December 2012 Archives

Newsmakers and links: Dec. 1 - 2, 2012



Crain's Detroit Business:

Detroit's morning radio landscape is braced for another shake-up: where the "Dave and Chuck the Freak" show and its lucrative ratings end up. The sudden departure last month of the show's hosts from the Windsor-based alternative-rock station "89X" -- the on-air branding for CIMX 88.7 FM -- with what's thought to be more than two years left on their contract is the latest major local morning radio change since Dick Purtan retired in March 2010 from WOMC FM 104.3 and Jim Harper retired from WMGC 105.1 FM in December 2011.

Full story: Morning radio abuzz over where Dave and Chuck might rise again (Sun, 12/2)



Fine Tuning:

  • An agreement between ABC affiliate WZZM-TV Ch. 13 Grand Rapids owner Gannett and DirecTV on Saturday morning has kept the station available for viewers on the satellite service. As is normally the case, no further information on the agreement has been released publicly.

  • Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures LLC, will be guest hosting the Paul W. Smith show on Monday, December 3rd from 6 - 9 a.m. Where is Paul W. Smith going on this Monday? As a pledge for the "Movember" program, which encourages better awareness of men's health, he's going for his annual physical.

    Smith commented, "It's not just about supporting the growth of a fine mustache for 30 days. It's about acting on what we're telling men they need to get better at being proactive about their health."


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 3, 2012



DJ Arnie Dorton gone too soon

Arnie DortonAlthough he didn't work on the air at any local station, Arnie Martin, a.k.a. Arnie Dorton was a likeable, kind and giving person. He Dee-Jay'ed countless events throughout southeast Michigan. Based in the down river communities of Taylor and Brownstown Township, he was fixture at every Art Vuolo Media Party in Novi. He handled audio duties at the last two Motor City Radio Reunions and, according to Vuolo, "Always gave far more than was expected of himself and is truly someone who will be greatly missed."

Vuolo also said, "Arnie produced commemorative audio CD's of great Detroit oldies for both Detroit Radio Reunions in 2005 and 2010. Arnie was a very spiritual man and created numerous inspirational Christian songs and videos. He was simply the best."

Dorton had been recently dealing with a foot infection and had undergone some preventive surgery. However on Friday, November 30th he suffered a heart attack which claimed his life. He was only 60 years old.

Friends and family can call at the R.C. Aleks & Son Funeral Home at 1324 Southfield Road (at Fort Street) in Lincoln Park, MI 48146 (313) 382-7878 after 2 p.m. on Tuesday December 4th. A service will be held at 7 p.m.



Fine Tuning:

  • Ken Calvert returned to the airwaves this morning at Classic Rock WCSX-FM 94.7 Detroit after a two week hiatus following back surgery. Calvert told The Oakland Press, ""I've never been happier to feel ike a part of society again. The pain I was in was something you can't explain to people. And when it's fixed, it's like, 'Oh my God, I forgot what this is like...' "

  • The Michigan Association of Broadcasters Foundation Holiday Auction is now open and will run until noon on Friday, December 14th. Proceeds will to to the MAB Foundation to support scholarships, internships and broadcast education in Michigan. Auction items range from exotic vacation getaways to signed memorabilia guaranteed to delight and surprise.

    Visit to view and bid on items.


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 4, 2012



Fine Tuning:

  • Cumulus/Detroit Pop WDVD-FM 96.3 is asking listeners to help make sure no child goes without a toy this holiday season as the station attempts to stuff three buses full of new toys from Thursday, December 6 through Sunday, December 9, 2012. 96.3 WDVD DJs will broadcast live from all three locations, in Canton on Ford Road in the New Towne Center Shopping Center (near Kohl's), in Royal Oak at the Northwood Shopping Center at Woodward Avenue and 13 Mile Road and in Clinton Township on Hall Road at Nino Salvaggio International Marketplace.

    Bring new, unwrapped toys to one of Stuff-A-Bus locations- Toys will benefit local charities including Beaumont Children's Hospital, Bottomless Toy Chest, Bridgepointe, Goodfellows, Neighborhood Service Organization, Orchards Children's Services, Ronald McDonald House and Volunteers of America! More info including hours and location specifics at

  • CBS Radio/Detroit Country WYCD-FM 99.5 will be hosting its 13th Annual Country Cares for St. Jude Kids radiothon on Thursday, December 6th to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. This year's fundraising marathon will be broadcast live from Southland Center in Taylor and build upon the $6.6 million the station has raised over the years. Visit for info on the live broadcast and how you can donate.



