By Jeff Moss
November 30, 2011
When I first heard the rumor of a Detroit FM radio station planning to switch formats to all sports, I was dubious of the story’s credibility.
For the past few years, every month or so there has been another “credible” leak that Clear Channel was going to move all-sports talker WDFN from 1130 on the AM dial to the more coveted 106.7-FM slot.
After Guns N’ Roses finally released the album “Chinese Democracy”, my new white whale became when would Clear Channel finally do the inevitable and make 106.7 a sports station that could adequately compete with CBS Radio’s 97.1 – The Ticket?
Years have gone by and Clear Channel has shown absolutely ZERO inclination to make that much speculated shift and WDFN is now dying a slow death on a signal that cannot possibly compete with the much stronger one at 97.1.
(I don’t want to say 1130 is on its last breath, but if it was a human being, Mitch Albom would be at its bedside every Tuesday working on his new book.)
So just when it seemed all of the talk regarding a Clear Channel sports station hitting the FM airwaves in Detroit were extinguished, the Magic 105.1 sports talk rumors popped up out of nowhere.
And the sudden rampant speculation actually made perfect sense because:
1) The station is owned by Greater Media which also has WCSX (94.7) and WRIF (101.1) under its Detroit umbrella.
2) The station is ripe for a format change because on October 14th of this year, longtime Detroit radio jock, Jim Harper, announced his plans to retire. The station is basically built around Harper’s morning show and now he is about to exit stage left.
His last day? December 23, 2011.
3) The station is currently running around-the-clock Christmas music which could be viewed as filler until the new sports hosts are hired for a January debut.
4) The program director reportedly had purchased the domain for a 105.1 sports station website earlier this year.
5) Former WDFN morning host, Jamie Samuelsen, is already employed with Greater Media as a contributor to the WCSX morning program.
Not only that, but in the last couple of months, former DFN drive-time host, Bob “Wojo” Wojnowski, was added as a regular guest on WRIF’s, “Drew and Mike” morning juggernaut.
But even with all of this mounting evidence, I continued to ignore the rumor mill because I had been burned on the 106.7 story more times than KC Armstrong has been incarcerated.
But last Thursday I couldn’t ignore the speculation any longer. Former WDFN and WXYT program director, Gregg Henson, and current operations manager at WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana Tweeted the following:
“Well placed source says Detroit is getting a second all sports FM radio station in 2012.”
He followed up on that Tweet by specifically naming 105.1 as the station in line for this format change.
Now, Henson and I have had A LOT of issues in the past. Including, but not limited to, an infamous Twitter war that led to the insecure, sensitive prick blocking me from his page on that social media site.
But when it comes to gossip about the Detroit sports radio scene, there aren’t many better sources than this Poor Man’s Rush Limbaugh. I should know considering most of the stories I used to break about 1130 and 1270 originated from this card-carrying member of the Tea Party’s humungous mouth.
I mean, the matchmaker from “Fiddler on the Roof” thinks the guy is a major yenta.
Anyway, when I heard about Henson’s Tweet, I figured there were two possibilities:
A) Henson indeed had a credible source and 105.1 was making the all-sports switch.
B) This was just wishful thinking on his part as he is desperate to return to his hometown and regain the helm at a sports station.
So, I decided to actually work the story and started making phone calls to verify the accuracy of Henson’s Twat.
I can report to you that I have interviewed at least one high ranking executive with Greater Media Detroit and according to my source(s), THERE IS ASBOLUTELY NO PLAN TO SWITCH 105.1 TO ALL-SPORTS.
Like, ever. Not… gonnna… happen™ (Dana Carvey imitating George Herbert Walker Bush.)
The source(s) could not have been more DEFINITIVE in refuting the rumor that Magic 105.1 will soon challenge The Ticket’s sports dominance in Detroit.
The speculation was labeled, “100 percent false” and “it is not happening.”
I probably asked the question six different ways of everyone I SPOKE to regarding this topic and the answer always came back the same, “NO CHANCE.”
The source(s) that I did discuss this issue with completely understood the speculation because of Harper’s departure, Greater Media’s decision to commence the Christmas programming earlier this year and WXYT’s impressive male market share, but there was absolutely no wiggle room given that this potentially could happen on Magic 105.
Either Henson’s rumor is unequivocally, 100 percent wrong or I am the Baltimore Sun reporter that just got Bunny Colvin’d out of the Hamsterdam story by the people at Greater Media.
(The management source(s) that I spoke with agreed to talk to me about this article, but in return I had to keep their identity anonymous.)
When I asked if there had been talk of changing Magic to a sports station internally, I was told that if any discussion occurred it was only fleeting and the thought was never taken seriously.
When confronted about the rumor that Greater Media management had purchased a sports domain name (Sports1051.com) this past summer, the source(s) did not deny it, but it could be inferred that this is precautionary operating procedure for any potential eventuality.
What I did find interesting is the consensus that Detroit is fertile ground for another FM sports talk station and that 97.1 is vulnerable to legitimate competition because of their weak lineup and the impression that they are somehow “in bed” with the Tigers, Red Wings, Pistons and Lions because they happen to be those organizations broadcast partner.
None of the above was refuted by my Greater Media source(s) so I threw one last Kirk Cousins Hail Mary Rocket. Would it be possible that Greater Media Detroit could purchase an existing FM station and change THAT format to sports?
This theory wasn’t ruled out completely, but kind of in the way that you couldn’t positively state that Martians won’t land on Earth tomorrow and decide to colonize Rochester Hills.
So unless I am getting totally snow jobbed here, it looks like we won’t be getting a second FM sports talk station anytime soon.
Which means 97.1 can continue to coast along while employing absolute no-talent hacks like Bill McAllister, Doug Karsch, Scott Anderson, Jeff Riger, Pat Caputo and Young Roseanne Barr (errr, I mean Sara) without any fear of legitimate competition.