PORTRAIT OF THE
AAA MICHIGAN NEWS SERVICES
What you have before your eyes is the first of five files that are available through the Internet that cover the history of the broadcast services of AAA Michigan and other traffic-related topics in Michigan, such as Michigan Emergency Patrol and Grand Rapids Skyview Traffic. This version of "Portrait of the AAA Michigan News Services" is, in essence, a simple text version of a master document that was produced on computer using WordPerfect 5.0, or, this version is a simple Web-page version. One reason I converted the full document from the WordPerfect format to the HTML format is to allow almost everyone to use the document. After the conversion process was done, I put what had been italicized material in the WordPerfect-form document (such as the titles of books) in quotation marks, since I thought a person could convert the document from HTML form to another form easier. This version lacks the 228 footnotes that exist in the master WordPerfect-form document and that give more information about people and events. A sixth part of the master WordPerfect-form document is not available through the Internet, since the sixth part is the index that is related to the master WordPerfect-form document. People who want a copy of the master WordPerfect-form document have to make special arrangements with the publisher of The Hologlobe Press. Since this HTML-form document does not have an index or a proper contents, you must remember: The page numbers noted under the "Contents" of this HTML-form document are those associated with the master WordPerfect-form document, and, in relation to this document, "DEPARTMENT NAMES" or "page 21" starts file number two, and "TECHNOLOGY" or "page 59" starts file number three, and "HOLIDAY NEWS SERVICE PERSONNEL" or "page 114" starts file number four, and "BLIZZARDS AND STORMS" or "page 160" starts file number five.
Victor Edward Swanson is the owner of this file and the four associated files, and the five files are grouped under the heading or title "Portrait of the AAA Michigan News Services." Victor Edward Swanson is the copyright owner of the full document, and, by the way, Victor Edward Swanson owns the copyright rights to all former versions of this document that exist (no matter in what form they exist). The five files that make up this document may be freely used--in nonprofit ways--by almost everyone; that is, most people may copy the files, download the files, pass along the files, duplicate the files, et cetera, as long as the people do not use the files in any commercial manner.
NEITHER AAA MICHIGAN NOR ANY EMPLOYEE OF AAA MICHIGAN IS ALLOWED TO DOWNLOAN, TRANSFER, PUBLISH, COPY, DUPLICATE, DISTRIBUTE, OR STORE IN ANY FORM (SUCH AS IN PAPER FORM, PLASTIC FORM, OR ELECTRONIC FORM) OR BY ANY MEANS (SUCH AS THROUGH MANUAL MEANS OR ELECTRONIC MEANS) ANY OF THE FIVE FILES THAT MAKE UP THE FULL DOCUMENT OR ANY PORTION OF THE FIVE FILES THAT MAKE UP THE FULL DOCUMENT. ALSO, NEITHER AAA MICHIGAN NOR ANY EMPLOYEE OF AAA MICHIGAN IS ALLOWED TO DOWNLOAN, TRANSFER, PUBLISH, COPY, DUPLICATE, DISTRIBUTE, OR STORE IN ANY FORM (SUCH AS IN PAPER FORM, PLASTIC FORM, OR ELECTRONIC FORM) OR BY ANY MEANS (SUCH AS THROUGH MANUAL MEANS OR ELECTRONIC MEANS) THE OTHER VERSIONS OF THIS DOCUMENT, PARTICULARLY OLDER VERSIONS OF THIS DOCUMENT, THAT EXIST. ANY USE BY AAA MICHIGAN OR ANY EMPLOYEE OF AAA MICHIGAN THAT IS NOT ALLOWED IS A VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT LAW, AND ANY USE NOT GIVEN TO AAA MICHIGAN OR ANY EMPLOYEE OF AAA MICHIGAN IS A VIOLATION OF ETHICS.
Although this document happens to be mostly about AAA Michigan, I, Victor Edward Swanson, have no employment association with AAA Michigan, and I do not endorse AAA Michigan, and I do not promote AAA Michigan, and I do not recommend AAA Michigan.
