Sunday, December 28, 2008

Year in Rewind : Change a constant for Boston radio in 2008

Is radio on the cusp of reinventing itself or simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? Will the radio of the future be AM, FM, low-power, satellite, HD, Internet or mobile device? The rapid pace of change lent a feeling of nostalgia as WBCN and WFNX turned 40 and 25, respectively. And the sense of one era ending was emphasized by semi-retirement of radio icon Dale Dorman in September, exit of radio veterans John Lander, Moe Lauzier and Craig Mustard.

With appreciation to those who made it all possible, here's BRW's year-end salute to the stellar moments on the Boston radio beat in 2008 :

January

Entercom and Nassau Broadcasting officially break up the deal where WEEI’s owner would be taking a 50 percent stake in Nassau's classical outlet WCRB 99.5FM.

Entercom is the last of Boston’s radio owners to sign a multi-year deal with Arbitron to use Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings service which is coming to town in January 2009. CBS, Greater Media, Clear Channel and Nassau have all signed up for PPM.

On January 23rd, Jay Beau Jones is named Program Director of CBS Radio's Hot AC WBMX FM/Mix 98-5 and oldies WODS 103. He replaces Jerry McKenna(Mix) and Pete Falconi(Oldies). He was most recently program director and afternoon radio personality at WXLO 104.5FM in Worcester. He also programmed WXLO's sister station The Pike/WWFX-FM. He begins at WBMX/WODS on February 4th.

Umass-based WUMB 91.9FM is expected to introduce some non-folk programming as a result of a recent grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting reports the Boston Globe.

A format change for WTTT AM 1150. On January 28th, Salem Communication’s 5,000-watt station drops its conservative talk line-up since November 2003. On February 4th, the Spanish-language Christian talk/teaching format called “Radio Luz”(translated from Spanish- “Radio Light”) launches. The station is also the new home to Red Sox baseball broadcasts in Spanish. The station changes its call letters from WTTT to WWDJ in late July.

February

The first of the month brings a format change at Greater Media-owned WBOS 92.9FM. During Friday afternoon rush hour the long-running Adult Album Alternative is replaced with modern rock classics from the 80’s and 90’s. Unofficially, Sting's "Brand New Day" ushers in the new WBOS. The entire WBOS air staff exits the studio with the exception of Dana Marshall who sticks around to program the music but with no live DJ’s.

Chris Tyler is named the new program director for Jamn 94-5 and Kiss 108 taking over from “Cadillac” Jack McCartney who becomes the new programming chief at Clear Channel's co-owned urban WWPR/Power 105 in NYC. Tyler becomes only the fifth person in Kiss 108’s 29-year history to sit in its program director chair joining an impressive list of Sunny Joe White(1979-1990), Steve Rivers(1990-1995), John Ivey(1995-2001), McCartney(2001-2008).

Entercom announces that Dave O’Brien will take on a greater role in the Red Sox broadcasts on WRKO and WEEI during the 2008 season. He’ll call 135 games alongside veteran Joe Castiglione. O’Brien keeps his ESPN-TV’s Wednesday Night baseball commitment which opens the door for WEEI’s midday voice Dale Arnold to call home games with Castiglione while John Rish steps up to the mic on some road games.

Citadel Broadcasting hires former Mix 98-5 program director Jerry McKenna as its new operations manager and program director for three of its Worcester stations - WXLO 104.5FM, WORC-FM/Oldies 98.9 and WWFX/100FM The Pike.

On February 14th, local radio legend Jess Cain, who was the morning voice on the old WHDH AM 850 for nearly 34 years passes away at the age of 81 after a long battle with prostate cancer. Nine months after his passing, Cain is posthumously inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago on November 8th.

As the result of budget cuts at Oldies 103.3, radio veteran JJ Wright moves from overnights to 6-9pm replacing Patrick Callahan who spins out.

On Ferbuary 23rd, WRKO’s weekend fixture Moe Lauzier signs off. He is informed of the decision during what happens to be his last Saturday morning broadcast. He was with WRKO for 24 years. WRKO’s Saturday morning schedule is turned over to the best of Tom Finneran and Howie Carr shows which are followed by infomercial programs.

March

On March 3rd, WEEI AM 850’s afternoon ringmaster Glenn Ordway takes a leave of absence from his show after his wife and newborn daughter suffer serious complications during childbirth. WEEI’s Whiney Awards are moved from March 11 to April 3rd.

With his wife and baby on the mend, Ordway returns to the airwaves on March 19th.

Quite a year for WEEI’s middayer Michael Holley. He gets a new multi-year deal from WEEI in early March, his new book Red Sox Rule is released later that month and he becomes a new dad on November 1st.

March 15, 1968, The Rock of Boston is born on WBCN 104.1FM. The station announces that the River Rave and X-Mas Rave are brought back to celebrate station’s 40th birthday. Not to forget other birthdays on the dial, on March 15, 1983, The True Alternative debuts on then WLYN 101.7FM’s to the sounds of Cure’s “Let Go”. A month later(April 11, 1983) station re-launches with WFNX-FM call letters and a new transmitter.

“Toucher and Rich” get a new 2-year contract extension from WBCN 104.1FM to continue in the afternoons but only to shift to mornings eights months later.

Overnight host Phil Patrone who was with classical WCRB-FM for six years loses his battle with cancer. He was 48.

Entercom Boston announces its plans to syndicate WEEI’s daily shows to the rest of New England. Five months later, syndication becomes reality as stations in NH and Maine pick up WEEI talk programs.

April

WZLX 100.7FM launches 24-hour all-blues stream “Radio Mojo” on its HD-2 sub-channel.
Local veteran radio host and comedian Steve Sweeney debuts his new show on WWZN AM/Zone 1510

Longtime Boston radio veteran Sean Casey retires as program director/morning host at WPLM/Easy 99.1FM. Another radio vet, Frank Mitchell takes over as WPLM’s programmer and morning voice.

David O’Leary returns to Greater Media cluster as production director for WMJX 106.7FM/Magic. After exiting WBOS 92.9FM in 2004, he was working as host at WSNE/Coast 93.3 in the Providence market.

Charles Laquidara, the former WBCN morning man returns to the Rock’s airwaves on April 18th as he guests in WBCN studio with Adam 12 on his visit to Boston.

Never too old for good music. WODS-FM/ Oldies 103.3 announces the line-up for its 20th Summer Concert Series at the Hatch Shell with America and Marty Balin (of Jefferson Airplane/Starship), David Cassidy with 5th Dimension, The Guess Who with John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, Felix Cavaliere's Rascals with The Cowsills and KC & The Sunshine Band.

May

First Saturday in May brings a new “Joe and Huggy Show” to WTKK 96.9FM’s airwaves with the local loudmouth Joe Ligotti and a long time Philadelphia radio personality Lawrence “Huggy” Bergman.

