Among the biggest questions coming out of Motown these days: Will Emergency Financial Manager Kevyn Orr bring the city back from the brink? Can the Red Wings take Chicago? And, where are Drew & Mike headed next? Crain’s Detroit Business media watcher Bill Shea tackles #3 in this week’s issue with an initial ‘heads up’ from Matt and additional perspectives from yours truly. As for the answer? After 22 years at WRIF, no one knows for sure (and the powers that be aren’t saying).
There is plenty of speculation. First, that after 6-months off the year to finish out non-competes, former 89X Morning lewd-sters “Dave & Chuck the Freak” will step into the 101-FM hot seat in order to continue the station’s transition to a younger (18-34) demographic. If you’ve been listening closely to the station over the past year-plus, you’ve no doubt noticed a gradual shift in the music mix toward more alternative-rock-like fare. Specs Howard School’s Dick Kernan, in the Crain’s piece, compares the move to NBC’s transitioning next year of Jimmy Fallon to the “Tonight Show” in order to attract the advertiser-friendly Millennials or (Gen-Yers).
As Drew and Mike announced during their last broadcast Friday this is not the end of the line for them. That should come as no surprise to anyone considering their incredible popularity and immense listenership. One rumor going around is that they may end up at the helm of a retooled Magic. WRIF’s sister station has floundered since Jim Harper retired and, some insiders are saying, there might be a format switch to a more lucrative FM sports station to go head-to-head with CBS’s “The Ticket”. When you consider the amount of sports Drew and Mike routinely covered, it is far from a stretch. Another possibility could be Afternoons at another Greater Media sister and Classic Rocker WCSX-FM. (Drew has wanted off Mornings for years as has been well-publicized in the past).
Whomever ends up replacing ‘RIF’s Dynamic Duo, they very well could be in for an initial tough time. Who can forget the Rick Rizzs/Bob Rathbun for Ernie Harwell debacle on WJR or the ‘CSX-misfire of “Deminski and Doyle” for “JJ & Lynne”? The hope at WRIF is that Dave & Chuck, who have already been in the market together for 10 years, will be an anomaly with a built-in audience that will follow them up the dial. That audience is out there somewhere. In their last full ratings book of October 2012, D&C ranked 5th in Morning Drive 18+. Last month, 89X dropped to 21st place in that very same daypart.