Final opening statement:
People who wish to have material that they have included in a future version of this documenet may submit the material to the publisher. Certainly, the publisher is looking for information that notes when people worked on news services, and the information should be specific. Anyone who worked on a news service may send a block of text that can be added to the "Recollections" section of this document, and what material is presented to the publisher will be quoted and becomes the property of the publisher, and the publisher will publish at least a part of each submission (only editiing for length, if necessary). The address for The Hologlobe Press is Postal Box 5263, Cheboygan, Michigan 49721.
PORTRAIT OF THE
AAA MICHIGAN NEWS SERVICES
Victor Edward Swanson
Debbie Pearson, Scott Renas,
Nancy Sarpolis, David E. Schmeiser,
William (Bill) Semion, Eve Soltesz, Dwight Smith,
Bob Gordon, Bruce A. Drobot, Thomas J. Freel,
Steve Jacobs, Marci (Guenther) Williams,
Don Fournier, Jo-Jo Shutty MacGregor, Dave Frisco,
Roger Hoppe, Brian Lankford, and Kevin Richards,
and Leonard (Len) R. Barnes
and with help from
Joan M. Scheel
August 4, 2021
(Version Number 16)
(First version posted on the Internet on May 21, 2004)
c. 2004 Victor E. Swanson
BRING 'EM BACK ALIVE page 4
NEWS SERVICES GENERAL HISTORY page 5
DEPARTMENT NAMES page 21
MICHIGAN FACTS page 22
NO-FAULT INSURANCE FACTS page 22
HOLIDAY NEWS SERVICE page 24
FATALITY INFORMATION page 31
DRINKING-AND-DRIVING FACTS (MICHIGAN) page 31
SAFETY LAWS page 31
ICICLE SERVICE page 35
ROAD FACTS page 39
WEEKEND NEWS SERVICE page 48
TECHNOLOGY page 59
DETROIT TRAFFIC HISTORY AND SERVICES page 66
AAA SAFETY COPTER page 72
AAA/MEP page 74
AAA TRAFFIC NETWORK page 80
OTHER AAA INFORMATION SERVICES page 102
TRAFFIC-RELATED TOPICS page 104
SPEED INFORMATION page 112
HOLIDAY NEWS SERVICE PERSONNEL page 114
BLIZZARDS AND STORMS page 160
EARTHQUAKES page 166
ICICLE NEWS SERVICE PERSONNEL page 168
WINTER-WEATHER FACTS page 174
EMERGENCY ROAD SERVICE FACTS page 176
AAA MICHIGAN PUBLICATIONS page 177
AAA MICHIGAN page 179
AAA WISCONSIN page 179
AAA-CHICAGO MOTOR CLUB page 180
AAA NEBRASKA page 181
AAA NORTH DAKOTA page 181
AAA MINNESOTA/IOWA page 181
BIBLIOGRAPHY page 182
RECOLLECTIONS page 190
INDEX page i
BRING 'EM BACK ALIVE
Since 1961, the slogan "Bring 'em Back Alive"--seen on bumper stickers, heard on radio, et cetera--has become synonymous with the three letters "AAA." Although the Automobile Club of Michigan can be credited with making the name "Bring 'em Back Alive" truly a national everyday slogan, it was not the Automobile Club of Michigan that first brought the words to the national public. The name "Bring 'em Back Alive" can be traced back in history to at least 1930, when a man named Franklin Howard Buck, who was better known as Frank Buck, made the words his slogan.
Frank Buck (March 12, 1884, to March 25, 1950) was a world traveler during the early 1900s, especially in the 1920s and 1930s. He traveled from the United States to other countries, hoping for adventure and seeking animals that he could bring back to United States to sell to zoos and dealers. He brought back elephants, birds, and many other species; sometimes he had sought out animals in the wild himself, but more often he had bought animals from dealers at international ports, such as Singapore. His adventures were documented in a number of books and films. The first book (published in 1930 and written by Frank Buck and Edward Anthony) was "Bring 'Em Back Alive," which was the basis of a movie with the same name that was made in 1930 and was first screened for Americans in New York City on June 17, 1932. Other books were "Wild Cargo" (published in 1933), which was his second book, "Fang and Claw" (in 1935), "On Jungle Trails" (1937), and "All in a Lifetime" (in 1941), which was an autobiography written in association with Ferrin Fraser. Besides the film "Bring 'Em Back Alive," Buck produced several films based on his books, such as "Wild Cargo" (in 1933) and "Fang and Claw" (in 1935).
