WDIV’s Marla Drutz Named GM of the Year

Marla Drutz

WDIV-TV (Detroit) is proud to announce Local 4’s station chief, Marla Drutz, has been named General Manager of the Year by Broadcasting & Cable.

Every year Broadcasting & Cable selects a GM of the Year (by market size) who they say “demonstrates exemplary innovation, fearless leadership and flawless execution in a challenging time in the television industry.” Drutz took the top honor for markets 1-25 this year.

“Marla is an incredibly passionate and determined leader with a high moral compass and ethical standards. She is a local broadcaster who loves, eats and breathes everything about living in a local market. Marla is a huge motivator to the people she works with and she’s a motivator to me,” said Emily Barr, President and CEO of Graham Media Group, WDIV-Local 4’s parent company.

Drutz has held the position of Vice President and General Manager since July 2008. Under her leadership, WDIV-Local 4 has been dominant both on-air and online. The station has the top-rated/most watched newscasts in the market. On the digital side, ClickOnDetroit is consistently Metro Detroit’s No. 1 news website. Drutz has also bolstered a strong commitment to outstanding community service.

In addition, the Local 4 News team has been presented with eight prestigious Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association for news coverage since her tenure, and WDIV has been named Station of the Year three times by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. ClickOnDetroit, received the Local Media Association’s Digital Innovation Award for Best Overall Local News Strategy and Best Social Media Strategy.

Drutz is most proud of WDIV’s second Service to America Award (2017 and 2011). The prestigious national honor presented by the National Association of Broadcasters recognizes the station’s commitment to outstanding community service.

Prior to joining WDIV, Drutz worked at the E.W. Scripps Company and WXYZ-TV (Detroit) as the Director of Programming. Earlier in her career, she was the Marketing Director at WJBK-TV (Detroit). Drutz began her career as a research analyst at WJW in Cleveland.

Throughout her career in broadcasting, Drutz has received numerous professional awards including the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, Emmy Awards, first-place awards from the MAB and a “Top Woman in Management” Award from the Detroit Chapter of American Women in Radio and Television. She has been honored as a member of the NATAS Silver Circle and has been selected by Corp! Magazine as one of Michigan’s Top Businesswomen.

Drutz is a frequent speaker at industry events and conferences. A native of Louisville, KY, Drutz holds a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University in journalism and communication.

Cumulus Media Promotes Four in Detroit

Cumulus Media announces that it has promoted four programming professionals across its Detroit radio station group. Concurrently, Matt Laurenic rises from Producer to Executive Producer of the Blaine Fowler Morning Show on WDVD-FM. Mike Gagliano becomes FM Production Director and Programming Coordinator from his previous role as Production Director, and Adam Ficorelli, formerly with the Street Team, was named Promotions Manager/Swing Air Talent for WDRQ-FM.

Cumulus also announces the promotion of Kendall Taylor as Assistant Program Director and Midday Host for Hot AC radio station WDVD-FM. Taylor was previously WDVD weekend personality and interim Midday Host. She has held on-air positions at radio stations in Dallas, Norfolk, and Myrtle Beach and was overnight jock at WDVD in 2005. In addition to her duties at WDVD, Taylor will continue to be heard as a host on Westwood One’s 24-hour Hot AC format.

Robby Bridges, Director of FM Programming, Cumulus Media-Detroit, said: “To better reflect the scope of their existing duties at Cumulus Detroit, we are excited to promote Matt Laurenic from Producer to Executive Producer of the Blaine Fowler Morning Show, Mike Gagliano to FM Production Director and Programming Coordinator and Adam Ficorelli to Promotions Manager/Swing air talent for WDRQ. Congratulations to our all-star team!”

Bridges added: “From her mad social media and production skills to her ability to create meaningful, memorable content over 10-second song intros, and her positive team-oriented attitude, Kendall has it all and really stood out as the perfect choice to compliment our personality-driven line-up at 96.3 WDVD.”

Taylor said: “I couldn’t be prouder or more excited to be part of the WDVD team. I gotta thank John Shomby and Mike McVay for being long-time believers in me and thanks to Robby Bridges, Mike Wheeler and Rob Roberts for this amazing opportunity in Detroit. Let’s rock this!”

WLEN Raises More Than $32K for Veterans

(L-R) Kathy Williams, Marketing Specialist for WLEN; Elizabeth Salerno, Executive Director, Housing Help of Lenawee; Charles Noe, Board President of Housing Help of Lenawee; Julie Koehn President & General Manager of Lenawee Broadcasting Company/WLEN; Randy Smith, President & CEO of TLC Community Credit Union.

