Entries in Vuolo Commentary Category

CES: Device-ively unique

|

 

It's been awhile since Art Vuolo has written one of his 'On The Radio' columns for Michiguide.com... but he's out in considerably warmer Las Vegas at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show and files this preliminary report:

The 2010 International CES is exactly that, as attendees communicate in a variety of different languages. There are people here from every corner of the globe with the heaviest representation being from Asia. There are lots of folks from China, Japan, and throughout the far east. There are also many Canadians, French, Hispanics, and South Americans. It truly brings people in from everywhere to experience, first hand, the latest techno gadgets and peer, if you will, into the future, by at least the next 12 months.

The key word at this year's show is unquestionably DEVICE. There is some sort of device in the palm of 99.9% of the people at this show which has drawn far in excess of 110,000 people! On Friday afternoon (January 8th) I felt as though they were trying to recreate the crowd seen in Times Square on New Years Eve. A crushing mass of humanity that made navigating your way throughout the LG booth a life-risking challenge.

This year's CES is unique for me in as much as I have had the distinct privilege of touring it (in part) with the man who actually started the entire event back in 1973 in New York City, Jack Wayman. Jack is a frequent guest on the nationally syndicated Joey Reynolds Show from the WOR Radio Network. Sadly that program is not yet available locally in the Detroit area, but Joey has become a huge fan of this trade show and due to his friendship with Mr. Wayman, both he and I were able to enjoy the festivities on a level not known to the "common man." Honestly, it was like touring Hollywood with a celebrity as Jack Wayman was the constant recipient of the respect he so richly deserves. It's always fun to be in the company of greatness!

On Wednesday January 6th, the day prior to the opening of this four-day trade show, which is NOT open to the public, it was "Press Day" featuring numerous keynotes and presentations. A few that I attended included one with Mircosoft's Steve Balmer. It was a fascinating peek into the future from one of the best visionaries of our time. A couple of others were presented by Samsung, Panasonic and Sony.

On Thursday morning January 7th, we were treated to a memorizing keynote by Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally. He spoke, with the help of others at Ford and contributing partners, about the new automobile of the 2010's and how we will be talking MORE to our cars, while they too will be talking back to us! There was very little reference to radio, either HD, Sirius XM or regular terrestrial offerings. I think it got mentioned twice. At the conclusion I ran into NAB Radio president John David and said, "It didn't take a calculator to count the number of times they talked about radio."

The automobile is the last major stage for radio and it's being pushed off the podium and into the orchestra pit. Scary! I'm not sure if anyone is really trying to raise the slowly sinking ship. I fear that by 2020, when commercial AM radio is to celebrate it's 100th birthday, that there won't be much to celebrate on the AM band. As a radio lover for over 50 years, that hurts to say, but I must be honest as I look into the future.

General Motors hit 100 in 2008, but because of the bad economy and threats of bankruptcy, there was very little celebrating by GM. The last format keeping radio solvent has been news, talk and sports and that is now starting to segue, in droves, to the FM band. WXYT-FM (97.1 The Ticket) is perhaps one of the most successful FM talk & sports stations in the nation.

While on my west coast tour, I even saw a TV spot for Buick which featured a dashboard shot and the announcer stating what pleasure you can enjoy from playing back your favorite down-loaded music. There was no mention of AM or FM radio. While taking a cab from my hotel to the convention center I asked David the cabbie what radio stations he liked in Las Vegas, and he held up his iPod which was "jacked" into his car radio. Yikes! Now we're even losing the cab drivers. When will it end.

Brian, a 30-ish computer researcher in Cincinnati, never even heard of 700 WLW, which is that city's top station with double-digit ratings!

The "DEVICE" that is getting the most attention at the show is 3-D TV and it's getting heavy buzz. High-Definition Television seemed like natural much like stereo sound, but 3-D (although impressive) needs special glasses, unless you want to stay within a very restricted space in front of the set, and requires more new hardware. Some people find looking at their favorite TV personalities on certain shows, or even the local news, to be a bit TOO revealing in HD. When you add 3-D it might simply be TOO much.

At the conclusion of the show I will have some additional thoughts and observations. I also hope to be on Murray Gula's Home Improvement Show on WDFN-AM (1130) on Sunday, January 10th, reporting what I've seen, between noon and 2 p.m.

This is your MIA radio reporter Art Vuolo, Jr., signing off from Sin City. I will spare you the local weather report.

Art Vuolo Jr.

Reach Art Vuolo at artvuolo@aol.com or visit his web site at vuolovideo.com

 

Vuolo: Where's our FM talk station?

|

 

column written by Art Vuolo, Jr.

It's been far too long since last I submitted a column to Michiguide.com, but I have a lot of news and a great deal of opinion about what is going on in the radio industry, which is getting stranger every day. Don't misread me, I still love radio with a deep passion, but the people in charge of running it have been making decisions which are, at least to me, not in the best interest of you, the listener, nor the people working in the radio business.

 

VuoloWe might as well start with very late breaking news that you may have just read about, regarding broadcasts of college sports. Both WJR-AM (760) and Michigan State University have just announced that the current five year deal to broadcast MSU football and basketball, has been extended for the next ten years! This will keep the Green and White on "The Big Stick" until the year 2020, when (oddly enough) commercial radio celebrates its 100th anniversary. Both WWJ in Detroit and KDKA in Pittsburgh went on the air in August and November, respectively, that year.

This news is not good for University of Michigan supporters. Many Wolverine fans hoped that after this season when the five year contract, which was announced on October 13, 2005, would be expiring that the Maize & Blue would revert back to Michigan's most powerful AM station. Ain't gonna happen.

Meanwhile, Spartan fans are no doubt excited to keep their teams on the 50,000 watt blow-torch, but it's not all bad for long-suffering U-M fans who hope the 2010 season of college football will be better than the last two. WOMC-FM (104.3) will again have ALL of the Michigan games this fall, and with nearly 200,000 watts of boost, that's not such a bad deal. Games will also, in all probability, be carried on CKLW-AM (800) which reaches from Fort Wayne, IN to the far side of NE Ohio. However, locally the FM is the clearest and most consistent signal for the games. We like to think of WOMC as standing for Where Only Michigan Counts.

 

According to industry "experts" the two most popular and profitable formats in radio today are country and talk. Yet, in Southeastern Michigan we have only one of each. WYCD has re-claimed its sole lock on country music when WDTW-FM (106.7), when it was known as 'The Fox' gave up as a distant number two. WYCD's only competition comes from far outside the market with stations in Ann Arbor (W4 102.9 FM), Toledo (K-100 99.9 FM), Flint (WFBE 95.1 FM), Port Huron (WSAQ 107.1 FM) and Lansing (WITL 100.7 FM).

