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2007 - A year of changes...

It was a tough year for a lot of people. People lost loved ones, there were national disasters, people lost jobs, and their homes.  Some people moved for good reasons.  I decided I HAD to move for survival reasons (but haven’t done so yet)  – not financial but because of growth of my business operations.  I guess that WOULD be financial.

I continue in my daily duties as one of Specs Howard’s tech guys, but I took on at least two major radio projects.  One was out of town and one in town:  Motor City Casino’s “Radio Bar” became another of my “babies.”  Also, a few trips to Charlotte NC would result in a new FM transmitter site and amazing signal coverage that I played an active role in achieving.  You can read about it as part of the ERI Antenna article in the December ‘07 issue of Radio World.

As those of you know who read this semi-regularly, I’m both a radio guy and musician.

Playing music this time last year… One year ago just before Christmas 2006, after a fall out with my friends in the band, “Impact 50,” we got back together and did a holiday gig with the original line-up.  It just felt right!   We would all continue to stay in touch and get together every so often. The band itself would go through member changes, but I was no longer a part of it except as a “third call” bass player.  We would however, actively support each other and sit in at each other’s gigs.   

My own band “Wherez My Limo?” would evolve with me mostly on lead guitar – a role I was handed by default.  As part of the fallout, the original Impact 50 singer, jumped in with the “Limo” band after our original lead singer had to leave the state.  Our old singer simply couldn’t keep a job in Michigan.  Also, we had to say goodbye to our other guitar player, but that move was by choice.

In early winter, I was asked to sit in on bass with another guitar player, Tom Scola, best known for his local work on the blues scene.  His musical aggregation had some big pluses for me.  Apparently, I brought something positive to the party, too.  I guess it’s a minimal requirement that those of us who play actively MUST be in a minimum of two bands at all times.

As far as the Beginnings and Ends in my playing world, for me personally, at least in ’07, there really weren’t any.  They just evolved from one era to another, and there were lots of OTHER players I worked with as well.  

Meeting famous players…

This year I also met some great LEGENDARY musicians after their Detroit shows:  Saxophonist David Sanborn and keyboard legend, George Duke.  George’s music but especially his “groove” has been in the back of my mind since the 1970s.  If you were around during the 1980s, you may remember his charted song, “Sweet Baby,” and the fact he was in Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention going way back.   The man hasn’t lost his touch.  In fact, even with his stripped down band, he “has it” more than ever. The show ended with an unplanned (and very EXTENDED) encore during which George invited members of the audience to sit in on one of his rigs and jam. 

At the beginning of the 2007, we traveled to Philadelphia to catch “Fourplay,” a jazz-fusion “super group” in their only U.S. show for the entire year.  Fourplay features Nathan East, my all-time favorite bass player (best known in recent years as Clapton’s bass player), Harvey Mason, one of my favorite drummers, Larry Carlton, guitar groove-master, and Bob James on keys isn’t too shabby either.  Didn’t get a chance to meet these guys, but it was one of the best shows of the year for me.  

Speaking of legendary players, Mark Pasman’s “Supersessions” also brings to mind locally several memorable shows this past year at Memphis Smoke. At least a couple come to mind where I was again invited to sit in on bass with the best musicians in town.  Thanks Paz! 

And On a Less “Happy” Note…

Toward the end of the year, I went to two funerals only about a week apart for first for an uncle, then for an aunt (his sister).  I never know how I am supposed to feel at these things.  They had both lived fairly full lives and had been ill for some time.  The best way is to think of these events is as celebrations of the lives of the departed.  At least that’s the way my uncle felt and it makes sense. Go in with that mentality rather than be sad.  But when the U.S. Army shows up and gives full military service with the flag presented to the wife, it’s a little tough to handle for the on-lookers.

Anyway, as I always say, everything has a Beginning and End.  For these people, who knew me best before I was even a teenager, it was their time to go – their End.

Computer End Time

At my home office, I had made the decision to replace some computer equipment.  Since 1986, I had Apple Macintosh, but now it was time for the last of the Macs to go.  It was more than eight years old and I had thrown various upgrades at it over the years but it was too far gone.   Hundreds of catalogs, my entire customer database, video and audio databases, entire books and a good part of my life was developed on Macintosh.   But my home network was fighting Mac.  The audio software I was using was available on PC (not Mac) only.  My laptop was PC.  It was just a pain, so I went all PC.