No Dj’s, no problem. Jockless WBOS 92.9FM hosts the 15th annual EarthFest on May 24th as Cake, Cracker and English Beat take the stage at the Hatch Shell. Will there be a SportsFest on 92.9 a year from now?

June

After a 4-year absence, WBCN’s throwback River Rave spectacle returns despite reportedly very sluggish ticket sales with Stone Temple Pilots, Everlast and Filter headlining. Shock jocks Opie and Anthony host WBCN’s event as part of station’s 40th year celebration. Little do they know that they’ll be dumped from station’s mornings just five months later.

Eddie Andelman hosts 19th annual Hot Dog Safari at Suffolk Downs with Zone 1510 carrying the live broadcast.

Very well respected weekend news anchor at WBZ AM 1030, Jim Mitchell, passes away from a sudden heart attack. He was 58.

Celtics win their 17th NBA championship on June 17th on WEEI AM 850 as Cedric Maxwell screams out “I got the ball!” in the middle of Sean Grande’s victory moment which for most radio play-by-play people is once-in-a-lifetime chance to put their voice signature on history. That's a quack-quack moment!

Matt Siegel’s longtime Kiss108 morning sidekick Billy Costa signs a contract extension to stay at the Clear Channel’s local Top 40 institution.

At WFNX 101.7FM, morning show co-host Dustin “Fletcher” Matthews is awarded Assistant Program Director title, Music director and nighttime host Paul Driscoll is named Operations Manager and longtime midday fixture and assistant music director Julie Kramer adds on more responsibilities on the record label relations front.

On June 10, Dave Wellington resigns as WBCN 104.1FM’s program director after nearly four years. Ten days later, he replaced by Mike Thomas who adds WBCN duties to his responsibilities of programming co-owned corporate sibling classic rocker WZLX 100.7FM. Wellington would resurface as program director at Clear Channel’s alternative rock station duopoly in DC/Baltimore in late July.

Another program director spin-off. After just a littlee more than a year on the job, Ron Bowen leaves WXRV 92.5FM/The River in Haverhill. Bowen also steps down as River’s morning voice. Night-timer Rita Carey moves into morning drive shift.

July

After nearly three years with ESPN 890, Mike Felger jumps back to Entercom’s sports kahuna WEEI AM 850 where he was one of the the Big Show regulars from 2000 to 2005. A week after Felger’s departure from ESPN 890, WEEI makes a big splash announcement about the re-launch of WEEI.com site where Felger will be one of the main contributors. As part of his new WEEI tenure, Felger also gets to host WEEI’s Sunday morning football show and becomes primary fill-in for morning and midday shows.

While Felger returned to his former station, another local radio person decided to stay put. After 10 years as Mix 98-5’s music director Mike Mullaney first agreed to return to the station he helped to launch in 1995 – WXRV 92.5FM/The River 92-5 – as its new program director. But he quickly changed his mind and at the end, Mullaney opted to stay at Mix.

WJMN 94.5/Jamn assistant program director/music director and on-air personality GeeSpin(Geoffrey Gamere) leaves the station after 7 years. He is now a new assistant program director/music director at WWPR/Power 105 in NYC.

WRKO’s afternoon drive personality Howie Carr gets the word that he has been elected to Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago. The induction would take place on November 18th. Boston radio legend Jess Cain who passed away in February will be inducted posthumously.

July 29. XM and Sirius become one as two satellite radio companies officially merge.

August

A month after Mike Felger’s departure, ESPN 890 stays in the game and re-launches local programming with “Lew and Mike” jumping to afternoons at 890 from mornings at the Zone 1510. In addition, ESPN 890 introduces a new midday show with Mike Salk and Bob Halloran.

Jackson Blue kisses off nights at Kiss 108 after nearly three years. He is moving on to afternoons at KHKS/Kiss 106.1 in Dallas.

WEEI announces a new regional syndication network of radio stations in NH and Maine which will begin to carry its weekday sports brand effective September 1st.

“Mustard and Johnson” sign off from their longtime Saturday morning spot at WEEI as the station launches a brand new younged-up show with WEEI.com editor Rob Bradford and weekend host Mike Mutansky.

September

On September 12th, radio icon Dale Dorman signs off from mornings at Oldies 103.3. He stays with the station as Saturday morning host. Oldies’ afternoon personality Karen Blake and former Ch.4 sports anchor Bob Lobel team up to take over mornings at Oldies. In November, WODS announces that Blake and longtime Boston radio funnyman Chris Zito would be the new Oldies morning voices.

Kiss 108 adds Ryan Seacrest’s syndicated show to its midday schedule(10am-1pm).
Budget cuts at Metro Traffic means layoffs for longtime traffic and news reporters like Joe Stapleton, Mauzy Stafford, Bob MacNeil and Chris Fama.

WEEI wins its second Marconi Award in three years as the best sports talk station in the major market while its afternoon host Glenn “Big O” Ordway loses out for the third time in the major market personality category. This time the loss it’s more devastating as Big O gets beat by Ryan Seacrest. Yes, Ryan Seacrest.

October

Economic downturn slashes a number of on-air and off-air jobs at local Entercom stations. WRKO AM 680 cuts midday host Reese Hopkins after less than a year. He’s replaced by syndicated talker Laura Ingraham from 10am to Noon. WRKO picks up Ingraham from WTKK where she gets bumped out of the night slot by NYC-based Guardians angel bigmouth Curtis Sliwa. Meanwhile, a week after getting tossed out by WRKO, Hopkins gets arrested and extradited to NYC to face serious charges of sexual assault on a minor.

First it was the River Rave. Now, WBCN resurrects another tradition - X-Mas Rave just in time for holidays as the station concludes its 40th year celebration. On a related note, Angelle Wood is named the new host of WBCN’s Boston Emissions show on Sunday nights.

Paul Kelley steps down as the General Manager of classical WCRB 99.5FM. He takes a general manager job with Saga Communications’ stations in Norfolk, VA.

November

Ready or not, holidays music programming arrives to WODS 103.3FM and WROR 105.7FM on November 6th.

Chris Zito and Karen Blake Show debuts on WODS 103.3FM on November 12th.
CBS Radio Boston continued to shrink its staff. Among those let go, WODS morning news person June Knight, WBZ news anchor Bob McMahon, Bruins broadcast host Allan Segel, WZLX overnight personality Al Cole, WODS veteran jock Mike Finnegan.

December

WBCN drops satellite shock jocks Opie and Anthony from its morning drive. On December 2nd, Toucher and Rich move to mornings from afternoons where they were heard for two an a half years.

Progressive talk radio is back. Kind of. Jeff Santos begins his pay-per-play run on Zone 1510 in the morning drive. SF-based Peter Collins purchases 6-to-9pm evening slot. Santos is planning another show on the Zone which is expected to launch on January 5th.

After two and half years, Phil Redo exits as the market manager for Greater Media Boston stations. He’s replaced by former Entercom Boston chief Tom Baker who relocates back home from Southern California.