Grand Rapids Press:

24 Hour News 8 has a new reporter, fresh from a TV station in Washington State. Heather Walker, a native of Toledo, Ohio, returns to the Midwest from KIMA-TV Channel 29 in Yakima, Wash., where she worked as an investigative reporter and anchor for the CBS-TV affiliate, owned by Fisher Communications.

Full story: Ohio native joins 24 Hour News 8 from TV station in Washington State (Tue, 12/4)

Young Broadcasting's CBS affiliate WLNS Lansing, Mich. (DMA 115), seeking to assist struggling mid-Michigan families, will team with its nonprofit partners for the sixth annual Day of Giving on Thursday, Dec. 13. They are encouraging viewers to join in the daylong effort to collect funds, food and clothing for local chapters of philanthropic organizations, which provide residents with basic needs during the holidays and throughout the year.

Full story: WLNS, nonprofits to aid struggling families (Tue, 12/4)


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 5, 2012



Detroit News:

WJBK Fox 2 News viewers will have to steady themselves for a blow this week. Veteran reporter Al Allen will bid farewell to viewers Friday after nearly 30 years on the job. That his last day falls on the remembrance of the attack on Pearl Harbor is not lost on some colleagues.

Full story: Newsman Al Allen signs off Fox 2 after nearly five decades in the business (Wed, 12/5)



Grand Rapids Press:

Robert Howard Blodgett, a former Wyoming resident and homebuilder who once hosted a popular radio call-in show, died last week while serving his 2011 prison sentence for extortion.

Full story: Former host of WOOD radio call-in show dies while serving prison sentence (Wed, 12/5)



Fine Tuning:

  • Cumulus/Ann Arbor Adult Alternative WQKL-FM 107.1 kicked off their annual "Rockin' For the Hungry" food drive to benefit Food Gatherers this morning at the Westgate Kroger store on S. Maple near Jackson. Personalities including Martin Bandyke, John Bommarito, and Kelly Brown will be broadcasting live through Sunday hoping to get donations of 200 tons of nutritious food.

    Every day, thousands of people in Washtenaw County rely on Food Gatherers, the area's largest food rescue and collection organization, distributing more than 4.6 million pounds of food to over 150 local non-profit organizations that see to it our neighbors in need, mostly families and children, won't go hungry.

    Gifts of non-perishable food can be taken to any Washtenaw County Kroger location. More info at


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 6, 2012



Clear Channel layoffs affect Michigan

Word is coming out of the Farmington Hills building that houses Clear Channel/Detroit's seven station cluster (WMXD-FM 92,3, WKQI-FM 95.5, WJLB-FM 97.9, WNIC-FM 100.3, WDTW-FM 106.7, WDFN AM 1130, WDTW AM 1310) that a number of people working both on and off the air have been let go as of today in yet another round of year-end downsizing.

More coverage:


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 7, 2012




When I began my career as an agent, Ed Christian was one of the first people I met at an NAB in the 80s. He was so nice to me that I wanted to do business with him just to spend time with him. I quickly learned that before owning stations he had worked in a similar career as me and knew a great deal more than I did.

Full story: How Saga CEO Ed Christian got in to radio (Fri, 12/7)

Greater Media Active Rock WRIF/Detroit has named Townsquare Active Rock WGRD/Grand Rapids' Andy Green as APD/MD effective December 17th, filling the slot left open by the departure of Suzy Cole, who left to join Beats BY Dre in Los Angeles.

Full story: Andy Green Named APD/MD At WRIF (Fri, 12/7)



MyFoxDetroit/WJBK-TV Ch. 2:

On the best mornings and the worst mornings, Al Allen has been there to make sure we knew what was going on in our neighborhoods. His voice is a warm, familiar blanket to comfort us through the ups and downs in the city. Now, it's his turn to sleep in. After 28 years at WJBK, Al will retire after one last morning of reporting Friday.

Full story: Al Allen, a Detroit media icon, set to retire Friday (Fri, 12/7)



Detroit Free Press:

Inside Marko's Cozy Café in Southfield, Al Allen glances over the handwritten notes he's prepared. But before the veteran broadcast journalist can share another memory from one of the many landmark local stories he's covered, a man walks up to the booth and says: "I'm so mad at you."

Full story: Al Allen, vet broadcast reporter, recounts famed stories on day of retirement (Fri, 12/7)


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 8 - 9, 2012



New York Times:

Usually at this time of year, hockey fans would plant themselves in front of their televisions and watch players like Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin and Marian Hossa command the ice. Instead, they have been reminded that Ken Dryden was tall, Guy Lafleur had a side part, and the boards in arenas once bore only team logos.

