Category Archives: Broadcasting Industry News

Detroit Radio Veteran Rod Hansen Passes at 75

ROD-HANSEN_200Rod Hansen, a Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame inductee and longtime WJR-AM radio journalist, passed away July 4 at his Canton, Michigan home.

While at WJR, he earned dozens of awards during his 38-year career, including two Peabody Awards, one for a 23-part series exposing high-level corruption and collusion between judges, staff and attorneys at Detroit’s federal bankruptcy court and another that helped exonerate a man wrongfully convicted of his girlfriend’s murder. Hansen also won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Associated Press, and was a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame.

Hansen earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Bowling Green State University in 1963.  After working in radio news in Akron, Ohio, he joined WJR in 1967 as evening news anchor and shortly thereafter became a reporter, covering the Detroit riot.

Among the stories Hansen broke, was the disappearance of Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa in 1975.

Rick Pluta, Capitol Bureau Chief of the Michigan Public Radio Network said “Rod Hansen was simply the best. His work at WJR brought justice to the innocent and to the guilty. In the final stage of his career, he made it easy (easier, at least) to cover some high-profile federal court cases. And that ain’t easy. He will certainly be missed.”

Services were held July 7 in Canton.  He is survived by his wife, Christine, son, Eric; three daughters, Kristen Roy, Heidi Watson and Kelly Hansen; and five grandchildren.

Will It Play In Grand Rapids? O’Kelly Examines Music Selection in 1960s Top 40 Radio

OKelly 2015_300Len O’Kelly, longtime radio professional, now Assistant Professor of Multimedia Journalism at Grand Valley State University, recently completed a dissertation on music selection of 1960s era top 40 radio.  Titled “But Will It Play In Grand Rapids? The Role of Gatekeepers in Music Selection in 1960s Top 40 Radio,” the 176-page paper is a fascinating read for any radio professional, student of the medium or anyone who grew up with the hits of the era.

The paper may be downloaded here.

O’Kelly explains:  “This was an effort to marry together two things: my career in radio programming and my research interest in postwar radio history. I joked that I wanted to find a way to turn my collection of 45s into a PhD.

Gatekeeping theory has long been used in the study of news. It attempts to explain the process by which decisions as to what to cover in the news are made. I applied the theory to music radio to try and understand how the decision to play (or not play) songs was reached. I used the 1960s because it was a pre-Internet world where AM was king. Listeners could hear radio from other markets (Chicago stations clearly came into Grand Rapids), but there was no other way to experience the sound of the station except for over the air. By analyzing weekly playlist surveys for Chicago and Grand Rapids, I wanted to see how closely the hits came to the national Billboard charts, and found discrepancy based on race. Part of this had to do with what I termed ‘segue rules’ : the practice of not playing certain songs back to back that is still in use today that gives preference to white male vocals.

I found that Grand Rapids actually led the way in terms of debut dates most of the time. By the time Chicago stations added records, audiences in Grand Rapids were already familiar with them. The discrepancies in terms of what songs were missed was interesting as well, and interview subjects corroborated the fact that by the 1970s, the local station charts were likely false due to the practice of ‘paper adds’ to appease record promoters. Modern Oldies programmers who rely on the charts only to program their stations may be missing out on some great regional hits or giving preference to songs their audiences may not be as familiar with as they think.

Moving forward, I would like to expand the analysis into Detroit weekly playlists to study geographic spread of music. I also plan to work on the creation of a national repository for these station playlists as no such collection exists. I was fortunate to be able to find private collectors that had these surveys intact. I’ll be calling on stations all over Michigan to ask to peek into their storage closets and see what historical materials may exist.”

Len O’Kelly is an Assistant Professor of Multimedia Journalism at Grand Valley State University. He advises both the student radio and television stations. Before teaching, Len spent almost three decades in radio programming, primarily in Chicago and Grand Rapids. He still serves as the news anchor for stations in Michigan and California and provides voice imaging for others. Len is also a Research Associate for the Radio Preservation Task Force, a project of the Library of Congress dedicated to saving recordings of radio broadcast for researchers and students.

