History of WRIF Podcast & Mike Staff Productions

WRIF Podcast

Mike Staff goes back to his radio roots to host WRIF Podcast

If you’re a Detroiter then you likely have 101.1 WRIF programmed on your car radio dial! Believe it or not, WRIF is getting ready to celebrate 50 years of being on air and the radio station is celebrating with the history of the WRIF podcast.

As a member of the WRIF family, Mike Staff was asked to take us all down memory lane and host the History of WRIF Podcast to celebrate and honor the station’s rich history and personalities. He’s diving deep into the crates for interviews with WRIF legends; the people who have made Detroit rock with WRIF since 1971! Check back for all the recent episodes

LISTEN: History of WRIF Podcast

EPISODE 14: Dave and Chuck the Freak

Dave and Chuck move the show to WRIF and discuss the challenges of not being able to tell anyone, their first show of the Riff, and what it was like to replace the legendary Drew and Mike show. LISTEN HERE. 

EPISODE 13: Screamin’ Scott

Doug Podell hires Scott to do overnights at WRIF and Scott talks about working with him, Anne Carlini, Arthur P., Meltdown, and Drew and Mike. Of course, Screamin’ has a beer with Dave Grohl in Ireland, plays a round of Golf with Alice Cooper, and hangs out with Bobby Knight and BJ Thomas. Then there was the time he nearly died while on the air. LISTEN HERE

EPISODE 12: Drew Lane Part 2

Drew Lane (Drew and Mike) continues his conversation with Mike Staff touching on Delbert, Davie Lee Roth, and the value of paying your dues. Drew’s relationship with Mike during the 22-year run on WRIF, the astounding success of the show, and their evolution into Podcasting. LISTEN HERE.

EPISODE 12: Drew Lane Part 1

Drew Lane (Drew and Mike) recounts his early radio days on his way to WRIF. Drew and Mark recount some of the wildest interviews of the Drew and Mike show. LISTEN HERE

EPISODE 11: Mike Staff 

The usual host Mike Staff is the focus of this discussion as WRIF’s Meltdown talks to Mike about his journey from Central to Specs Howard. Through WJR, WLLZ, WKLT, CD 106, and finally WRIF. LISTEN HERE.

EPISODE 10: Meltdown

Afternoon Drive host Meltdown talks about growing up outside of Buffalo and getting the call to move to Detroit to work at WRIF at age 26 and the idea of being born in Buffalo but made in Detroit. LISTEN HERE.

EPISODE 9: Peter Werbe

The host of Night Call and one of the original WRIF DJs Peter Werbe talks about the change over from WXYZ-FM to WRIF. The self-described anarchist, atheist, and vegetarian talk show host talks about the early days with Dick Kernen, Russ Gibb, and John Sinclair the 1968 riots, and their connection to 2020. LISTEN HERE.

EPISODE 8: Steve Black 

Weekend Personality and syndicated radio host Steve Black talks about growing up in Flint and listening to WWCK along with the Detroit stations WRIF and WLLZ.  Steve’s journey from dreaming of being a Foley Artist to becoming a musician and finally a DJ. LISTEN HERE.

EPISODE 7: Tom Bender & Fred Jacobs

Former WRIF Program Directors Tom Bender and Fred Jacobs recount their journeys to the Riff and explain the roles of a Program Director, General Manager, and Consultant. LISTEN HERE.

EPISODE 6: JJ & The Morning Crew 

The radio background and the real story of how Jim Johnson and George Baier got together to become JJ and the Morning Crew. With stops at WWWW from 78-79, WRIF from 79-86, then WLLZ from 86-92, and finally at WCSX from 92-08. LISTEN HERE.

EPISODE 5: Dick Kernan

Dick’s journey to working at WXYZ and becoming the 1st Program Director at WRIF. The longevity of WRIF, radio’s future, and the amazing legacy Dick has built as the Vice President of the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.  LISTEN HERE. 

EPISODE 4: Steve Kostan 

Steve’s radio journey growing up in Detroit and going to Redford Detroit High School. Being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Steve’s thoughts on the city of Detroit and the legacy of WRIF.  LISTEN HERE.

EPISODE 3: Karen Savelly

Karen’s journey growing up in Detroit and going to school at Wayne State. My college years working at WAYN, WDTE, and WWWW. Karen’s four years at W4 and three at WABX led to her spot at WRIF. LISTEN HERE

EPISODE 2: Ken Calvert

Mike Staff sits down, one-on-one, with Ken Calvert. They dish on working for Epic and Columbia Records alongside Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen. In 1979 JJ and The Morning Crew encouraged him to join the team at WRIF. LISTEN HERE

EPISODE 1: Arther Penhallow

Mike Staff sits down, one-on-one, with legendary WRIF personality Arthur Penhallow. LISTEN HERE

Arthur Penhallow and Mike Staff

Q&A with Mike Staff

How does it feel to be going down memory lane with some of the most legendary radio DJs at WRIF? 

“It’s fun to sit down and talk the the DJs and people that made WRIF great over the years.  Many of these DJs, I grew up listening to and they inspired me to want to be in radio.  It’s a thrill to hear the “stories behind the stories”.  I worked at WRIF for 14 years and have been friends with many of these people for 25+ years and even I’M learning new things about them and the stations history. I think the listeners will love hearing these stories.”

What do you hope listeners take away from listening to this podcast series? 

“I just hope the listeners enjoy hearing the stories and learning the “behind the scenes” of what made WRIF so amazing for almost 50 years.  Plus, there’s a lot of great Detroit Rock n Roll History in these stories.

How has WRIF shaped Detroit radio history over the last 50 years?

There’s no doubt that WRIF is the most successful radio station in Detroit Radio history.  It’s been the same format for almost 50 years and has been a staple of the Detroit Rock Scene since 1971.  Many other radio stations have tried to duplicate WRIF but there’s only ONE Home of Rock n’ Roll.”

You’re a part of the WRIF radio family, tell us about your love for the business and how it set you up for success in building your own company. 

“Mostly, I’d say that my passion for radio was the fuel that motivated me to be my very best, regardless of the sacrifice.  I knew it was a privilege to be on the air at the WRIF and it required me to consistently perform at an extremely high level.  I feel the same way about the work we do at Mike Staff Productions; it’s a privilege to work a couple’s wedding and it requires our team to consistently bring our A+ Game to every family at every event.”

At Mike Staff Productions, we’ve built our whole business around reclaiming the fun in your wedding planning. Ready to start?