The Gateway blew up after six months.  Gateway replaced the motherboard, and I threw 3 gigs of memory into it, the complete Adobe Creative Suite, FileMaker database software and everything it needed to do everything the Mac did.  It has been a workhorse ever since.    My main audio computer (custom built from components) grew a couple more hard drives.  An aging Sony VAIO got replaced with another custom built computer it does everything the others are too busy to do.  With the growth of my business, it was not just a convenience to multi-task, it was a requirement.

So it was End Time for both the Macintosh and the Sony VAIO at my office.

And to wrap it (like a Christmas Present) up on a positive note…

I have been lucky to have and expanded the friends I have at work and play.  They are all important and valued.  I can always fix equipment (or send it back or replace it), but people are the reason we have equipment to begin with, and for that matter, the reason for music, radio and everything I rant about.  I try to keep this in mind, along with the realization that nothing lasts forever.  Change is constant.  Everything has a Beginning and an End.  Phases of your life and everyone else’s, including Life Itself has a start and finish.  Mine is far from over, at least as far as I know!

Now that 2007 is at its End, let’s work to make everything we did this past year (and to date) equal out to an even better 2008. 

Sound good to you?



My favorite afternoon drive show, Deminski and Doyle heard on the former CBS “Free FM” outlet in Detroit came to an end after a brief morning stint on the new sports station that couldn’t make up its mind what to call itself.  First, they’re the Sports Powerhouse.  OK fine.  Then it’s the Ticket. How original, guys!  Hey, I was briefly Chief Engineer for the local station that was FIRST called the Ticket from which several of their hosts came:  WTKA in Ann Arbor!  I’m glad some of my former co-workers landed in Detroit, because they’re good people, but there is always fall-out.  There are always bodies to step over.97.1 -- whatever it’s called (and it’s AM sister station, WXYT, which was already sports) turned itself into a 24-hour sports outlet.  D & D, the top-rated duo who built up a huge loyal listenership during the past eight years simply were not given acceptable contract terms by CBS.  That is the bottom line, and money was not the major issue.The word is D & D's show basically kept the station in the black, pulling numbers that brought in 70% of the stations’ revenue.  The station is airing is re-runs through the end of the year.  Enjoy while you can!

The talk show arena is pure feces right now.  All the popular talk shows are in re-runs!  Jay Leno, David Letterman and Deminski and Doyle are all “best of’s.” The CD collection in my car keeps growing, and you can bet it is for everyone else.  Local radio is not in good shape, unless you’re looking for music.  D & D was yanked off the air a week early, as some kind of “power” move on the part of CBS.  This action prompted other area media columnists to call station owners (CBS) and management  “gutless”.   Nothing lasts forever in radio though, and eight years of becoming Detroit’s most beloved afternoon drive hosts, is still a helluva long time.  But if CBS can yank Tom Ryan off WOMC (in the same year), it’s no big deal to do the same to D & D.  Kick them to the curb.  It sucks and I've been kicked myself, but I got back up and kicked some butt.  D & D will too, and in a big way.  Why?  Because they rock!   The best rise to the top.  Losers wind up OUT OF THE BUSINESS.

Thinking further, perhaps the local economy is a factor and the market can no longer afford to support the caliber of talent we’re used to.  Or perhaps too many high-end management people are brought in from outside the market that treat talent like commodities.  The reality is it’s probably a combination of both.

Who loses?  Us. The loyal listener.  Big time. It’s a vicious cycle.  Not everyone wants to hear sports babble around the clock, day in, and day out and have it on multiple stations on top of that.  So the numbers will continue to drop with revenue falling further.  Those local shows will be replaced by syndicated shows.  The so-called “powerhouse” stations will sound the same as the remaining 1Kw smart market AM stations who can just barely afford to pay for the power to keep the transmitter on.  The difference is now the stakes are much higher, and it costs a helluva lot more to keep 50Kw on the air...and NOBODY is listening!



The holiday season is a good time to prove your value to your radio station.  That plus having a track record of proving your value to the station could lead to big things.

I spent a good part of 1979 as Assistant to the Chief Engineer, Randy Custer at that time at WAAM in Ann Arbor. I was also doing weekends on-air.  I was a combination promotions, remote techie, cart machine and miscellaneous repair dude along with the oh-so-important on-air weekends and fill-in jock. Our Operations Manager and morning host was Jack Hood who had actually hired me earlier that year.

