Where Detroit Radio Plays On
ADDENDUM: The ‘WKNR Reunion Celebration of 50th Anniversary of Station Launch’ took place at ‘The Redeye Cafe Restaurant,’ 890 7th Avenue, NYC, the weekend of June 14-15, 2014. A special thanks goes out to all our Keener13.com friends, Scott Westerman, Steve Schram, Bob Green, Scott Regen and all the WKNR “originals” for sharing with us your special ’50th’ Keener moments with us from NYC. Also. A ‘thank you’ to ‘The Michigan Broadcaster’ for providing the WKNR editorial (June 2014) MCRFB posted above. Keener LIVES 24/7 at Keener13.com —
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MOTOR CITY RADIO FLASHBACKS
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Newest Distrib-Paid LP Spin Plan Spark Solid Local Dealer Aids
DETROIT — A new trend is evincing itself in the broadcast field, which — if adopted on a national scale — could conceivably lessen the evils of deejay payola. It’s the official pay-for-play plan, whereby stations sell record distributors time to spin and plug a specific recorded disk.
Pay-for-plays programs of various types have been conducted successfully by such key stations as WITH, Baltimore and KDAY, Los Angeles, with considerable success, and one of the most elaborate pay-for-spins operations is currently shaping up in Detroit, where station WJBK has been conducting a “Sound Special” promotion on singles (offering one play per-hour per week for $300.00) for the past few months, and now WKMH is preparing a similar promotion showcase for albums.
Album Of The Week
The WKMH promotion, tagged “Album Of The Week,” guarantees distributors 114 plays per week at a cost of $350 per week for six weeks. The plan will be set up with eight local disk distributors on a rotating basis, covering a period of 48 weeks. Each distributor will have one of his albums featured every eight weeks. Distributor must purchase the plan for the entire 48-week period.
Choice of album featured each week will be left to the distributors. However, L.P.’s must “meet the requirements of WKMH’s ‘Good Music Policy’.”
Each “Album Of The Week” will receive one play per hour from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. (excluding Dick Buller’s show) for a total of 18 plays per day Monday through Saturday. On Sundays the LP will receive six plays for a guaranteed weekly total of 114 spins by WKMH deejays.
Each time a selection from the featured LP is played, the WKMH jocks will recommend the album and give the name and the address of a record shop where the LP may be purchased. A list of recommended record shops will be submitted to the station by each participating record distributor and these names will be featured on the air on a rotating basis.
In addition to the 114 plays per week, dee-jay program director Robin Seymour will spotlight two best-selling albums of each participating distributor during his Saturday afternoon program and will “pitch” each best-selling album he plays.
Build For Dealers
The plan is designed to help distributors cement dealer relationships, since each record store (recommended by a distributor) will be mentioned at least once each week on WKMH. The station, which is paying all costs for the rack-displays, notes that they “can be taken out of any record shop that does not co-operate with the participating record distributors.”
Each week, WKMH’s deejays will appear at a different record shop (designated by a participating distributor) in Detroit to visit with customers, sign autographs and “promote the sales of albums and records.”
At the same time, WKMH will mail to the list of recommended record shops a list of the top 10 albums of each participating distributor. The station will also inform the recommended record shops a week in advance about forthcoming “Album of the Week” selections, so that the dealers will have it in stock and on display.
Although by its own definition the fee is a hefty one, a record shop where the LP is mentioned (“better than $2 dollars a play” according to one record manufacturer’s estimation), more than 90 per cent of Detroit’s disk distributors reportedly have agreed to go along with the WKMH promotion.
Leo Cheslak, of Cadet Distributors, for instance, opines that the plan sounds like a feasible one for building local album sales, on the basis of his experiences with the WJBK singles promotion. Under the WJBK plan, which Cheslak terms a successful sales-builder, distributors pays $300 per week to have a single record played every hour for one week. The featured disks are also made available at the special price of 75 cents by recommended dealer stores during the promotion week. END.
(Information and news source: Billboard; February 2, 1959).
DETROIT (October 28, 1957) — DETROIT DISK BIZ SLOW: Echoing a national complaint of recording distributors in the industry, Robin Seymour, deejay-program director of WKMH, Detroit, reports that in recent weeks the best selling lists around the Motor City has been static, with fewer and fewer new records making their way onto the charts. Seymour opined that that poor economic conditions locally are to blame, but added the optimistic prediction that things should change soon, since Detroit record sales during fall and Christmas have topped each previous year for the past several holiday yule seasons. END.
DETROIT (July 20, 1959) — Robin Seymour, WKMH, Detroit, has launched a daily 15-minute segment (6:15 – 6:30 p.m.) featuring musical highlights from a different year each day, along with commentary about news events of each date. The segment is produced by Arlene Schubert, who is currently the Dearborn-based WKMH music librarian. END.
