Will WJR switch back to Michigan now that Michigan has a better bball team and football team than MSU?

Submitted by ThadMattasagoblin on December 5th, 2012 at 10:09 PM

If you remember in 2006 WJR switched from being affiliated with UM to MSU basing their rationale on MSU bball bringing in more listeners.  Around this time Michigan bball was in the dumps and Amaker was enroute to being fired.  Fast forward to 2012 and Michigan's football future looks much brighter than MSU's and the bball future looks bright as well.  Any chance that WJR switches back to Michigan?



December 6th, 2012 at 2:12 AM ^

WJR was a bastion of journalism, a decent forum for divergent opinions, and was extremely popular, but saw themselves becoming obsolete thanks to the internet.  Consequently, they "went Sparty."

This is almost exactly what has happened to the freep, except WJR got bought out by CC intstead of going bankrupt.


December 6th, 2012 at 6:12 AM ^

Too bad what happened with Martin overreaching with WJR. Pride goes before a fall. You know, I'm not a businessman, but there is one sales principle I often look for in situations like this. In the long run, it is always better to pay a fair price for something. Someone is always going to be very unhappy if they are paying too much or getting too little.

It may not happen quickly, but I'd love for Michigan to be back on WJR. Their reach is awesome. It was a royal pain driving from Cleveland to Chicago after Thanksgiving and not being able to catch the Michigan game easily. With WJR, you could tune in almost that whole distance.


December 6th, 2012 at 6:15 AM ^


Losing WJR was bad for UM in terms of audience reach, just like it was for the Tigers and Red Wings. WJR's signal strength is crazy; I've heard of people clear across the country picking it up at night on random occasions. Back in the 60s through the early 90s it was THE mainstream radio station to listen to in Detroit, but it's a shell of its former self. I haven't listened to it at all since they dumped UM. Now it's just another station carrying a mix of spittle-flecked radio ranters, endless ads, and irrelevant sports programming.

1989 UM GRAD

December 6th, 2012 at 6:56 AM ^

I'm quite familiar with the radio business, so I'll chime in with a few odds and ends here...

WJR is owned by Cumulus, not Clear Channel.

And, yes, they are just a shadow of what they used to be, in terms of both ratings and influence.  They still manage to generate a significant amount of revenue, however, due to many older decision makers being among their small but loyal audience.

The relationships between the broadcasters and the colleges are governed by long-term contracts, so WJR would not be able to just "switch back" to carrying Michigan sports.

Also, college football drives these relationships.  Any radio broadcaster is focused on two things...ratings and revenue.  College basketball doesn't generate much of either.  College football does.

There is also a trend toward the teams (whether pro or college) paying the broadcaster to carry the games...and then the team sells the marketing opportunity to the advertisers.  This allows the team to bundle together radio, tv, in-arena, and hospitality. 

Plus, this arrangement ensures that the relationship is profitable for the broadcaster.  Due to increased availability of games on tv, internet, etc., the revenue generated by radio broadcasters for in-game advertising has decreased.  This resulted in many of these relationships being unprofitable for radio broadcasters...as the rights fees exceeded the advertising revenue generated.

Some radio stations, however, are willing to absorb a small loss or be content with a break-even situation...in return for the marketing/prestige/credibility benefits that they receive by associated with pro and/or college teams.

Hope this brief primer is interesting to some of you.


December 6th, 2012 at 7:53 AM ^

Fortunately when I cannot attend or watch games on TV I am rarely out of range of 102.9 FM. I view the station as a bit of an anthropology resource as I wait for the broadcast. For instance, I've learned that "God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.". This seems to be a major theme, as it seems to come up every third or fourth song...


December 6th, 2012 at 8:52 AM ^

As I clicked on this thread I was scanning my brain to come up with which recruiting target the OP was talking about.

I was on WJR with Joel something or other when I was 5./cool story bro


December 6th, 2012 at 8:58 AM ^

Those under 35 or 40 might not know that before the mid 80s or so, a team could not be on national or even local live TV more than twice per season (up to late 70s, IIRC) and three times per season by about '80.

So in an 11-game season, you had no choice but to listen to the game on radio to find out what was happening as it happened if you weren't at the game. None. No gametracker on ESPN.com cuz no Internet. No sports TV station.

I remember being at my grandma's house (I think) on the day M lost to Minnesota in 1977. She only had one radio -- a console in the living room, where all the adults were yakking. My only means of finding out what was happening in the M game was to watch the ABC game and wait for scoring updates, which, because UM was #1 at the time, they wound up providing more than usual. (M lost, 16-0)

This is one of the big reasons Bob Ufer was so near and dear to so many M fans' hearts. It's because he (or Tom Hemingway on WWJ) was the one place you had to go to find out how the game was going on 8 or 9 of 11 Saturdays.

The ability to watch a game on TV was a BIG deal. Through 1976 or '77, ABC for its national games would even introduce the players, live, to the stadium and viewers, one at a time. Players who'd just scored at TD used to always wave him to Mom, too, because it was such a rare big deal when a game was on TV.

I suspect that is why radio stations such as 'JR made so much money off the advertising for M games, and Tigers, etc.



December 6th, 2012 at 10:43 AM ^

but I also was at my grandparents' house (about 3 hrs from home) for the '77 Minny game.  I listened to the game on my hand-held "Realistic" transistor radio while the adults yakked (except Dad who was trying to keep tabs on his in-laws and my radio at the same time).

Also remember attending the 78 Minny game and the way our guys charged across the field after the whuppin' to retrieve the Jug.


December 7th, 2012 at 8:47 PM ^

Nah, he'll just watch a live streaming link on his iphone . . . while he's driving.  At the same time, he'll text his friends about the game and his girlfriend about next weekend . . . while he's driving.

Radio, it saves lives.


December 6th, 2012 at 11:33 AM ^

An equally relevant question is whether Western Union will retain its exclusive rights to provide telegraphy services in the Michigan press box.



December 6th, 2012 at 12:22 PM ^

Ah Sparty, trying to control the radio airwaves in an internet age.....how very....uh enterprising of you.

Their next target will be to try an control the telecommunications market by buying up all the landlines in Michigan.


December 6th, 2012 at 11:09 PM ^

I think I'm the last bastian of the radio generation. It was just a few years ago when sucky bandwidth made it more or less impossible to listen to listen/watch events online. As my family didn't have cable (and even if we did, I'm out of market), I was stuck with the radio for my baseball and most of my football. Of course, I'm an Indians fan, so every night during the season I'd sit with radio next to the biggest impromptu antenna I could find (usually a double-switch light circuit with the light turned off) and by about 8PM I'd start to finally get WTAM-Cleveland. And then of course, being a young kid at the time, I'd invariably fall asleep in bed covertly listening to Tom Hamilton. And I thought my parents never knew.

I honestly think that the difficulty in accessing the games contributed to me being a more rabid fan: it was either you spend a lot of effort listening or you don't listen at all. I wonder if the rise of easy access to sports will decrease the number of die-hard fans.

Chris of Dange…

December 7th, 2012 at 7:24 PM ^

I wouldn't knock so hard on radio.  When we're stuck with Pam Ward or Beth Mowins, I usually mix the parkinggod highlight reels using Beckman and Brandstatter.  Wouldn't have that option in a radio-free world...