For talk, WJR is pretty much it. Sadly, this great station is roughly 70% syndicated programming, as are the great majority of talk stations nationally. WJR's only live and local shows are mornings with Paul W. Smith, followed by Frank Beckmann and later in the afternoon a couple of hours with Mitch Albom and a news feature with Lloyd Jackson.

FM talk is the new buzz and, in many cities, AM powerhouse stations have flipped over to FM. I do not expect that will happen at WJR, but in several cities it has. In Seattle KIRO flipped to FM, as did WIBC in Indianapolis and KTAR in Phoenix. We could certainly use an FM talk station (done properly) in the Motor City. WKRK-FM (97.1) was more successful than WOW-FM (WOWF 99.5) which didn't even last six months back in 1993.

Dedicated radio buffs will recall that the first FM talker in Detroit was WDRQ-FM (93.1) which premiered after Father's Day in late June of 1971. They were truly far ahead of their time. It lasted about 18 months and then flipped to the Top 40 hits format that frequency is probably best remembered for.

In the Garden State, New Jersey 101.5 FM garners ratings that any broadcasting company would envy. They dominate with no syndicated fare, all local programs and originating from the state capital in Trenton. They cater only to New Jersey...not Philadelphia and not New York and it works! Why can't something similar work in Detroit?

 

Bill Doyle and Jeff Deminski were two of the more popular personalities to work on FM talk radio locally, but 2009 was not a good year for the duo while at classic rocker WCSX-FM (94.7). It wasn't a good fit. It was the wrong station. Interestingly the Bob & Tom show (available throughout Michigan, but not in Detroit) is a funny, mostly talk, syndicated morning program that does work and mostly on classic rock FM's. D&D were on a station known to be "music-intensive" and listeners didn't seem to accept their all-talk in the morning format.

Prior to segueing over to 94.7 FM, the boys sat out a full year of unemployment due to a "non-compete" clause in their deal with CBS, which owns 97.1 FM. When music was being interjected on their WCSX program, the handwriting was on the wall. Listeners were unhappy with the lack of classic rock in the morning and operations boss Doug Podell tried appeasing the audience with at least "some" music. It obviously wasn't good enough and at the end of the year their contract was not renewed.

D&D built their largest fan-base as an afternoon drive program at WKRK and didn't like it when they were pushed into mornings, as the station began to evolve as an all-sports outlet. This is unfortunate because Deminski & Doyle are very good and they like Detroit. Hopefully some under-performing FM station will adapt a talk format and make them their first hire for afternoons. Oddly enough both Bill and Jeff came to Detroit from a very successful run in afternoon drive at NJ 101.5.

 

Another morning show alteration, since last we met, was at WXYT-FM/AM (97.1 The Ticket) when Jay Towers either left on his own or HIS contact was also not renewed. It depends on who you talk to. None-the-less, Bill McAllister and Sara were left "Tower-less" until sports radio guru Tom Bigby and Ticket PD Jimmy Powers decided to try out former WDFN-AM (1130) host Mike "Stoney" Stone. Gentlemen you've hit the jackpot! Don't change a thing. Stoney works! It is a programmers dream come true when chemistry in the studio happens. Well, it's happened and just say "thank you God" and leave it alone.

Jay Towers future is, to an extent, uncertain. He has left CBS Radio and is slated to work for Clear Channel Radio, an arch-rival to CBS, as a "morning show consultant." I will have been in radio 50 years by this summer, and I've never heard of such a position. He is also supposedly going to continue working at WJBK-TV Fox 2 doing weekend anchoring and reporting.

 

Over the holidays I was on the west coast and in Las Vegas for nearly three weeks. Don't be jealous, in San Diego I had to scrape ice off windshield and no they don't have scrapers in southern California rental cars. It seems that everyone "in touch with today" has an I-Phone or a Blackberry rather than just an ordinary cell phone. Since I felt a need to be "SoCal Cool" I stopped into the world's ONLY Blackberry store at 14 Mile and Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hills and picked up a new Blackberry Tour. My I-Phone friends made me feel inferior but, soon I learned how to get nearly every radio station I like on this phone. Very cool.

If you have one of these type phones, you can tune into nearly any station you want by simply downloading a special program or application (app) and bingo...you are connected. Folks at the Blackberry store helped me with two excellent app's. All Clear Channel-owned stations can be listened to with I heart radio, and you can easily bookmark your favorites. Most other stations can be heard with Radio Companion by Nobex. Both have web sites and are easy to understand.

While out in L.A. I could instantly punch up WWJ or WJR and find out news and weather information back home. I always felt in touch. The three-hour time difference was a problem at times, but it seems somewhat supernatural hearing stations from Detroit or New York a couple of thousand miles away! Best of all, you can run the audio output of these cell phones, via a simple patch cord that has a mini-stereo pin plug at each end, right into the auxiliary jack on most new car radios. The audio quality (in stereo) that fills your car from your cell phone is phenomenal. It will dazzle your friends. No longer, even while driving, will you be limited by the range of an AM or FM radio signal.

This week while Southern California was being slammed with floods, mud slides, high winds and even tornadoes I felt as though I was right there again tuned to WWJ's CBS sister station NewsRadio 1070 KNX. I recall how during the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, WJR ran a simulcast of sister ABC station KGO in the Bay Area. Now, we can be instantly connected to anyplace a major news story or situation is occurring!

This technology is changing everything.

 

With a promise to not be so absent from this site in 2010, I want to end with an update on former Detroit radio personality Joey Ryan. Joey is still in rough shape, but he's hangin' in there at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. He truly enjoys hearing from old radio pals in Detroit. He even got a card from WOMC's Dick Purtan. Please send a get well card to him via his real name; Joseph Pietruska c/o Home for Vets, 3000 Monroe Avenue NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49505. If more convenient, longtime friend Kenn Christopher of Plymouth, MI has set up an e-mail account for messages of encouragement. E-mail Joey at joeymrboogieryan@gmail.com.

Art Vuolo Jr.

Reach Art Vuolo at artvuolo@aol.com or visit his web site at vuolovideo.com

 

column written by Art Vuolo, Jr.

VuoloAfter 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.

QuelloAfter 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.

ReynoldsAside 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?

FormicolaLocal 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.

DonutsBrian 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.

 

Art Vuolo Jr.

Reach Art Vuolo at artvuolo@aol.com or visit his web site at vuolovideo.com

 

Dick Purtan hangs up the headphones

|

 

column written by Art Vuolo, Jr.

No radio personality in Detroit radio history has been more iconic than Paul Richard Purtan, who along with J. P. McCarthy, is the longest running on-air talent on the Motor City radio dial. McCarthy joined WJR in the late fifties and (except for a brief stint at San Francisco's KGO) remained in the Fisher Building until his untimely death on August 16, 1995. In fact, when I was commissioned to produce a six hour documentary called "The History of Detroit Radio" in 1971, an entire chapter was devoted to "Detroit's Super Stars;" McCarthy and Dick Purtan!

