Vuolo Commentary: October 2014 Archives

Keeper of the radio flame

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Reflections by Art Vuolo, Jr.

George L. Griggs, in concert with Scott MacKinnon and a few other broadcast enthusiasts, started an amazing web site originally called "Detroit Radio Flashbacks" and eventually became "Motor City Radio Flashbacks". The site is best known now and accessed by its initials, Sadly George, 65, passed away on Tuesday, October 28, 2014.

George GriggsIn recent weeks Griggs had fighting lung cancer even though, in the over twenty years that I called George a close friend, I never saw him with a cigarette. People call me a radio archivist, but Motor City Radio Flashbacks represents many years of George's collection of audio clips and memorabilia he acquired from being an avid listener of Detroit-area stations, dating back the late 1950's. He was an amazing man and I will miss him terribly.

Sometimes known as "Butch" or "Georgie", he died peacefully in his Livonia home with his family by his side. He was born on April 23, 1949 in Detroit to Marv (nee Perrin) and George M. Griggs. George was a dedicated member of the United States Air Force before becoming a lab technician and scheduler for the Ford Motor Company, from which he recently retired. George is survived by his loving wife Patricia (Pat) of 39 years, son Scott (Teresa) and daughter Gina (Geoff) Novack, sisters Diane (Daniel) Giesin and Karen (Hilton) Ehrisman. He is also survived by brother-in-law Gary (Dawn) Pedinelli, his nieces Rebecca Kolbicz, Danielle Giesin, and nephews Alessandra and Antonio Pedinelli.

Visitation will be held Thursday, October 30th from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Harry J. Will Funeral Home, 37000 Six Mile Road (north side of the road just east of Newburgh) Livonia, MI. A Funeral service will take place on Friday at 11 a.m. at the Will Funeral Home. Friends may visit on Friday morning beginning at 10 a.m.

Please visit the web site he founded at for photos and audio memories. The Detroit Radio community has lost the true "Keeper of the Flame" to the Motor City's radio glory years. George may be gone, but his efforts and the signal will go on for years to come.

Rest in peace my friend.




Commentary by Art Vuolo, Jr.

VuoloIn my last column I indicated that I would be attending the DASH Conference, which is a truly unique radio convention which educates broadcasters on the connected car and the new and considerably more complicated electronics found in today's vehicle dashboard.

For the convenience of out-of-towers, and they came from as far away as Sweden, the confab was held at the Westin Hotel and Meeting Center at Detroit Metro Airport. It was a packed house and a lot of eye-opening information was exchanged. It's not cheap, but well worth the investment. More information can be found at because it is an event produced in a cooperative effort between trade publication Radio Ink and local media consultants Jacobs Media. Radio Ink's B. Eric Rhoads and the Jacobs brothers, Fred, Paul and Bill are to be commended for bringing this exciting radio conference to the Motor City. Each year, as technology warrants, it will no doubt grow in size.

The 2014 DASH Conference was appropriately kicked off with a riveting keynote by Gary Shapiro, President & CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association. CEA puts on the annual CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas each January. Shapiro was introduced by Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan, who is very excited about NEXT RADIO, a means for smartphone users to dial in all local FM signals in whichever city they're in. Sadly, it only works on Android phones at the present time, but an iPhone application is expected soon. I must admit, it's very impressive!

A huge part of this year's DASH were the Class of 2015...The Millennials. Young people today seem to be far more interested in the technology that they can hold in the palm of their hands than the thrill of getting their own first automobile. That's scary for Detroit. Numerous local radio personalities provided introductions, including: Jamie and Wojo from 97.1 The Ticket, Coop and Gillian from Amp Radio 98.7 and Jim O'Brien from WCSX 94.7.