Without a question, the dumb turkey move of 2008 belongs to WRKO’s bosses who opted to keep morning disaster Tom Finneran around for one more year.

On December 11th, WEEI’s afternoon king Glenn Ordway ends his last Big Show of 2008 with what appears to be a farewell speech as heads into scheduled holiday break with no new contract. Nice piece of radio drama? Very likely. After all, Ordway had acting aspirations before getting into radio broadcasting. Will he be back on WEEI in ’09? Majority of BRW readers think so.

While the Big O is very likely to be back on Boston airwaves in 2009, the same can’t be said for John Lander who ended his near 13-year morning run on WBMX 98.5FM with an on-air goodbye to his Mix listeners. CBS Radio didn’t give Lander a new deal. Rather, the company is betting that newcomers “Karson and Kennedy” will turn Mix’s morning fortunes around. They debut on January 5th.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays!





Boston Radio Watch is going to be taking a little break starting tomorrow. But, it will return later this weekend and...hopefully on the winning note, with the Patriots headed into the playoffs, the Celtics beating the Lakers...again, the Bruins on top of the NHL standings and Tek still catching for the Sox in '09. BRW's special weekend edition will recap Boston radiolandscape in 2008 and gear up for 2009(goodbye diaries, hello PPM's!).

Have a healthy, safe and enjoyable holiday season! Happy Solstice, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy New Year or as my oldest Generation Z-er puts it..Happy Whatever!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Officially in the Mix - Karson and Kennedy take over mornings on WBMX 98.5Fm

CBS Radio Boston made it official late last week that Karson and Kennedy will be the new morning personalities at Mix 98-5 starting January 5th as was first mentioned here a couple weeks ago. Here's the press release announcing their unpcoming debut :

MIX 98-5 ANNOUNCES NEW MORNING SHOW
“KARSON & KENNEDY” To Debut On Monday, January 5, 2009

(Boston, MA)—WBMX-FM/Mix 98-5 announced today that the Karson & Kennedy Show will be joining the station in morning drive beginning on Monday, Jan. 5, 2009 (5:30-9AM). The broadcast can be heard on-air and online at
www.mix985.com. Karson and Kennedy hail from WHBQ-FM in Memphis where they held down the morning post from 2004-08.

The announcement was made by Mark Hannon, Market Manager for CBS RADIO Boston and General Manager of WBMX, as well as WBMX Program Director, Jay Beau Jones.
“We are excited to bring Karson & Kennedy to MIX 98-5,” said Hannon. “Boston has some of the best morning talent in the country and we look forward to area listeners beginning a new tradition of waking up with Karson & Kennedy.”

Jones added, “Of the many shows we considered for mornings at MIX 98-5, Karson & Kennedy stood out as the clear choice for Mix 98-5’s next morning show.”

In their four-year span at WHBQ, Karson & Kennedy catapulted to prominence in the market inheriting 21st place when the station launched and leaving Memphis as one of the city’s most successful morning shows. Karson “With a K,” an avid sports fan and Kennedy, who loves taking in local theatre, are eager to move to Boston and work in a city so steeped in heritage.

“Kennedy and I are extremely proud to assume the reins at MIX 98-5, a hot adult contemporary station that has set the standard for success not only in Boston, but across the country. We can’t wait to get to Boston,” said Karson.

“Boston is a world class city, and we are fortunate that our careers have led us here. We look forward to making many new friends in New England,” commented Kennedy.

WBMX is owned and operated by CBS RADIO, one of the largest major-market radio operators in the United States. A division of CBS Corporation, CBS RADIO operates 140 radio stations, the majority of which are in the nation’s top 50 markets. CBS RADIO also owns and operates WZLX, WBCN, WODS and WBZ-AM 1030 in Boston.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Greater Media brings back Boston radio exec to lead its local stations

After parting ways with Phil Redo last week(BRW 12/8), the Braintree-based Greater Media didn't take long to name a new market manager for its five FM(WROR 105.7, WKLB 102.5FM, WMJX 106.7, WBOS 92.9 and WTKK 96.9) station operation in Dorchester. The company announced this morning that Boston radio veteran Tom Baker will take over as the Boston market chief in mid-January.

Baker, 66, is no a stranger to Boston radio landscape. He oversaw the operations of Entercom Boston's properties(WRKO AM680, WEEI AM 850, WAAF 1073.FM and WQSX 93.7FM(now WMKK) from 1999 to 2005. In the 80's, he also managed WRKO and then-sister WROR 98.5FM(now WBMX) which were owned by RKO General at the time. After he was cut by Entercom in August 2005, he moved to Southern California to oversee Clear Channel's 8-station cluster in Santa Barbara. Earlier this year, he served as interim market manager for Greater Media Detroit cluster.

Greater Media's official press release on Baker's hiring is here.

BRW Notebook :

Follow the money : Today's Boston.com article on the local media recession focuses mostly on the TV end of the business, but does mention local radio. Reportedly, another round of layoffs is about to hit local CBS radio and TV stations later this week(stay tuned). The Globe's article also mentioned Glenn 'Big O' Ordway's contract talks with WEEI-AM 850. For what it's worth, 56% of BRW's readers believe Ordway will be back as the ringmaster of WEEI's afternoon cicrcus come January 5th.

By the numbers : News/Talk is the most popular radio format in the land according to a survey by M Street Publications. The format is on 2,064 stations around the country including Boston's WRKO AM 680, WTKK 96.9FM, WBZ AM 1030 and WBUR 90.9FM and added 40 more stations nationally since November 2007. Meanwhile, Country format which was most popular in 2007, dropped down to 2,024 and lost 30 outlets. Boston has one lone country station - WKLB 102.5FM.

I-pod rocks! : Talk about the influence of new media technology on radio(and not the other way around)?! Stations are now adding "My Playlist" features. WBCN has one with music director Dan O'Brien every night at 8pm. WBOS 92.9FM does "My Playlist" three times a day(9am, 2pm and 9pm) and even a human touch with an announcer boy reading listener's name and town.

Mike lends a helping hand : WMKK-FM/93-7 Mike will air the 3rd annual “Mike FM Request for Help” radiothon to raise funds for Franciscsan Hospial For Children. It will take place on Friday, December 19, 2008, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Throughout that day, Mike FM listeners can call(866-931-MIKE) the station and request a song in exchange for a donation to the hospital. The more obscure the song, the larger the donation required for it to be played. A combination of prominent Bostonians, local celebrities and athletes will act as guests radio DJs all day. Among those slated to appear are Fox 25’s Maria Stephanos and Mark Ockberbloom, comedian Lenny Clarke and several others. Additional celebrities have also donated their time to record promotional spots encouraging listeners to donate this year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mix to take a gamble on the new morning voices

Afrer deciding on the formats, the second most important decision for any major market station is the morning show. A strong morning show usually drives the rest of the broadcast day and can generate more revenue than rest of the station's dayparts. So when you hear a new, younger and hipper morning voices at Mix 98.5 after the New Year's, the decision to shake up the morning drive at the Hot AC station could be best described as somewhat of a gamble considering that John Lander's unknown and unfamilair replacements are coming up from radio market size #49 to a major Top 10 market battleground like Boston.

