Vuolo Commentary: May 2010 Archives

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 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 or visit his web site at


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.







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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Vuolo Commentary category from May 2010.

Vuolo Commentary: April 2010 is the previous archive.

Vuolo Commentary: June 2010 is the next archive.

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