Full story: N.H.L. Void Has Networks Scrambling (Sat, 12/8)


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 10, 2012



Fine Tuning:

  • Raised: by CBS/Radio Detroit's Country WYCD-FM 99.5, over $500,000 for St. Jude's Children's Hospital during a two-day radiothon last week.

  • Hired: By Radio One operated WGPR-FM Detroit (Hot 107.5), Dr. Darrius Summers II for weekdays 7 p.m. - midnight.

  • Renown Michigan-based radio consultant Gary Berkowitz was interviewed by WDIV-TV Ch. 4 Detroit this morning explaining why the type of highly publicized radio prank that went wrong involving the Duchess of York is less likely to happen in the United States. See the video here.

CBS RADIO Top 40 WDZH (98.7 AMP RADIO)/DETROIT PD TIM "RAYNE" RAINEY has taken a leave of absence from the station after his conviction for driving under the influence.

Full story: PD Tim Rainey Takes Leave From 98.7 Amp Radio/Detroit To Serve DUI Sentence (Mon, 12/10)



Grand Rapids Press:

The headline performance for the 2012 HOT New Year's Eve party in downtown Grand Rapids will be Jesse McCartney, Cumulus Media and 105.3 HOT-FM announced Monday morning.

Full story: HOT-FM New Year's Eve party to bring Jesse McCartney, Baby Bash, more for free concert, ball drop (Mon, 12/10)


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 11, 2012



Sports about to disappear from AM 1130 Detroit?

In what could signs that Clear Channel is preparing to flip the format of its WDFN AM 1130 Detroit from sports to talk, it's been announced that the non-sports talk Jonathon Kinloch Show will be added to the lineup on WDFN starting January 7th. Kinloch is currently heard weeknights from 9 - 10 p.m. on WDTK AM 1400 Detroit.

Other indicators of a possible wholesale format change include the shifting of the midday Jim Rome Show off WDFN to WXYT AM 1270 after the first of the year, the firing of WDFN's afternoon show last week, and pending donation of sister station WDTW AM 1310.

Combine all that info with two relatively new AM sports talkers in WCAR AM 1090 and (soon to be) WXYT AM 1270 and it appears that having 3 full-time AM sports talkers along with the ratings leader in the format on FM (WXYT-FM 97.1) might be too many.

WDFN was Detroit's original all-sports radio station when it hit the air in July, 1994. The station enjoyed a good deal of success among male listeners during the 1990s and into the 2000s. The station initially fared well when faced with serious competition from WXYT AM 1270 after a flip to sports but eventually lost the ratings and revenue battle when WXYT shifted to FM ... and when parent company Clear Channel opted to move on from a number of popular on-air personalities.

CLEAR CHANNEL is donating another AM station to the MINORITY MEDIA AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS COUNCIL, this time Talk WDTW-A/DETROIT. The 5,000-watt progressive talk station will be given to the MMTC under the MMTC-CLEAR CHANNEL Ownership Diversity Initiative.

Full story: Clear Channel Donates WDTW-A/Detroit To MMTC (Tue, 12/11)


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 12, 2012



Spinal Column:

Milford Township officials are still investigating whether they will permit seven 199-foot radio broadcast towers to be built on the border of Wixom and Milford Township, after recently receiving a recommendation from a key commission.

Full story: County panel against so-called 'radio farm' plan (Wed, 12/5)


Full story: West Virginia Combo, California AM Sold (Fri, 12/7)



Fine Tuning:

  • The Michigan Association of Broadcasters Foundation Holiday Auction has added two MSU ticket packages: Four tickets to the January 5th Michigan State vs. Purdue men's basketball game at the Breslin Center; and four tickets to the January 11th Michigan State vs. Notre Dame hockey game at Munn Ice Arena. Bidding is open through noon on Friday, December 14th.

    Visit for details and to bid.


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 13, 2012



Broadcasting & Cable:

CBS-owned WWJ Ch. 62 Detroit is scrapping its First Forecast Mornings newscast, a two-hour show that debuted in May 2009. The program, which initially featured headlines from the Detroit Free Press, billed itself as "an ongoing report of current and forecasted weather as well as the most current conditions on area roads." The last day of the program is Dec. 28. A CBS spokesperson said a small number of layoffs would result.

Full story: WWJ Detroit scrapping morning news (Wed, 12/12)

Former Detroit News columnist Rob Parker made inappropriate commentsabout Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, ESPN said Thursday. Parker, who lives in Detroit, questioned how authentically black Griffin is on ESPN's "First Take" TV show.

