Congratulations to Jeff Deminski and Bill Doyle (aka “D & D”) on eight years as WKRK 97.1 Detroit afternoon hosts. They celebrated in style opening the doors to the listeners at the radio station on August 24th.  What could be more appropriate?  Without the listeners who give them numbers they would not have jobs.  Yet, without D & D, the listeners would not be there in the first place.  So which came first, the listener or the host? Obviously the host.

The D & D Anniversary comes just a couple months after MY 8 year anniversary as engineer at Specs Howard  (June 30th).  Prior to that I was commuting to Ann Arbor, and now with the drive to Southfield, I had two choices:  Find something interesting on the radio OR listen to my own CD collection at high levels.  I had plenty of CDs, but I was fortunate enough to also find D & D when they first arrived

For most of their years, their studios are in a building I am familiar with: In the late 1990s, I had worked out of the building when it housed CBS’ sister station, WXYT, before it became home to 97.1.  There are plans in the works to move out of the building again, but for now, they are still there.

Jeff and Bill were the replacements for “Gonzo Greg” and have outlasted virtually every on-air host that has been since been featured on that station.  The reason is simple:  They make radio fun, vital and most importantly, personal.

It doesn’t matter what label you put on it – whether it falls in the “hot talk” category – or just “regular” talk (whatever that is).    The fact is through their daily conversations, they allow listeners to look inside their lives.  Good radio is good radio, folks.  And this is GOOD RADIO. Many thousands of people feel like they know D & D on a personal level.  That’s really good radio.

The fact they celebrated their anniversary with a listener-created D & D trivia contest is also pretty indicative of listener loyalty….but they are quick to point out “it wasn’t their idea…”

There have been other people on the station with talent and listener loyalty…if they lasted long enough for listeners got to know them.  Rob Parker and Mark Wilson come to mind, along with Gregg Henson and Michelle McKormick.  Heck, I even thought Ed Tyll was cool!

You can blame it on whatever you want that the others didn’t have as much lasting power as D & D.

The nature of radio is change.

In the “golden age” or even “silver” age of radio, you didn’t make it on AT ALL unless you were really REALLY good.  Today, the standards are lower for a variety of reasons, but there are more dollars at stake while the listener pie slice is smaller than before FM radio existed.

In most larger markets, there is mediocrity and sameness, over-researched playlists, 10 minute commercial blocks and “talent” without very much “talent” or at least enthusiasm for what they do for a living.  Air talent limited to saying “that was…” and “here is…”

A 3-4 hour show is voice-tracked in a half hour, but all is not lost, at least here in the Detroit.

Once in a great while, there is creativity, enthusiasm and actual cool people free of arrogance who land on radio.  For whatever reason, the just chemisty clicks…not just between the hosts and producers, but The Listeners.  

Rated by the Detroit News as Michigan’s Best Radio Show (ahead of Detroit radio legend, Dick Purtan in second place), it comes as no surprise, that so many listeners filed in and out of the station open house on August 24, ’07 to catch a glimpse of the duo in action, or meet their beloved producer, “Beaver,” or Rudy DeSantis. Both behind-the-scenes guys have assumed important parts of the show, both on-mike and off.  Even traffic reporter, Nicole Salem, cannot escape being part of the "team" which led to her selling "Rat Radio" T-shirts featuring pet rat, "Trevor."  The rat participated in a studio gag crawling on a listener who claimed he could sleep under any circumstance.  Don't ask me how this can work on radio, but it did. Nicole and Rudy, frequently the brunt of jokes, and hilarious drops of their voices at inopportune times like "Doyle is a sex god!" (as sarcastic as possible from Nicole), or Rudy's "It's a big meat stick!" are always good for a chuckle.  But the fact that D & D actually make these  people a part of the D & D Show puzzle or "cast" of characters, is brilliant programming (seriously brilliant, not Nicole's sarcastic "brilliant" drop).  We hope nobody ever quits for better jobs because they would be missed on the show.

But to hear Jeff and Bill talk, you would think they merely just got lucky.  They seem in fact humbled by their success, but they are in fact, brilliant programmers, themselves.

There is in fact, a bit of “luck” making it in radio.  But longevity on radio only comes from BEING YOURSELF in the right place at the right time, and making a connection with the listeners BEFORE Management has a chance to take you OFF the radio.

Thank you CBS for getting it right on this show, and thank you D & D.

When I hit 10 years at Specs Howard, and you hit 10 years with CBS, we must REALLY celebrate in style!  Maybe we can upgrade the T-shirts to embroidered polo shirts.

-Bob Burnham

Click here for more info including podcasts of show highlights.

1/11/2008 02:26:39 am

Do you know what D&D are going to do now that they are no longer on 97.1? I've been trying to find out. Thanks

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1/19/2008 10:39:14 am

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