Frank Buck, regarded by historians as an author, explorer, film maker, and promoter, is certainly unfamiliar to most Americans, but some of what he did and created will remain in memories for many years to come. Without a doubt, the Automobile Club of Michigan or AAA Michigan did much to keep Frank Buck's famous slogan alive. And that slogan was "Bring 'em Back Alive!"
NEWS SERVICES GENERAL HISTORY
A simple story of the radio news services of AAA Michigan can be traced back to the early 1960s. However, the full story goes back to July 1918, when the Detroit Automobile Club started publishing on a monthly basis "Detroit Motor News," an automobile-related magazine. Then again, it could be argued well that the history of the radio news services can really be traced back to the founding and chartering of the Detroit Automobile Club in 1916.
For the purposes of this publication, "Portrait of the AAA Michigan News Services," the story of the radio news services will begin in July 1918; then, the Detroit Automobile Club, headquartered at the Hotel Pontchartrain (Parlor Floor, Cherry 1365), Detroit, began issuing a magazine related to the automobile, mostly for the members of the Detroit Automobile Club. All new ventures start out slowly, of course. By the first-year-anniversary issue--the July 1919 issue--only about 6,000 copies were being distributed monthly. The July 1919 issue cost only ten cents; a yearly subscription cost $1.00. At the time, W.S. Gilbreath was the managing editor and E.W. Sullivan was the associate editor, and they were setting standards for a publication that would survive through many good times and bad times--and survive the worst time for the automobile industry, World War II, when, for several years, no automobiles were made in the United States.
During most of the 1920s, which were good times for the country, the Detroit Automobile Club and "Detroit Motor News" went through changes. A little after the start of 1920, the Detroit Automobile Club moved to a new location--the Hotel Tuller Annex (at 125 West Adams Avenue in Detroit); by March 1920, the masthead of "Detroit Motor News" noted the change of address. The Detroit Automobile Club was slowly expanding, while more Americans, especially those in the Detroit area, were buying cars in greater numbers. The Detroit Automobile Club moved again around January 1927--relocating to 139 Bagley Avenue in Detroit--as did the editorial staff of the magazine; the company leased the four-story building at the address. The good times of the 1920s ended with the crash of the stock market in October 1929.
Despite the stock market crash (or crashes) of 1929, the Detroit Automobile Club continued to publish "Detroit Motor News." In fact, the May 1931 issue had a circulation of about 74,100. The May 1931 issue, now under the direction of L.J. Glasgow (as editor) and Wm J. Trepagnier (as associate editor), was the first to carry a new flag--"Michigan Motor News." The magazine was no longer published by the Detroit Automobile Club; it was now published by the Automobile Club of Michigan, a name that had been adopted by the company on April 17, 1931.
It must be pointed out that "Michigan Motor News" was yet partly known as "Detroit Motor News" in 1931 and for several more years; "Detroit Motor News" was yet listed in small typeface on the main page of the magazine underneath "Michigan Motor News." When L.J. Glasgow (as managing editor) and Wm. J. Trepagnier (as associate editor) released the July 1932 issue, though, the name of the magazine was only "Michigan Motor News," and the cost of the magazine was twenty-five cents an issue or $2.00 for a yearly subscription, and the circulation was about 64,700 magazines. By May 1936, W.S. Gilbreath was the managing editor and Wm. J. Trepagnier was the editor; the May 1936 issue was the last to show a flag with "Michigan Motor News."
The June 1936 issue was entitled simply "Motor News"; each issue still cost twenty-five cents. The magazine was featuring, as it had been and as it would for many decades to come, stories about the automobile industry, such as information about new automobiles, automobile legislation (national legislation and state legislation), vacation spots and cities to visit around the world, and the Auto Club, such as insurance products and other services it had. And the covers were quite unique; they featured the paintings of John S. Coppin, who would paint the covers for all the magazines (except one or so) well into the late 1960s.
By early 1949, the editor of "Motor News" was Wm. J. Trepagnier, and he was assisted by two associate editors, Robert Lund and Leonard R. Barnes, the latter of whom would be instrumental in developing the news services of the company about fifteen years later. The March 1949 issue only had Wm. J. Trepagnier as editor and Leonard R. Barnes as associate editor. Mr. Trepagnier and Mr. Barnes held their same positions in the Motor News department throughout the 1950s and when the Automobile Club of Michigan launched a great media campaign in June 1961--the "Bring 'em Back Alive" safety campaign.
