All posts by Russ White

WILX-TV’s Mike King Interviewed about Television’s Future on ‘MSU Today’

Mike King

By: Russ White, MSU Today

MSU alumnus Mike King is regional vice president for Gray Television and general manager of WILX-TV 10 in Lansing.

King recalls the limited options of the television world in the early ’80s when he entered the business and how the content options for consumers have exploded. “The content is still important,” says King. “The platform has really become more agnostic to us.”

Listen to the interview here:

King says Channel 10 now delivers its content through the web, mobile, Hulu, and Amazon. And local news is still important to people, and it’s something they find more difficult to find online.

“We are really focused on providing local content on multiple platforms. We’ve always been about content. Now instead of having one television signal we have multiple channels that we’re delivering to.”

King says WILX is now a multimedia marketing organization, not only one television signal. The goal is still to sell advertising, but “it’s not just about delivering TV commercials anymore. And consumers want to be reached via multiple platforms.”

King tells how ATSC 3.0 is a new delivery standard for television stations. “It will allow for more two-way interaction with consumers and slicing of the signal so we can deliver even more content over the same amount of bandwidth.

“To simply be in a one-channel advertising-supported business model isn’t sustainable any longer.”

So what and how will we be watching 5, 10 or 20 years from now?

“I wish I had a crystal ball. But as a company – Gray Television – we are going to be in the local news and content business. What I can’t answer is how you’re going to consume our content.”

For young people who want to get into broadcasting and communications, King says to be a good storyteller first and foremost.

“And you do need to understand how consumers are consuming the media. You can’t just go into broadcasting anymore. It’s really about figuring out the news and information people want in their lives and then understanding the multiple channels on which they want to receive that information.

“It’s about standing above the noise and staying on top of the rapid pace of technological change.”

Dick Purtan Highlighted in WKAR’s ‘MSU Today’

(L-R) Russ White, Dick Purtain. Photo credit: Russ White

By Russ White, MSU Today

My first hero in a lifelong love affair with the radio medium was the legendary Dick Purtan, who tells me how he first began visiting Detroit with his father when he was a child. And he recalls fondly his days at the famous Keener 13, his first stop in Detroit radio.

Listen to the interview here:

He says Keener was a fun place to work and a natural fit for his evolving talents.

Then as the Big 8 CKLW began to demolish the competition in Detroit radio, Purtan recalls a time when he had to stick up for himself and the kind of radio show he thought listeners wanted to hear. And he was becoming increasingly weary of the trend to program radio stations from New York rather than locally, like at WXYZ, a station where Dick would eventually work.

Purtan describes how he first started to hone his on air philosophy listening to morning radio in Buffalo where he grew up and then later to groundbreaking morning teams in New York. His goal was to entertain and be informative.

When Purtan retired from radio in 2010, he was already beginning to see what he sees as a decline in local morning radio. It was becoming more about music than locally-based talent, entertainment, and information. So he decided it was time to hang up the microphone and headphones.

While he’s dismayed about much of the current state of radio, he’s optimistic that things will get better someday, especially on local talk radio.

Purtan’s advice for young people who want to get into the constantly evolving broadcast and communications world is to understand and embrace what appear to be the industries of the future.

During our conversation, Purtan references a couple times his decision not to succeed J. P. McCarthy at WJR when that morning radio legend died suddenly in 1995. Here he provides the inside story on how close he came to moving to WJR. Mike Fezzey’s honesty and the fact that Purtan felt he’d already tried the ‘JR thing in Baltimore ultimately led him to decline the opportunity. “It just didn’t feel right.”

Purtan tells me about learning that two of the most famous and successful talents in radio today consider him their hero: Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern.

Keep in touch with Detroit radio legend Dick Purtan on Facebook.

MSU Today airs Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on 94.5 FM and AM 870.