On November 10, WLEN Radio (Adrian) hosted the 12th Annual “Thank a Vet” day. This day is in celebration of Veterans Day and is an event to raise funds and awareness for homeless and other veterans in need in Lenawee County.

$32,218.20 was raised in 12 hours for the “Veterans Dire Needs Fund” distributed through Housing Help of Lenawee. WLEN staff, local veterans’ organizations and area business people stood curbside and collected funds to support local veterans; these funds are distributed throughout the year to local veterans for assistance with rent, mortgage payments to avoid foreclosure, utility bills, rental facilities to store possessions when they are displaced, transportation stipends and for things as simple as a pair of boots to secure employment. Again, this year TLC Community Credit Union joined WLEN with a matching funds program, matching donations to the Happy Hundred Club by 50%, which raised an additional $8,000.00 from TLC.

To date, more than $150,000 has been raised in this event and distributed to local veterans in Lenawee County.

St. Clair County RESA to Take Over Radio Station

via WPHM-AM:

WSGR-FM, St. Clair County Community College’s student radio station for 43 years, will become a part of the St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA). The college took the station off the air last week, citing rising costs and declining student interest.

WSGR will be a part of RESA’s digital media technology program and the studio will be moved to the Technical Education Center in Marysville. RESA’s Kevin Miller says there is no set date for WSGR to resume broadcasting but he would like to have it on the air for the fall semester. WSGR’s 91.3 FM frequency is reserved for educational purposes only.

WDET-FM and Detroit Public Television To Receive Funding for Local Journalism Engagement Efforts

The Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund awarded a total of $322,000 to media organizations as it aims to bolster local engagement and coverage of the city’s recovery.  The gift will go to six community-media partnership projects put forth by a total of 13 Southeast Michigan news and community groups, according to a news release. They include the Michigan Chronicle, ARISE Detroit, Detroit public radio station WDET and Detroit Public Television.

This is the fund’s first round of giving, after it launched last winter with the goal of protecting quality journalism that reflects Detroit’s diversity.

Support comes from the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the New York-based Ford Foundation and the Detroit-based Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

The local foundation is administering the fund. When it requested ideas earlier this year, it received so many “strong” applications that it bumped up the award pot from $220,000 to $322,000, the release said.

WDET-FM will be receiving $50,000.  The station and City Bureau, a Chicago-based nonprofit journalism lab, want to try out an approach to increase engagement in and coverage of public body meetings in Detroit with help from residents who will be trained as citizen journalists. The coverage would be aired on WDET.

Detroit Public Television will receive $48,000.  The station along with Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) and the University of Michigan’s Detroit Metro Area Community Study aim to develop content for DPTV’s “Other Detroit” series, using CDAD member organizations’ connection to neighborhoods and the study’s polling data.

The Knight Foundation’s support of the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund is part of its $2.4 million investment in Southeast Michigan journalism. The Ford Foundation also separately invested in the social media presence and community engagement of New Michigan Media through the journalism fund.

WSGW Raises Nearly $50K for Rescue Mission

Dan Streeter of Rescue Ministries unveils the grand total raised. Photo credit: Dave Maurer

Alpha Media’s WSGW-AM/FM (Saginaw) raised $49,380 on December 13 for the City Rescue Mission with its 12th Annual “Sharing Hope” Radiothon.  This exceeded the event’s goal of $45,000!

From 5:30 a.m. through 6:00 p.m., stations asked listeners to prayerfully consider making a $30 gift which is enough to provide for a night of hope and care for a person in need of food, shelter, and clothing. The donations helps provide a warm bed in a clean and safe environment for homeless men, women and children. It also helps with three meals, laundry, clothing and counseling, all in a caring place.

City Rescue Mission is dependent on the gifts of compassionate supporters to provide care for the homeless and hungry.

Broadcaster Bill Thompson Hangs Up His Headphones

(L-R) Bill Thompson with friend and colleague Tim Skubick at retirement party on December 12.

On December 12, longtime Michigan broadcaster Bill Thompson, surrounded by family, friends and colleagues, celebrated a 40-year radio career with a retirement party in Lansing.

