Dick Purtan. JJ and Lynne. Drew and Mike. Ken Calvert. Joe Donovan. Arthur Penhallow. All longtime Detroit radio legends who have either exited the airwaves in a recent month or year or moved from drivetime. And, while the name Craig Fahle is perhaps not as well known or endured as long, his exit on Friday from WDET-FM after nearly a decade as the station’s top day-to-day air personality is significant. Bill Shea’s story in this week’s Crain’s Detroit Business tells the tale well with a bit of my perspective thrown in. Read the piece here.
If you never took the opportunity to listen to Craig Fahle, you missed out; although you can still hear him via archived podcasts at WDET.org. I and members of the Tanner Friedman team had the good fortune to work with Craig on many occasions through the years, booking our clients on his show. No matter the topic, no matter the guest, Craig Fahle was always prepared. He has, in fact, always been known for his voracious reading and thorough show prep. As a guest myself on his show after publishing the updated version of my book on radio: “No Static at All,” I was amazed at how much of my book he had devoured and maintained a recall of as he asked his questions and made his points.
From a ratings standpoint, one might look at Fahle’s or WDET’s numbers in general and be less than impressed. Yet, statistics alone can be very deceiving. Public Radio stations, with their schedules of varied niche programs typically never see the numbers of popular commercial stations. Fahle’s 9a-11a show, however, typically enjoyed a respectable 7,000 listeners a day; another 4,500 at night during the 7p-9p repeat of his broadcast. And, even more importantly, Fahle held his listeners for an amazing 45 minutes at a time, 30 minutes at night. Bottom line: his listeners were dedicated – vital for fundraising for a non-commercial entity.
So, what’s next? For Fahle, a new role as Director of Public Affairs for the Detroit Land Bank Authority. And while the move was at first shocking it was not surprising, considering Fahle’s love of the city and desire to make a difference. For WDET, there are big shoes and two time slots to fill. I hope the station takes its time and considers its candidates carefully to find genuine, informed, dedicated, non-promotional, non-agended and a person who truly cares about Detroit. It’s what Craig Fahle brought to the airwaves everyday and what we all deserve more of.