After World War II, the country saw years of what can be described as "economic prosperity," and the years of the late 1940s and the years of the 1950s had the days when the "baby boomers" were born. Generally speaking, American families saw their incomes rise, and they chose to spend money on the ever-increasing number of consumer items, especially television sets. Family vacations by car became common. To handle the ever-increasing traffic taking to the road system of the country, more roads were built; the interstate freeway system started to come about in the late 1950s after the enacting of the Interstate Highway Act of 1956 by the federal government. "The prosperity" was not all good; the Auto Club was perceiving and then seeing an increase in number of injuries and traffic fatalities on roads within the state and throughout the country.
Consider one 1960 newspaper article related to traffic fatalities. It was in one edition of the "Cheboygan Daily Tribune" (of Cheboygan, Michigan). The article was reprinted in a special edition of the "Cheboygan Daily Tribune" on December 31, 1999 (a "Millennium Keepsake Edition"), and here is the reprint material:
"The nation set a new highway death mark during the New Year's holiday weekend, figures showed today.
"The slaughter on the nation's highways soared to 360, according to the United Press International count. In addition, 59 persons died in fires and 81 in miscellaneous mishaps for an overall tolll of 500. [The article had "tolll."]
"Michigan won the nation's most unpopular contest by counting 32 traffic deaths, more than any other state. Texas was second with 27, and Florida third with 25. Pennsylvania and California had 21, Ohio 20 and New York 19.
"Six states--Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, New Hampshire and Arkansas--reported a fatality free New Year's.
"The old mark of 359 was set over the l955-56 New Year's holiday. The all-time record for a New Year's period was set in 1956-57 when 423 persons were killed in a four day period.
"The highway carnage was marked by a rash of multiple-fatality accidents. Five young women and two young men died in a two-car collision near Saginaw, Mich. Sunday, and nine were killed in a head-on crash near Miami, Fla., on Saturday.
"Rain or ice-slicked roads in many parts of the country helped boost the highway toll.
"A deadly blizzard combined with sub-freezing weather to coat many roads with ice in some states.
"Dangerous driving conditions were reported in the East because of heavy rains in that area."
In 1961, the Motor News department of the Automobile Club of Michigan was not only involved with "Motor News" but also with public relations for the Auto Club; that is, the department provided news about the company to the media. In June 1961, a special promotional campaign was begun--it was hoped by the management of the company--to reduce the number of fatalities on roads in Michigan in the summer of 1961, especially during the holidays of July Fourth and Labor Day. The promotional campaign dubbed "Bring 'em Back Alive" was targeted at the motoring public through the media, and it stressed driving safely. The main message based on the theme "Bring 'em Back Alive," which was designed to be a friendly campaign or "positive campaign" and not a "scare campaign," was promoted through posters, about 50,000 "bumper strips" (now commonly referred to as "bumper stickers"), 15,000 "broadsides" for store windows and the like, television commercials (such as a 60-second commercial that was edited down into a 30-second version that was shown twice nightly at sixteen drive-in theaters and four indoor theaters from June 29, 1961, through the Labor Day Weekend), and other educational material.
The "Bring 'em Back Alive" campaign did not end with the summer of 1961; it was continued and expanded, because the Auto Club was still concerned with the roughly eight-percent increase in the number of traffic fatalities over the number for the same period of the year before. For instance, in the fall of 1961, a special jingle was produced by the Auto Club in association with "The Detroit News" and WJR-AM and distributed to AM radio stations throughout the state. The music used with the message was "Red Wing," a longtime favorite song by Kerry Mills; Ed Krupa performed on the guitar, and Jack Harris of WJR-AM was the vocalist. Also, the Auto Club distributed one-minute film demonstrations about safe-driving procedures to television stations.