The Power Cow Comes to Jackson!

logo_power_cowJackson Radio Works is taking full advantage of opportunities now available with FM translators, and has moved HD2/translator simulcast “Hot Country 101.5” to a new frequency and relaunched it as “95.9 The Power Cow.“  The country format now airs on both WIBM-AM, as well as translator W240DG.

With the movement of the country format, the company has begun simulcasting its news/talk format WKHM-AM on the FM band at 101.5.

But wait…there’s more!  The company has also shifted the ESPN sports format (formerly airing on WIBM-AM) to a third translator, W270CJ, at 101.9 on the FM dial.  The ESPN format is also heard on the HD2 channel of WKHM-FM.

Roxanne Steele Joins WYCD

SteeleRoxanne Steele, most recently midday host at CBS Radio’s WDZH-FM (Detroit), has moved down the hall (and down the dial) as midday host for the company’s WYCD-FM.

Steele attended the Academy of Radio Broadcasting and landed her first on-air job at age 19. After stints in Washington, Texas and Arizona, Steele spent 12 years at WBBM-FM in Chicago.

Steele also hosted “Street Beat” for WKBD-TV (Detroit) and worked two years at WDVD-FM (Detroit).

Roberts Named CBS Radio (Detroit) VP of Music Programming

TimRoberts_300CBS Radio (Detroit) has named veteran programmer Tim Roberts to VP of Music Programming for Country WYCD-FM, Classic Hits WOMC-FM and CHR WDZH-FM. Roberts previously held the title of OM/PD for the three stations.

Debbie Kenyon, SVP/Market Manager for the CBS Detroit stations said, “Tim has been instrumental in the success of our cluster. His passion for radio and his winning track record make him perfect for this position.”

Roberts was recently inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame at ceremonies held June 22 in Nashville.

In a release, Roberts said, “It’s truly been a whirlwind experience for me being inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame – an honor that has been beyond amazing – and now to be elevated to this position couldn’t be more thrilling.  Likewise, it’s fantastic to work with the incredible CBS Radio/Detroit brands of WYCD, WOMC and WDZH under the leadership of Debbie Kenyon.”

Greater Media Flips WMGC-FM to Classic Hop-Hop

PrintAt noon on July 1, Greater Media flipped the switch and WMGC-FM unveiled the “All New 105.1 The Bounce, Detroit’s Throwback Hip-Hop and R&B.”  The station is debuting with 10,000 songs in a row.  The format features throwback hip-hop and R&B songs from the 1990s and 2000s, with artists such as 2Pac, Ice Cube, Drake and Rihanna.

The new format replaces the sports format that occupied the frequency for nearly three years.

Detroit VP/Market Manager Steve Chessare said “Greater Media is thrilled to unveil this fun and unique new format in the Motor City.  We look forward to providing a fun, fresh new sound featuring some of the best throwback hip-hop and R&B sounds from the past for our listeners to enjoy!”

Craig Russell Joins WUPS/WTWS

CRusselVeteran programmer and on-air personality Craig Russell has joined Black Diamond Broadcast Group’s WUPS-FM/WTWS-FM (Houghton Lake) as Program Director for the stations.  In addition, Russell will host the morning show on WUPS.

Russell was most recently morning personality at WKHM-FM (Jackson) and also has worked in Grand Rapids and Traverse City.  He told All Access: “I can’t wait to get back to Northern Michigan and make some great radio.  Legendary calls, great local ownership and Houghton Lake; win, win and win!”

National Radio Hall of Fame Announces 2016 Class of Inductees

NRHOFVoting results for the 2016 National Radio Hall of Fame’s 24 nominations in six categories are in.  Four of those categories were decided by a voting participant panel comprised of 400 industry professionals. The other two categories, Music Format On-Air Personality and Spoken Word On-Air Personality, were voted on by the public.

