By: Art Vuolo
This is a belated On the Radio column, since I am coming off of an intense week of video editing. Each year for a couple of the many radio confabs that I attend, I produce a 2-hour + video loop for a special in-room TV channel at the convention hotel(s). This week it's The Conclave held each summer up in Minneapolis. It's billed as The Learning Conference because it's designed to promote the careers of young radio broadcasters just coming into the industry, which (as you know) has seen better days in the past.
The Conclave is actually put on by a non-profit agency and has partnered with Brown College in the Twin Cities and our own Specs Howard School here in Southfield. It's one of the most worthwhile gatherings. I'll be there listening, learning and loving it all.
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Probably the biggest news of the past week was an e-mail I received which touted the new venture of Drew Lane from the disassembled Drew & Mike Show on rock WRIF-FM (101.1). It looks as though he will be leaving Motown and returning to the city from which he originally came....Phoenix. I guess he not only got tired of getting up at 3 a.m. but seemingly wasn't fond of Michigan winters either.
His new co-host will not be Mike Clark, but rather "Mr. Skin" who is somewhat known to morning radio show audiences for his popular feature of unique movie reviews. Mr. Skin specializes in reporting female nudity in major motion pictures. Male nakedness is something (if you'll pardon the expression) he never touches. Sorry girls.
The release eludes a premier of this new show as coming in July 2008 as an afternoon program 1 to 4 p.m., however it didn't indicate which time zone that represents. Arizona, if you recall, is the only state in the continental US, which does not observe daylight savings time.
The part of this "major announcement" that peaked my interest was the listing of radio stations which have supposedly already committed to carrying the new Drew & Mr. Skin Show. The list was perplexing since the first station listed was WCMO in Kansas City, which should have been KCMO (fairly obvious call-letters), Further down the list was WLM in Cincinnati. Again, should that perhaps have been WLW? Interestingly 700 WLW in the Queen City carries virtually no syndicated programming.
Of greatest interest was the Detroit affiliate, listed as (drum roll please) WJR-AM (760)....what? It just doesn't sound like the type of program we would hear on The Great Voice of The Great Lakes. I shall be watching this one closely.
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The story which garnered FAR too many headlines in various radio trades last week was the one that broke last Monday, June 16th. It involved former Detroiter Rob Milford, who was one of the students who helped put WSDP-FM (88.1) on the air at Plymouth-Salem High School out in Canton over 35 years ago and who just found himself in ridiculous amounts of hot water over a simple, but serious, mistake.
Rob, who is among the best news people in the business, was working as a street reporter for all-news WWJ's sister station and America's first commercial station, KDKA in Pittsburgh. Milford was also heard occasionally on AM-950 locally.
A week ago he was helping his girl friend re-locate back to Pittsburgh, after her assignment in Washington, DC ended, when she handed him her licensed and registered hand gun, which was loaded. She had it for personal protection while in DC. For safe-keeping, Milford placed the gun in his briefcase but, forgot it was there. Monday morning, while on assignment for his station, upon entering the Allegany County Court House the weapon was instantly detected by the X-ray inspection. Milford's previously unblemished legal record found him cuffed and incarcerated.
The trades and all three Pittsburgh TV stations, including KDKA-TV had a field day with the story reporting it as though the firearm was intentionally taken into the federal building. The media can be quick to crucify its own and care little about personal damage to one's career. KDKA Radio let him go by calling his cell phone and then reported that he resigned by mutual agreement. My hope is that this talented man finds another opportunity in radio news soon.
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My next column will relate to you the feeling of the business, as I take the temperature at the Midwest Conclave up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes!