In Bill Shea’s recent Crain’s Detroit Business piece on Jim Harper and the current state of the industry, while I did reference the fact that, in recent years, radio had in many cases moved away from top shelf personalities, citing economics, I did offer exceptions during our interview. Shea noted some of those, including the top notch staff at classic rock WCSX (Calvert, Savelly and Kostan among them). Also on my list are Blaine & Allyson on WDVD who are also seen nationally on the TV show, “The Dish.” They, along with the likes of Jim Johnson at WOMC have their stations surging in the ratings.
During our chat on radio, I also discussed with Shea the importance of not only personality but also programming in setting a station apart from the competition. With the Portable People Meter and ownership conglomerates, music mixes often remain for the most part stale and uncreative with corporate consultants leaning toward safe and familiar.
Some exceptions to that rule once again include WOMC and WCSX, the former often channeling the high energy sound of 70s Top 40. Add in jock “talk ups” and the CBS oldies station has never sounded better. Recent tune-ins to 94.7 FM, meanwhile, had me smiling upon hearing Foreigner’s lesser-known “Headknocker” along with the extended album cut of “Black Betty” by Ram Jam – and in morning drive (9a hour) no less!
And, recent dial exploration brought me unknowingly to Henry Ford Community College station WHFR (89.3 FM) and their weekly airing of the syndicated “Mountain Stage.” There, I discovered for the first time the band Dawes and their 70s West Coast sound that brings to mind Neil Young and Jackson Browne.
Though many like to say terrestrial radio is dying, these naysayers are dead wrong. Yet, to continue to compete, programmers and music directors and station managers must understand and recognize the importance of personality and fun, creative programming that keep listeners tuning in and coming back for more.