This was way before the days of automation that we have today.  Jack had a special “Voices of Christmas Past” package on 7” reel to reel tapes that ran for 24 hours on Christmas Day… at least when we got done with it!  We copied the entire package plus station Ids, spots, liners and promos to 10” reel to reel tapes.  There was a stack of 24 tapes when we got done and the board operator merely had to shuttle back and forth between reel decks once an hour on Christmas.  We made a big deal out of promoting and selling it. It was a great package.

Jack did some of the work himself, but he asked for my help and I ended up doing the bulk of the “grunt” work, literally “living” in the Production studio overnight.  You wouldn’t think this would be the case, but it was actually exciting for me!  I was “building” a whole day of broadcast using equipment in use at the time.   I was not “officially” a full time employee, but was working full time hours with all the people taking vacations and the large number of remotes I set up (at least once a week for “Fat Bob” Taylor alone, who was doing middays).

The staff holiday party was almost missed by me because I was so busy at the station.  I was late, but Jack rolled out the red carpet for me and made sure I was served a full meal. The first week of December, Jack offered me the full time position of Production Director and his 6-10 PM Monday-Friday host.    Naturally, I accepted!

I had some spots on the air that I had produced, so he was already familiar with my work.  But I feel like jumping in with both feet and finishing the work for the holiday programming ahead of time played a part in landing my promotion.  No matter how “good” you are, or THINK you are, that is really only a small part of your success.

“Getting stuff done” has been a pre-occupation that I carry with me today.  Sometimes – not always but SOMETIMES – hard work and dedication DOES pay off.   Even when it doesn’t you have a sense of accomplishment when a project is completed.

Figuring that out for myself, and being lucky to work for people like Jack led to where I am today.  Jack tapped into my youthful enthusiasm and tossed in a few words of encouragement as any good manager will do.  Sometimes you run into bad managers and in that case, just make the best of the situation.  Get the most of you can possibly get out of a situation, personally, and make plans to leave as soon as possible.

People who are struggling, getting discouraged or impatient just need to keep the brain securely in place, keep on working and put in their best effort at all times, no matter how bad the situation is. 

I had already been in radio a few years prior to landing at that station, so it didn’t happen overnight.  

Jack was also a programming genius, although he would deny it in his later years.  We were hoping to meet at Specs Howard for lunch just prior to his untimely passing a few years ago.  He wanted to give radio "another shot."

Besides Ann Arbor, he had radio stints in Flint, Bay City, Louisville KY, and at one point at WJR.  He would also be a pioneer in a wildly successful video tape rental business.

As far as radio, his “reward” to me 29 years ago for MY work and dedication will never be forgotten.  His morning show will always be a “voice” in my Christmas’s Past. 

Hope you’re having a good holiday season!
Bob Burnham


Thanks to Ken Calvert at WCSX for playing Adam Sandler's hilarious song about the Festival of Lights.

It made my day!  OK, it SORTA got me in the spirit.  With apologies to Mr. Sandler (he's doesn't get any money) here's the words I found on the internet:

I'm not Jewish, but sure proves you guys have just as much fun as The Santa Claus people!
Now go tell your friend Veronica, you need a new Harmonica, and stop smoking so much Marij-uanica!   LOL!




Things don’t always turn out as you hoped, so you make the best of it…
By Bob Burnham
Well, now we’re headed full steam into the holiday season now, and there’s no turning back!  A year ago, I took a short trip to be at a holiday party put on by a broadcast client.  The trip, however, was cut short.

This past summer, I supervised construction of a new tower / transmitter site for the same client.  That trip, in a sense, was also cut short but for a different reason.
In both cases the activities were well intentioned but didn’t play out exactly as expected.

That is often the way a lot of activities go.  The key is to keep a positive attitude.  While they are underway, they may be mentally or financially taxing, but with a proper mental attitude, they can be kept from going into the “disaster” mode.

If you know me, you know I always have many “irons in the fire.”  This is how I have always preserved my future and my career. For example, my “End of Year” promotional mailing for the old-time radio and classic TV show business was planned in the midst of the craziness.  Thousands of copies sent out, and I am already working on a 2008 catalog not even knowing if the current promotion will be successful. 

The process of doing this involves going through my many thousands of audio masters, and sometimes discovering stuff I didn’t know I had.  The most interesting, of course, are tapes I saved from my various on-air antics.  Those for my own amusement and are not marketed!  Who’d care about them anyway!?