Full story: ESPN and Detroit sports-talker Rob Parker lambasted for racial comments about RG3 (Thu, 12/13)



Grand Rapids Press:

"Downtown Abbey," documentaries by Ken Burns, and PBS NewsHour are a few of the shows WGVU-TV has brought to West Michigan over the years. WGVU Public Media celebrates its 40th anniversary with a series of events including a free preview screening of the upcoming season of "Downton Abbey" in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

Full story: WGVU hosts a free, sneak peek of next season's 'Downton Abbey' in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo (Thu, 12/13)

Brittany Noble is returning home to St. Louis as she joins CBS affiliate KMOV as a reporter. Since September 2011, Noble has reported for the morning newscast at WEYI, the NBC affiliate in Saginaw, Mich. Her first day at KMOV will be January 7.

Full story: Reporter Brittany Noble Joins KMOV From WEYI (Thu, 12/13)



Toledo Blade:

Based on a demand from the parent companies of WUPW-TV, Channel 36, and WTOL-TV, Channel 11, Buckeye CableSystem stopped broadcasting WUPW at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

Full story: Fox affiliate's legal dispute with Buckeye CableSystem also involves WTOL's owner (Thu, 12/13)


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 14, 2012



Fine Tuning:

  • Joe Donovan, morning co-anchor at CBS Radio All-News WWJ AM 950 Detroit, reportedly resigned on-air this morning at the very end of his shift. He had been with WWJ since 1976 and had first become known in Detroit as a "20-20 News" anchor at 'The Big 8', CKLW AM 800 Windsor starting in 1970.



Detroit News:

Joe Donovan, longtime co-anchor (with Roberta Jasina) of WWJ-AM's (950) morning show, signed off Friday morning after some 36 years with the station. Donovan simply thanked Detroiters for listening in a goodbye that lasted mere seconds.

Full story: WWJ-AM's Donovan, Walton no longer at station (Fri, 12/14)

The state government cable channel is going all-online. Michigan Government Television, or MGTV, will be replaced with the MiTV web portal in January ... The station's board of cable industry executives recently decided to drop the station due to lack of demand, said Kurt Weiss, spokesman for the Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

Full story: MGTV, Michigan's government cable station, to be replaced with online format (Fri, 12/14)

BELL MEDIA/DETROIT-WINDSOR,CANADA VP/GM ERIC PROKSCH has named JAY HUDSON as PD of Alternative CIMX (89X). HUDSON has served as the station's MD and evening jock for the last six years. HUDSON will move into the 3-7p shift, formally held by CAL CAGNO. CAGNO will take over mornings on 89X alongside newly acquired host RUSTY THOMSON.

Full story: 89X/Detroit Promotes Jay Hudson To PD (Fri, 12/14)



Hour Detroit Magazine:

When Dr. Partha Nandi struck up a conversation at a private dinner party, he never dreamed it would lead to a second full-time job. The father of one of the guests was battling pancreatic cancer, and Partha, a metro Detroit-based gastroenterologist, took note. For the next hour, the doctor thoroughly went over the disease, discussing treatment options and insurance issues so the man could better understand the situation his father faced.

Full story: Locally Produced Medical TV Show Aims for National Syndication (Fri, 12/14)


On the heels of the announcement that Clear Channel will be donating Progressive Talk WDTW AM 1310 Detroit to MMTC (The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council) comes the news that the station will end operations and go silent at midnight on December 31st. WDTW's six tower array along I-94 east of Telegraph in Taylor will be dismantled after the station signs off.

Current morning show host Tony Trupiano broke the news at the end of his 6 - 10 a.m. program this morning. The decision to shutdown the station will cost Trupiano his gig after about 18 months with his last show taking place next Friday, December 21st. A clearly emotional Trupiano explained to listeners that he had been given two different explanations for the shutdown of the station, one official and one unofficial - and that he tended to believe the unofficial version. He told listeners he would be posting further information for listeners on his Facebook page.

Outside of the live/local morning drive show, WDTW primarily airs syndicated programming that includes shows from Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, Randi Rhodes, Phil Hendrie, and Alan Colmes.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, AM 1310 was the home of legendary Top 40 station WKNR, known as Keener 13. It had been the longtime sister station to WNIC-FM 100.3 and was at one time the flagship station for Detroit Tigers baseball.