The following year, the Auto Club pressed the "Bring 'em Back Alive" message even stronger, such as through a campaign especially conducted for the entire summer of 1962--from the Memorial Day holiday through the Labor Day holiday. The soon-to-be nationally famous slogan of "Bring 'em Back Alive" was displayed on roadside signs, bumpers of vehicles, and bulletin boards and in newspaper advertisements, newspaper columns, and even a comic strip--"The Wheelers." Auto Club safety jingles, such as those written by Art Stephan, were played on radio stations throughout the state, and television stations aired the Auto Club travel film clips.
Guiding the Auto Club safety campaigns were Auto Club General Manager Fred N. Rehm and "Motor News" Editor and Publicity Director William J. Trepagnier, under orders of the board of directors of the Auto Club. Those closely involved in the project, which also included such Auto Club officers as Richard Dann and William Walters, were determined to see to it that the "Bring 'em Back Alive" slogan in black letters on a nearly square little yellow sticker was part of the biggest auto-travel promotion in history. In 1965, the management of the Auto Club set aside an extra $100,000 or so in funds to continue to expand the "Bring 'em Back Alive" idea, and expand the idea of "Bring 'em Back Alive" the management truly did.
The management of the Auto Club in early 1965 authorized a new phase of the continuing safety campaign, which was mostly developed by Len Barnes and the staffers of the Motor News department--it was the "Triple A 'Bring 'em Back Alive' Holiday News Service"; managers instrumental in setting up the campaign were Auto Club General Manager Fred N. Rehm, "Motor News" Editor and Publicity Director William J. Trepagnier, and Safety and Traffic Director Ernest P. Davis. The new service would be an attempt by the Auto Club to provide reports about traffic and activities in the state of Michigan during the Memorial Day Holiday. Plans were laid, and people were recruited from within the company and from without. By the afternoon of Friday, May 28, 1965, everyone was ready--three Motor News department staffers were set to broadcast reports to 50 radio stations around the state, several field reporters were in position on the roads where it was believed tie-ups and slowdowns would develop, and others were on hand in the office to gather information. The service was designed to run from about 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Friday and from about 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. At four o'clock in the afternoon on Friday, the first official "Triple A 'Bring 'em Back Alive' Holiday News Service" report was ready:.
"The advance guard of an expected two-and-a-half million autos is pouring out of Detroit and other large Michigan cities. At I-96 and U.S. 23 in Brighton, traffic is moving well, with peak expected from 6 to 11 p.m. Many fully-loaded, out-of-state cars indicate that cool weather is not halting the launching of summer vacation season in Michigan. At I-94 and U.S. 23 near Ann Arbor, traffic is medium heavy. No tie-ups except for some construction in the area of I-94 and Telegraph. At Flint, on I-75 traffic is already heavy but moving at 60 miles an hour. Caution is advised for those pulling trailers because of heavy winds. There isn't a single "No Vacancy" sign on a motel between Bay City and East Tawas. All motorists are reminded to stop at least once every 100 miles for fresh air or a soft drink or coffee. Everyone in the family car should help keep the driver alert until you arrive at your destination."
The Motor News department staff and assisting team produced twenty-three reports for the four-day holiday; the reports were issued about every two hours; reports were not only issued to radio stations but also to Detroit-area television stations and the Associated Press (or AP) and United Press International (or UPI). Len Barnes and Bob Boelio became the first main voices of traffic reporting in Michigan on this holiday. Bob Lewis (a traffic safety specialist with the Auto Club) became the first field reporter to see and report on traffic backups on I-75 in the Bay City/Saginaw area for an official "'Bring 'em Back Alive' Holiday News Service," such as on Monday afternoon; Stan Meretsky was the first person to report on traffic on I-94. And Tom Freel observed southeastern Lower Michigan from the air, flying with the "Triple A Flying Club," which was made up of Auto Club members and employees that provided "Motor News men" with flight time. One other field reporter this holiday was Barry McGuire of the East Michigan Tourist Association (or the EMTA).
The final report for this holiday--offered to stations beginning at 9:30 p.m.--went as follows:
"If you're more than 50 miles from home and haven't started back yet, why not wait until Tuesday after daylight, Auto Club Travel Manager Jerry Fisher asks. If you're on the road, stop often for coffee or a breath of air. Traffic is still as heavy as in midsummer on many highways. Traffic will be lighter tomorrow, it's safer to drive after a good sleep, and in daylight, one can see much better. Most vacationers on the way home now have only 20 to 40 miles to go. Auto Club General Manager Fred Rehm observes that it is now when the driver and his passengers are most likely to go to sleep or lose control of the car on a curve. So don't try to get home without a stop if you haven't stopped for 100 miles. Take a coffee of soft drink break. Walk around the car a couple times and get some fresh air. This is the Triple A "Bring 'Em Back Alive" holiday news service signing off until Fourth of July weekend."
