column written by Art Vuolo, Jr.
After a long dry-spell, it seems I have a number of observations to share with you, the many fans of what comes out of your radio speaker. So, get comfortable.
I dislike starting off with sad news, but the recent passing of James H. Quello hit me hard as I first met him up in his office at WJR in the 1960's. I remember saying to him, "Why not call the station Junior Radio with Senior Sound." I think he wanted to throw me out of the 22nd story of the Fisher Building! I last saw him up at Crystal Mountain Resort during a Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB) summer conference about 5 years ago. He was pushing 90 and looked sensational.
After his reign at WJR as general manager he moved on, eventually becoming one of the best remembered FCC commissioners ever. He was beloved in Washington, DC. Although maybe he wasn't "beloved" by Howard Stern, with whom he tangled in the 1990s. But I'll bet Howard respected him as a guy who'd earned his way up the ranks. He wasn't an Al Sikes-style bureaucrat (it was Sikes on whom Stern once wished cancer).
Current FCC Chair Julius Genachowski called him, "A role model to generations of FCC employees and advocates, for his decency, personal charm and commitment to his work."
NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith said, "We have lost an American original."
Jim Quello was one of a kind, the type of broadcaster you can read about in books, but perhaps never actually meet in person. I'm glad that I did.
Speaking of Mr. Stern, and I hate giving him more "ink" since that's what he's very good at doing, whenever he feels he's been off the "front page" for too long he starts tongues a waggin' with reports (that he starts) about leaving Sirius XM satellite radio and segueing back to terrestrial FM radio.
Ain't gonna happen.
It's all talk to help him renegotiate his deal with Sirius XM head honcho Mel Karmazin. The entire ploy is so obviously manipulative I don't know why the broadcast and print media can't see through it. Must have been a "slow news day" when this "news" broke.
I found the most hysterical part of this situation the offer from Clear Channel, the behemoth conglomerate that Stern hates, to have him work for them! That ain't gonna happen either.
Funniest photo was in a trade Tom Taylor edits called www.radio-info.com showing a picture of a Clear Channel executive, presumed to be CC radio boss John Hogan, with a bouquet of roses as a "peace offering" to the self-proclaimed King of All Media. Stern said, "I can't imagine the day where I would ever work for them again."
Stern and Bubba still have hard feelings about the way they left Clear Channel nearly six years ago.
Meanwhile Hogan emailed this statement to Business Week, "We clearly have the willingness and the financial wherewithal to consider high-profile talent such as Stern."
Of course any talks with him would be heavily lawyered so that he would have to deliver an FCC-friendly show. Again...ain't gonna happen. So to all who fell for this well orchestrated ploy, how could you all be so freakin' gullible?
In an unrelated story, we also just watched the left-leaning Air America Network go off the air, which will no doubt have Rush Limabuagh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck along with the rest gloating over this Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation filing - though some of the conservative talkers predicted this would happen in 2004, soon after Air America's March 31 launch. Insiders felt they didn't have enough experienced radio talent and management, though Al Franken was a pretty fast learner and Randi Rhodes is an obvious radio pro. Now, with talkers like Ed Schultz, Bill Press, Lionel, Stephanie Miller and Rhodes, there is no shortage of left-leaning progressive talk show talent.
The local twist to this story is AM 1310 WDTW. For longtime Detroit radio fans, we can remember when this now beleaguered frequency was once the number one station in the metro area as the legendary WKNR Keener 13 (by the way, radio enthusiasts can go into overload about this top 40 dynasty of the 1960's at www.keener13.com or at www.detroitradioflashbacks.net). Well now that Air America is history, this 5,000 watt signal emanating from those six towers along I-94 in Allen Park, might just start to gain a spot on one of your AM car radio buttons. Since most talk radio is decidedly right-wing conservative with an agenda attracting a largely Republican audience, it's nice to have an alternative offering a different point of view.
The new line-up on WDTW includes: Bill Press 6-9 am, Stephanie Miller 9-noon, Thom Hartman noon-3 pm, Ed Schultz 3-6 pm Replays of Bill Press & Stephanie Miller 6-10 pm, Alan Colmes 10 pm-1 am and Joey Reynolds 1 am-6 am. This schedule is not bad. Sadly, there are no LOCAL shows, it all comes via satellite and network syndication.
In a perfect world I would love to hear it over on the FM band at 106.7, now trying to re-invent itself as "The Beat of Detroit." Truthfully that frequency hasn't been a real winner since it was W4 Country, which vacated Labor Day weekend in 1999 and it became Alice 106.7. It was also known as The Drive, The Fox and now The Beat.