My on-air show came to WCAR in the Detroit area in 1988, before I actually became Chief Engineer at the station.  I had archived the first several shows on reel-to-reel tape including the programming preceding and following my show.  It is interesting to hear voices of the past who were part of the station almost TWENTY years ago.

Don Kostyu hosted an interesting talk show called “The Town Meeting” following my show.  While I never really knew Don on personal basis, he was a bit of a pioneer as Rush Limbaugh was also just getting started at that point.  Sadly, a few years later, Don committed suicide.  Obviously, HIS life wasn’t turning out the way he wanted, and he couldn’t deal with it.

Another thing that might not be turning out as we hoped:  That is, our friends, Deminski and Doyle at WXYT-FM (Formerly WKRK ‘Free FM’ which is now a sports station).  Is there no hope for Detroit radio with all the out-of-town executives basically running their operation as a cut and dry business? 

Their contract is up at the end of this month and last show is reportedly December 14.  Is it their last show in Detroit?  I’m getting that impression! 

Broadcast execs that were imported from other markets obviously have no regard for the end product and especially no regard for the “End Product User.” That would be You and Me – and anyone who listens to local radio in the car, or anywhere.  The only hope of maintaining any kind of listenership is through development and maintenance of high-end Content, which is primarily focused on morning shows.

Radio is completely a numbers game.  Listenership numbers seem to be far less important these days than dollar numbers required to operate a radio station.  I always thought the two were tied together – and in reality, THEY ARE.  But the enormous economical pressures are starting to take their toll. Turning red ink into black and eliminating risk in a market with an economy that is in desperate condition has already taken some broadcast legends off the air decades before “their time,” or is at least sending some to more prosperous markets.

So if a manager comes to Detroit from New York (or anywhere) and his task is stop the station from hemorrhaging money he or she does LOGICALLY what they feel they MUST do.  Maybe their actions (popular or not) will be successful in the long run, maybe not.  Maybe he’s just putting off the inevitable.  The fact is the pool of listeners just aren’t there they way the used to be partially because there is a lot less to KEEP THEM THERE.  

So it is a vicious cycle.  Hopefully it won’t be repeated too often and enough creative people will make it into management who know how to balance dollars and cents (or is that SENSE) with quality content.

Or perhaps one day, to get our talk radio fix we will be limited to people doing (and listening to) podcasts.  The best of them will of course, come from RADIO backgrounds.  

Good luck D & D, no matter what happens.
I want to mention my two favorite BLOG sites:

At the top of my list is Gregg Henson of fame.
Gregg offers a lot of content about Detroit radio (since he came from it himself).
He is still a talk show host himself in Austin, Texas. also includes sports and curious items in the news as frequent features. Whether you always agree or not, the guy has a perfect mixture of common sense and logic with edgy humor.  The local media are always quoting items from his website.  He was one half of the most successful version of 97.1 FM's Motor City Middays along with Michelle McKormick...another show where the chemistry actually worked well, but it was busted apart.

But in passing, Gregg once credited a good friend of mine, Mark Pasman (The beloved “Paz” of Motor City Blues Project fame) of WCSX as helping him in the earliest days of his career.  In some of my circles, we regard Paz as “The Coolest Man on the Planet.” Obviously, he saw something worth encouraging in Gregg Henson.   The fact that Henson apparently didn’t forget Paz either, is obvious proof this guy is the real deal as well.  If you want the phart jokes, he’s got those as well, but there’s some real depth here folks.  It’s another sad thing that Henson was also forced to leave Detroit, which is his hometown.      

My other regular blog reading is, which is mostly radio.  The writings of “Radio’s Best Friend,” Art Vuolo as well as columnist Mike Austerman are regular features of this site. Michiguide has everything you could ever possibly want to know about radio and television stations in Michigan. 

So make the best of it:  Wherever D & D end up, I’m sure they will be streaming on the show on the internet.  Gregg’s show from Austin is on there too. Some time back, he also did some independent internet shows featuring people from his old show in Detroit.  It's all big fun and it's all good, if you don't whine and complain about how terrible things are.  Do something about it yourself.  Radio is changing like everything does.  Go with the flow.  Listen on your computer... or DON'T change and go listen to your 1905 Edison Wind-Up Gramophone!

Yes, in December ’07, there still is a Santa Claus. But he’s having to deliver more computers and computer speakers these days.  Radios just aren’t as popular anymore.