DETROIT (August 28, 1961) — Two new jocks have joined WKMH, Detroit. Bob Green, formerly with WGVA, Geneva, New York, has moved into the 8-10:45 p.m. time slot on WKMH. Ray Otis, ex-WHK, Cleveland, has taken over the outlet’s 12 noon to 3:00 p.m. across the-board-time slot and its Sunday noon to 4:00 p.m. time-frame. Bob Green will also act as WKMH’s production director. END.
DETROIT (September 11, 1961) — Plans are now on the drawing boards for deejay record hops to be run direct by local arenas, with evening jocks doing their shows direct from the spot and featuring guest recording talents. Records by the artists would be available for purchase as well by recording distributors’ rack-jobbers. The idea of deejay broadcasts from rink locations is not new. Only in recent weeks, Lee Alan, WKMH, Detroit, staged a successful teen dance at the Riverside Roller Arena in that city with such acts as Bob Beckham, Little Caesar and the Romans, also the Marvelettes and the Edsels present. END.
DETROIT (March 10, 1962) — A flock of stations around the country last August supported city drives to encourage teenagers to return to high school and reduce “drop-outs” which result when youngsters find summer employment and don’t want to go back to school in the fall. For example, Dave Prince, WKMH in Detroit, sponsored a “back to school” contest, asking teenagers to complete in 25 words or less the statement: “I’m going back to school this fall because . . . ” Winners received wrist watches and transistor radios. The response was so great that the Michigan Education Association plans to stage similar contests next year with WKMH and other Michigan radio stations. END.
DETROIT (March 31, 1962) — (Billboard Programming Panel) — Question: “Do you have special promotions or programming ideas which are designed to build better relationships with local schools and students?”
(Dave Prince, WKMH, Detroit) — ANSWER:
“Station WKMH deejays lead yells at the high schools each fall. We have our own WKMH cheerleader sweaters, megaphones, and a special series of school chants and yells, using the deejays’ names, station call-letters, etc. I also sponsor a “Back To School” contest at the radio station during the fall in co-operation with the Michigan Education Association, giving away 10 wrist watches to the best ten letters. The MEA will incorporate the idea throughout Michigan next fall.” END.
– (Information and news source: Billboard Magazine. All excerpts culled as was first published from the dated editions as noted above).
CKLW TV-9 ‘SWINGIN’ TIME’ September 17, 1966 — Featuring: Richard & The Young Lions. Dionne Warwick. Bob Seger & The Last Herd. Judy Clay. James Brown.
DETROIT — Veteran deejay Ed McKenzie resigned from station WXYZ here last week in protest of the station’s “formula radio” programming policy.
Rallying to his side was his long-time competitor and another Detroit veteran spinner, Robin Seymour, of WKMH, who came out strongly last week for McKenzie and against “formula radio.” Seymour stated that, “It’s a crime and a shame when one of the true deejays – one of the men who made the jockey a major factor in broadcasting – has to bow to the dictates of a program director.”
Although Seymour and McKenzie – two of Detroit’s key deejays – have vied for audience ratings for the past eleven years (they occupied the same afternoon time slot) Seymour said they remained friends – their friendship dating back to the time McKenzie gave Seymour his first radio job at WJBK here.
Seymour had asked McKenzie to appear on his WKMH show to discuss the whole formula radio situation and his reasons for leaving WXYZ. Seymour said they will explore the jockey’s need for freedom of programming and will discuss further on whether the advent of “formula radio” has anything to do with the fact that no new name deejay (other than Dick Clark) has come up from the ranks in recent years.
Seymour said his station, WKMH, is now the only major Detroit station operating on a non-formula programming policy. The outlet did adopt a non-rock and roll format last year, but Seymour said the management dropped the policy last January, and put record programming back in the deejay’s hands. As a result, the jock said WKMH’s ratings are already showing a small rating climb – the first rating increase for the station in some time.
The WXYZ “formula” (featuring the Top 40 singles was adopted by the station about a years ago, and WXYZ vice-president in charge of radio, Hal Neal, opined “Our interpretation of radio is that it is a step moving forward.”
McKenzie on the other hand expressed his opinion that this “formula” did not jibe with his interpretation of radio as “being intimate and friendly.” He stated that his ratings were dropping since the “formula” policy had gone into effect and that he would sooner “dig ditches or sell hot dogs” than go back to formula radio “because I can’t do something I don’t believe in.”
The radio station disagreed with use of McKenzie’s bird calls on the air and his “on the air” comments on office typing and the programming. The station also found themselves in disagreement with McKenzie about their new policy to boost the station on his programs, which the jockey termed “unnecessary.”
McKenzie’s 3 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. spot is being taken over by Mickey Shorr, who will have another replacement for his own Night Train program. Reportedly making between $60,000 and $80,000 a year in his 29th year with radio, McKenzie was Jack The Bellboy at WJBK before he changed to WXYZ radio in 1952. END.
(Information and news source: Billboard; March 16, 1959).