The new morning team that Mix will introduce very shortly will be Karson(Tager) and Kennedy(Elsey) who did a very successful morning show at a Top 40 station WHBQ/Q107.5 in Memphis for four years. The morning duo was broken up at the end of April with Tager being sent to the beach and Kennedy given a new partner(Laney). [Ed. Note : Slight correction to yesterday's update, only one half of the current "Kennedy and Laney" from WHBQ/Q107.5FM is coming to Mix in the mornings. That being the lovely Kennedy, of course.]

Mix is looking to boost its numbers in the 25-54 age group, the one most coveted by advertisers, espcailly in the morning where the station badly lags behind the leaders and direct competitors like Matt Siegel on Kiss 108 and soft rock on Magic 106.7FM. If the new younged-up Mix morning show could make a big buzz and make the numbers move up, it would have a big impact on the station's overall revenue, which in this day and age is the most important piece of the puzzle. And if the newcomers don't make a dent in radio icon Matt Siegel's huge numbers, it's back to square one.


Only time and the new Portable People Meters(PPM) will tell...


BRW Notebook :

Happy trails to you : Tom Taylor who publishes a daily radio newsletter for Radio-Info.com had this doubts about Mix' new morning team in this morning's e-mail : "Lander’s replacement will reportedly be a morning show out of Memphis top 40 station WHBQ/107.5 – Kennedy and Laney.” Dunno about that yet..." Ok, Tom, so it will be "Karson and Kennedy", not "Kennedy and Maney". My bad. But, maybe you can invite yourself to a going-away bash Karson is throwing at a local bar next Thursday night, just in case you happen to be travelling thru the Memphis area...

Let the games begin : Contract talks continue between Entercom Boston and Glenn Ordway, the 13-year host of the super popular "Big Show" (weekdays, 2-6 p.m) on SportsRadio WEEI AM 850. Ordway first joined WEEI when it was still an all-news station on the former AM 590 frequency(He and the legendary Johny Most moved from WRKO with the Celtics radio package in 1987). Yesterday(12/11), Ordway did his last show before his scheduled vacation break and the Herald reports there's still no new deal. The current five-year deal expires in 3 weeks.(Ed. Note : I just can't see WEEI without Glenn. Can you? Leave a comment below or answer the poll question). If you need a little reminder, Ordway's last contract talks in 2003 also went down to the wire so this is not a new situation for him and his agent.....While Entercom's financial woes have been well publicized in recent months, the station and its ownership are still heavily funding and throwing money at the WEEI.com project as Adam Reilly reports in the Phoenix this week.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lander Mixes out of mornings

Updated at 2:50pm : Lander's replacement(see below)

CBS Radio Boston's management has been busy rearranging morning drive shows on its local FM stations as of late. As you may have read in this space recently, WODS/Oldies 103.3 installed a new show "Zito and Blake" in November after Boston radio icon Dale Dorman signed off in September. Then last week, WBCN 104.1FM dumped syndicated satellite radio jocks "Opie and Anthony" and replaced them with afternooners "Toucher and Rich". Today, another CBS Radio station, another change in the morning commute shift. John Lander said goodbye to his AM drive audience on WBMX-FM/Mix 98.5 after nearly 13 years on the air in Boston. The rest of the show's support staff of "Lander in The Morning" which included sidekicks Kelly Malone, Alicia Love and weather man Mike Ellis have also been let go according to a number of reliable sources.

Lander joined Mix 98-5 back in February 1996 after working at stations in Houston, Philadelphia and New York City. In somewhat an unpopular move at the time, he replaced local veteran Joe Martelle who was on the air in Boston for 17 years. (Martelle was recovering from a surgery and off the air when he was let go.)

It hasn't been announced yet as to who will anchor WBMX's morning drive. "Lander In the Morning" page on Mix 98.5's website has been removed. The Arbitron's fall ratings survey ended yesterday. The new Portable People Meter technology will be implemented in time for the next survey period in January but won't officially go live until March.

Update : John Lander's replacement at Mix 98.5FM will reportedly be a morning show out of Memphis' Top 40 station WHBQ-FM/107.5FM - "Kennedy and Maney". Welcome to Boston, ya all!

BRW Notebook :

Say it isn't so : The Hall and Oates' tune hasn't been introduced as the new theme music on WRKO's morning show, but it probably will be soon. The Boston Herald has the scoop this morning that Enterom Boston has opted to keep ratings-challenged Tom Finneran in the AM drive slot for another year. The same article says that WRKO's management is looking to land WTKK's current midday personalities Jim Braude and Margery Eagan when their contracts run out next year.

Almost like being there : Kiss 108's annual "Jingle Ball" bash is on tonight at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell. The station is planning to stream the sold-out convert event live beginning at 7pm tonight on its website....Speaking of Kiss, a familiar voice is back in the station's on-air line-up. Deirdre Dagata has taken over the night shift(7pm-12am) after Jackson Blue left a couple months ago. As you recall, she was shifted to weekends after the station replaced in middays with a voicetracked show out of NYC in December 2006.

Money is too tight to mention : The Globe reports that UMass-owned WUMB 91.9FM's annual Folk Festival won't be happening in 2009 due to lack of sponsorship money.

All That Jazz : Jeff Turton, the Sunday morning host of "Jazz Brunch" heard on WFNX 101.7FM's celebrates his silver anniversary at the station this year. Former Boston Globe radio columnist Clea Simon filed this report recently.

Greettings from Toucher and Rich : WBCN 104.1FM's new morning kings "Toucher and Rich" had a brief sit-down with trade publication "Radio OnLine". Here's the link(Ed. Note : These guys are very, very good. I keep going between Howard on XM-S and them every morning now).

Monday, December 8, 2008

Greater Media's market boss Redo leaving the local radio group


After nearly three years guiding five Greater Media-owned local FM stations in the very challenging and radically changed radio world, Phil Redo is departing his position as VP/Market Manager at the Dorchester-based radio cluster. Greater Media's Senior VP of its radio division Rick Feinblatt will be the interim market manager for the Boston stations until permanent replacement is named. (Feinblatt heads Greater Media's 23-station operation in Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Central NJ and Charlotte, NC.)

Under Redo's tenure, who came from a programming background, Greater Media Boston has seen a mixed bag of results in revenue and ratings perfomance of its five FM stations. Although the sputtering economy has put hurt on radio advertising revenue locally, some of Greater Media's formats like talker WTKK 96.9FM and classic hits WROR 105.7FM didn't turn higher ratings into profits according BIA Financial figures from 2007. On the positive note, WMJX 106.7FM/Magic has remained a steady and solid performer in ratings and revenue in 2007 and continued strong ratings showing this year. In addition, Redo oversaw country WKLB-FM move from 99.5 to a stronger 102.5Fm frequency at the end of 2006. The better signal translated into higher ratings and revenue for WKLB in 2007 according to BIA estimates. And somewhere in the middle is WBOS 92.9FM which remains a work in progress. Earlier this year, the station dropped live DJs and transformed from a very eclectic AAA format to automated mass apeal 80's/90's modern rocker but hasn't made much of a splash with the over-rocked Boston radio audience.