Mr. Purtan, however, had a far more mobile career but, was always true to Detroit. I was familiar with Dick prior to his even coming to Motown. I heard him on top-40 legend WSAI (AM 1360) in Cincinnati, where he helped bring the Beatles to the Queen City. He was Paul Purtan in those years, following Dick Wagner. Back then, in the mid-1960's, stations just didn't put jocks with the same first or last name on the air back-to-back. So, when he arrived in Dearborn at WKNR, the well-remembered "Keener 13," he preceded Paul Cannon, so his real first name of Paul was dropped and he began using the name Dick, since his real middle name IS Richard. He was also clean-shaven in those early days as evidenced by this photo taken in the old WKNR production studio in the summer of 1965.

Dick PurtanDick arrived about the same time as a Kansas City DJ by the name of Rock Robbins...but that was too close to another big name in Detroit radio, Robin Seymour. So, Rock Robbins took the name of Scott Regan and he arrived at Keener 13 just prior to Purtan. Dick needed some promotion to counter Regan's "skateboard contest," and came up with the "picture contest." You needed to draw a picture of what you thought Purtan looked like. Well, I already had an 8 X 10 black and white photo of "Paul" Purtan from WSAI. So, I cheated and drew a darn good rendering of his likeness....but still didn't win the contest.

Dick started at Keener in the 10 pm till 1 am time slot and was truly outrageous. Dick is from Kenmore, NY a suburb of Buffalo. At first he was almost as crazy on the air as another Buffalo native (now in NYC) Joey Reynolds, but later turned out to be as smooth as still another Buffalonian by the name of Tom Shannon. Soon he segued to mornings at WKNR and become increasingly popular. This caught the attention of WBAL Radio 11 (1090 AM) in Baltimore to woo him to Maryland. That lasted less than two months. He used a "non-WBAL" word on the air when he said "guts." He also did a parody about Spiro Agnew, before he was VP of the United States. That didn't sit well with the brass inside the beltway.

So, soon after he left, the Dickster was back in town and spent the next ten years at WXYZ (AM 1270). Infact his program director for part of that run was James K. Davis, aka Big Jim Edwards from the Big 8 CKLW in 1970. Then in another odd twist of circumstances, Purtan wound up across the river in Canada at CKLW (where Davis/Edwards had been, just a few years before, as a Big 8 jock) working for well-remembered general manager Herb McCord. This was just at the tail-end of the "glory days" of CKLW as a Drake-style top-40 powerhouse.

Dick will also be remembered as one of the originators of the "put-on" phone calls, while over at CKLW, since rules about such pranks in Canada were less constrictive than those of our FCC. Personally I will never forget his phony call to the late Bob Ufer, UM's ultimate "homer announcer" offering him a job at ABC Sports! Also, how a clip from his show got my "radio on video" montage banned at a convention of the National Association of Broadcasters. All he did was hold up a pair of dark blue satin underwear briefs, a listener sent him for his birthday, with his first name embroidered on the fly! It was outrageously funny, but the NAB thought it was in bad taste and pulled the plug on the video. Thankfully, they are a lot more progressive today.

After years of cruising through the Detroit-Windsor tunnel, Dick flipped to the FM dial at WCZY-FM when it was called Z-95.5. Mid-stream in his tenure next to Mel Farr Ford (Ten Mile & Greenfield in Oak Park) the station changed call-letters to WKQI and was known as Q-95. When he finally felt he couldn't relate to the current hit music anymore, he made the move to "Fashionable Ferndale" the Detroit suburb that is home to CBS-owned WOMC-FM (104.3) which has morphed from a traditional oldies (late 50's, 60's & 70's) station to today's more prevalent classic hits fare (late 60's, 70's & 80's). It's been a 14 year run at WOMC, which (for the past 4 years) has also been the flagship station for University of Michigan Football. It's unsure how Purtan's departure might affect that relationship, but U-M equipment manager, and frequent Purtan guest on Tailgate Shows, Jon Falk, will miss him greatly.

Dick has won just about every award and honor one can achieve in a single lifetime from the NAB, the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, trade publications and civic and charitable organizations.

Tongues are already waggin' about who might succeed him. With a glut of out-of-work radio personalities the possibilities are bountiful. J.J. and Lynne and, recently hired for part-time at WOMC, Chris Edmonds and Stacy DuFord seem like a couple of strong candidates. Edmonds and DuFord are currently on Sunday's 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. at 104.3 FM.

Mr. Purtan is the father of six daughters, three of whom are in the broadcasting industry; Jennifer, Jackie, Jill, Joanne, Jessica and Julie. He's grandfather to seven grandchildren as well. I fondly recall videotaping daughter JoAnne's wedding in 1993. I stunned him and his wife Gail by (without their knowledge) getting most of the biggest names in Detroit TV news to congratulate JoAnne and Eric on their nuptials! I also remember him giving me more than I asked for in his compensating me for that video job. What a prince he is! Yup, he's one of the last of the truly "good guys" in radio.

Dan Mason, who runs CBS Radio, started out as a DJ, so he knows first hand, what a loss this is for WOMC...which stands for Wayne, Oakland & Macomb Counties, making up greater Detroit. But, in the fall I tell everyone that WOMC stands for Where Only Michigan Counts! CBS/Detroit VP & Market Manager Debbie Kenyon said, "No one has made more of an impact on Detroit radio than Dick Purtan. He's truly one-of-a-kind."

In late May of this year Dick would have been on the air in the Motor City for a remarkable 45 years! A celebration will no doubt mark the occasion and regarding that talk of another Detroit Radio Reunion, Dick emceed the last three such events, and according to local marketing executive and past reunion committee member, Mike Seltzer..."no one in Detroit can emcee like Dick."

Also his annual Salvation Army radiothon has raised over 2 million for the last couple of years which, in this economy, is incredible. He will do the annual event again on February 26th live from the Oakland Mall in Troy.

Purtan's wife Gail is an honest-to-God walking miracle who has survived both breast and ovarian cancer for the past 13 years! She is an incredible woman, and after 50 years of marriage they would like to enjoy the future together at their home in West Bloomfield and their get-a-way place in southwest Florida. Oh yeah, and he plans to do a lot of sleeping after that final show on March 26th.

VuoloHappy Retirement Richard from all of us in your "buddies and pals" club and all listeners whose lives you've touched since your arrival May 24, 1965. Good luck to our AM-FM-MC-DP...DICK PURTAN!

 

For more on the career of Dick Purtan, be sure to check out Keener13.com too!

 

Art Vuolo Jr.

Reach Art Vuolo at artvuolo@aol.com or visit his web site at vuolovideo.com

 

Latest Joey Ryan update

|

 

column written by Art Vuolo, Jr.

