Detroit Sports 105.1 (August 12, 2013 to June 29, 2016)

Drew-Marc-Dery-Knockouts

By Jeff Moss
DetroitSportsRag@GMail.com
June 29, 2016

This Friday it will have been three years to the date that I broke the news that Greater Media was flipping WMGC105.1 from an Adult Contemporary station to an ESPN affiliated all-sports format and today this website was the first to report that experiment was over.

And in between our two exclusives a lot of nonsense, dysfunction and mismanagement went down at the station that many had hoped would give Detroit sports fans an alternative to the corporate, caller-driven, antiseptic and mostly home-team cheerleading that was going on down the dial at “The Ticket.”

And even after nearly three years of mismanagement by a totally incompetent boob Vice President named Steve Chessare — who couldn’t have programmed a sports station if he were gifted “Mike and the Mad Dog” — I am still disappointed that I have to write this obituary tonight.

Under Chessare’s “leadership” the start-up sports talker was doomed for failure from day one based on two decisions. The first, to center the station around former WRIF morning host Drew Lane. A man who had merely a perfunctory knowledge of sports, didn’t really want to discuss sports and who had just been booted from 101.1 by Greater Media management to make way for “Dave and Chuck the Freak.”

It was an abysmal decision to take a recently fired — by the SAME COMPANY — washed-up radio personality and make him the centerpiece of a sports station that needed to counter program against WXYT-FM‘s achilles’ heel …

That it really wasn’t a sports station!!!! Hiring Lane to discuss sports would have been the equivalent of the “Lifetime Network” debuting back in 1984 with a talk show featuring Archie Bunker calling “broads” dingbats.

Instead of attempting to offer an alternative to 97.1’s All-Light Rail and Food Truck-All-The-Time format, Chessare doubled down on “guy talk” with Lane and his enabling co-host Marc Fellhauer. That show featured more discussion about a dead Michael Jackson than a living and breathing Miguel Cabrera.

And Lane’s was the highest rated program the station ever aired!!!!!!!!

The second sin was the hiring of the station’s first program director, Jason Dixon. A gentleman who was absolutely clueless to the Detroit sports scene and who had no business at all being placed in that position.

And maybe the most astounding part of the entire ordeal at WMGC was that many of Dixon’s horrible original hires were still employed when the plug was FINALLY pulled. Inexplicably, original employees like Ryan ErmanniRico BeardTom Mazawey and Fellhauer were still in prominent roles even though the station had struggled with ratings from day one. Because of them!!!

People who had a proven track record of NEVER being able to attract an audience.

At no point did Greater Media show any urgency, even when it became clear that wholesale changes were an absolute necessity.

Which leads me to the move by Chessare that was really one of the final nails in the coffin of the station. When Greater Media finally wised up and figured out that Dixon was steering the ship into an  iceberg, they replaced him with an even more oblivious PD from Los Angeles named Dave Shore.

And this buffoon — who had never before  been a program director even though he was nearing 50 — made Dixon look like Tom Bigby

Not only did Shore fail to correct ANY of Dixon’s original mistakes, he actually compounded them because he had no idea whatsoever about the Detroit market. I am not going to spend a lot of time beating a dead horse, but the second PD at the station had to have local ties and it should have been former WDFN/WXYT programmer Gregg Henson.

Instead, this neophyte walked into Detroit and did nothing to shake up middays. His brilliant plans were giving airtime to Drew Sharp and Rob Parker, moving a career update guy (Matt Dery) to afternoon drive and introducing “Cross Talk” between shows.

Shore was such an abomination that when Greater Media executives asked him what his plans were for resuscitating their property, he responded by telling them that he would do whatever they wanted. That’s what they brought him in to do!!!! Dude was like a bizarro Hannibal Smith.

And not to go all Donald Trump on you during a funeral, but this website criticized each of these moves in real time. None of this is 20/20 hindsight.

And what’s worse, the station — which couldn’t get arrested in this town — actually managed to become a national laughingstock thanks to Dery and Mazawey making insensitive remarks about sexual assault victims.