Prior to joining Greater Media Boston in April 2006, Redo was the Vice President of Station Operations and Strategy for New York Public Radio, WNYC-AM and FM. Redo served as the Program Director of Greater Media's WMJX-FM in Boston from 1986-1990, and as an on-air personality for the original WROR back in the early 1980s.

Monday, December 1, 2008

WBCN drops Opie and Anthony

Two and a half years after Opie and Anthony re-entered Boston radio landscape, the syndicated talkers are history here. It may mean that Toucher and Rich could be moving to mornings from anchoring afternoons. Then again, they could stay put in the PM drive. The new WBCN-FM line-up will reportedly be announced later this afternoon during Toucher and Rich show(3-7pm). Update : Toucher and Rich are moving to mornings. Adam 12 stays put in the midday but loses an hour. Hardy returns to his pre-T&R afternoon shift. Music director Dan O'Brien adds a night show. WBCN's weekday line-up as of 12/2/08

Toucher and Rich 6am-10am
Adam 12 10am-3pm
Hardy 3pm-7pm
Dan O'Brien 7pm-Midnight


Opie and Anthony were on vacation last week and were supposed to be back on WBCN today, but listeners found their 6am-9am show missing this morning, replaced by music.The switch comes at the end of the pair's contract, and CBS Radio, WBCN's owner, decided not to renew it. The pair is also being dropped by a CBS station in Cleveland and is now only heard on four terrestrial stations in New York City(K-Rock 92.3), Rochester, Norfolk, VA and Cape Cod. With their terrestrial syndication dwindling, Opie and Anthony are still heard on XM Sirius Radio(Ch.197 and 202).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Punked : WROR's Loren and Wally give Laquidara a birthday wakeup

This morning, WROR 105.7FM's morning team of Loren and Wally attempted to prank the retired Boston radio legend Charles Laquidara on his big 70th birthday. Here's WROR'sp press release :

105.7 WROR celebrated the birthday of long-time Boston radio personality, Charles Laquidara, with a taste of his own medicine!

Charles Laquidara’s son, Ari-Jon, and WROR’s Loren and Wally did a Big Mattress-style “wake-up” call to Charles at 4am Maui time. The fictitious plot: Ari told his Dad that he had been taken into custody for DUI and the arresting officer (played by WROR’s Tom Doyle) wasn’t a fan of Charles’ liberal politics.

The practical joke worked for a short time before Charles knew he was being hosed. He then joked that he was paying for Ari’s college and the cops should keep him in custody to save Charles some money.

Since WROR is playing all Christmas songs, Loren and Wally sent out Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka” to him as a birthday present.

The phone call will be available for a limited time as a WROR podcast at
www.wror.com

BRW Notebook :

Zone 2.0 : As mentioned here in the last update, WWZN AM/Zone 1510 is adding a couple of new progressive talk programs beginning next Monday(12/1). Jeff Santos and his Santos Media company have bought the 6am-9am block on the station. Morever, Santos has bought additional time on the schedule and will program the 12-3pm slot beginning in January.(He'll host and program Zone's all-day inaguration broadcast on January 20th). The rest of the Zone's schedule will fill out like this : "The Steve Sweeney and Friends" show(9a-10a), Sports Memo Show 10a-12p, The Young Guns with ChrisVillani(3p-5p), various sports shows 5p-6p, SF-based progressive talker Peter B. Collins who like Santos debuts on Monday will be on from 6pm-to 9pm and Sporting News Radio will close out the day 9p-12a. Boston University hockey and basketball will preempt the Peter B. Collins show.

Radio stuffings : Some Thanksgiving day specials around the dial include WFNX 101.7FM doing a Leftover Weekend with its playlist of tunes from the 70's, 80's and 90's starting Thursday at 6am and going to 8pm Sunday. WXRV/The River 92.5FM will have an "Un-plucked Thanksgiving" with all-acoustic playlist.

Pink Christmas? : Radio trade publication Radio Business Report(RBR) had an item in its Friday's update that one of the nation's biggest radio companies is planning a mother of all layoffs next month. RBR didn't give company's name but the list of usual suspects probably applies.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Zone will have plenty of Left in the air

It's been nearly two years since WKOX AM 1200/WXKS AM 1430 stopped carrying Air America Network and changed over to Latin music format Rumba. However, some progressive talk is about to make a re-entry via a new spot on the dial. Beginning Monday December 1, talkshow host Jeff Santos who briefly had a Sunday afternoon local show on WKOX/WXKS two years ago will launch a new morning talk program on WWZN AM 1510 from 6am to 9am. Recently, Santos hosted a daily one-hour afternoon show on the Zone prior to the election. At night, the Zone will also carry another new progressive talk show from 6pm to 9pm(Update : the new nighttime show will be hosted by San Francisco-based Peter B. Collins whose 3-hour show is currently aired on a seven station network in CA, MT, OR and WA).

As for sports, the station will still have a number of shows in the line-up. "Young Guns Radio" which currently occupies the 7am-9am slot on the Zone will move back to the afternoons. More details on new progressive talk programming and line-up changes at the Zone will be announced shortly.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bumpy road ahead for Westwood One and Metro Networks

The struggling parent company of the largest traffic gathering service in the country - Westwood One Inc. –
received really bad news earlier today. The New York Stock Exchange delisted Westwood One’s stock which closed its last business day of trading on Wall Street at 13 cents a share. It’s still unclear how today’s action will impact Westwood One’s subsidiary Metro Networks that provides traffic reports in metropolitan areas around the nation. The Metro’s local operations for the Greater Boston area are located at 7 Bullfinch Place in downtown Boston.

As reported here previously (BRW 9/15), Metro Networks made substantial cuts in its local personnel and operations(customizing one single report for market’s smaller stations) as part of nationwide restructuring. At the time, the company had announced that its new digital technology would allow it to consolidate resources from 60 operations centers into 13 regional hubs, improve service to small, medium and large markets, and alleviate demands on aerial reporting units. Now, it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen to Westwood One's Metro Networks operations here and elsewhere.

Locally, one of Metro’s biggest customers is WBZ AM 1030 which provides its “Traffic on the 3’s” during its all-news format block. Talker WRKO AM 680 uses Metro for news updates and traffic and sister station sports talker WEEI AM 850 also uses the service for its sports flash updates on weekends.

Metro Networks is the largest traffic gathering and reporting operation in the world.

Westwood One provides more than 150 news, sports, music, talk and entertainment programs, features and live events to numerous media partners. Westwood One distributes NFL games including the Super Bowl.



