By: Art Vuolo, Jr.
It's not my favorite way to start an "On The Radio" column with sad news, but I wanted this story to get the coverage that it deserves. Two of the best signals in the metro Detroit area have belonged to WJR and CKLW. Although neither is as good as they once were, both have one man to thank for their technical superiority and that man is long-time Chief Engineer Ed Buterbaugh.
Sadly, Ed is in a hospital over in Windsor suffering from bladder cancer and it's not good. He had a long run at CKLW back when it was known as The Big 8 and was top-rated in Detroit/Windsor and also in Toledo, Cleveland and as far away as Erie, PA. That booming signal was the work of Ed Buterbaugh.
During a two decade career at WJR, he truly made it the Great Voice of The Great Lakes. Ed deserves your prayers and a nice card to cheer him up would certainly be appreciated. His address is: Ed Buterbaugh, PO Box 1107, Harrow, Ontario N0R 1G0. If you have ever enjoyed the powerful and clean audio of either The Big 8 or WJR in recent years send Ed a card or even just a note of support and thanks. Spread the word.
Ed Buterbaugh worked hard his whole life and now, just a couple of years after his retirement, he is dealt a bad hand and it seems so unfair. I, along with some other colleagues are trying to do something special in honor of Big Ed, and if we are successful, you will read about it first here on michiguide.com. Hang in there E.B. we're all pulling for you!
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After reviewing the latest ratings for the Detroit area, Clear Channel VP of Programming, Dom Theodore has to be rightfully proud of his Home of the Hits WKQI known best as Channel 9-5-5. With the help of Mo-JO-town's top station is at 95.5 FM and Dom, who jokes about how (after he's through with radio) he'll go to work at Home Depot, might have to hold off on putting on that orange apron. His job, at the present time would seem to be rather secure.
Right on WKQI's heels is all-news WWJ-AM (950) a tenth of a point behind with a 5.5 rating which is just another tenth of point ahead of news-talk WJR-AM (760). Detroit is one of just a handful of cities with TWO AM stations in the top ten! The gap between country WYCD-FM (99.5) and WDTW-FM (106.7 The Fox) is wider than Fox owner Clear Channel would like, but it's unknown how committed they are to country music for the long haul. WXYT-AM (1270) has sunk to under a 1.0 share which is not good. All of the listening is seemingly on the FM at 97.1 known as The Ticket. WXYT owner, CBS Radio, should sell the (now with 50,000 watts) signal to Salem so they can move their anemic 1,000 watt talker WDTK-AM (1400) to a far superior signal than they currently have.
WRIF, even without Drew Lane jumped up from a 4.1 to a 4.6 which should boast the confidence of Mike Clark and his crew at The Riff. WMGC-FM (Magic 105.1) bested WNIC-FM (100.3) and the beat goes on.
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Two names you know will be inducted into the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame on July 15 up at the Crystal Mountain Resort. One is from radio and the other from TV. WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) news anchor Diana Lewis and longtime WJR-AM (760) voice Mike Whorf are the inductees. Mike Whorf was best known as the longtime producer and host of WJR radio's award-winning program "Kaleidoscope." It was a daily mini-program featuring famous stories of people and events in Michigan and the surrounding areas. He took over the Sunday morning show after the untimely death of long-time favorite Mike Deja and his program "Patterns in Music." Michigan Football fans will recall the powerful tribute Whorf narrated to the memory of the late Bob Ufer, the long-time colorful voice of the Wolverine's on WPAG-AM (1050) Ann Arbor and later on WJR-AM (760) Detroit.
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Diana Lewis began on WXYZ-TV 31 years ago after a stint at KABC-TV in Los Angeles. While in LA she landed the role of (can you believe it) a TV news reporter of a Philadelphia TV station. A true and fairly unknown story is that Diana hails from Coatsville, PA which is a far western suburb of Philadelphia, so this was ironic that while on the west coast she played a WCAU-TV 10 reporter who was to interview Rocky Balboa in a meat packing facility in the first Rocky movie!
Amazingly, WCAU management had no idea how big a hit "Rocky" would be, so when the movie company told them how much it would co$t to have the WCAU call-letters on the TV news van, they said "no way." So they rearranged the black magnetic letters on the truck to say WUAC. No green...no being seen. True story.
Diana Lewis is truly one of the nicest people in the broadcasting business that I have ever met. She and her husband Glenn, are rightfully proud of their daughter Glenda who is doing a superb job following in mom's footsteps. The only thing I can't understand is WHY, after teaming her with Stephen Clark, Channel 7 doesn't promote them as "Lewis & Clark...discover the difference, explore the possibilities."
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Both Mike and I hope you're enjoying the tail-end of a great 4th of July holiday weekend. The weather has certainly co-operated. Enjoy the barbeque and be sure to keep a radio nearby tuned to your favorite local station.