And who could forget the time that Lane and Fellhauer interviewed the WRONG Matthew Mills and were mocked about it? By the guy they had on the air. This was the station’s “Madonna’s sister” moment.

Couple that with Sharp’s plagiarism scandal — that Shore refused to address — and the insistence of placing Fellhauer and Mazawey in the mornings with Baligian and you had the recipe for what occurred today.

Amazingly, after all of the horrible management from Chessare on down, WMGC still had an opportunity to resurrect itself after they had seemingly won the broadcast rights to the Detroit Tigers last October.

The Tigers radio package would have been an absolute game-changer even if they replaced their morning show with a program hosted by my Grandma Betty and Carmen Harlan.

The 800-pound gorilla in Detroit sports radio is the rights to the city’s baseball franchise and Greater Media outbid CBS Radio for that prized possession. Rumor has it that someone inside Olympia Entertainment tipped off 97.1 execs and CBS raised their offer to literally steal the Tigers away from 105.1.

This nefarious and shady transaction really ended any hope for Greater Media successfully challenging “The Ticket.”

Which at the end of the day is a crying shame because we deserve an alternative to the garbage on 97.1. Chessare and company never came close to delivering it.

This city is large enough for two FM sports stations and, if done right, “The Ticket” is susceptible to an upstart rival.

After this colossal failure that made the New Coke experiment look well-run in comparison, who knows if we will ever get another alternative to 97.1.

The template is still there. It has gone unused even though I basically got on my hands and knees and begged Greater Media management to give it a chance.

Take WXYT on in a controversial and no-holds-barred fashion. Get hosts who really know the Detroit sports scene and who are HONEST broadcasters. Throw in some humor, get in the mud and go for the jugular whether the target be the teams, the media or the competition.

And if another sports station eventually does rise from the ashes in Detroit, you can bet your ass it will be this website that breaks the news.

If you are morbid and want to hear the audio of when they flipped the switch, here is that clip. I will have an article tomorrow discussing how inappropriate this was. I mean, they were firing people down the hall and playing “It’s a Wonderful World.” What in the name of fuck was THAT all about?

 

And now I will ask you to rise …..

 

Hebrew
Yit’gadal v’yit’kadash sh’mei raba (Cong: Amein).
May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified (Cong: Amen.)
Hebrew
b’al’ma di v’ra khir’utei
in the world that He created as He willed.
Hebrew
v’yam’likh mal’khutei b’chayeikhon uv’yomeikhon
May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days,
Hebrew
uv’chayei d’khol beit yis’ra’eil
and in the lifetimes of the entire Family of Israel,
Hebrew
ba’agala uviz’man kariv v’im’ru:
swiftly and soon. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Hebrew
Amein. Y’hei sh’mei raba m’varakh l’alam ul’al’mei al’maya
(Amen. May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.)
Hebrew
Yit’barakh v’yish’tabach v’yit’pa’ar v’yit’romam v’yit’nasei
Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled,
Hebrew
v’yit’hadar v’yit’aleh v’yit’halal sh’mei d’kud’sha
mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Hebrew
B’rikh hu.
Blessed is He.
Hebrew
l’eila min kol bir’khata v’shirata
beyond any blessing and song,
Hebrew
toosh’b’chatah v’nechematah, da’ameeran b’al’mah, v’eemru:
praise and consolation that are uttered in the world. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Hebrew
Amein
Amen
Hebrew
Y’hei sh’lama raba min sh’maya
May there be abundant peace from Heaven
Hebrew
v’chayim aleinu v’al kol yis’ra’eil v’im’ru
and life upon us and upon all Israel. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Hebrew
Amein
Amen
Hebrew
Oseh shalom bim’romav hu ya’aseh shalom
He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace,
Hebrew
aleinu v’al kol Yis’ra’eil v’im’ru
upon us and upon all Israel. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Hebrew
Amein
Amen

(You can follow the writer of this piece on Twitter @JeffMossDSR. Also, you can join in on the discussion of this article on Facebook by clicking here.)