BRW Notebook :

River gets new GM :
Haverhill’s WXRV 92.5FM/The River appointed 21-year broadcast veteran Donald St. Sauveur as its new General Manager. His previous stops included Entercom Boston, CBS Radio Boston, American Radio Systems and Interep. Sauveur was one of a dozen staffers let go by Entercom due to budget cuts last month(BRW 10/16). He served as WRKO AM 680's national sales manager at the time of his exit.

Walk on! : WAAF 107.3FM morning personalities Lyndon Byers and Spaz are hitting the road tomorrow morning for the 16th annual
"Walk for Change" More than to raise the Greater Boston Food Bank, the Worcester County Food Bank and the New Hampshire Food Bank. LB and Spaz will finish the 3-day trek at WAAF's studios in Brighton on Friday. Meanwhile, Greg Hill will be in the studio taking listeners' requests and playing anything that goes(for a donation, of course).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Stations continue to cut jobs

Apparently the bleeding hasn’t stopped. Local media groups continue to cut jobs in a weak economy.

There were behind-the-scenes layoffs this week at CBS Radio Boston stations. Positions affected were in sales, administration, promotions, production and on-air. Although no official counts or names were released, some of those who were impacted by force reduction included : WBZ’s veteran weekend news anchor Bob McMahon, Bruins broadcast host and weekend sports anchor Allan Segel, producer Scott Cooper. At WODS 103.3FM/Oldies, morning news anchor June Knight has been replaced with news updates from WBZ AM 1030 and veteran DJ Mike Finnegan exited with weekend DJ Patrick Callahan taking over Finnegan's night shift. At classic rocker WZLX 100.7FM, overnight jock Al Cole and 13-year senior account executive Neal Perlstein were let go.

Even public broadcasting hasn’t been immune from the unsettling economic downturn as big corporate sponsors are tighetening up their underwriting budgets. Staffers at WGBH 89.7FM and sister TV stations WGBH TV2/44 began receiving pink slips late yesterday afternoon. As many as 9% of the 900 member work force have or will be let go before the end of the month according to sources. The layoffs will effect various departments including programming, local and national sponsorship sales and production.

BRW Notebook :

"Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech " : Much to the delight of those who have long complained about the existence of talk radio, it is entirely likely that the new Congress and new administration will bring back what has been referred to as the Fairness Doctrine. Some of Boston top conservative talk radio hosts will be taking on the politicians in the weeks to come
reports the Herald.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Zito tapped as co-host for Oldies' morning show

Boston morning drive radio listeners will have a new choice on their dial tomorrow morning. Well, the AM drive team on Oldies 103.3 may be new, but the voices will sound quite familiar to those who spun around Boston's FM band over the past 25 years.

Tomorrow at 6am, WODS 103.3FM will officailly launch its brand new morning show with
Karen Blake and Chris Zito, CBS Radio-owned station announced today. At the end of September, Blake took over the morning slot from the Boston radio icon Dale Dorman who semi-retired after a 40-year run on Boston radio(BRW 9/14). She was briefly paired with former Ch.4 sportscaster Bob Lobel who served as gues host for three weeks(BRW 9/19). Meanwhile, Dorman is still heard on Oldies every Satruday morning(9am-Noon).

As hinted earlier(BRW 9/25), WODS tapping veteran stand-up comic and radio host Chris Zito as the new morning co-host wasn't a huge surprise. Prior to WODS, Zito spent five years working on a popular morning drive show at Worcester 's WXLO 104.5FM. WODS' current PD Jay Beau Jones who was WXLO's PD up until this past February originally hired Zito to do mornings there. In the early 90's, Zito worked mornings with JR Edwards at WJMN/WZOU 94.5 where Blake hosted afternoon drive around the same time. Both of them then ended up at Greater Media's country station WCLB 105.7FM(now WROR) where Zito was exec-producing "Loren and Wally" in the AM and Blake handled PM drive from 1994 to 1996. After WCLB stint, Zito moved to Detroit for five years where he joined his former WZOU/WJMN morning man JR at Planet 96.3 In 2001, he returned to Boston and worked as a writer on Steve Sweeney’s morning show "Sweeney's Neighborhood" on WZLX from 2001 to 2003.

Zito's track record as a stand-up comedian is as long as his radio career. He'll continue doing his stand up routine at
Dick Doherty's Comedy Vault in Boston every Thursday night.


BRW Notebook :


Signature call still gets plenty of play :
Dan Davis' radio description of Doug Flutie's "Hail Mary" pass to Gerard Phelan against Miami Hurricanes at the Orange Bowl in November 1984 accompanies many video clips of that play and is still in big deamnd commercially reports the Herald. Davis called every game Flutie played at Boston College on radio, including "The Miracle in Miami" game on WRKO. Davis has been with ESPN Radio in Bristol, CT since leaving WRKO in 1992.

Going national : As tipped in this space last month(BRW 10/2), NYC-based talker and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa who landed the 10pm-1am slot on WTKK 96.9FM’s line-up on
October 1st had plans to go national and now he isl. Sliwa’s employer, Citadel Broadcasting, is launching his night show(9pm-1am) in syndication after a month-long test run in Boston. The new national show is expected to have 20 stations by December 1. Sliwa has already been added on Citadel’s KABC AM 790 in LA and next week WMAL AM 630 in Baltimore/Washington DC will pick up his new syndication effort. He’s expected to leave his current midday shift(10am-Noon) at his NYC flagship talker WABC AM 770 reports the Daily News. There are whispers out of the Big Apple that Imus’ right-hand man producer Bernie McGuirk will move into Sliwa’s old slot on WABC but that's unconfirmed.

The world is full of skeptics :....especially when it comes to HD Radio. Another less than than enthusiastic article on HD Radio, this time in
last week's Wall Street Journal. While there's nothing new in it, the fact that the same questions are still being raised about HD's viability suggests that terrestrial radio's answer to I-technology and satellite radio is far from turning a corner in gaining market acceptance. The article's title - Weak Signals: Can HD Radio Find Listeners? - says it all.

Change they'll try : This brings us to another topic on new technology - PPM (short for Portable People Meter) radio's new ratings measuring system, which begins in Boston on January 8th. Some 2,000 local radioheads who've been recruited by Arbitron over the past couple of months and representing the area's 3.8 million listeners will begin wearing beeperlike monitors(PPMs) to track what stations they are tuned to.

After the current fall ratings survey period for the Boston radio market ends on December 10th, Arbitron's new portable meters will completely replace the crude system radio stations have used since the days before Elvis had his first hit(~1965). For decades, paid listeners have kept diaries about what stations they tuned into throughout the day, and Arbitron has ranked the stations from those. But broadcasters and advertisers have long disputed the accuracy of the diary-driven ratings. Consider: Diaries are virtually impossible to keep if you are driving and flipping through channels every time you hear something you don't like. How would you recollect all the button punching at the end of a day, or week, when you sit down to fill out the diary? That won't be a problem with the new electronic meters, which will constantly track subsonic encoded signals from each station. A common complaint about the diary system was that many people voted for their favorite stations without listening to them as much as they claimed. And, stations will no longer have to constantly remind listeners what they are listening to as they often do right now so to make sure the call letters track with the diary keepers.