Joey Ryan is still hangin' in there! He's amazing and sure appreciated the visit on Saturday February 13th from six of his friends. It was well-worth the drive up to Grand Rapids, MI to spend some time with the man many Detroit radio fans will remember as "Mr. Boogie."

groupphotoHe is suffering from a number of health issues that are too numerous to list- your good thoughts and prayers are certainly welcomed. Cards and notes of support are also encouraged. He can receive them at this address: Mr. Joseph Pietruska, Room 323 3rd floor blue c/o The Home for Veterans, 3000 Monroe Ave. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49550.

Frankly, I was stunned when Joey asked me "Are you gonna do a video of me before I die?" I did think to bring my good Sony digital camcorder with me, but I certainly wasn't going to walk in with it. I kept it in the car, but when he said that, I thought wow was I glad I brought it with me. You can experience our visit below.

My personal thanks to Steve Schram, who was Joey's PD at WTWR Tower 92 in Detroit back in 1980, for posting the video! Pictured above with Joey are from L-R: Kevin O'Neill, Bill Bailey, Kevin Sanderson, Tom Ryan, Art Vuolo, and Kim Carson.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQVHHURa16g

 

Art Vuolo Jr.

Reach Art Vuolo at artvuolo@aol.com or visit his web site at vuolovideo.com

 

column written by Art Vuolo, Jr.

Frankly I'm getting tired of losing so many friends in radio. It's is one of the worst parts about getting older. James R. Marik, best known to radio people, as J. R. Nelson, was not a close friend, but we've known each other since first meeting in 1983 at this new station in the swampy Meadowlands of New Jersey. It was a Newark station called WVNJ at 100.3 FM, that had just undergone a complete makeover by Scott Shannon. It was now WHTZ Newark, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut's Hot Rockin', Flame-throwin' Z-100! I was there on the Friday after Thanksgiving in 1983, less than four months after the station signed on back on August 2nd. I even brought the legendary Joey Reynolds (now at WOR NYC) who Scott Shannon allowed to audition (on the air) for a job. It made for a great, and now priceless video. J. R. Nelson was part of that original staff. The video of him and Ross Brittain and Jonathan Bell (who's still at Z-100) all singing "Shout" by the Isley Brothers is still vivid in my mind.

J. R. Nelson died yesterday, February 16th from, what his partner Sue Peters felt was a heart attack. The Oak Harbor, OH native was only 60, and would have been 61 next month. He was going to lay down for a nap and fell on the bed. He had also been battling from bladder cancer. In recent years J. R. has been in Detroit as Director of Imaging and Creative Services at country WYCD-FM (99.5) and later at classic hits WOMC-FM (104.3) both owned by CBS Radio. He and Sue shared a home in Rochester Hills, in suburban Detroit.

J. R. Nelson had one of the best sets of pipes in the business. A distinctive voice that was immediately recognizable. He...and it, will surely be missed. I know that I will certainly be sending a DVD of that November 1983 video to Sue Peters. It may make her cry, but I know it will also make her smile.

Rest in peace JRN...you were among the best.

 

Art Vuolo Jr.

Reach Art Vuolo at artvuolo@aol.com or visit his web site at vuolovideo.com

 

No More Joey Showey

| | Comments (14)

 

column written by Art Vuolo, Jr.

Art Vuolo Jr.Recently, progressive-talk WDTW (AM 1310) added The Joey Reynolds overnight show 1 am-6 am. WDTW-AM (once the mighty WKNR Keener 13 in the 1960's) is one of a number of AM signals in Detroit (Dearborn technically) which is unknown to most local radio listeners. Joey was one of only a few programs that actually got this 5,000 watt station noticed. Sadly that is now coming to an end.

The radio station where Joey's program originates, WOR-AM (710) in New York City has decided that the bottom line is far more important than the all-night audience who listened in droves to the last overnight radio show that was actually entertaining! They will pull the plug on Joey's show on April 2nd. He did it for just over 14 years. Reynolds, often referred to as a "radio rebel" had 38 jobs prior to joining New York's oldest station, which has been doing talk for 88 years. He is considered to be the father of "shock radio" years before Howard Stern was ever heard from. His style today, however, is 180 degrees from those days. He also did the first simulcast on both radio and TV at KOA-AM (850) in Denver and KOA-TV Channel 4. It was innovative and wildly entertaining. He broke the first hit by the Four Seasons "Sherry" in 1962 while working in Hartford, CT. His opening theme song was a custom creation by Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons as a token of appreciation.

ReynoldsSo, now after nearly a decade and a half, WOR has decided to push fun radio out the door in exchange of George Noory's AM Coast-to-Coast. Interestingly George is a Detroiter, who has spent much of his career in St. Louis. Noory's show centers heavily on the paranormal and extraterrestrial topics. It is also carried on over 500 stations across the country. It was on in New York, opposite Joey's show, on WJR's sister station WABC-AM (770). Joey did very well. It was a national show that was VERY entertaining and very New York. The studio was often jammed with people even at 2 or 3 in the morning!

When WABC had a new overnight show called "The Red-Eye Radio Show" hosted by former KABC Los Angeles morning host Doug McIntyre, it pushed AM Coast-to-Coast off the powerful Citadel talker. That move sent shock-waves throughout the NYC radio community. Most figured it would only be a matter of time (and of course money) before Noory's show would resurface on another station. Sadly for fans of "fun radio" it was at the expense of losing Joey Reynolds. It's easier and cheaper for stations to plug in a syndicated national show than to do a live and local program. So, once again, the listeners are the losers. Radio keeps drinking the Kool-Aid and wonders why it has a stomach ache.

There should be enough room on the radio dial to do the big nationwide broadcasts AND a local show which, although Joey is nationally syndicated as well, was heavy on New York based stars and entertainment. The theatre-community, in particular, will be upset by this action, since Reynolds featured Broadway cast members, singers, musicians, comics and a plethora of big stars on his show every night. Rarely (if ever) were politics discussed and he very rarely used the phones. His was similar to TV legendary Ed Sullivan Show of the 1950's & 60's.

VuoloIf you spin the AM dial overnight you will hear George Noory, who is a nice man and has a big audience, on literally dozens of stations, but now we won't hear one of the most creative and innovative broadcasters to ever grace the airwaves with the absence of Joey Reynolds. My personal hope is that some savvy radio company picks him up before he even hits the ground, but for now, the last FUN show on radio will broadcast for the final time on Friday April 2nd....and that's no post April Fool's Day joke. Good luck Joey...radio needs you.

 

Reach Art Vuolo at artvuolo@aol.com or visit his web site at vuolovideo.com

 

The date has been set and preparations are being made for what promises to be THE must-attend media event in Detroit for the year 2010! A cast of half a dozen people who organized the last such gathering in 2005 have re-assembled and are planning a LAST BLAST Detroit Radio Reunion for Saturday September 25th. The exact location is being currently decided, but will likely be in the Novi area. The 2005 and 1998 events were at the Hilton (turned Sheraton) Hotel at 8 Mile and Haggerty in Novi.