The most memorable intro was undoubtedly the one WWJ's auto beat reporter Jeff Gilbert got from John Mason, morning host on WDMK, Kiss 105.9 FM. See and hear the eighty second video at

One of my personal favorites was the appearance of legendary Detroit personality Lee Alan talking about car dealership commercials. He's produced a lot of them. The campaign that was highlighted came from 16 years ago. Complete this slogan..."Birmingham's in ____" I bet you got it. The missing word is Troy. The power of catchy jingles and catch-phrases is best exemplified by RADIO. Remember Gene Merollis what a great great guy? Or perhaps "get on the right track to 9 mile and Mack....Roy O'Brien Ford." Radio guys and Dealer owners made for a great panel.

I also loved research-analyst Larry Rosin who spoke about the huge importance of traffic reports on the air. Look at how much TV is imitating radio with traffic and weather every few minutes in the morning. If you're in the radio industry or anything related to automotive electronics, this locally-based conference, known as DASH is a must attend, and I was NOT paid for this endorsement.


Totally unrelated was the impromptu and unofficial Flint Radio Reunion which was the brain storm of Peter C. Cavanaugh of WTAC The Big 6 and 105 WWCK fame in the Car City. It turned out to be a huge event at Flint's famous White Horse Tavern and you can see a video of the best parts here:


As many of you recall when Casey Kasem passed away, amongst a great deal of drama, a lot of TV news was devoted to it. Pete Battistini, an Indianapolis fan of Kasem's renowned "American Top 40" program, has published a second edition of his soft-cover book which covers the hits of the 1980's. You'll find that it's loaded with illustrations, stories from insiders and fans alike, program tidbits and a list of every AT40 radio station during that classic Casey Kasem era. Enjoy! Here's a link to where it can be ordered on demand -- directly from the publisher. It's a great gift idea!


With election day looming, and the mud still being slung by the various candidates, I wanted you catch a truly humorous video by former radio hot-shot John Chaffee who put together "Kid-Politicians They're Just Dancers" at


TV news is a hungry news monster, and when it needs to be fed and there's not enough news, it tends to create it. This was evident with the quarterback concussion story out in Ann Arbor. It even made national network newscasts and will probably result in changes at the Michigan football program. My DVD of most of the coverage totaled nearly 100 minutes!

Speaking of football, Jim Brandstatter is NOT going to try rushing from East Lansing after the UM-MSU game to London, England for the Lion's game on Sunday October 26th. His chair will be filled by former Lions player Rob Rubick. Meanwhile more musical chairs will be in play at the Wolverine/Spartan Backyard Brawl as Brandy's great new color analyst Dan Dierdorf sits this one out while recovering from some recent surgery. Dan's seat will be warmed by former UM player (turned broadcaster) Jon Jansen.

If you see this in time, be sure to spread the word that those headed to the Big Game in East Lansing should take your portable radio since the game will be on 92.1 FM WQTX for Wolverines fans in real time with NO delay and on 94.9 FM WMMQ and AM 1240 WJIM for Spartans fans. Go Blue & Go Green, enjoy the game if you know what I mean!


Contact Art Vuolo, Jr. via e-mail at


Art Vuolo Jr.




Commentary by Art Vuolo, Jr.

VuoloIt's been almost a month since I was lucky enough to attend The Radio Show which is present by the RAB and NAB (Radio Advertising Bureau and National Association of Broadcasters) and I've been anxious to report back to you about what I saw, heard and experienced ever since.

Attendance, according to the powers to be, was flat or slightly above 2013. It was the first radio convention of this sort which was actually held at a convention center rather than a hotel. The site was Indianapolis, and the Indiana Convention Center. Indy is a very misunderstood city. It is no longer a cow town with a race track. Radio broadcasters now know this, and my guess is that about half of the attendees had never been to The Circle City before. I found out that the primary reason for this destination was that this year marked the 25th anniversary of the Marconi Awards, which is radio's Emmy or Oscars. The man who originally suggested that radio deserved an awards ceremony is Jeff Smulyan, CEO of Emmis Communications, an Indianapolis-based media company. Makes sense.