The station first began operations on December 29th, 1946 on AM 1540 as WKMH and moved to AM 1310 in 1948. The original owners were Fred Knorr, Bill McCoy, and Harvey Hansen ( thus the original "KMH" call sign). Knorr later bought out his partners and became the station's sole owner. After ownership passed from the Knorr family in 1972, ownership of the station (along with sister station WNIC) shifted among several different companies, ultimately becoming part of Clear Channel in 2000.

After the station's days as Keener 13, it went through a number of different formats including periods simulcasting WNIC-FM. Most notable of the station's formats over the last 40 years prior to the current Progressive Talk offering were perhaps the attempts at Full Service and a combination of Full Service and Classical as WYUR ('Your Radio'), Children's programming as WDOZ 'Radio AAHS', Sports as WXDX 'The X', and Classic Soul/Motown Gold as WMTG.

It's unclear how long the station will be silent pending the donation to MMTC which will attempt to find a minority owner that would likely launch its own programming.


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 17, 2012



Grand Rapids Press:

Forty years ago, before Masterpiece's "Downton Abbey" or Ken Burns' "The Civil War" or "Jazz" were imagined, WGVU-TV first went on the air as the PBS-TV station in Grand Rapids. When it debuted in 1972, the Grand Valley State University station was on the air just four hours a day.

Full story: WGVU-TV marks 40th anniversary of its debut as West Michigan's PBS-TV station (Mon, 12/17)



Fine Tuning:

  • Rockin' for the Hungry Meets 200 Ton Goal by Extending Fund Drive: Cumulus Adult Alternative WQKL-FM (Ann Arbor's 107one), Food Gatherers and Kroger have announced they have met their 200 ton food and fund drive goal. Following the final Rockin' for the Hungry broadcast on Sunday, December 9, annarbor's 107one continued a "Post-Rockin'" campaign urging donors to make donations on Food Gatherers' website. Online gifts, combined with two significant recent gifts, brought the total up to 200 tons.

    "Our deepest thanks to all the ann arbor's 107one radio personalities and folks behind the scenes who make this annual event possible," said Eileen Spring, President/CEO of Food Gatherers. "Through the determination of the radio station, Kroger and our community, we have met this Rockin' goal which will have a tremendous and immediate impact on our daily hunger relief efforts."


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 18, 2012


The job status of sports commentator Rob Parker at Detroit's WDIV-TV (Channel 4) is unclear after the former Detroit News columnist got suspended indefinitely from ESPN's "First Take" show last week after an on-air racially-charged rant about Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Full story: Rob Parker's job status at Detroit's WDIV-TV unclear after ESPN 'First Take' controversy; station silent (Tue, 12/18)


Rob Parker-ESPN controversy leads to National Association of Black Journalists statement, investigation (Tue, 12/18)



Fine Tuning:


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 19, 2012



The Oakland Press:

Two Oakland County school districts sent letters home to parents this week after a WDIV-TV camera operator attempted to enter schools on the first school day following the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. Every West Bloomfield School District building was placed on lockdown Monday after a Local 4 News camera operator attempted to enter Gretchko Elementary School, near Hiller and Greer roads. The man attempted to enter the lower-level elementary school, which houses kindergartners and first-graders, through multiple doors.

Full story: WDIV camera operator causes lockdown of West Bloomfield schools, enters Walled Lake school (Wed, 12/19)



Detroit News:

A local television station apologized to the West Bloomfield School District and local law enforcement after one of its photographers allegedly tried to enter at least one elementary school, prompting a districtwide lockdown Monday. "We never intended to exacerbate an already intense situation, and apologize to West Bloomfield Police and the school," said Marla Drutz, WDIV-TV (Channel 4) vice president and general manager.

Full story: TV photographer prompts West Bloomfield schools lockdown (Wed, 12/19)



Fine Tuning:

  • Randy Carr, Assistant Manager, Technical Director, and teacher for Bloomfield Hills Schools WBFH-FM 88.1 is retiring on Friday after 13 years with the district. Carr's radio career also included 35 years in commercial radio.



Detroit Free Press:

MGTV -- the cable television station that has broadcast the machinations of state government since 1996 -- will go dark by mid-January. The service, provided by five of the state's largest cable television providers, will be transferred to the state's Technology, Management and Budget department and will be available only online.

Full story: Cable stations drop government TV station; some content to be online (Wed, 12/19)


Detroit-based ESPN commentator Rob Parker today apologized for the racial comments about Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III that got him suspended by the network last week.