A number of milestones are occurring this year. Among them are Specs Howard celebrating 40 years of the famous broadcasting school, now with the emphasis on the media arts. Hot and heavy rumors have also been circulating of a possible WSHJ-FM reunion of alumni from the famous Southfield High School station at 88.3. Radio Reunion organizers are hoping that gathering can be slated for Friday night the 24th so WSHJ staffers coming in for the Radio Reunion can attend the both events. In a tight economy, it just makes sense to schedule such gatherings on the same weekend so attendees only have to make one trip instead of two.

Organizers are planning to honor at least 3 people at the Detroit Radio Reunion: Dick Purtan, Specs Howard, and Sonny Eliot. Purtan, for his 45 years of entertaining us at WKNR, WXYZ, CKLW, WCZY/WKQI and WOMC. Howard, for his 40 years of running the famed school that bears his name in Southfield. Finally, Sonny Eliot who (later this year) celebrates his 90th birthday still doing weather on WWJ, which also turns 90 years old in August as the first station on the air in the USA.

The last Detroit radio reunion was held in late September of 2005, and although it drew just over 300, a number of people missed it for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was Hurricane Rita headed for the Texas coast. This year we are hoping for good weather and a great chance for hundreds of radio folks to come together one last time for a "group hug." According to our records, since the last get-together we've lost over 22 more of our friends. So, we thought we'd better hurry.

The reunion committee includes; Mike Seltzer, Millie Coffey, Jo-Jo Shutty-MacGregor, Terry Holmes, Dick Kernen, and Art Vuolo.

If you ever worked in any capacity at any station in southeastern Michigan or surrounding areas, please get in touch with Art Vuolo at artvuolo@aol.com so we can make sure that you're on the roster of those attending.

Since there is never enough time to visit at such affairs, an after-glow birthday party is also being planned by Art for the day after. So things should be hopping Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It will be a trifecta weekend for everyone! Please spread the word, via phone, e-mail, regular mail, Facebook, Twitter or smoke signals to anyone you feel should be at this event!

Keep watching DetroitRadioReunion.com for more information!

 

Searching for Human Voices

| | Comments (1)

 

column written by Art Vuolo, Jr.

Art Vuolo Jr.I'm not sure how you feel, but I like to wake up to human voices. I like to know what the day ahead is going to be like. I want to know about the weather, the traffic problems, the important news, and the light-hearted stories that make me want to say Hmmm. I want humor, funny stories and, dare I say it... entertainment! My bed is surrounded by three, count 'em, three AM-FM radios and one home-style satellite radio. The one I wake up to has pre-set push buttons which allow me to easily punch up any number of various stations on both bands. I usually don't go to Sirius XM until after 10 a.m. when most terrestrial stations shift into a more music mode, and it's often not the music I want.

On the FM side I land most often on Indianapolis-based Bob & Tom, which I re-transmit from my Internet Wi-Fi Radio via their flagship station, WFBQ (known as Q-95). Three times per hour, that show takes a six minute break, which is when I sample other morning fare. Often, if another show keeps me interested, it will take me longer to return to the boys from Indy. On the FM side, I go to Drew & Mike on WRIF (101.1), MoJo & Crew on WKQI (95.5), Blaine & Allyson on WDVD (96.3) or Stoney, Bill and Sara on WXYT (97.1 the Ticket). Since Dick Purtan's departure I hit the WOMC button less, since it's mostly music and, until such time when Chris Edmonds and Stacey DuFord are allowed to be funny, I'll wait on 104.3 FM. My WNIC button is about to be exchanged for WYCD (99.5) for Dr. Don and Rachael Hunter.

My reason for that exchange was the recent disposal of WNIC Breakfast Club hosts Kevin O'Neill and Lisa Barry. I used that word "disposal" because that's what the radio industry has been doing with what we once referred to as the "on-air talent." Corporate radio, as it is now commonly called, cares little about what comes out of the speaker, but mostly about the profit and loss columns. This is why we, the listeners, are considered the lowest common denominator within the radio broadcasting equation.

Most of the members of Detroit's radio fraternity are good people, who sincerely WISH they could do better, with larger staffs, bigger budgets and creative programming. Sadly, today's economic climate has greatly restricted the incorporation of the very elements that made radio a fun place to work and a fun place to listen.

When Dick Purtan retired on March 26, it signaled the end of an era. Dick got out at the right time. He even honestly stated it on TV saying that "it just wasn't as much fun anymore." Think about it. A few years ago he lost two key cast members in Gene Taylor and shortly there-after Mark "Doc" Andrews. In the last year we saw his show get trimmed by an hour, the loss of longtime engineer John "ankles" Stewart and news reporter Dana Mills. The new method of taking radio ratings, known as the Personal People Meter (PPM), has made more music and less talk more popular. It also gives radio companies a good excuse for trimming expensive personalities in exchange for DJ's that just know how to hammer out the hits, interjecting very little of what we used to call "entertainment."

So, after Mr. Purtan left in a blaze of glory, surrounded by lots of family and close friends, the radio landscape in Detroit was suddenly up for grabs, as other shows scrambled to steal away audience from 104.3 WOMC. Don't expect that station roll over and die. Far from it. Throughout the next few weeks a new and exciting image will occupy the space previously known as the home of Purtan's People, but it will take time and (the always lacking) money.

Meanwhile, other stations in town are clamoring for Dick's listeners. Did you see the big ad that Greater Media took out in the paper? It was a tastefully done campaign to get you to try out Jim Harper and his crew at WMGC, known as Magic 105.1. Good move. Perplexing is why did Clear Channel Radio dump 30 year market veteran Kevin O'Neill and 25 year morning staple Lisa Barry? I don't think it was money. That company now has Jay Towers on the payroll, but he can't go on the air locally until this summer when his "non-compete" clause with CBS Radio expires. So why was the trigger pulled now? I have no idea.

Lisa has survived a plethora of morning partners dating back through Chris Edmonds and Chuck Gaidica, but now she's also seeking her next opportunity. Kevin O'Neill, as we've stated in previous columns, is among the nicest and kindest broadcasters in this town. He's worked at WDRQ, WHND, WOMC, WYCD, WDVD and WNIC over the past three decades. He's never made, what industry insiders would call, big money but, has been as loyal to each station as anyone in recent years. So, what do Mr. O'Neill and Ms. Barry get as their reward for such unprecedented loyalty? They were told, on Easter Monday no less, as they ended their program that it was their last. They were coldly escorted out of the building with little regard for the service given to the WNIC audience. It was the only LIVE show on the station. Every other time slot at 100.3 FM is voice-tracked. That is where it may sound live, but it's all put together in a computer. You can't call in and talk to the jock on the air, or make requests. When major news breaks, you won't hear about it, because the computer doesn't know about it. The death of Michael Jackson was proof of how bad that can be. Worst of all, it's not getting any better. It's getting worse. Very few of the DJ's on any music station throughout the nation are live.