As mentioned in my last column we could really use a decent FM talker in this town. Some of these WDTW shows, mixed in with a liberal dose of local talent, could be a winner for Clear Channel, which owns these stations. Talk radio can be expensive, and nobody is spending money during these difficult economic times.
Aside from all of this, I am personally most thrilled with the addition of Joey Reynolds overnights at 1310 AM. Although I am right on the far west fringe of the highly directional night-time signal, I can still hear it at my house in Novi. Joey, who worked at WXYZ-AM (1270) in 1966 for a brief six months, is still remembered by many dedicated local radio fans. He was so outrageous in those days and cycled through 38 radio jobs throughout his checkered career.
He's also one of very few radio personalities enshrined into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland (one of the many cities he also once worked in).
Joey did an encore appearance as morning host for a couple of months in 1984 when local (but nationally known) consultant Gary Berkowitz brought him into WHYT-FM (96.3), now WDVD. His current home, for a remarkable 14+ years, is New York's WOR-AM (710) - the oldest station in New York and considered to be America's first talk station. Today, Joey does a variety talk show with little if any talk about political issues. He packs his studio nightly with comics, singers, actors and a plethora of entertainers. It's truly a different type of talk radio and will soon be even more unique as it will soon be a triple-cast on radio, NBC-TV 2 and on the Internet live from a street level showcase studio in Times Square!
Check out Joey's show either late at night or early in the morning. WDTW 1310 AM does not currently stream, but the New York flagship station does at www.wor710.com.
Where are they now?
Local country music fans will long remember Joe Wade Formicola at both W4 FM (106.7) and at WYCD-FM (99.5) and have wondered what he's doing today. Well, similar to Tom Shannon, who seemingly bounced back and forth between Detroit and Buffalo, Joe Wade ran a similar track between Detroit and Raleigh, NC and WRAL-FM. Now, the venerable favorite is following the advice of Horace (Go West Young Man...Go West) Greeley. In fact his destination won't be far from the town of Greeley, CO as Formicola pulls his snow shovel out of the attic and heads to Denver where he will work on their syndicated country format. The company is Dial Global (formerly Jones Radio) and it's where CKLW vet, and mostly recently at WOMC, Ted "The Bear" Richards worked doing mornings on their oldies format for over 15 years. The DG studios are in Englewood on the south side of Denver, so perhaps there will be less snow there. Joe Wade most recently was with WRSF in Nags Head, NC.
"Joe has a strong programming background and is a great jock," commented DG's EVP of Programming chief Beau Phillips.
It's nice to see one of the decent people catch a good break.
Brian Hatfield is another one of the early WYCD jocks who worked with Joe Wade - and Hatfield is STILL in North Carolina. He's from the Detroit area and has been doing very well for a number of years down in Asheville, NC as the afternoon jock and music director for WKSF-FM. So, he's not really working for Krispy Kreme Donuts.
The photo shows a sweet gift from Jason Aldean's record label to kick off his concert tour. After polishing off the box, Brian and his buddies were said to be more glazed than the donuts.
Speaking of food, I realize this is a radio column, but who in radio doesn't love to eat? I seriously want to put you wise to a phenomenal restaurant called Jordan's II in Romulus. It's on the eastside of Merriman Road just south of Van Borne, only 2 miles north of Metro Airport. The atmosphere is a C-, but both the food and the prices are an A+. Huge portions, excellent food and (as Crazy Eddie in NYC used to say) low prices that are insane. If you're making an airport run around mealtime this is the place to chow-down. Check it out.
A personal note to WXYT-FM/AM 97.1/1270 'The Ticket' big boss Tom Bigby and PD Jimmy Powers, who still seem to be messing with the morning show hosts. As I stated in my last column the combo of Bill, Sara and Stoney is sensational. Don't mess with it. Of course I'm NOT the program director, but I (like many of you) know when something good comes out of the radio speaker.
Lisa Orlando, as reported here in michiguide.com, has surfaced at 106.7 FM The Beat along with the Joe Show in the afternoon giving a bit of a human element to the otherwise music machine. She is best known as Lisa Lisa from WDRQ, WOMC, and WHYT. She has been making the rounds hasn't she?
Lastly, WDFN-AM (1130) home improvement host Murray Gula, heard mid-days on the weekend, should be streaming his program with video on the Internet by this weekend while he's on the air over the 50,000 watt sports station. He will be at the big Home Show at Novi's huge Rock Financial Center this weekend, January 30-31.
You can watch the remote broadcast on his web site: www.whocanbuildit.com.
Reach Art Vuolo at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his web site at vuolovideo.com