Not that the meter method is without some major flaws especially when it comes to tracking younger listeners who just won't wear them all the time for whatever reason. Also, how do you track office workers wearing headsets while listening an on-line station at work?

Will see. Arbitron will now provide monthly reports. The first two months under the new PPM system - January and February - won't count as Arbitron will use them to work any bugs or glitches until it goes live in March. And, stations won't be able to use the data for these two months to sell advertising time. March is when it all starts for real in Boston radioland. Here's Arbitron's
PPM schedule for the Boston radio market.

Roll over and beg : Sirius and XM program offerings become one tomorrow (11/12). The two satellite radio services are merging into one set of channels to be offered to all subscribers of both former rivals. Announcements have been airing on the satellite stations telling listeners where to tune for their favorites as of Nov. 12. Channels from the two sets which are duplications will see only one survive in the new combined offering. But there are many questions surrounding the financial future of the new merged satellite entity which
just announced...gulp..a $5 billion loss.[Ed. Note : With Sirius XM heavily bleeding cash these days, wouldn't it make sense to sell Howard Stern's morning show to terrestrial radio syndication ala Opie and Anthony deal with CBS? Could be a win-win for both sides. Sirius XM could make some extra cash on a side and terrestrial radio could bring back some listeners who never returned after Howard walked over to satellite radio.]

Drive-by whiner of the week : Patrick O'Keefe of Boston Sports Media Examiner has
apparently found a couple of things wrong with Felgie, Gino and Gil.[Ed. Note : Just goes to show you that a Boston sports fan with an opinion will forever be one unsatisfied customer. :-]

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ready or not, holiday hits arrive early this year

Harry Connick Jr. will sing you Let it Snow! Let It Snow! Let it Snow!. So will Andy Williams. Don't like Bing Crosby's rendition of Silver Bells? Stand by for a few minutes for versions by Stevie Wonder or Perry Como.

Both WODS-FM/Oldies 103.3 and WROR 105.7FM dumped their classic hits/classic oldies playlists around 6am this morning and will now play nothing but 50 solid days of Christmas music thru December 25th. WODS has been switching to All-Christmas-All-The-Time format since 2003. WROR jumped on the holiday music bandwagon last year.

Radio station executives hope Bostonians will tune in for a peaceful change from a terrible economy and a never-ending election season. They may be right.

While many stations around the country typically wait until Thanksgiving to go all-Christmas, WROR and WODS switch was not unusually early considering poor state of the advertising market and declining consumer confidence. The early jump on the all-Christmas playlist is undoubtedly driven to help out stations’ advertisers. The all-holiday tunes are meant to put listeners into a shopping and spending mood during one of the worst recessions in years.

And, for those listeners who don’t want to sit thru 15,000 song playlist of holiday cheer for the next six weeks, they can simply turn the dial.

WROR's release regarding its seasonal format switch is here.


BRW Notebook :

Class of 2008
: President-elect Barack Obama is not the only one having a big week. So are two Boston radio personalities who will be honored in Chicago this weekend. The late, great Jess Cain, who was Boston's premier morning drive radio voice on WHDH AM 850 for nearly 35 years will be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago this Saturday night(11/8). Another Boston entry is WRKO AM 680's popular afternoon host Howie Carr who will invite his former producer Doug "VB" Goudie(now with Fox25 morning news) to be on his show today. WRKO AM 680 will air
Westwood One's live 1-hour special presentation at 10pm on Saturday from the black-tie event hosted by comedian/radio host Adam Carolla at the Chicago's Reneissance Hotel.

What will they talk about now? : For the past two years, Boston talk radio has been filled with the discussion of the elction. In fact, one can argue that both WRKO AM 680 and WTKK 96.9FM current line-ups are built around politics. It should be interesting to see if there'll be any post-election hangover for the right-leaning programming which is looking to find someone new to blame according to today's
Herald report.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Call ‘em polling stations : local radio plans to blanket airwaves with election coverage

Radio will be all over the Election Day on Tuesday.

WBZ AM 1030 will start extensive coverage at 5am on Election Tuesday. In addition, for the first time ever, the news/talk station will provide its election reports to the other four CBS Radio-owned Boston stations(WBMX 98.5FM, WBCN 104.1FM, WODS 103.3FM and WZLX 100.7FM) throughout the day. Morning anchor Ed Walsh will kick off the election night wall-to-wall coverage at the top and bottom of each hour starting at 8pm. Walsh will be joined by veteran political strategist Michael Goldman who will provide the election results analysis. Dan Rea will be at his customary "NightSide" host position and will provide analysis and discussion with Walsh and Goldman following each newscast. Rea will also be taking calls from listeners. Rod Fritz will take over the newsanchor duties from Walsh at around 11pm. WBZ will also tie in network reports from CBS Radio News and ABC Radio News with their correspondents on the campaign trail as well as their polling experts and analysts in New York. WBZ will have its reporters in New Hampshire covering the Obama and McCain headquarters as well in various Boston locations standing by for reactions of national and local results, plus live coverage of victory and concession speeches by the presidential candidates.

On the talk front,
WRKO AM 680 will kick the big day off with Tom Finneran who will have Gov. Deval Patrick as his guest. Syndicated talkers Laura Ingraham(10-Noon) and Rush Limbaugh(Noon to 3pm) will provide national perspective. Howie Carr who has a huge week ahead with his Radio Hall of Fame induction on Saturday(11/8) will bring it home with the local reaction. Starting at 7pm, WRKO will pick up Fox News Radio's special election coverage with up to the minute national race results including local inserts for Mass. elections and ballot questions. Rival talker WTKK 96.9FM’s election coverage will click into high gear with round-the-clock coverage from its local talk shows(Michael Graham(9am-Noon), Eagan and Braude(12-3pm), Jay Severin(3pm-7pm), Michelle Mcphee(7-10pm) and Curtis Sliwa(10pm-1am). WTKK's Ed Cherubino will be live in the newsroom supplemented by national news reports from CNN. WTKK's special election coverage will begin at 7pm and will continue until the winner is declared. The FM talker will also have live studio audience on hand.

WBUR 90.9FM will start its planned eight-hour coverage at 7pm relying on National Public Radio reports and call-in segments anchored by Robert Siegel and Michele Norris. At midnight Siegel and Norris will hand the baton over to Weekend Edition’s host Scott Simon and NPR’s congressional correspondent Debbie Elliot who ill anchor NPR’s national coverage until 3am. A number of minutes each hour will be turned over to local coverage by the WBUR news staff for in-depth coverage of state and local races.