Records show that the broadcasters read 1,150 reports to stations during the holiday weekend. The event, which was tiring for the roughly ten persons involved, was deemed successful, and that was why the management of the Auto Club authorized the "Triple A 'Bring 'em Back Alive' Holiday News Service" to take to the air for the July Fourth holiday (when 41 reports would be written and offered to 53 radio stations and a total of 2,173 reports would be read) and the Labor Day holiday (when 53 reports would be written and offered to 70 radio stations and a total of 3,710 reports would be read). However, during the Memorial Day holiday, twenty-seven persons did die in traffic accidents in Michigan.
After the Labor Day holiday of 1965, the Auto Club did have encouraging news for Michiganians. The information concerned traffic fatalities in Michigan. The November 1965 edition of "Motor News" was able to report that "So far this year, 88 more persons have come back alive from trips in Michigan than in 1964. Twenty-eight fewer persons died over holiday weekends."
During the 1960s, The Holiday News Service operations were expanded with each successive year, though slowly; by the start of the Memorial Day Holiday of 1969, 102 radio stations were ready for the first feed from The Holiday News Service team. The Holiday News Service was well established. Truly, the service was becoming a good part of broadcasting history in Michigan.
The Holiday News Service was followed by other news services from the Automobile Club of Michigan and even, for a short period of time, by Holiday News Services in such other states as Florida and California and in the District of Columbia area (covering Maryland and northern Virginia) through the D.C. Division of the American Automobile Association. On November 29, 1965, the Auto Club started the "Icicle Network," a service devoted to providing information about traffic and road conditions on winter mornings--Monday through Saturday. Information was gathered by Motor News department staffers between 5:00 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. each day from--initially--18 contact points, such as AAA 24-hour service garages, sheriff departments, city police departments, and state police posts. By January 1966, 30 stations were receiving the morning reports. The reports were also distributed to the Auto Club offices (or branches) in association with the Touring department of the Auto Club and to the news media, mainly through the Associated Press (or AP) and the United Press International (or UPI) newswire services.
The next Auto Club news service created was The Weekend News Service, which took to the air in 1969. The service, which started as only a summer service, provided traffic reports to radio stations on Friday and Sunday afternoons and evenings. The purpose was to help travelers taking weekend trips or vacations; on Friday, the service assisted everyone leaving home, and, on Sunday, it assisted everyone returning home.
By mid-1966, the Auto Club through the Motor News department was providing the media with campground reports, which could be published in newspapers, one of the first of which was "The Detroit News." The "Detroit Free Press" was often carrying highway detour reports compiled by staffers of the Motor News department. And, during the winter months, the Auto Club was also issuing information on skiing conditions.
The staffers of the Motor News department put together in association with others (such as the Safety and Traffic department of the Auto Club and the Michigan State Police) special multi-page publications dealing with accidents, especially traffic-fatality accidents that occurred during the summer holidays of the 1960s. Most of these publications were called "portraits." "Portrait of a Holiday, Memorial Day," "Portrait of a Holiday, Fourth of July," "Portrait of a Holiday, Labor Day," and "How to Bring More Back Alive, 'Based on a Study of Michigan's Highway Deaths - Summer 1966'" were the four reports compiled and issued in 1966. Four reports were issued in 1967. Some of the other "portraits" of the 1960s were "Portrait of a Year, 'What Happened on Michigan's Highway in 1968'" (in 1968) and "Portrait of a Year, 'The Drinking Driver, the Problem Driver, the Young Driver'" (in 1969).
By the way, the findings about traffic accidents in Michigan brought about the creation of slogans other than "Bring 'em Back Alive" for The Holiday News Services. One of them was: "Don't drink and drive!" And Michiganians became familiar with this line: "Most fatal accidents happen within 25 miles of home."
