Stars and Stripes Festival in Mount Clemens. He will surely be missed.

On a related note, I want to commend Mike Clark, Trudi Daniels, Mark Fellhauer and Mike Wolters for a masterful job of "facing the music" and presenting a most difficult program to broadcast last Wednesday while dealing with the loss of a close friend and colleague and the front page story of a longtime team member seemingly leaving the family.

 • • • • • • • • 

Ten days ago I attended the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Convention in Las Vegas and was proud to watch local radio icon Ed Christian given the Ward L. Quaal Pioneer Award. Quaal, a Michigan native from Ishpeming, attended the University of Michigan and the event was a proud moment for Christian, who is the president and CEO of Saga Communications, which owns stations throughout the country, but none locally. Quaal is the genius who built WGN in Chicago into one of America's most legendary radio stations.

 • • • • • • • • 

The "Reel" Tom Ryan, who worked at CKLW-AM (800) in the days when it was The Big 8 a Top 40 dynasty, recently demonstrated to me an Internet Wi-Fi Radio made by Sangean. It is an amazing piece of equipment and allows the user to listen to any radio station in the country that streams its programming on the Internet.

My favorite overnight radio program is the unique Joey Reynolds Show on New York's WOR. Since the nighttime skywave signal is at best unreliable, it's crystal clear at each evening at midnight with no fading and no static. The same goes for my other favorite, The Bob & Tom Show on When this becomes available in cars via the wireless Internet, it will radically change how we listen to the radio. Stay tuned.

 • • • • • • • • 

Hear the big band music of crooners like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby with Tom Wilson on WMUZ-FM (103.5) at 6 p.m. Did you hear Tom Kent's exciting new Friday night show on WOMC-FM (104.3)? Truly incredible. And Don Philips wants all his fans to know how much he misses playing the oldies overnight at that station. He also said it was difficult for PD Scott Walker to carry out the wishes of corporate CBS beancounters.

 • • • • • • • • 

From Mike Austerman: "On a personal note, last week (online only) was my final radio column for The Oakland Press. I want to express my gratitude to every one of you who have read this column since September 2001 -- and especially to those who were also loyal readers of our predecessors. It's been a pleasure covering radio for you each week along with Art."

The radio industry has known me by the moniker "Radio's Best Friend" for the past three decades and I've tried to be that to both the members of the local radio fraternity and you the loyal readers of this column. We will continue to cover this marvelous medium via and mine Keep the radio on ... it's the last bastion of free entertainment.

 • • • • • • • • 

Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Contact him at


Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, April 27, 2008



I'm sorry to see "On The Radio" end in its print form. From my distant post in the Pacific Northleft, it gave me a chance to keep track of the goings on in an area I grew up in. I will miss it.

Now I don't know if you've considered this, but how bout keeping the column alive on This is not to put the knock on chat rooms like the Michigan Radio/TV Buzzboard, but columns like "On The Radio" deal with fact or informed opinion from people who know what's going on and not speculation from folks with their own opinion or agenda.

Another advantage of continuing the column on the net would be your ability to express your opinion a little more. Back in February, you guys ran a series of articles that contained much editorializing. They were wonderful, the Feb. 17th piece on "Is Radio Dead" being a prime example. When you guys give your views, I tend to look at it in the same way one looks at a newspaper editorial, a well thought out opinion based on the facts as you know them. Well informed opinion is vital to the thought process.

In any case, thank you for keeping me informed over the years. It's been a great ride, and you should be proud of the work you did.

Doug Shirk
Rock Island, WA






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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on April 27, 2008 9:28 AM.

West Michigan: Newsmakers April 27, 2008 was the previous entry in this blog.

Metro Detroit: Newsmakers April 28, 2008 is the next entry in this blog.

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