Full story: ESPN's Rob Parker apologizes for Robert Griffin III comments (Wed, 12/19)


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 20, 2012



Fine Tuning:

  • Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV Ch. 7 has won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award, regarded as the highest award in broadcast journalism, for its years-long investigative series: "Wayne County Confidential: Government Run Amok." WXYZ's Investigative Unit broke the story of former Wayne County Economic Development Director Turkia Mullin 's secret $200,000 severance package and revealed other secret severance deals, a political machine fueled with county resources and global travel for county officials funded by secret donors. The reports led to an FBI investigation, a series of indictments, criminal charges, resignations, firings and stronger ethic rules.

    "The duPont-Columbia award recognizes the very best in broadcast journalism," said Ed Fernandez , E.W. Scripps divisional vice-president and WXYZ vice-president and general manager. "WXYZ is honored to receive this award for upholding the highest journalism standards as we serve our community."

    The award will be presented to WXYZ on January 22, 2013 at Columbia University in New York City.

  • WHTV-TV Ch. 18 Lansing/Jackson has relocated its broadcast location from Ingham County east of Lansing to Washtenaw County northwest of Ann Arbor. The station uses Channel 34 for its broadcasts - digital tuners remap the station to Ch. 18.


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 21, 2012



Detroit News:

If you hear the sound of champagne corks popping at WXYZ-TV in Southfield, they're celebrating winning the Alfred I. DuPont/Columbia Award, the highest award in broadcast journalism, for the series "Wayne County Confidential: Government Run Amok."

Full story: Society confidential: Jones, Catallo and Channel 7 I-team honored (Fri, 12/21)



Grand Rapids Press:

WKTV, the Wyoming-Kentwood community television station, will broadcast HOT-FM's New Year's Eve party. The live simulcast will be available to area Comcast subscribers on channel 24, and to AT&T U-Verse subscribers on channel 99.

Full story: HOT-FM New Year's Eve party to be broadcast on local television (Fri, 12/21)



Fine Tuning:

  • WXYZ-TV Ch. 7 Detroit will simulcast ESPN's coverage of tomorrow's Detroit Lions - Atlanta Falcons NFL game. Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. EST.


Vuolo: What has happened to radio?



Commentary by Art Vuolo, Jr.

The business is changing in ways we could never have imagined. My goal is to keep this column under a thousand words, but that will be a challenge. So much is happening and much of it, although good for the big corporations which own most radio stations, is not particularly good for us, the listeners.

VuoloOn the evening of December 6th I was fortunate enough to attend and videotape the memorial service and incredible tribute to the late Sonny Eliot. It was held at Wayne State University and it offered far more laughs than tears. That's the way Sonny would have wanted it. An all-star line-up, which even included weathercaster giants Jerry Hodak and Chuck Gaidica, was emceed by Jim Brandstatter and it did not disappoint any of the 500 plus in the audience. One of the other talents who spoke about Sonny was WWJ's longtime morning news anchor Joe Donovan. Little did we know, nor could we have imagined, that eight days later Big Joe would be gone from the airwaves after more than 40 years in Detroit. Some felt he quit on the air. Others thought he just had enough and walked off the job. He did feel it was time to "hang it up" and retire from his daily routine, but nobody was prepared for his sudden departure done in such an unceremonious fashion. At around 9:50 a.m. (that number sounds familiar) on December 14 he thanked his listeners and said goodbye to Detroit. Yes, it was about the time that a major and horrible news story was breaking from Newtown, Connecticut with the Sandy Hook school shooting.

Joe Donovan came to Detroit as a Big 8 CKLW newsman in 1970 and his big voice carried over well to his job at WWJ where he helped launch the all-News format in 1976. It will be interesting to see who succeeds him. He or she will have to blend smoothly with co-anchor Roberta Jasina, who remains with the station. Interestingly, WWJ is about to move into brand new state-of-the-art studios right next door to their current address on American Drive in Southfield. One of the names being mentioned is WOMC morning news guy Bob Schuman, and with WOMC and WYCD also moving into the same building with all of the other CBS stations, his commute would remain the same. In the meantime, midday anchor Greg Bowman is doing a fine job getting our day started.


One of the other stories that needs to be addressed is Clear Channel Detroit giving away one of its AM stations to the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) as a "tax write-off." Friends, if the companies which actually own AM stations can't see any value in them, why should they expect we, the listeners, to tune them in?