The last venue of actual LIVE radio can be found on news, news-talk and sports-talk stations. However the vast majority of such stations take most of their programming from a syndicator via satellite. We are lucky here in SE Michigan with a sports station (WXYT 97.1 FM & 1270 AM) that is mostly live and local. We have a second such station on AM WDFN (1130) which reverted back to a number of local hosts. Best of all, we have WCHB AM 1200 for the black community, a great all-news station, which is never automated, in WWJ-AM (950) and a heritage news-talk giant in WJR-AM (760) and they all sport a diverse cast of outstanding on-air personalities.

Before I get labeled as being too negative I'll remind you that earlier in this writing I heaped plenty-o-compliments on numerous broadcasters. However, my main issue with today's TALK radio is the extreme division it causes. It seems that a talk station is either ALL right-wing conservative or ALL left-wing progressive (the new word for liberal). About 85% to 90% of talk radio throughout this land is conservative. Some of what I've heard on Rush, Sean, Glenn and the like is outrageously disrespectful. On a recent Michael Savage (an appropriate name) Show I stumbled upon the program just in time to hear him make the most outlandish accusations against the current presidential administration. Regardless as to whether you voted for Barack Obama, the commander-in-chief deserves a certain level of respect. Savage was spewing forth commentary that, only a few years ago would not only get him fired immediately, but escorted out of the building. Instead that type of treatment goes to nice people like Kevin O'Neill and Lisa Barry, as previously described. Go figure.

Hardly anyone currently working in the radio industry, if they're being 100% honest, will say that the business is better and more fun than ever, because it isn't. Let's hope that radio will, one day soon, realize that the way into the listeners heart, and most importantly their ears, is to offer something that we can actually get excited about. Wow....what a concept!

 

Reach Art Vuolo at artvuolo@aol.com or visit his web site at vuolovideo.com

 

column written by Art Vuolo, Jr.

My mother is convinced that I was killed by a tornado in a former life because of my extreme fear of these Mother Nature Monsters. As a kid, I was terrified by the twister scene in "The Wizard of Oz." After seeing hundreds of tornadoes on film and videotape on TV, mostly thanks to The Weather Channel, I have become a bit more desensitized about these storms, but honestly I am still not fond of tornadoes.

 

Vuolo Next month will mark 23 years since the last tornado touched down in Novi, where I live. In fact it hit (imagine this) a mobile home park between Novi and Meadowbrook Roads on Father's Day, June 21, 1987. It killed one person, injured 6, caused 1.7 million dollars in damage and left 138 people homeless...and that was in 1987. Back then there was no Fox Run retirement center, no Wexford apartments and no Maples of Novi. Anyone over the age of 45 can surely remember the tornado that on March 20, 1976 ripped through the intersection of Maple and Orchard Lake Roads in West Bloomfield. Imagine if that happened today!

When severe weather threatens, we have two radio stations which will probably be your best source of information to keep you safe when the skies grow dark. Both WJR-AM (760) and WWJ-AM (950) are well equipped to keep you well ahead of the storm. Thus far, this has been a bad year for tornadoes and we, in southeast Michigan, need to be especially aware from now through mid-July. With the exception of the West Bloomfield twister, this part of Michigan is most susceptible to tornadic conditions in June and July. Keep fresh batteries in a portable radio and buy a NOAA weather radio.

The most recent outbreak in Oklahoma is not something I can address, but it is time to jump on (what is often referred to as) repeater radio during one of the worst tornado seasons in years. A couple of weeks ago when floods and tornadoes were rapidly moving across Middle Tennessee, I picked up my Blackberry to tune in WREC News-Talk 600 in Memphis. After wading through Fox sports and news reports from the network...I felt surely they would be wall-to-wall with coverage as the water was rising and tornado warnings (not watches) were up for downtown Memphis. Here's what I got.... "as you can see by this large red area..." and I thought good God all they're doing is running audio from WMC-TV. How irresponsible is that? Then at 11 pm CDT they aired an AM Coast-to-Coast show with Art Bell...yikes! So, a bit disgusted, and knowing the storms were moving east toward Nashville, I went to WLAC News-Talk 1510. I have far more friends in Music City, and wanted to know what was heading their way.

WLAC was also running lots of Fox network crap I couldn't care less about and then at just after 11 pm CDT they "proudly presented" an encore (repeat) from the Premiere Radio Network of the Art Bell show from February, 1998. Middle Tennessee was on the brink of disaster and 50,000 watt WLAC was running a 12 year old repeat of a flying saucer show. We learned later that Clear Channel was doing lots of local news throughout the day, but management called off local coverage after 9 pm that Saturday night. Interestingly that's exactly when things were ramping up to a flood of epic proportions in Nashville. Equally interesting, the date on that Saturday was May 1st...also known as MAY DAY...the well-known call for help in an emergency. WLAC, and all five of the Clear Channel Nashville stations, worked together to help raise money for flood victims. This was an admirable effort, but it was not until the following Tuesday when the multi-station radiothon got underway, which was much too late for those directly in harm's way.

When mother nature goes on a rampage, and it's the weekend God help us all because most stations have limited personnel in their building after 5 pm on Fridays. It's like the old joke about "don't get sick on a Wednesday, because that's when all the doctor's take off for the golf course." Well, serving the audience with potentially life-saving information in times of impending severe weather is no joke. It's what radio stations are supposed to do. Sadly, and it's often blamed on lack of budgets, most stations today do not have enough staff to keep us well informed. So strap yourself in folks...this spring could be a ride down a bumpy road. Personally I'm praying for a safe season from tornadoes and powerful wind storms.

Oh yeah....by the way, even though it will not directly affect us, the Weather Channel is now predicting one of the worst Hurricane seasons ever. The late Gilda Radner (a Michigan native) was right, "It's always something."

Art Vuolo Jr.

Reach Art Vuolo at artvuolo@aol.com or visit his web site at vuolovideo.com

 

column written by Art Vuolo, Jr.

On Monday, May 24th WOMC-FM (104.3) will premier it's new morning show. Ever since Dick Purtan did his last program on March 26th Chris Edmonds and Stacy Duford have been keeping the seat warm. My guess was that THEY would be the successor to Dick and Purtan's People. When I heard them the following Monday, I feared that my hunch was not going to pan out. Yet, I recall telling WOMC program director Tim Roberts that it was a brilliant move bringing them on board for weekend duty, so they'd be "in the house" to take over mornings when Mr. Purtan decided to retire. So much for second-guessing.

VuoloLet me say from the start...or almost the start, that I think Tim is one of the best PD's I've ever met and feel he will keep both of his stations (WOMC & WYCD) high in the local ratings. He and his crew did an incredible job with the recent Downtown Hoedown and this summer we can expect big things on August 21st at the Annual Woodward Dream Cruise. In fact, the huge Motor City Radio Reunion being planned for late September started with an idea from Tim Roberts! This is why I am somewhat perplexed by the new host of WOMC's morning show.