Early in the 1970s, the name of the "Motor News" magazine was changed, and the January 1972 edition of the magazine reflected that change--"Motor News/Michigan Living"; at the time, Len Barnes was the editor, and Bob Boelio was the senior associate editor, and the magazine cost thirty-five cents. The news service staffers were still closely associated with the magazine; in fact, many were contributing writers for the magazine. The April 1977 edition of the magazine showed another change in the title--"Michigan Living/Motor News"; by this time, Len Barnes was the editor, and Marcia Danner was the managing editor, and the magazine cost fifty cents. No longer were all the members of the news services closely associated with the magazine; in the early 1970s, more and more part-timers had been given broadcasting duties, and, by July 1976, part-timers had become the predominant broadcasters for the news services, and the using of department staffers to work the news services had decreased a lot. The March 1981 edition of the magazine took on the name "Michigan Living"; Len Barnes was the editor, Tom Freel was the executive editor, and Marcia Danner was the managing editor. And the association between the news services and the magazine was getting wider; for example, in June 1980, Victor Swanson, who had no association with the magazine, had taken over the job of regularly writing for The Weekend News Service and writing and reading "Mini-Tours," each of which was about a two-minute story featuring a place to see in Michigan that followed a format that had been started by Bill Banks, who had done such radio features and others for many years.
The Motor News department had three locations in the Detroit area from the time the "Bring 'em Back Alive" campaign was created to the start of the 1980s. Through the 1960s till the first quarter of 1967, Motor News was located at 139 Bagley, Detroit. By April of that year--1967--the staffers were working out of offices in an eighteen-story building at 150 Bagley, known as the Club-Exchange Building, which had been bought in 1957; the April 1967 edition of "Motor News" fully reflected the change of address--for the editorial staff and Auto Club management. Seven years later (circa 1974), the company closed down the Detroit location and moved to a new building, especially designed for the Auto Club, at Auto Club Drive, Dearborn, on land bordered by Hubbard Drive on the south, the Southfield Freeway on the east, Ford Road on the north, and Auto Club Drive on the west; the masthead of the April 1974 issue of "Motor News/Michigan Living" was the first to reflect the change of address.
What many people may not know is that, for many decades, the Automobile Club of Michigan was referred to in simple terms as either "AAA" (or "Triple-A") or the "Auto Club"; however, "Your Club" had sometimes been used in the "Motor News" magazine in the early 1960s, such as in editorials. In the 1980s, there was a change made with the informal name of the company, and the magazine began to fully recognize the change starting with the December 1984 issue. The informal name became "AAA Michigan."
Very early in 1983, the Automobile Club of Michigan acquired (through lease) another building near the Southfield Freeway and Ford Road in Dearborn--in an area that could be considered southeast of the interchange of Ford Road and Southfield; the building was at 17000 Executive Plaza Drive and had been known as the J. Walter Thompson building, informally named after the advertising agency that had occupied it. Not till all the employees of J. Walter Thompson had moved out of the building could people from the Automobile Club of Michigan begin to move in. The Public Relations department moved into office space in the northwestern section of the second floor of the three-story building in late 1983; Publications (the department of the magazine staff) was moved to the newly acquired building, and the January 1984 edition of the magazine showed the new address for the first time. Only till early 1990 did the magazine staff and the public relations staff stay at the second floor location; then, both teams of staffers were moved back to the third floor of the building west of the Southfield Freeway--addressed as One Auto Club Drive--taking up an area on the third floor, in about the middle of the building along the south-side windows. Since the lease for the building at 17000 Executive Plaza had not been renewed by AAA Michigan, the building was being left behind.
About five years later, the building at 1 Auto Club began to receive extensive renovation; the ground breaking took place on May 23, 1995. First, freestanding concrete honeycomb structures beyond the building-proper were taken down, and parking lots were restructured. Then, construction began on additions, mostly added to the south side of what had been the main structure.
During 1995, AAA Michigan changed in other ways. The biggest change saw the combining of AAA Michigan with AAA Wisconsin through a merger. That merger was completed on October 1, 1995.
In July 1995, a significant change took place with the department that supervised the broadcast services. The public relations department was broken down into two units--Public Relations and "Broadcast and Administration," the latter of which would be strictly involved with the broadcast services. And the managers of both units began to report directly to the Corporate Communications Manager (who at the time was Jeff Gaydos).
