Monday, October 01, 2007

Is WXYT's AM sports talk format on the move to 97.1 FM?

Update: As of 3PM, the Detroit sports talk landscape changed for the better, with 97.1 FM officially converting to an all sports format, with WXYZ's talent, and ditching the shock talk. The best news, in my opinion, is that they are going to a lineup that is all local, from 6AM to 2 AM, including weekends. The downfall of some of the biggest local radio powerhouses (WJR, I'm looking at you) is their over dependence on syndicated programming. Say what you will about the talent, at least 97.1 is leaving the syndicated filler on the shelf.

As I sit here glumly watching the state of Michigan run out of money, while Nero watched Rome burn the legislature twiddles their thumbs, and the government prepares to shutdown all but the most vital services, a ran into a very interesting Detroit sports talk radio rumor...

WXYT 1270 AM may be moving their sports talk format to 97.1 FM as soon as Monday morning. says...

Rumors are running white-hot that CBS radio is about to pull the plug on the Free FM hot talk format in Detroit as soon as tomorrow and replace it with the sports format that currently airs on WXYT AM 1270.

On September 26th a request was filed with the FCC to change the call sign of FM 97.1 from WKRK-FM to WXYT-FM and there are reports that long-time Free FM afternoon drive hosts (Jeff) Deminski & (Bill) Doyle cleared out their belongings from the station after their shift on Friday. The D & D program has long been the station's most successful show and if they are indeed out there will be many disappointed fans who will no doubt be angered by any format change that doesn't include the popular duo.

There have been several similar rumors about changes to 97.1 in the past few months that have been false, but this is the first time there has been some concrete evidence of a change to the station, even if it is only the call sign that is changing.

There's a 3 page long thread at the local media rumormongering message board, the Michigan Radio & TV Buzzboard, with radio insiders and informed fans speculating much the same thing.

Over at the blog of the polarizing (You either loved him or hated him, there was NO in between) Detroit sports talk icon, and former PD of both WDFN (When it was still a good listen) and WXYT, Gregg Henson, he claims it's a done deal. As of Monday, WKRK 97.1 FREE FM is dead, and it's going sports talk. Henson gives his quite educated guesses as to what may happen...

WKRK will simulcast Valenti and Foster for the short term while they decide what to do with WXYT.

WKRK will become a sports station by the end of 07.

WXYT will become a talk station with largely syndicated content.

O and A (Opie & Anthony) will could stay on WKRK, even though moving Mike and Mike to WKRK would make most sense.

The Sports Inferno moves to WKRK after a 3 month simulcast on both stations.

The Big Show moves to WKRK but they will re-evaluate the talent.

Bill O'Reilly moves to LIVE middays on WXYT.

WKRK's Motor City Midday is moved to WXYT and eventually dumped once contractual obligations are met.

Because CBS Radio is having HUGE sales issues, both stations are going to be mostly syndicated with national talent except for drive times

As someone who listens to more than his fair share of Detroit sports talk radio, a move to a clear, powerful FM signal from one of the stations is long overdue, considering the outright crappy reach of both WXYT and WDFN. You'd swear their transmitters were powered by 2 asthmatic, chain smoking, 3 legged gerbils, cutting to 1 gerbil at dusk...

When I lived well north of Detroit, WXYT was unlistenable at all times of the day, while WDFN wasn't a Hell of a lot better. At night, it was a crapshoot. I finally gave up on terrestrial radio, and listened to both stations over the web.

Now that I'm south of the D, WXYT is, for the most part, loud and clear at all times of the day, and I get a weak, but listenable, daytime signal from WDFN. I don't even bother with WDFN after dusk, as it's nothing but static. Hell, I get Chicago sports talk, such as WMVP AM 1000, in loud and clear after dark, yet I can't hear WDFN.

Considering the complaints about WDFN's signal have been ongoing ever since they signed on the air over a decade ago, Henson also speculates that WDFN may be moving their format to FM as well. He claims 106.7 FM would be the frequency. (106.7 was the frequency of the legendary album rock station of my youth, W4, currently on it's 2nd go round as a country station. I don't even know what the call letters are now. Don't get me going on how insanely good local radio was all through the 70's, to the mid 80's. You young whippersnappers don't know what you missed out on. But I digress...)

Considering how stale, boring and inspid both stations have become over the past few years, regurgitating topics (Michigan is arrogant! MSU has an inferiority complex!), bits (Happy new year! I DESPISE that Wojo bit with a passion...), callers (Such as Caller David and Linda, if you listen to either station for any about of time, you know EXACTLY whom I'm talking about), and hosts (For example, Art Regner has bounced from WDFN to WXYT, then back again), we're long overdue for some fresh ideas in Detroit sports talk radio, which is currently long in the tooth, and short on inspiration.

We'll find out in a few hours if we are living in a new Detroit sports talk radio world. We can only hope...

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