Several SE Michigan stations and personalities were nominated, including: Jim (JJ) Johnson of WOMC, Dr. Don with Rachael & Grunwald from WYCD, WSPD at Plymouth-Salem High School, WLEN in Adrian, and WXYT-FM Detroit (in two categories) but sadly NONE of them walked away with an award. One of biggest disappointments of the this first class event was that Indianapolis-based Bob & Tom lost out to Rush Limbaugh for Network and Syndicated Personality of the he needed another award. Bob & Tom were also the only nominees in that category who were actually in the room, and they had to do a morning radio show the next day! Interestingly, those guys actually met at an establishment known as The Bar Harbor up in Harbor Springs, MI.

The big surprise at the 2014 Radio Show was the element of honesty. Usually we hear about how 94% of people listen to radio every day and things are peachy-keen and these are the best of times, etc. This year a riveting keynote by advertising luminary Bob Hoffman of the Type A Group told a packed house that radio needs to stop ignoring the fastest growing demographic, those over 50. Sound familiar? I've also been preaching this for years and often in this column.

The 50+ crowd has the money, and most importantly, has the time to spend it. Radio has to end all of the B.S. and he used the actually word repeatedly. It was a real wake-up call...and it was honest, truthful and needed to be said.

The next morning Marci Ryvicker of Wells Fargo Securities outlined the business forecast for radio and she minced no words in telling the truth. Changes need to be made or the next generation will not even know what radio is. AM radio is already unknown to most of those under 35, and FM is now being challenged by Internet radio, satellite radio and any number of electronic devices cutting a slice into the media pie. Alan Mullaly & Art VuoloA personal high point for me was getting to meet former Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mullally. He was interviewed at the convention by ABC newsman Dan Harris.


Michigan Wolverines fans, don't forget that it is now safe to once again bring your small portable AM/FM radio into The Big House. The university has struck a deal with Ann Arbor's 10,000 watt local station WTKA-AM (1050) to run the games without that annoying 7 to 10 second delay. Spread the word to those who sit in the stadium that you can now hear Brandstatter and Dierdorf with perfect sync to the action on the field.

Speaking of action on the field, have you ever seen a media circus and feeding frenzy like what television has managed to create over the scandal in Ann Arbor? Mitch Albom said it best on WJR, "If this game had been broadcast only on radio it would be a non-issue."

My estimate is that the hit on Michigan quarterback Shane Morris has been played in excess of 100 times just on TV alone. The tube has a real talent for being able to create its own news and insight a riot as evidenced by the throngs of students who marched to the newly appointed president of the U of M's house. The only thing missing were the pitchforks and torches. They were demanding the firing of Athletic Director Dave Brandon. I don't know about you, but personally I've seen much harder hits during the 35 years that I have been covering Michigan football. Could the lack of game victories be at the root of all this?

While on the topic of the Maize and Blue, the Rutgers game from New Jersey Saturday night on 10-4 (good buddy) will run on 97.1 FM The Ticket as well as WWJ-AM (950) since the Tigers will not be playing on that day. Depending on how the baseball playoffs go, the following week, on October 11th, the Penn State night game in Ann Arbor could also be on 97.1 FM. WWJ at night in Ann Arbor is almost unlistenable and WTKA drops down to just 500 watts! Reports say that WWWW-FM at 102.9 FM in Ann Arbor will also have the game on the static-free band.


Is it just me or are the commercials before and after the traffic reports on WJR longer than the actual traffic reports? Plus the other day I heard Mitzi Miles doing traffic. Add in Kevin O'Neill, Mark Mitchell and others and you've got a plethora of great personalities just doing traffic reports.


The DASH Conference is coming to town by mid-October with the latest reports on "The Connected Car" and the new look to vehicle dashboards. I hope to be there and report back to you all of the insightful developments coming into our cars!


Contact Art Vuolo, Jr. via e-mail at


Art Vuolo Jr.








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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Vuolo Commentary category from October 2014.

Vuolo Commentary: September 2014 is the previous archive.

Vuolo Commentary: March 2015 is the next archive.

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