To put this situation into greater perspective, this is the same station that was once WKMH, "Your Tiger Station." They had Tiger baseball even before WJR! On Halloween night of 1963, this 1310 AM frequency was transformed into WKNR 'Keener 13' and in less than two months propelled itself to Detroit's number one pop music station, which anyone over 50 still remembers with fondness. Here on this web site, Mike Austerman has already listed its numerous incarnations since. Personally, I am surprised that Salem Communications didn't want the frequency. They own secular and Christian talk stations on WDTK-AM (1400) and WLQV-AM (1500) neither of which have good signals, but then it wouldn't have been a donation. I wonder if the Mother Waddles Foundation would be interested?

One of the most amazing part of this "killing off" of WDTW-AM (1310) is that it does not include the six broadcast towers along the south side of I-94 between Telegraph and the Southfield Freeway. They have been there since 1948. It also creates an imbalance of the local talk radio scene, since most stations are conservative right-wing stations. AM-1310 was a left-wing progressive outlet. So, whomever gets the frequency will have to find a new plot of land to build a new transmitter site. This is probably due to the condition of the six current towers and the value of the real estate they occupy. It's all about the money. It always is.


Speaking of AM transmitter sites, Sima Birach is enduring the wrath of residents near the border of Wixom and Milford in Oakland County as he attempts to erect a seven tower site for two of his AM stations; WPON-AM (1460) and WCXI-AM (1160). Currently 1460 is off the air, but 1160 is still broadcasting from two towers along US 23 at North Road in Fenton. Locals fear the towers will be an eyesore and cause health issues from excessive radiation. C'mon people, stop being ridiculous. Neither should be a factor. AM radio is certainly facing a lot of challenges.

Don't get me started on why we don't have a non-political FM talk station in southeast Michigan. As I write this column, I'm listening to a wildly entertaining FM talk station, but it's coming from New Jersey via my Internet radio because there are no local talk stations on FM other than sports-talk 97.1 The Ticket. Sometimes we just need a break from the sports fanatics.


A lot of people in the broadcasting industry are buzzing about a mega-merger that saw the king of TV ratings, The A. C. Nielsen Company, buying the king of radio ratings, Arbitron. What affect will this have? It's hard to forecast right now, but consider it another chapter in the book of consolidation. If this wasn't a large enough transaction, the rumor mill is gaining heavy momentum on a potential deal that would see Clear Channel Media and Entertainment bought out by ultra-powerful Comcast! I'm not going to even speculate what this would mean for radio, but most "experts" feel it would be good (but for whom?). In case you didn't know, Comcast already owns NBC/Universal and a host of other entities. Ya know, Mrs. Smith doesn't make the pies anymore either.

Yes, Clear Channel is the company that recently fired over 200 people across the country just a couple of weeks before Christmas. Happy Holidays. One respected radio trade publisher said that it's very common for a large company to make a reduction in personnel before a major divestiture. My curiosity is if will it happen during the "deadest business week" of the year...between Christmas and New Year's Day. Clear Channel is also the same company that planned one of its first "group firings" on January 20, 2009, the day of President Obama's Inauguration just so it would get lost in the news. This is also the same company that this past week took over New York City's heritage AM station WOR. They handed out a slew of pink slips firing a number of famous radio hosts, including Dr. Joy Browne. WOR, for years, was known for LOCAL programming, but now analysts feel national shows like Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck will shift from Cumulus-owned WABC over to WOR, while shows syndicated by Cumulus, which now owns WABC, will be featured on THEIR property. As confusing as it sounds, what's actually happening is radio stations, especially talk stations, are simply becoming clearing houses for programs that they own. Very sad.


This is also the time of year for significant changes as on-air personalities seem to disappear or shift to another frequency after the holidays. Stations which adapt the popular all-Christmas music format often use such programming as a transition to something new, or at least different. My money is on 105.1 FM locally. It's been, classical WQRS, hard rock WXDG, soul-oldies WGRV, and pop as Magic WMGC, but lately it's had no definitive sound. What will it be on January 2nd? Can't even guess, but I hope they do something smart. After Jim Harper left a year ago, the Magic name was dropped and 30+ year market veteran, Chris Edmonds, is being "wasted" on an all-music presentation. Who is calling the shots? What is surprising is that 105.1 FM's owner, Greater Media, is a good company which normally makes smart decisions. Stay tuned to this one. Personally I'm still bummed that Clear Channel dropped 100.3 WNIC and now calls that station "Fresh 100.3" which makes me think of Subway, not a radio station. I want to eat fresh, not listen to fresh. Who is making these decisions?