The 2016 inductees are:

Eric & Kathy (Eric Ferguson & Kathy Hart), WTMX-FM. Chicago
Active Local/Regional, 10+ years

Jeff & Jer (Jeff Detrow & Jerry Cesak), KYXY, San Diego
Longstanding Local/Regional, 20+ years

Steve Harvey, The Steve Harvey Morning Show; syndicated by Premiere Networks
Active Network/Syndication, 10+ years

Delilah, syndicated by Premiere Networks
Longstanding Network/Syndication, 20+ years

Bob Kingsley, Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40; syndicated by Westwood One
Music Format On-Air Personality

Michael Savage, The Savage Nation; syndicated by Westwood One
Spoken Word On-Air Personality

Additionally, the National Radio Hall of Fame nominating committee voted to induct four individuals for their contribution to the industry.  Those inductees are:

George G. Beasley, Chairman/CEO/Founder of Beasley Broadcast Group, Inc.

Kidd Kraddick, the late beloved national air personality and founder of Kidd’s Kids Charity

Tony Roberts, former sportscaster and play-by-play announcer for Notre Dame Football

Neil Rogers, the late legendary southern Florida air personality.

National Radio Hall of Fame Chairman Kraig T. Kitchin comments, “This year’s class of inductees represents the diversity that makes radio so personal, entertaining and impactful.  We all very much appreciate everyone who participated in this process as we welcome the very best in our business into the National Radio Hall of Fame.”

The black-tie optional induction ceremony takes place at the home of the National Radio Hall of Fame – the Museum of Broadcast Communications in downtown Chicago from 6-9 p.m. on Nov. 17.

Tickets are now available here.  A portion of ticket purchases is a tax deductible charitable donation to the Museum.

Kunnath Now Sales Manager at WMGC-FM

Kunnath_300Greater Media has announced that Scott Kunnath has been named sales manager at the company’s new throwback hip hop and R&B station, “105.1 The Bounce,” WMGC-FM (Detroit).

Kunnath was most recently Director of Sales for Radio One in Detroit and has also worked for ABC/Disney in Detroit, Citadel Broadcasting and CBS Radio.

Greater Media VP/Market Manager Steve Chessare said, “His vast experience and leadership will help guide the station to success in the Motor City.”

jācapps Cracks The Connected Car Code For Radio

JacappsMichigan-based mobile developer jācapps announced a major breakthrough for radio stations, podcasters and Internet radio stations – the ability to appear in even more automobile audio entertainment systems via Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and the SmartDeviceLink system for Ford and Toyota vehicles.

jācapps President Paul Jacobs noted, “For us, it’s always been about how radio could have a presence on the beachfront property known as smartphones. Today, that valuable real estate includes the car dashboard.”

“Over the past six years, we have focused on the changing in-car entertainment environment, and its impact on the radio industry,” remarked Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs. “Today’s entertainment systems provide drivers with myriad options, many of which are accessed from their smartphone. And now, we can get radio broadcasters on the valuable screens of these vehicles to ensure that millions of consumers can enjoy hearing their favorite stations while driving.”

jācapps has created App EverywhereSM, where mobile apps for radio stations can now be coded to appear in automobiles that have Android Auto, SmartDeviceLink and pending approval from Apple, their CarPlay system.

“It’s exciting to be first. Our mobile app team has been dedicated to developing solutions that will ensure that broadcasters have presence in these entertainment systems,” commented jācapps COO Bob Kernen. “It’s a major priority for us. Jacobs Media has invested a lot of time in this space, including the DASH Conference. This is an incredibly important opportunity for broadcasters and we’re extremely pleased that we were able to crack the code.”

jācapps is in the process of releasing a beta app for Apple CarPlay for WMMR, the Greater Media-owned radio station in Philadelphia. The app is awaiting final approval and will be released in the iTunes app store soon as an update to their existing app. Videos showing how radio station apps appear in Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available by emailing jācapps at sales@jacapps.com.

For more information about App EverywhereSM and how broadcasters can ensure their mobile applications are available in cars, contact Bob Kernen at bob@jacapps.com or Alex Burnstein at alex@jacapps.com.