On the Radio: New media efforts are mixed bag




By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioWhere's the buzz? There certainly hasn't been any about local radio in recent weeks. The biggest recent attention-drawing event unquestionably was the WYCD-sponsored Downtown Hoedown. I got a kick out of seeing the WYCD logo being used during Channel 4's weather forecasts - it was a great tie-in.

I don't know if it's because of reduced budgets or if it's because of all the backlash in recent years over controversial content, but something is most definitely "missing". Station logos used to be easy to find - either on bumper stickers, t-shirts, or just on TV commercials. And just look at last week's Detroit newspapers, there was hardly a word written about radio, short of a live appearance by Steve Harvey at Cobo.

It was only mildly surprising to read about the WDVD 'Cares for Kids' 13-hour radiothon in the trades. They raised $122,000 for a great cause, but didn't get even one inch of ink beforehand in the papers or here on Michiguide.com. I bet there would have been a lot of parents that don't usually tune in to 96.3 that would have done so if they had known this event was taking place. How much does it cost to send an e-mail out a week in advance to help generate at least a little extra coverage that might reach potential listeners?

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One of the newest ways stations have tried to reach out to a new generation of listeners is to publish podcasts, either on station web sites or by publishing them on services like iTunes. Only trouble is, the effort is sometimes half-hearted, at best. For instance, check out the listings for WCSX's JJ & Lynne. They seem to have given up on the effort in 2007, yet old podcasts remain- maybe as kind of as a reminder that it's not being done any longer. Content from huge morning names like Dick Purtan, Jim Harper, and John Mason is nowhere to be found on iTunes.

WXYT and WDFN personalities are much better at providing iTunes podcasts. You can check out recent segments from DFN's Jamie Samuelson (but they might want to take Greg Brady's photo off there), Sean Baligian, and Stony and Wojo. The Ticket's Karsch and Anderson and Valenti and Foster also post some of their more interesting segments for on-demand download. A note for WDFN though- please start using the 'Release Date' field... it makes it much easier to find the newest content. Also, why isn't WXYT's Jay Towers, Bill McAllister, and Sara on there? The newest morning show in town should be doing all it can to grab as many ears as it can.

WJR has perhaps embraced using iTunes to distribute some of its programming better than anyone else locally. You can grab a ton of content from Paul W. Smith, Frank Beckmann, Mitch Albom, and Lloyd Jackson very easily. It's all labeled, dated correctly and easy to find. AM rival WWJ is no slouch either, offering specialty features like John McElroy's Automotive Insight, Jeff Gilbert's Worldwide Automotive Report, and Matt Roush's Great Lakes IT Report in addition to capturing some of the station's more interesting daily interviews and local discussions. Interesting how the 'old folks' stations are doing as good a job as anyone else in town embracing new technology.

Other iTunes podcasters I have found include Channel 95-5's Mojo in the Morning, 106.7. The Fox's Chad Show (again guys, add that release date field), and from WRIF, Peter Werbe's Nightcall program and Trudi Daniel's take on the news. The easiest way to find these things is by using the station's call letters in the iTunes Store search function. Then subscribe and you'll always have quick access via your computer even if you don't own an iPod. Another option is to visit stations' individual web sites where there is often even more content available for download without using iTunes.

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Hearing that CBS is purchasing CNET for $1.8 billion is interesting. Coupled with the company's new marriage with AOL for online radio, it appears that CBS is very serious about embracing the Internet as a way to help build its business. While CNET and its sister web sites certainly are no longer considered revolutionary, coupled together with its other web properties, TV and cable networks, and radio one can see that CBS is serious about finding a way to keep itself relevant as the media world continues to morph away from rigid programming routines into becoming more and more on-demand. The next logical steps for CBS are to embrace a social networking platform and to maybe purchase a big time online advertising company. At least they are making moves in an attempt to stay relevant.

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If you're up early enough, head out to the Detroit Zoo this morning to join Ernie Harwell and WJR's Paul W. Smith who are scheduled to appear at the 12th annual Detroit Zoo Kidney Walk. Registration begins at 8 am with the 1.5 mile walk scheduled for 9 am. More info at www.kidneywalk.org.

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Ann Arbor's 107one is continuing its partnership with the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, which this year runs from June 13 through July 6. For the third year in a row, the station will collaborate with the festival to present three nights of national talent as part of Top of the Park, the festival's free outdoor concert series. This year's lineup will feature The Terraplanes and The Ragbirds on Monday, June 16, The Mason Jennings Band and Money Mark on Friday, June 20th and Serena Ryder and Bump on Friday, June 27. Activities take place at Ingalls Mall, located directly in front of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, on Washington Street near the Burton Memorial Tower. Top of the Park opens nightly at 6:30 p.m.; music begins at 7:00 p.m.

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Set your dial: WDET's Ed Love presents "Billie Holiday...The Final Years" this evening at 8 pm during his Evolution of Jazz program.

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Columnist Mike Austerman covered radio for the Oakland Press from September 2001 through April 2008 and can be reached by completing this form.







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This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on May 18, 2008 5:30 AM.

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