Thompson’s career began as a weekend announcer and DJ at WFYC-AM (Alma) in 1975 and after graduation from Central Michigan University in 1978, moved on to WSOO-AM (Sault Ste. Marie) as Production Director.  In late 1979, he moved on to become Program Director at WJOR-AM (South Haven).  A year later, Thompson moved to Lansing an afternoon news anchor job at WJIM Radio. In 1983, he was promoted to Capitol Correspondent and joined the Capitol Press Corp for WJIM until the station was sold in 1985.  In 1986, Thompson joined WITL-AM/FM in Lansing (as “Bill Perry”), eventually taking over as News Director.

In 1991, Thompson then worked as a news reporter at WION-AM (Ionia).

He is best known throughout the state for his 23-year tenure as a statewide network news reporter/anchor/editor, beginning in 1992 with the Michigan News Network/Great Lakes Media Group.  Thompson remained with the network, renamed the Michigan Radio Network through a series of owners including Full Circle Broadcasting, Saga Communications and Learfield Communications.

He also served as a member of the CMU Broadcast and Cinematic Arts Alumni Advisory Board for 14 years and has helped mentor BCA students since his graduation nearly 40 years ago.

Bill and his wife Debbie reside in Mason.

Radio Grows Communication Skills

dicktaylor
Dick Taylor

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Dick Taylor,  CRMC/CDMC
DickTaylorBlog.com

Having been in higher education for the past seven years, I heard a lot about the need for students to be fluent in the STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

A recent study from CSIRO found that STEM skills were indeed important during the period of 2009-2016, but that in the future occupations requiring communication skills will grow the fastest. As our world becomes more technologically enabled, what will keep humans from being replaced by robots will be their ability to connect, communicate, understand and build relationships.

Google It

We live in a world where skills change quickly and facts can be Googled from one’s smartphone. In order to be successful in the 21st Century, everyone must be able to work collaboratively and learn to be emotionally intelligent.

Those who possess the skills such as active listening, empathy and teamwork will grow in demand across all work sectors.

While we will still need people with STEM skills going forward, the numbers needed will decline as the work of programming will be done through artificial intelligence by the very machines that need it done.

Jobs requiring a high level of interpersonal and/or problem-solving skills are the ones that can’t be automated.

Radio’s Role in Developing Key Communication Skills

I was working in commercial radio when I was in the 10th grade in high school. What it taught me that school didn’t, was verbal communication skills. Being a radio personality means having to develop public speaking skills and being able to speak extemporaneously.

In radio, you learn how to serve a listener – both over the air, on the phone and on remote broadcasts.

Working in radio brought me closer to the community I lived in. I covered elections, breaking news, births and deaths, and was active in local charities.

Over my high school and college years, my radio work would see me hosting talk shows, buy-sell shows, gathering-writing-and-reporting news, playing Top 40 music, beautiful music, Irish music, Polish music, country music and middle-of-the-road music.

Each radio assignment required different communication skills.

Radio & Education

A quick check of the number of high school radio stations in the United States on Wikipedia shows about 250 currently on the air.

Students who are exposed to radio work as part of their high school education will not only find it to be a fun and exciting experience, they will also be acquiring the very critical communication skills that will help them grow personally and professionally.

People who can create exciting, engaging, stimulating and fun radio have what it takes to be successful in life.

Ronald Reagan

Our 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, was called “the great communicator.” President Reagan learned those critical communications skills as a radio broadcaster. First at WOC-AM1420 in Davenport, Iowa.

When WOC consolidated (yes, that kind of thing was happening back in the 1930s too) with WHO, Reagan would go on to recreate Chicago Cubs baseball games.

While doing one of these recreations in 1934, the wire service feeding the play-by-play descriptions of the game went dead. Reagan, knowing that other stations were also broadcasting this game, knew he had to hold his radio audience and would improvise saying hitters on both teams were hitting foul balls off of pitches until the wire was restored.

Radio builds your character in moments like that.

Orson Welles

The Mercury Radio Production on CBS, “War of the Worlds,” brought Orson Welles to the attention of Hollywood. One of the aspects Welles brought to the movie industry was his extensive radio experience. In his greatest film masterpiece, “Citizen Kane,” Welles used a combination of live sound with recorded sound to create an almost three-dimensional audio illusion for Charles Foster Kane.

Radio is what inspired Orson Welles to push the aural possibilities of the film medium.

Theater of the Mind

Radio has the ability to take a listener anywhere.

Radio also has the ability to provide the foundation to take the radio performer anywhere as well.

No matter what you want to do with your life, radio will give you the communication skill set to get you there.

Reprinted by permission.