It's an interesting cast. I was happy to get a call from Dr. Don Carpenter of WYCD telling me the good news that ace news personality Bob Schuman was returning to Motown. He left a couple of years ago to anchor the morning news on 50,000 watt WOKV down in Jacksonville, FL but things didn't work out. After significantly increasing the ratings, they let him go. Go figure. So, Robert K. Schuman returns and he's the best! For weather, the TV personality with the most radio experience, WDIV-TV's Chuck Gaidica will handle the highs and lows and that's a good move because the Chuckster is the best! To produce the morning show and dilute the in-studio testosterone, Rachel Nevada will be segueing up to Fashionable Ferndale from the Golden Tower of the Fisher Building and WJR. She had been the longtime producer of The Mitch Albom Show. Good move. She has major name recognition and should bring much to the table.

MitchellThe big surprise came with the choice of the host of the show...Bobby Mitchell. Don't misunderstand me, Bobby is a great talent and for "radio geeks" (like myself) who have real good memories, Mitchell did his first tour of duty in Detroit at the old WHYT-FM (96.3) back in the mid-1980's under PD (now consultant) Gary Berkowitz. Oddly enough he worked with Bob Schuman who had also just come to Detroit. When Bobby left town he went to Houston, Miami and Dallas. Again, he's a very good jock with a great personality....BUT (there it is...the anticipated BUT) I do not understand why an "out-of-towner" was brought in when we have, not one or two, but three excellent morning show talents in town and all three are currently "available." They are: Jim (J.J.) Johnson formerly of WCSX, Chris Edmonds formerly of WNIC and Kevin O'Neill also formerly with WNIC. Each of these three has over a quarter of a century of tenure on the Detroit radio dial and have had good ratings and a large fan-base. Sadly, there is enough unemployed radio talent in this city to staff several entire radio stations. It just makes me ask, why are people being brought in from elsewhere? Just thinking out loud. How dangerous is that?

Art Vuolo Jr.

 

Remembrances by Art Vuolo, Jr.

It was very tempting to have gone for the sensational and somewhat misleading headline "JR signs off," but Joey Ryan wouldn't have wanted that, even though he had a great sense of humor. He also wanted no fancy ceremony to commemorate his life and multifaceted career in radio. However, we can still remember him as one of the most familiar voices on Detroit radio and TV, and he was one of the very best ever. Joey died on Wednesday June 23, 2010.

Seemingly, of late, I am mostly writing about friends whom we've lost, and we're losing a lot of them. Earlier this year, a group of us went up to Grand Rapids where Joseph Pietruska, best known as Joey Ryan had been transferred from the Dingell Veterans Hospital in Detroit. Back in December, legendary Detroit radio personality Lee Alan, and I went to visit Joey at the facility down near Wayne State University. Frankly, we left feeling it would be the last time we'd ever see him. I said "Lee I don't think he'll make it to the end of the year." Well, he did. In fact he lasted another 6 months! When we all went up to GR on February 13th he stunned all of us when he asked "well are ya gonna shoot a video of me before I die?" I raced to my car, where my video camcorder was stashed in the trunk. You can see that video here.

Joey RyanMy first meeting with Joey Ryan came back in the very early 70's at WHFI Birmingham at 94.7 FM (now WCSX). He is probably best remembered, by longtime radio listeners, for his years at WDRQ in the mid-1970's, which is where he was dubbed "Mr. Boogie." In the early 1980's he was the evening DJ at WTWR (Tower 92) which is now WMXD Mix 92.3. The Tower was an oldies station and Joey did his night show 7 pm till midnight from high atop the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. That was the only time I managed to get video of him while on the air, and a clip of that footage is on the end of the video shot a few months ago up in Grand Rapids.

The group who went up to see Joey in February included Kevin O'Neill, most recently with WNIC, Kevin Sanderson, now with Metro Traffic, "the reel" Tom Ryan, former CKLW & WYUR engineer and myself. We were joined with current Grand Rapids radio folks Kim Carson, who once worked at WCZY when it was Z-95.5 and the well-known Bill Bailey who worked with Joey at 93.1 WDRQ in the 1970's. Right now, we can all say that we're certainly glad we took the time and made the effort since it turned out to be the last time we would see him. Personally, I am amazed that he hung on through nearly half of 2010. You can hear recordings of Joey on the amazing web site www.detroitradioflashbacks.net.

The last station I recall hearing him as a DJ was the short-lived Star 97 WYST (97.1 FM) now WXYT, The Ticket. While there he also did a great deal of, what is known as, booth announcing at WJBK-TV 2. Both the FM station and WWJ-AM shared the same building on 9 Mile Road in Southfield. Joey voiced hundreds of commercials, promos and presentations. He died from a number of complicated health issues and the last few years were tough on this talented radio broadcaster.

I, for one, am going to miss him, but will always be grateful that on three separate occasions had a chance to preserve his image forever on videotape, hold his hand, give him a gentle hug and assure him that he was loved by dozens of radio fans who have a superb eye and ear for exceptional talent. Joey Ryan would have been 63 on July 12th. Rest in peace my friend.

Art Vuolo Jr.

Reach Art Vuolo at artvuolo@aol.com or visit his web site at vuolovideo.com

 

Commentary by Art Vuolo, Jr.

VuoloThe 2010 Motor City Radio Reunion is now history, and it was deemed a huge success by just about everybody who attended the event on Saturday night September 25th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the Detroit suburb of Novi.

The entire evening flew by and the large number of e-mails and letters which have come in since that night have been overwhelmingly positive. Personally I want it understood, from the start, that this event did NOT just happen. It represented the hard work and long hours surrendered by the entire committee:

Murray Gula, a 25+ year radio veteran who hosts the weekend Home Improvement Show on Clear Channel's WDFN-AM (1130), all but ignored his business at Murray Gula Media Marketing (www.murraygula.com) and the MCPA in Oak Park, spending his days and nights handling the business end of this event. In June he built the impressive web site, www.mcrr2010.com, designing and sending out all web e-mails, tracking all accounting and ticket sales, arranging for the entertainment and videotaping and lastly producing, directing and streaming the event live on the Internet. Murray truly acted as the "team leader". He was the first to start the Home Improvement Show on WJR-AM (760) and to stream a live and local Internet Home Show on WXYZ-TV Channel 7 in Detroit. He can be reached at murraygula@gmail.com.

Ida Goutman, who runs her own professional event planning and production business, known as "Amazing Events," spent countless hours tending to the production of the beautiful printed program, the outstanding decorations in the hotel ballroom, and the business coordination of many aspects of the Reunion too numerous to list here. We simply could not have done it without her expertise and professional abilities period. I strongly recommend her for YOUR next event. Ida can be reached at idago@juno.com.

