CBS Television Stations’ WWJ-TV (Detroit) is holding its annual Walk Now for Autism Speaks on September 15 at Kensington Metropark in Detroit.
The purpose of the walk is to support autism research and awareness. The station is encouraging viewers to participate with a corporate, school or family team. The station has put together a page on its site as a guide to the walk for interested participants. See here.
The annual walk is presented in partnership with the organization Autism Speaks, which is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support, increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.
Starting this past Labor Day Weekend, WCSX-FM (Detroit) morning show Big Jim’s House set out to help the Michigan Humane Society with Big Jim’s House Million Penny Woof Sit.
Donations for the the “Woof Sit” began at the Arts, Beats and Eats Festival in Royal Oak and wrapped up September 5 with a day-long “sit” beginning with a live morning show broadcast at 6 a.m. (in the dark!) atop the roof of the Vinsetta Garage in Berkley.
The goal was to raise one million pennies (or 10,000 dollars) to benefit the Society. UPDATE 9/18: This goal was met!!!!
The Michigan Humane Society is the largest nonprofit animal welfare organization in the state.
Local radio coverage of high school sports can still be found in a lot of places these days – and for a couple of stations, they’re celebrating 77 years of service to school sports in 2018-19.
WTCM-AM in Traverse City and WJMS-AM in Ironwood are literally adjacent on your radio dial, but they’re 250 miles apart as the crow flies across Lake Michigan and through a lot of northeast Wisconsin. In 1941, they started their streak of broadcasting the preps into their local communities.
Mind you, there weren’t that many radio stations as you might think back then, when it was the only electronic medium. WJMS had signed on in November of 1931 and was only one of two stations in the Upper Peninsula at the time and one of 19 statewide, according to Federal Radio Commission records. One of the early issues the station faced was interference with its signal because of the density of iron mines in the area.
When WTCM went on the air early in 1941, there were still only 28 radio stations in our state; five were in the U.P., and WTCM was the only station in the Lower Peninsula north of Saginaw.
Les Biederman owned WTCM and was quickly persuaded by the locals to broadcast a Traverse City High School basketball game.
“So he got the equipment ready and got everything set up, they got permission and everything,” said Jack O’Malley, current program director at the station and a long-time play-by-play voice. “The night of the game, the superintendent says ‘You can’t do the game – the local newspaper is not real happy. They said if people listen to the game, they won’t buy the newspaper in the morning. So you can’t do the game.’
“So the town had already been told – they were promoting it; and when 7 o’clock rolled around, they went on the air and they announced they were going to do the game tonight, but permission had been revoked, so we can’t do it. And then they left the microphones open at the gym so that everybody could hear the basketball dribbling, the crowd cheering, the horns honking.
“About 15 minutes later, the superintendent was at Les’ door, saying that the phones had gone crazy, you’ve got to do the game. They started with the game and we’ve been doing high school sports ever since.”
WTCM added football and other sports to the mix over time, which played well with Traverse City High School being the only public school in town. The station’s focus these days is football, alternating between Central and West High Schools.
“The whole idea is that we’re part of the community, and WTCM has always been a community radio station,” O’Malley said. “High school sports are all about community. People say, I remember when this kid played on that team and you watch all the kids as they grow up. It’s really a connection through the ages.”
The Biederman family continues to serve radio listeners in the north, with Ross Biederman as the president of what has become the Midwestern Broadcasting Company with four stations in the Traverse City market and two in the Alpena area. And yes, one of the Alpena stations is involved in covering high school sports.
The paper trail isn’t quite as tidy when documenting the history at WJMS. The station moved from its original frequency of 1420 to 1450 after being on the air for about six years, then to 630 in 1947 and its present 590 on the AM dial in 1968. Veteran observers of U.P. radio concluded that WJMS began broadcasting high school games in 1941, which was confirmed by several newspaper articles in the old Ironwood Times from that year.
The station’s signal footprint, which would eventually reach from Marquette to well west of Duluth, Minn., by day, was the early stomping grounds for some great broadcasters.
“I can remember when I was 9 or 10 years old, listening to Bob Olson and Joe Blake doing high school basketball and football in the early 60’s,” said Rod Halverson, who currently calls games for the station. “We had four local schools, Hurley (Wis.), Bessemer, Ironwood and Wakefield, which were all in the Michigan-Wisconsin Conference; and we covered those four schools. I remember listening and seeing those guys at the basketball games.”
