You have asked me many times what I think is happening at WKRK and the short, honest answer is....I have no idea. The CBS stations in Detroit have been so badly mismanaged that I really don't know if THEY know what to do with the properties they have in Detroit.
This bloodletting can all be traced to Rich Homberg getting in a "big dick" contest with WJR. Homberg wrongly believed that taking the Tigers and Red Wings away from WJR would kill "the great voice." Furthermore he believed that Clear Channel would fold up tent and shutter WDFN if he put a sports station on WXYT. He was wrong on both accounts, WJR has been around for 80 years, they weren't going anywhere. WDFN was first in the format and understood that you don't win by getting in bed with the local professional franchises because you can't maintain credibility with the audience.
For a guy who always uses the term "be smart" he was guilty of being outright idiotic. He first screwed up by allowing his ego to get in the way of his judgment. ANY experienced sports programmer (myself included) told him that he would fail if his only plan was to get the teams and a couple of ex-jocks in Afternoon Drive. He believed that Stoney and Wojo were chumps and that the almighty Kirk Gibson, Gary Danielson and Eli Zaret triumvirate would easily dethrone the WDFN duo. It didn't happen, why? Because the others were all too interested in protecting their own interests than engaging the Detroit sports fan. Strong opinions meant NO access to the teams and they all coveted access to the power brokers. Therefore, they had no credibility with the fans of Detroit as personalities....WHY???? Because it was phony radio, the furthest thing from great sports radio it failed to endear itself to the audience. The problem was compounded when I attempted to take the radio station in a more fan friendly, personality approach and was told by Homberg that my direction was angering the stations professional sports franchises. I asked to leave and they relocated me to WKRK to work with Michelle. Kevin Graham was brought in, he attempted to do the same thing, was stonewalled and resigned.
Homberg was handed the reigns at WKRK and immediately began the dismantling of a station that was on the rise with Howard, Michelle and I, D & D and Parker and The Man. The talent didn't trust Homberg or the Program Director and it made for a poor work environment. People were treated poorly and were unmotivated. When Howard announced his resignation I was told on numerous occasions to "get ready to do the morning show." While CBS made the decision not to have a local AM drive show on WKRK, it was Homberg who decided to terminate me when I had the audacity to fight for a bonus that I had earned. When Michelle and I took over Middays the show had a 1.8 rating. When I was let go, it was a 5.4 and ranked 4th in the market. If Homberg had simply acted as a responsible businessman and officer of the company he would have let Michelle and I continue our strong growth, which might have helped WKRK avoid the disastrous ratings slid of the last 12 months. A strong Midday show leading into D & D and Parker and the Man would have allowed the morning show to grow, instead massive job cuts were necessary to stop the bleeding. Homberg had miscalculated again and was removed from the General Manager position at WXYT and WKRK in October. The new General Manager will not cover loses as Homberg did with the massive cash flow of WWJ, instead the new GM is making the necessary cuts to eliminate the mistakes of Homberg's folly. Bottom line, a lot of people were hurt by Homberg, all these changes are a result of his wrong headed approach to radio....Homberg is next, mark my words! Too bad so many good broadcasters had to lose their jobs because of his ego.
Michelle has received the usual CBS-Detroit Christmas news. YOU ARE FIRED. Michelle wasn't exactly sure WHY. If you would like to drop Michelle and e-mail, click here.
Michelle was was called in off of vacation today and fired at the close of business. Who do you think is going to replace the veteran broadcaster as Tower's new sidekick or is the whole station being scrapped in favor of the sports format as WKRK begins life as "Sports radio 97.1?"
Michelle will surly turn up soon on another radio station.
Update....I am hearing strong rumors that Parker and the Man were wacked too. WKRK apparently has signed the Tigers and Red Wings......Tom Lykes replaces P & M, it is a cost cutting move. No need to have 2 full-time guys when you have play-by-play most nights.
I talked to Art Regner last night and while he was surprised that he wasn't renewed by WXYT, he was doing OK. It is always hard to lose a job, especially when you deserved a contract extension, but I all think we know what to got into with this business and you take it in stride. There are a couple of odd situations here, why did Rob Parker report Art's termination before even Art knew and why did the show with the highest ratings in WXYT's history get split up and dumped. Additionally, why didn't Art and Doug ever meet the new General Manager before he was fired? The whole thing stinks and it sounds like there was a ton of politicking going on behind the scenes. Sad, the most talented are cut loose in favor of the loudest. Either way Art will be fine, he's a talented entertainer.
I've gotten a couple of e-mails asking me about Art Regner's status at WXYT. There is also a thread on The Detroit Sports Rag speculating that he is out in favor of The Sports Inferno. Let me say that I have not heard anything from anybody regarding Art leaving WXYT. If it happens it means 2 things, one, WXYT is not getting the Red Wings and two, they are cutting salary fast under the new General Manager. Salary cuts are a fact of life in radio, especially in Detroit at the moment. Art and Doug are the only credible broadcasters On-Air at WXYT, unfortunately they are also both making $100 plus. Foster is credible but as a journalist. Valenti is too new to the market to have any identity, plus he isn't from Detroit which is a handicap. Cutting them means the station is attempting to save money because it can't sell the station in it's current form. With Homberg out, there is nobody there to defend the sports format and the cuts will only get worse as the new GM guts the station to make it profitable.
You can talk about the 12+ ratings all you want, the Big Show was the only show getting any numbers in the key male 25-54 demographic, this is a cost cutting move if it is true. WDFN while trailing in the 12+ demo is killing WXYT in the key sales demos.
Update: Reliable sources tell me this is true and that the new lineup will be Karsh and Scott Anderson in Midday and The Sports Inferno in Afternoon. I am quite sure Stoney and Wojo aren't worried about WXYT's latest attempt to knock them off their perch.
I think this may also be happening because the new General Manager isn't an "AM radio" guy who believes he can run a syndictaed station and make money in Detroit like they do with music on the FM. The new GM also doesn't have Homberg's tolerance to lose money as he didn't build this folly, Homberg did. The new PD also isn't from Detroit and likely doesn't have any feel for local guys like Regner and Karsch.
This video shows a man in Italy trying to kill himself. Read details below......
An Italian fathers' rights activist says he tried unsuccessfully to self-immolate on live television to call attention to dads unable to see their kids. The ANSA news service reported Saturday that Nicola De Martino, who was recently re-united with his son after a 12-year separation, tried to set himself on fire Thursday night while appearing as a guest on the current affairs show, "Dieci Minute," or "Ten Minutes" on state television station RAI. ANSA said that the show's host, along with the distraught man's 18-year-old son "looked on in horror" as De Martino doused himself with gasoline and then threatened to light a match. Host Maurizio Martinelli and the studio crew frantically managed to wrest the lit match from De Martino's hands. He was then led away from the stage.
The 2 employees let go last week at WXYT are Sports Inferno Producer Tom Mazaway and Production Guru Son Swindell. Both of these guys were well paid guys who WXYT just couldn't support any longer with the dismal sales number at the radio station.
The gloom is all over the place at WXYT as one employee told me "everybody here is on a 90 day deal, we can be gone at any moment, we are just waiting for the other shoe to drop." Another employee claims "we know that the Tigers and red Wings aren't coming back and it could mean we are finished as a sports stations."
WXYT has long suffered programming and sales leadership, the only hope is that the Illitch teams remain and the new General Manager can right the ship and save Homberg's folly.