By: Mike Austerman
Leading off this week, Art Vuolo and I want to extend a huge thanks to WRIF program director Doug Podell and Riff2 afternoon drive host Slayer for the opportunity and help with our guest shot on Nightcall yesterday. Thanks also to all the callers and positive feedback - it was an enjoyable couple of hours talking about radio on the radio.
The two hours went by very quickly and we weren't able to tackle most of the e-mail that was sent in to us. Doug wanted to know, "in this mishmash of programming that is laughingly called radio nowadays, if there is a 'new, improved' format in the future that will be the hot thing, at least for a while? What formats are lurking out there that may catch hold? Alt Country? Classic Country? AAA? Smooth Jazz.....no, wait a minute, that's dead already."
I think there will be less and less emphasis on music formats going forward and instead of having head-to-head battles with stations playing basically the same thing, there will be more single station music formats in most markets and we'll see more talk-oriented outlets on FM. The biggest limiting factor, of course, is finding someone with the money to sink into finding (and keeping) the talent and grabbing the attention of the audience. WXYT is proving that there is an audience in Detroit for talk radio on FM ... and with proven talent like Deminski and Doyle and Drew Lane waiting on the sidelines ...
The 'Reel' Tom Ryan (not the former WOMC jock) wrote in to remind people how easy listening to the radio over the Internet can be with an appliance that connects to your computer network and allows for convenient access thousands and thousands of online radio stations. Check out C. Crane and Sangean for radios that can keep you connected via WiFi without requiring the use of your computer or cell phone.
One thing I can say for sure, it's much more efficient to cover a lot of topics talking about them live versus having to type these things in an Internet or newspaper column ... but I can sure appreciate how hard it is to have fresh content on a daily basis. I have newfound respect for all the radio pros that can keep things fresh and interesting every day.
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Oldies WOMC is doing something cool with the promotion of Dick Purtan's morning show by sending out a weekly video mail hosted by Mr. Purtan himself. It's an effective way to grab the attention of the show's most loyal listeners and help get the word out about things coming up on the program. You can check out last week's v-mail here, complete with a cameo from Big Al to keep things ... err... light.
As the official station of the Dream Cruise, WOMC is hosting a ton of live broadcasts from Woodward through Saturday - check out WOMC.com for a rundown of times and locations. And of course classic rock WCSX is also in on the act and they too will be offering a ton of coverage from what they call the 'Big' cruise on Friday and Saturday.
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Looking at WOMC's recently revamped web site, you'd never know that it's the flagship station for Michigan football as another season gets ready to kick off in just a few weeks. Can't help but wonder if the folks at CBS radio locally have cooled to the idea of having football broadcasts on WOMC and would prefer to have them heard on the FM 97.1 / AM 1270 near-simulcast. Interestingly, CKLW's web site prominently features the fact they also carry the games locally.
And while I'm thinking about sports, I understand how contracts work, but still don't like how exhibition football games get priority over regular season baseball games on WXYT-FM. It shouldn't matter which team is playing ... just that a playoff game should always get the best signal, followed by regular season contests, and then exhibitions.
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Obviously sending Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to jail for a night last week was a big deal and local radio was all over the story as the news broke. If you didn't want to watch the wall-to-wall coverage on Channels 2, 4, or 7, all you had to do was check out WJR, WWJ, or WDET (among others I'm sure) to get the latest info on what has become the biggest local news event in many years.
WDET was on the story starting at 10am Thursday when "Detroit Today" began airing and expanded coverage through 1pm. Station manager Tim Hygh commented, "Because of the magnitude of this story, WDET's News Director, Jerome Vaughn, pre-empted the normally scheduled program Here and Now and continued the live coverage with Quin Klinefelter hosting for vacationing host Craig Fahle, taking advantage of Detroit's largest Public Radio news team."
While the story was breaking guests included, Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel, Craig Rothe of Public Sector Consultants, Bill Ballenger- Editor, Inside Michigan Politics, David Moran-Associate Dean of Law at University of Michigan and WDET Reporters Rob St. Mary and Noah Ovshinsky.
Who knows what'll be next in this seemingly never ending saga in Detroit politics ... but rest assured you'll be able to hear all about it on the radio.
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Mike Austerman covered radio for the Oakland Press from September 2001 through April 2008 and can be reached at email@example.com or at PO Box 99392, Troy MI 48099.