Bob Olson, who died earlier this year, and Joe Blake went on from WJMS to purchase WMPL in Hancock in 1969. Olson would spend 35 years behind the microphone calling Michigan Tech ice hockey games and was legendary for his high-pitched tag going into commercial breaks: “This is Huskie Hockey from Houghton!” Blake would purchase WCKD in Ishpeming in 1971 (which later became WMQT-WZAM in Marquette) and run its operations until his death in 2004, calling Northern Michigan ice hockey and volleyball games. Both gentlemen received all kinds of accolades over the years.
But it was the style of an another announcer who followed Olson and Blake – Harry Rizze – who Halverson has worked hard to apply as he calls the games now.
“Harry Rizze was doing games when I started playing basketball,” Halverson said. “He made the games really personable. He would get to know the players by their first names – and he would use their first names on the air sometimes – that’s how close he got to the program. I thought it was a really nice touch. I’m doing some of that now, and I’m trying to emulate the two guys before me – Harry Rizze and Gary Aho.”
And in a place like the Iron Range of the Western U.P., there’s nothing like local radio covering local high school games.
“Some of the players I broadcast now, I played against their dads,” Halverson said. “You get to know everybody. Up here, we cover all of the schools the best we can. I feel bad for the areas that don’t have radio coverage.”
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is offering Broadcasters who may be shifting channels as the result of the repack, tools to help communicate these changes with viewers. This includes a checklist of activitiesto ensure they are meeting Federal Communications Commission (FCC) education requirements and aware of best practices recommended by NAB. Some tools are available in languages other than English.
Stations are to complete a form with the NAB indicating with their exact rescan day and time so they can help spread the word to their viewers. NAB uses this information to ensure the rescan database is accurate and send messages to viewers who have signed up through our website to remind them when to rescan their TVs. Find that form here.
More: Let your state and local legislators know when stations in your state are moving frequencies. You can use this draft letter as a guide.
The NAB provides numerous resources to help stations at TVAnswers.org/tools, including talking points, sample scripts and crawls and even automated phone messaging. Also available are customizable spots in English and Spanish that instruct viewers how to rescan their TVs and converter boxes.
On September 5, Midwest Communications flipped longtime sports outlet WQTX-FM (St. Johns/Lansing) to a new format featuring hits of the late ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s as “92.1 Fuel-FM….Lansing’s High-Octane Fun.”
VP/Market Manager Mark Jaycox said, “We’re excited to bring Mid-Michigan this new and exciting radio station. We want Fuel 92.1 to be the station that you instinctually turn on while you’re working out at the gym, driving in the car with kids, having weekend birthday parties – really anytime you want to hear your favorite uptempo song.”
Station Program Director Joe Cassady said he is “happy to be working with a team that has the vision and foresight to try something new, something completely different in an era of cookie-cutter formats and boring radio.”
WQTX is the first affiliate of the new format offered by the Tom Kent Radio Network (TKRN). Network CEO Tom Kent said “We saw a tremendous opportunity to target millennials between the ages of 26 and 40 powered by great personalities and contemporary hit music centered in the ‘90s with late ‘80s and early 2000s serving as bookends.”
In a unique partnership with the St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA), which completed its acquisition of WRSX in July 2018, Michigan Radio is the exclusive provider of public radio programming for the Port Huron station, with a 24/7/365 simulcast originating from WUOM studios in Ann Arbor.
The sign on of the 91.3 FM signal with the new call sign WRSX began at noon on September 4, 2018, with the launch of Michigan Radio as the primary programming source, providing NPR news and information and Michigan Radio’s roster of local, statewide journalism content, led by “Stateside,” the station’s daily news program. In addition, local newscasts throughout the day are being broadcast live from the state’s largest public radio news staff.
“This agreement will ensure Michigan Radio’s over-air signal reaches from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron along the I-69 corridor,” Michigan Radio executive director and general manager Steve Schram said in a news release. “We’re also excited about the opportunities we can offer St. Clair County students attending RESA.”
RESA acquired the station (then known at WSGR) from St. Clair Community College. The FCC approved the license transfer in May of this year. RESA plans to supplement the programming from Michigan Radio with local programming produced by students at a future date and the partnership gives the school the opportunity to take students to Michigan Radio’s flagship station WUOM in Ann Arbor several times a year.
WZZM-TV (Grand Rapids), the TEGNA owned ABC affiliate in West Michigan, has promoted Paul Mack to Director of Sales. He will oversee the sales team and be responsible for achieving the station’s broadcast and digital advertising revenue goals.
“Paul and I have worked together for 16 years, so I’ve seen how he has excelled in every position,” said Janet Mason, 13 ON YOUR SIDE President and General Manager. “He’s a seasoned customer-focused sales leader, with a long track record of success.”
