Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The OMW FM Talk Watch - Detroit?

In our continuing series highlighting moves to put talk, news/talk and sports formats on FM across the Detroit next?

AllAccess reports that Clear Channel Detroit classic rock/hits station WDTW/106.7 "The Drive" has pulled the plug on its eclectic format, and is stunting with "everything from Garth Brooks to Barry Manilow".

Detroit TV news legend Bill Bonds is reported to be voicing the stunting, directing listeners to make requests at "", and is inviting them to "build your own radio station".

One of the rumored permanent format candidates for the Detroit FM signal, according to AllAccess, is news/talk.

It makes a lot of sense. Detroit is used to talk on FM, with CBS Radio's long-running, successful hot talker WKRK/97.1. Meanwhile, Clear Channel has never mounted a serious news/talk challenge to ABC's WJR/760. The company's largest AM station is popular sports WDFN/1130 "The Fan", which is not changing format. The company started a second-tier talk station on 1310 AM, but that signal is not nearly good enough to go up against WJR with. (It's now liberal talk WDTW[AM], which oddly enough sports the same calls as the stunting 106.7.)

It reminds us a lot of Pittsburgh, where Clear Channel's AM signal (sports WBGG/970) is not good enough to go up against full-market blowtorch CBS Radio news/talk KDKA/ the company launched "FM News/Talk 104.7" on now-WPGB/104.7, and was more successful than anyone had anticipated. And the use of a market TV news legend to voice the stunting would seem to point to a news/talk format in the future, no?

We keep bringing this trend up - news/talk radio on FM - because of by now almost comical ongoing rumors that either Clear Channel or Infinity would do the same in Cleveland. But unlike Detroit, Clear Channel's AM in Cleveland IS the market blowtorch, WTAM/1100.

If the company ever does mount an FM spoken word format here, it could well be a WTAM simulcast. (Just a guess on our part, don't go to press with it!) But we'd expect that to happen only if there is competitive concern, much like Entercom did in New Orleans with news/talk giant WWL/870's new FM simulcast...moving to dull the impact of a rumored/now-announced new Clear Channel FM talker there...

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