Dick Taylor has been “Radio Guy” all his life and is a former professor of broadcasting at the School of Journalism & Broadcasting at Western Kentucky University (WKU) in Bowling Green, Kentucky and he’s currently seeking his next adventure.  Dick shares his thoughts on radio and media frequently at https://dicktaylorblog.com.

The Robinson Report – The Interview

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

KevinRobBy: Kevin Robinson
Robinson Media

“Don’t ever do an interview … make it a conversation.” That’s the advice Jack Paar gave to Dick Cavett.

It almost seems without effort. His execution is flawless.

And again this weekend.

To watch CBS Sunday Morning’s Steve Hartman interview REAL people, you’d think they were long lost friends.

Which is exactly his gift.

You might not know Jack Paar or Dick Cavett from a bucket of chicken.

Watch them work. And learn.

Even facing cantankerous John Lennon, Dick Cavett’s conversation with the famous ex-Beatle and his Yoko – made history.

It certainly was far from an interview but a clear, intimate look into their lives.

The art of the interview eludes most radio talent because we make it an interview, not a conversation.

We’re faced with diverse sets of “interviews” – local city officials, charity leaders along with regional and national stars.

First – do your homework.

Nothing tells the Listener you don’t know what you’re doing if you’re not in control of the answer – or can regain control if a fastball flies by you.

Second – put the interviewee at ease.

Perhaps a nugget of personal information not previously in the spotlight that lifts them up.

Finally – always record the conversation.

Or at least delay.

Imagine if  Diane Sawyer were ‘live’ with her conversations.

Messy, messy, messy.

Yet, we do it in broadcast – every day.

Cancel the interview. Book the conversation.

Kevin Robinson is a record-setting and award-winning programmer. His brands consistently perform in the Top Three of the target – often times as the list leader. In his 35 years of radio, he’s successfully programmed or consulted nearly every English language radio brand. Known largely as a trusted talent coach, he’s the only personality mentor who’s coached three different morning shows on three different stations in the same major market to the #1 position. His efforts have been recognized by Radio & Records, NAB’s Marconi, Radio Ink and he has coached CMA, ACM and Marconi winning talent. Kevin was a featured speaker at the 2017 Great Lakes Broadcasting Conference (GLBC) in Lansing.  He lives in St. Louis with his wife of 30 years, Monica. Reach Kevin at (314) 882-2148 or robinsonradio@aol.com.

Creating Personas: Envision the Audience for Your Radio Station’s Blog or Podcast

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

When I was the Program Director of WBRU in Providence, we often talked about “Mr. BRU,” a fictional character that represented our audience. Mr. BRU was 25 years old, single, lived in the Providence suburbs, and liked to drink beer and go to Newport in the summer. Mr. BRU helped the programming staff at the radio station think of the audience in concrete terms. Before putting a promotion on the air or creating a morning show bit, we would ask ourselves, “What would Mr. BRU think of this?”

Mr. BRU is the result of an exercise that is common not just in broadcasting, but in marketing circles as well. Mr. BRU is a persona — a personification that helps people get a handle on their audience. Gathering the staff together to create personas — it’s useful to create a few — that represent your audience helps to ensure that everybody is on the same page when it comes to creating compelling content.

The technique is useful not only for a radio station’s on-air programming, but also for a station’s blog or podcast. If you haven’t gone through this exercise with your team before (or in a long time), the launch of a station blog or podcast is a great opportunity to do so.

In all likelihood, the personas you create for your radio station’s on-air programming will be identical to those that you create for your radio station’s blog. However, because podcasts typically focus on a narrower niche that the radio station as a whole, they may require fewer, more specific personas. One Mr. BRU may drink Budweiser while a second Mr. BRU may be a beer snob; only the latter will listen to the radio station’s craft beer podcast.

Once you’ve gathered the appropriate members of your team together, give your first persona a name and brainstorm their characteristics, including:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Where they live
  • Marital status
  • Number of children
  • Type of job
  • Income level
  • Education level
  • Hobbies
  • Annual income
  • Musical tastes
  • Allegiance to sports teams
  • Political leanings
  • Other interests

Create as many personas as you need to adequately represent a wide swath of your audience (4 to 6 for your on-air programming or blog, perhaps fewer for a podcast). When you’re done, you may even want to find a place to post bios for these personas for everybody in the station to see.

Personas can help your radio station’s staff members focus on creating the most compelling content for the audience, whether on the air, on the blog or in podcasts. Carve out some time to help them envision the audience together.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.