“I am excited to accept this new opportunity. The media landscape is changing rapidly, and I believe that our sales department’s digital and traditional product suite is unmatched in the market,” said Mack. “I look forward to leading our team’s efforts to help our customers build marketing plans, grow their businesses and thrive.”
Mack started at 13 ON YOUR SIDE in 2002 as an Account Executive. Since then he has been promoted twice: first as Regional Accounts Manager and most recently Major Accounts Sales Manager.
He graduated from the University of Michigan, with a bachelor’s degree in communications.
WLUN-FM ESPN 100.9 (Pinconning-Midland) has announced the promotion of Brad Tunney to the station’s lead play-by-play broadcaster, and the hiring of Blake Froling as a new play-by-play broadcaster and content coordinator.
Tunney, who has worked with the station and the Great Lakes Loons since 2014, replaces broadcaster Chris Vosters, who is leaving to pursue other opportunities. He will also maintain his current role as the station’s program manager. Froling will join the station’s Saginaw Valley League football coverage later this month.
“We are excited to have Brad as the new voice of Loons baseball and to add Blake to our team,” station General Manager Matt DeVries said. “In his time with us, Brad has exhibited exceptional work ethic and understanding of the impact we can make for sports fans in this area. We’re incredibly excited for him and know that he will continue to do a great job for us.
“Blake will be a tremendous addition to the staff and will help us maintain the reputation we’ve built as the area’s go-to place for sports coverage and live local games. These two guys will maintain the high-quality broadcasts our listeners have come to expect.
“Chris had four great years with us. We wish him the best of luck in the future and look forward to watching his career in sports broadcasting continue to flourish.”
Froling, a native of Troy, Mich., comes to the area after serving as the sports director at ESPN UP 970 AM (WZAM) in Marquette. While there he hosted a daily sports talk show “The Sports Pen,” provided play-by-play commentary for high school football and basketball, and hosted weekly coaches shows. During his time as a student at Michigan State University, the 23-year-old worked with the Spartan Sports Network and was the sports director for the student radio station Impact 89FM (WDBM).
“I’m so excited to be teaming up with ESPN 100.9-FM and the Great Lakes Loons,” Froling said. “I want to thank Matt DeVries, Scott Litle and everyone else involved for giving me this tremendous opportunity and I can’t wait to get started.”
With high school football underway, Tunney will remain the lead broadcaster for the station’s SVL Game of the Week. He will transition to calling Northwood men’s and women’s basketball in November before occupying the lead chair during Loons baseball beginning with the 2019 season.
“My high school self would have been elated to see something like this in his future and my current self is just as excited to move into such a role today,” Tunney said. “It’s an even better feeling knowing I’ll be alongside a talented and hard-working broadcaster like Blake, serving a community that cares so much about Loons baseball and all of its other local sports.”
Froling will start at ESPN 100.9-FM on September 17 and will call his first game for the station the ensuing Friday night on The Deuce during Week 5 of the high school football season. He will be the lead broadcaster for high school basketball and join Tunney in the booth during all Loons home games next season.
WDIV-TV Local 4 (Detroit), a Graham Media Group station, has announced that Marcos Chappell has been named Weekend Executive Producer. Chappell joined the station in early September.
Chappell comes from WWBT-TV, the NBC affiliate in Richmond, Virginia where he was the Senior News Producer. He’s an Emmy award-winning journalist who, in addition to his morning and evening weekend newscasts, will be a strong voice and contributor to other newscasts and special projects.
“Marcos is a great fit for WDIV’s news department. He understands breaking news and how to build an effective newscast. His commitment to storytelling on every platform is why I’m happy to have him join the leadership team in our newsroom,” says News Director Kim Voet.
A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University in mass communications, Chappell also taught journalism at his alma mater. He is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. Chappell and his wife live in downtown Detroit.
Heritage Broadcasting’s WWTV (Cadillac) was off-air today due to a fire that broke out late Thursday night (August 30) at the station’s transmitter site in Tustin. At press time, fire crews were still on scene and there was no known cause for the blaze.
The transmitter building was built in 1961 and once housed station’s studios for decades, following a previous fire that destroyed the station’s studio and transmitter facilities.
The station moved into current studios in Cadillac early in 2017.
The MAB has already heard from one area engineer who has offered assistance, adding “there are many of us engineers in the area that are able and willing to lend a hand.”
For the latest, visit the 9&10news website here or the station’s Facebook page here. The MAB extends its best wishes to Kevin Dunaway and the 9&10news staff.