Since we're in "speculation mode," fans of the longtime popular morning duo Dave & Chuck the Freak at Windsor's 89X (CIMX-FM 88.7) are wondering at which Detroit area station they'll reappear after their six month non-compete expires in May. You can bet the farm it will be a station on this side of the Detroit River. WDTW-FM (106.7) recently brought in Alan Cox from sister station WMMS in Cleveland for wake-up duties at The D, but it wouldn't surprise me if Dave (Hunter) & Chuck (Urquhart) the Freak landed at the Clear Channel building in Farmington Hills. What DID surprise me was the dismissal of popular Mix 92.3 star Frankie Darcell. Surely another urban station will pick her up soon. Popular hosts in large cities nationwide have been dropped by their respective stations, not because of bad ratings, but because they are making too much money. Money continues to be the answer to almost every question regarding local media.


What kind of year will 2013 be for Southeast Michigan radio listeners? The only thing I will predict is that the local radio dial will be considerably different one year from today and you will probably learn about it all right here on I hope I'm lucky enough to report some of it for you, but it is 20...13! Happiest Holidays to you and yours, and please let me know your thoughts on any of what I had to say.


Contact Art Vuolo, Jr. via e-mail at


Art Vuolo Jr.


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 24, 2012



Merry Christmas!



Fine Tuning:

  • Rich Spicer has joined Pop WCDY-FM Cadillac '107.9 CDY' as morning host (6 - 10 a.m.) starting Wednesday, December 26th. Spicer was last on-air at crosstown Pop WLXV-FM 96.7.

CUMULUS MEDIA Top 40/Mainstream WWWM (STAR 105)/TOLEDO morning man "ANDREW Z" ZEPEDA has been sentenced to 30 days in WOOD COUNTY jail and five years of probation for orchestrating a break-in or a pizzeria he foremrly owned, the TOLEDO BLADE reports. ZEPEDA will begin serving the jail time no later than JAN. 21st and could apply for work release, which would allow him to go to work every morning and return to the jail afterward.

Full story: WWWM's Andrew Z Gets 30 Days For Breaking Probation (Mon, 12/24)


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 26, 2012



Detroit Free Press:

Another change is coming to sports radio in Detroit: WXYT-AM (1270) is going back to an all-sports format. The sister station to WXYT-FM (97.1, The Ticket) has carried mostly national news and conservative political talk since September 2011. The AM station previously had been the main sports carrier, then simulcasted with FM, then moved away from sports, with the exception of occasions when more than one game was happening at once.

Full story: WXYT-AM (1270) going all-sports, starting Jan. 2 (Wed, 12/26)



Toledo Blade:

Andrew Zepeda, host of the weekday drive-time show Andrew Z in the Morning on WWWM-FM 105 (Star 105), was fired Wednesday afternoon from the Cumulus Media station along with four of his on-air team including wife Michelle Zepeda. Matt Spaulding, Cumulus Toledo general manager, declined to comment on why the popular radio show host was let go. He said the station is "exploring all options at the moment" in finding a replacement show of either local or syndicated programming.

Full story: Andrew Zepeda fired from WWWM-FM 105 radio show (Wed, 12/26)


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 27, 2012


SPRING ARBOR UNIVERSITY Contemporary Christian WSAE and HOME.FM/SPRING ARBOR, MI has promoted KAITLYN TRACY to General Manager. She previously served as Coordinator of Donor Relations.

Full story: WSAE Ups Kaitlan Tracy To GM (Thu, 12/27)


Newsmakers and links: Dec. 31, 2012



Happy New Year!



Detroit News:

Charlie Langton isn't blaming his bosses, and neither should you. If you want to blame his bosses' bosses, though, that's fine. Somewhere in the upper reaches of a New York skyscraper, CBS Radio executives decided that what Detroit really needs is an all-sports station packed with syndicated hosts who don't know who's coaching third base for the Tigers, don't care, and are only marginally aware that Comerica Park actually has a third base.

Full story: Charlie Langton's WXYT-AM morning show to be replaced by sports radio (Mon, 12/31)

CBS Sports Radio launches this week in several big city markets including Detroit, and its lineup will include two former TV and radio personalities with ties to the area.

Full story: CBS Sports Radio to enter Detroit market this week. Can area support three sports stations? (Mon, 12/31)



Fine Tuning:

  • In addition to WXYT AM's flip back to sports, Detroit AM station WDTW 1310 is expected to go silent at midnight tonight. The station's license is in the process of being donated by Clear Channel and it is expected that the broadcast towers for the station will be torn down soon. It will likely be months before the station resumes broadcasting under a new owner.

  • Following the Christmas holiday and the end of all-Christmas radio formats across the state, there were no format flips noted. 2012 News Archive




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