Commentary by Art Vuolo, Jr.
On Monday, August 25th I had a chance to visit Mackinac Island for the first time in my life! It has been on my "bucket list" for a while. I mean, c'mon, I've lived in Michigan since 1962 and have never seen, nor set foot on, one of our state's most popular tourist attractions. Oh sure, I've sampled the fudge. We've all been drawn to the Ryba's booth locations at the International Auto Show down at the Cobo Center, but I needed to truly experience the real thing.
So, when it was announced that the 65th Anniversary Summer Celebration of the M.A.B. (Michigan Association of Broadcasters) would be held on the island, I knew it would be my opportunity to step on the island and enter the Grand Hotel for the first time. I figured out the hotel got its name when I checked the room rates. Wow! It was slightly higher than Motel 6.
On the evening of August 26th, at a spectacular dinner, many names you know were inducted into the MAB Hall of Fame. Both George Blaha and Jim Brandstatter were to be honored in a room filled with distinguished guests including: Sen. Carl Levin, Congressman John Dingell and longtime Attorney General Frank Kelly among others. Blaha is the legendary voice of Michigan State football and Detroit Pistons basketball. Brandstatter is the new play-by-play voice of Michigan football, teamed with the renowned Dan Dierdorf. Jim is also the color analyst for Detroit Lions football.
Other honorees that night included Susan Goldsen, co-owner of WKHM AM & FM in Jackson, Mario Iacobelli, President & CEO of WWUP and WWTV 9&10 in Northern Michigan, and Eric L. Smith of WNMU Public Radio at Northern Michigan University.
Shaky, hand-held video shot by yours truly is available on YouTube. George Blaha is at www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9-U-K0O4gY and the YouTube link to Jim Brandstatter is at www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovXdOd6Pxms. The video is marginal, but the audio is good.
Speaking of Robbie Timmons' husband, Jim Brandstatter debuted with his new partner, Dan Dierdorf, as the new voice of Michigan football on Saturday August 30, 2014 as the Wolverines pounded Appalachian State 52 to 14. George called an equally easy romp by the MSU Spartans over Jacksonville State 45 to 7.
Jim and Dan have known each other since they were team-mates on the UM squad back in 1969-1970. They have been close friends for all these years and it showed by what came out of the speaker on their inaugural broadcast. They seem to have a magical chemistry. At times I felt like we were listening to a couple frat brothers swapping stories and kidding around with each other. The presentation is warm and friendly, but when Michigan scores, the man formerly known as "Brando," does not hold back with his enthusiastic response!
For fans going to The Big House, you can now take your small portable radio with ear buds or headphones, because finally you can hear the game without delay! All-Sports WTKA-AM (1050) in Ann Arbor, with a 10,000 watt signal, now offers the game in real-time without the annoying 7 or 10 second delay. Thanks to Cumulus Media and IMG Sports with a nudge from the UM Athletic Department for making this happen.
As an archivist of U-M football since 1969, I was honored to be in the booth as Jim and Dan cracked the mic. for the first time together. Video of that initial broadcast (edited down to under five minutes) is also available on YouTube. It even features the editor and founder of michiguide.com, Mike Austerman. The link is: www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZoBofhDroY
Next week the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) will hold their annual Radio Show conference in The Circle City of Indianapolis. Gordon Smith, who is the CEO & President of the NAB, was up at the Mackinac Island gathering and I had my picture taken with him. It will be interesting to see and hear what the mood of the convention will be and how they paint the picture of radio's future for the balance of this decade as the medium gets ready to celebrate its 100th birthday on November 2, 2020. I will be in Indy to take the temperature of the industry. My report will be honest. Meanwhile, stay tuned.
Photo credit of Jim Brandstatter and George Blaha to Robert Benko
Contact Art Vuolo, Jr. via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org