Section 1

August 8th, 2011 at 1:45 PM ^

What exactly did Bill Martin and/or Michigan do to "lose" WJR?

The story has now gone on for several years that Michigan somehow blew it with the Great Voice of the Great Lakes.  But I've never heard a very good, detailed, authoritative inside story on what really happened.  Is it really a fair characterization, to say that Michigan somehow blew it with WJR?


Bando Calrissian

August 8th, 2011 at 2:27 PM ^

This post is pretty much in line with what I've heard about the situation:…

The offer we were trying to get out of WJR was taken for granted and completely in our favor, and WJR decided enough was enough after MSU made them a far better offer more commensurate with what that kind of partnership should have been.  Martin got bested pretty badly, to Michigan's disadvantage.  

Having the biggest radio station in the state as your flagship station means a lot more than a patchwork of local affiliates led by (earlier) an FM oldies station and now the local news radio station.  Especially when that situation comes in the wake of MSU taking WJR.

Section 1

August 8th, 2011 at 2:45 PM ^

And so do you, Bando.  It's really hard to argue with what you say.

Still, it is not clear to me how it is that Michigan, or Martin, made such a terrible mistake.  The Michigan football network, such as it is, is largely unchanged from a content standpoint.  We still have Beckmann and Brandstatter.  The broadcasts sound basically the same.  Now it might be a problem, if you previously "got" WJR, but now you can't get the broadcasts at all because no local station has picked it up.  That must be a tiny, miniscule fragment of the Michigan football audience.  Hell, last I remember, there was a small Chicago radio station on the low end of the dial that broadcast Michigan games! 

There was a time, in a far-off media era, when WJR was really a broadcasting powerhouse in more ways than sheer wattage.  It had a massive demographic.  But nowadays, no single radio station can dream of those numbers.  Audiences are way too fragmented.  I'm not so sure that the kind of synergy that Bando rightly speaks of really exists.

There is one crime in all of Michigan football broadcasting, and no one has mentioned it.  It is this:  the University has its own freaking radio network, owned and operated by the Regents, and it doesn't broadcast Michigan football!  I am speaking of course of WUOM-Ann Arbor, WVGR-Grand Rapids and WFUM-Flint.  Together, they cover vast portions of Lower Michigan.  They used to carry the best broadcasts of both football and basketball, with the remarkable Tom Hemmingway as the voice of Michigan sports.  No commercials.


August 8th, 2011 at 5:35 PM ^

Sorry, but what does it REALLY mean?

People are going to find the game they want to listen to in their cars. Every game is televised now and has been for years, so radio broadcasts don't carry the importance that they once did. We also live in the age of internet streaming and satellite radio.

Terrestrial radio doesn't mean what it used to and WJR sure as hell doesn't have the cache it did in years of old.





August 8th, 2011 at 2:37 PM ^

I had always heard - and I'm no insider by any means - that Bill Martin kinda just took the deal with WJR for granted and MSU swooped in and took a deal. I don't know if Martin really blew it other than the fact that WJR is a big time radio station and important in branding.


August 8th, 2011 at 1:29 PM ^

...remembers when W4 was an AOR rock station (at 106.7 FM) with Howard Stern as the morning drive guy? That station was so much better than its competitors, WRIF and WLLZ.

Of course, the best radio station during my years in the Detroit area was the then-WLBS (102.7 FM) during its short-lived "Rock of the '80s/New Wave" format from 1983-84.


August 8th, 2011 at 1:18 PM ^

...Sirius/XM for radio coverage (when we can't get to a television), I emailed Dave Ablauf and asked him if the 15 ice hockey and 6 women's basketball games would appear on the satellite network (like football and men's basketball). His answer:

That is something that has not been determined but my guess is they will only carry football and men’s basketball. Stay tuned as we get closer to those seasons we will be providing their radio outlet lists.

Blue 8198

August 8th, 2011 at 2:10 PM ^

Also, its fun to see that the list of radio stations comprising the Michigan network includes Toledo, while a quick review of the list for Ohio reveals no Michigan-based stations.


August 8th, 2011 at 4:49 PM ^

Their pregame show back in the day was really great. They'd have a panel with Beckmann, Brandy, sometimes Karsch, and Steve Clark (NOT the same Steve Clark that does WTKA). They'd have the Michigan band or the glee club show up and perform, and have a random fan do the weather report. WTKA's pregame coverage just isn't quite as enjoyable, even though I like that they do the Victor's Lounge across the street from the stadium and have a guy wandering around the tailgates from time to time.

It's kinda like waxing poetic about the days when Michigan Replay was still around, but I think the radio coverage of Michigan is way more important, since people from all over the state and region drive to Ann Arbor for games, and need entertainment! 

Even though the core of the broadcast team and quality is still intact, Michigan was more at home on WJR's airwaves. But at least WTKA has a great morning show and afternoon/weekend programs, and has picked up a lot of the slack that WJR's absence left. Related question: Does anyone know how this will affect WTKA's status as an ESPN radio affiliate? Or are they not even that anymore, I can't always listen to their stuff down in DC.