Jo-Jo Shutty MacGregor, unquestionably the best known traffic reporter in the Motor City, dating all the way back to her days married to the late CKLW 20/20 newsman Byron MacGregor and her broadcasts from the Big 8 Traffic-Copter! Her large roll-o-dex of names and numbers helped in getting over forty (40) CKLW alums to the event. She also worked hard on assisting in marketing and providing a large archive of photos from past years of the Motor City Radio Reunions. Jo-Jo can be reached at jojo@metronetworks.com.

Art Vuolo, Jr., I was unjustifiably credited with putting the entire reunion together and nothing could be farther from the truth. It was a "team effort" and without the help of the other three just described, it would never have come off as such a successful event. The radio and print media all know who I am and positioned this event as my doing. It was not. The party at my home, the next day, was to be an Open House "afterglow." It happened to be just ahead of a significant birthday for myself, but that was NOT the purpose of the Sunday gathering. Reach me at artvuolo@aol.com.

Others who contributed to the success of the Reunion and need to be acknowledged include: Our legendary emcee Dick Purtan, Steve King and The Dittilies (www.skatd.com) for his incredible live band, Carl Freidlander of Super Video in Southfield (www.supervideoservices.com), Arnie Dorton of Arnie Martin DJ services (djarnie_cross@yahoo.com), Orange Dragin Productions (www.orangedragin.tv), plus cameramen from Specs Howard School of Media Arts (www.specshoward.edu) and Ray D. Glasser (main camera) from Cleveland, OH (rayglasser@att.net). Thanks also to Scott MacKinnon for the radio station logo montage that graced the stage. Additionally, special thanks to Ms. Kathy Charnley event coordinator for the hotel, all of the honorees and their families, along with Rev. George Charnley of St. James Catholic Church in Novi for the invocation. Lastly, thanks to this web site's very own Mike Austerman for creating a informative power-point presentation listing the call-letters used on every AM and FM in the Detroit area! Thanks too to Steve Schram for the idea.

If I left anyone out, it was not intentional, but a Reunion of this magnitude could only happen with the combined efforts of dozens of people and NO one single individual.

A DVD of the entire evening has been produced and will be available via the official reunion web site www.mcrr2010.com soon. Profits will be donated to our designated charity, the Belle Isle Aquarium and off-setting our expenses.

Again, we all want to thank you for attending, and if you missed it, be sure to get the DVD. Even if you were there, the video will be a last memory of wonderful time when Detroit's storied radio community came together for one last time.

Finally, for the many who have stated "this simply can't be the final reunion," well it is for me. If another group would like to take on such an event in another five or six years, I wish them the best of luck. Personally, I'm tired. It's been a fun ride with four reunions in; 1988, 1998, 2005 and 2010. At the risk of a law suite from the estate of Bob Hope, "Thanks for the Memories."

Art Vuolo Jr.

Reach Art Vuolo at artvuolo@aol.com or visit his web site at vuolovideo.com

 

column written by Art Vuolo, Jr.

VuoloFirst of all, Happy New Year to all radio fans and readers of michiguide.com. Next week I'll be heading to the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show for a few days and reporting back to you what exciting new "toys" I see in Las Vegas. Also, I promise to write on a more regular basis in the new year. The huge Motor City Radio Reunion took a great deal of my time during the past year. If you haven't checked out the web site www.mcrr2010.com please do; you can see a 9 minute video preview of the DVD which I had the pleasure of editing together to commemorate that spectacular event last September.

So, I get this press release from a radio station that I, for many years, have had tremendous respect for. It boasts about the "new" WNIC which has now been re-branded as "Fresh 100.3." My friends and radio fans, there is NOTHING fresh about the "Fresh" brand. It has been done all over the country and there is no way that during the last couple of weeks of this year that I would honestly believe an extensive listener survey was taken to determine what WNIC listeners really want to hear.

One of the first "Fresh" stations was put on in New York City, where the legendary WNEW-FM "Where Rock Lives" was re-branded as "Fresh 102.7" and even the heritage WNEW call-letters were dropped. Amazing. In Chicago, the longtime WCKG changed to "Fresh 105.9" and in city after city, this "radio flavor of the month" has been procreating itself as something "new" for that particular market. I have always said that in the radio business there seems to be no shortage of carbon paper. That term has become very out-dated as many people don't even know what carbon paper is anymore. The point is that there is a serious lack of creativity and original ideas in radio programming. If something catches on in a particular part of the country and gets ratings, they immediately clone it all over the country, often using the same name in each city.

When the Jack-FM format hit about 3 years ago, it took on variations in cities nationwide. The Jack name was not always used. In Philadelphia, it was Ben, up in Saginaw it's Mike, Fort Wayne is was Joe and here in Detroit it's known as Doug. The "Fresh" brand seems, however, to use the fresh name in each place that it appears. I think what bothered me the most about the alteration at 100.3 FM locally is the owners seemingly unconcern for the value of the WNIC call-letters and name. WNIC, which originally stood for NICe, has been the name at 100.3 FM ever since 1972 when it changed from WKNR-FM. That is a run of nearly 40 years and should not be tossed out in such a uncaring manner. The name 100.3 WNIC rolled off the tongue and was and is well-known in the Detroit area. It will take some time to get all listeners to the station to refer to it be this "new" name.

Fresh 100.3The "Fresh" logo is also the same color in most markets, and that color is a shade of teal. Since direct format competitor WMGC-FM (105.1) Magic has a logo of a similar color, WNIC's new Fresh logo is more of a coral color.

Excuse the rant, and this was not designed to make enemies at Clear Channel Radio Detroit, which owns WNIC, but just some observations from myself regarding a change that I didn't feel was anymore necessary than when they chased talents like Kevin O'Neill, Chris Edmonds, Dave Lockhart and Lisa Barry out of the building. Listeners were comfortable with 100.3 WNIC. Country listeners were said to have selected the new name for 106.7 FM as "The Fox" and we all know how long that lasted....less than 2 years. Listeners did NOT choose that name. Management needs to release that radio listeners are smarter that they often realize.

Let's see if this latest "fresh idea" catches on. In New York, the premier Fresh station took a long time to garner acceptable ratings. We will watch and listen to see if this was a good move in the new year for the once venerable, and once NICe 100.3 WNIC.

Art Vuolo Jr.

 

Michiguide.com 2010 News Archive

|

 

advertisement

This section of Michiguide.com contains all of the news and information entries for the year 2010.

You can browse these entries in a number of ways:

 

Loading

 


 

 


 

Home Page | Contact | Station Listings | History | Links

Search | About | Shop | Sitemap | Weather

 

 

Twitter Facebook E-mail Feed

 

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the Vuolo Commentary category.

Television is the previous category.

West Michigan is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

 

 

 

Archives