And it was in 1995 that a change began to take place with the "Michigan Living" magazine, and that change really showed up in how editions of the magazine looked in 1996; the production of the magazine was being shifted from AAA Michigan to a company--Home and Away Magazine--in Nebraska. One noticeable sign of the transition was combination issues. The staffers of "Michigan Living" produced a January/February issue, a March issue, an April issue, a June issue, a July/August issue, and a September issue. The final issue produced, in essence, "in-house" was the October 1996 edition. Starting with the November 1996, Home & Away was in charge of the production of "Michigan Living."
On Friday, June 14, 1996, Broadcast and Administration was moved to and began operating from new temporary quarters on the third floor or level of the original main building (in Dearborn, the Southfield Freeway and Ford Road); the unit was in the southeastern corner or section of the level. In truth, Corporate Relations--a main division of the company, under which was Broadcast and Administration--moved on that day. Also moving on the day were the other units of Corporate Relations--Public Relations, Corporate Communications, Community Safety, Community Relations, and Graphics/Video/Film.
When 1997 came, the staffers of Broadcast and Administration were getting ready to move again, and, in an odd turn of events, Broadcast and Administration had taken over a couple duties once done by employees of the former true Michigan Living department, such as sending out checks to pay for the mailing of magazines. A new era was under way. On Friday, January 24, 1997, the staffers of Broadcast and Administration moved to and started operating from offices in an area on the third floor of the new southwest edition of the headquarters building at One Auto Club Drive in Dearborn.
On Tuesday, June 2, 1998, AAA Michigan had a special ceremony to show off the renovated and expanded Dearborn headquarters (or Administrative Offices). The highlight of the dedication ceremony was the unveiling of a sculpture entitled "The Safety Patroller," which stands at the entrance to the building and which is made up of four children cast in bronze; the sculpture was created by Ed Dwight. The day was an open house that included a luncheon and that allowed family members of employees to see the building.
It could be argued well that not much really changed with the broadcasting business of AAA Michigan between 1969, when the final broadcast service--The Weekend News Service--was created, and 1999; that is, AAA Michigan provided the same basic broadcasting services for about thirty years. In mid-1999, Broadcast Supervisor Debbie Pearson of Broadcast and Administration called a meeting of the staff of the unit on one Friday and announced that soon there would be big changes with the broadcasting business at AAA Michigan. The first change was the creation of a Traffic Control Center, which was fired up on January 10, 2000; the staffers manning this center in two shifts on weekdays (covering the hours from about 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.) started to provide real-time traffic information to the Web site of AAA Michigan. The next change happened on April 3, 2000; on that date, The Icicle News Service and The Weekend News Service no longer existed, and a new service called the AAA Traffic Network was started. The original goal of the AAA Traffic Network was to provide traffic information through broadcast staffers to radio stations in Michigan on weekday mornings (during a four-hour shift) and on weekday afternoons and early evenings (during a four-hour shift); actually, "AAA Traffic Network" was an umbrella term that referred to the broadcasting operations and the traffic operations for the Web site. And the AAA Traffic Network was originally designed as a five-year plan.
AAA Michigan closed down the "broadcasting" services of the company on May 2, 2003, or, that is, the company ended providing live broadcasting to radio stations, and that day was the final day of operation of the Broadcast & Administration unit and the AAA Traffic Network. On Monday, May 5, 2003, what AAA Michigan had for a traffic-information service was the "AAA Traffic & Information Service," and what the service did was offer text reports and MP3-audio-material about traffic and other information, such as fishing information, through the Web Site of AAA Michigan. The single biggest promotional campaign or public-relations campaign for a single company in Michigan radio history was done and is now gone, but, anyway, AAA Michigan had ended its promoting safe driving through "Bring 'em Back Alive" many months previous--the slogan had, in essence, not been used by the broadcast unit since January 2002, canceled nearly completely by the management of AAA Michigan.
[Note: This addition was put in the document on August 4, 2021. At the end of the fifth segment, I provide information about why and how the AAA Michigan Broadcast Service system died. The service went from the biggest public-relations radio event in Michigan radio history to the worst, covering from 1965 to 2009.]
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