Meanwhile, don't be surprised if you tune in to WGBH 89.7FM and don’t hear Eric Jackson’s jazz programming between 8pm and Midnight. Just like WBUR 90.9FM, WGBH will run NPR’s coverage and provide its own local inserts from WGBH news staffers. WGBH’s election coverage
will kick off at 7pm with a special election edition of PRI’s The World.

BRW Notebook :

Practicing for Election Night : Even sports talker WEEI AM 850 is in the election mix...kind of. Monday Night Football’s Redskins-Steelers game which will air on WEEI at 8:30pm(8:00pm pregame) apparently carries some historical significance thanks to the so-called Redskins Rule according to ESPN.com.story. [Ed. Note : Bottom line - If the Redskins win, McCain wins. If the Steelers win, Obama wins. Will see if the sreak holds this time around.] :

“The Redskins, in fact, are an accurate barometer for presidential elections. According to Steve Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau, who coined the term "Redskins Rule" in 2000, the following bromide has held true for the past 17 presidential elections: If the Redskins win their last home game prior to Election Day, the party that won the popular vote in the previous election wins the White House; if the Redskins lose, the party that lost the popular vote in the previous election wins.”
Eearly holiday gifts? : CBS Radio's company-wide initiave will have all of its stations in major markets running an on-line holiday music channel on their respective websites this season. This is part of the multi-million dollar CBS-AOL online radio network partnership agreement signed earlier this year. The AOL-powered Boston Holiday Music channel can already be accessed via CBS-owned WODS 103.3FM and WBMX 98.5FM sites with WBZ AM 1030, WBCN 104.1FM and WZLX 100.7FM soon to follow. Over the air, WODS 103.3FM which has been pre-empting its oldies format with all-holiday tunes every November and December since 2003 is expected to switch to its all-Christmas format as early as this week.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

WBZ voices capture a moment in history on Mad Men

WBZ AM 1030 got an offer it couldn't refuse, a chance to be heard on AMC’s award-winning show “Mad Men”. The station was approached recently by “Mad Men" post-production people, according to WBZ’s news director Peter Casey.

“The producers of the show located some old archive audio at the JFK Museum(in Dorchester) and then sought our permission to use the audio in the program. Depending on which audio they used in the final edit some of the local WBZ voices you may here could be: Streeter Stuart; Morton Dean, Kevin O'Keefe, and/or Dick Levitan.”

WBZ Radio’s big moment will occur this Sunday night(10/26) at 10pm when AMC runs the final episode of season number two. It’s unknown when or in what context WBZ’s audio will be used but Casey says that “some of the plot of the season finale is focused on the Cuban missile crisis”.

“Mad Men” is AMC’s politically-incorrect hit drama series about a 1960s NYC advertising agency debuted in July 2007. The show won six Emmy Awards, including one for outstanding drama series in September and was just picked up for its third season.

BRW Notebook :

Police radio blotter :
Reese Hopkins who landed on local airwaves as a midmorning host on WRKO AM 680 last December and promised listeners that his life will be an
“open book” will need to add another chapter or two to his story. Hopkins was dismissed from the talk station as part of a company-wide budget cutting last Thursday. This week he was arrested in Malden and extradited to NYC to face charges of sexual assault on a minor reports NY Daily News..... Sports radio/TV personality Bob Gamere who had a controversial career as well as a troubled personal life is back in the news facing disturbing allegations reports the Globe. Over the years, Gamere has had his share of drunk-driving arrests including one where he smashed into parked cars(outside the old Garden), bar brawls and an endless list of other off-air misconducts. In the late 80’s, he was also stabbed four times while walking thru the Fens on the way home from a booze cruise. He got start at Worcester’s WTAG AM in the 60’s and moved all over Boston's TV and radio dials including hosting the super popular the Candlepins for Cash on Channel 7. For years he was the voice of Harvard Football on the radio and also hosted “Voice of Sports” on the old WITS/WMRE AM 1510(now the Zone 1510). Here’s a bonus read on Gamere's latest episode of personal demise from the guys at Barstool Sports.

On the mend : The Herald
updates on Bob Lobel’s recovery from October 7th back surgery. Lobel who signed on as a special guest host on Oldies 103.3FM in mid-September will now be phoning into the morning show with his rehab progress reports for the time being.


Grim times : The redesigned and consolidated Boston Globe has apparently decided not to devote any more print space to local radio coverage. That’s a shame. Clea Simon who wrote an enjoyable Radio Tracks for more than a decade wrote her last column this week. Over the years, she seemed to take a simpler and lighter approach with the industry often focusing on college and public radio programming and personalities in the Boston market. Her
last column is a pointed reminder why her work will be sorely missed by readers, including one in this space.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

WBCN brings back the X-Mas Rave

WBCN 104.1FM’s annual holiday radio bash called ‘X-Mas Rave’ which the rock station organized every December from 1995 thru 2004 is coming back this year. As the Rock of Boston closes out its 40th anniversary year, the station celebrates its legendary past as it and the rest of the radio industry looks to the unpredictable future. Station’s other former tradition – the River Rave – was also resurrected this past summer to mark WBCN’s birthday.

X-mas Rave makes its return at the recently opened Showcase Live in Foxboro for three nights with retro-flavored shows featuring bands from years past which surely to attract some of WBCN’s now-30/40-something-with-kids listeners : Dec. 1 is Sponge and Seven Mary Three. Dec. 2 : Candlebox, Hoobastank and Flobots. And rounding things out on Dec. 3: Stone Temple Pilots’ frontman Scott Weiland. Additional acts
will be added to the first and third nights, according to WBCN.

BRW Notebook :

The sounds of the season : Although for radio business this is not an easy time, it’s business as usual for some local stations who are going ahead with their sponsored seasonal shows – WFNX 101.7FM takes over the Orpheum Theater with its two-night “Miracle on Tremont Street”(December 6th : Franz Ferdinand, The Airborne Toxic Event and December 7th - Vampire Weekend, Black Kids)….Kiss 108’s Jingle Ball returns to Tsongas Arena in Lowell on December 11…Jamn 94-5’s Monster Jam is back at TD Banknorth Garden on October 27th.

Local support : For many years now, Sunday night’s 10pm-Midnight block on Boston rock radio continues to be the bastion of new and local music scene. All three commercial radio rockers are still showing support for the up-and-coming acts with their weekly shows - WBCN 104.1FM(Boston Emissions), WFNX 101.7FM(First Contact and New England Product) and WAAF(Baystate Rock).

Speaking of WBCN’s Boston Emissions, as of last weekend, the program has a new host who some rock radio listeners may recognize – Anngelle Wood. She also continues on as weekend DJ on sister-station WZLX 100.7FM. Here’s the release :

Meet Anngelle Wood: Stalwart Supporter of Local Rock, Pug Lover and New Host of WBCN’s Boston Emissions

Boston, MA – WBCN is happy to announce that Anngelle Wood is joining their roster as the new host of the station’s long running local music program Boston Emissions. No stranger to the local music scene, Anngelle has been involved with the local music community in numerous ways. As part of WFNX morning show, Anngelle routinely invited local artists onto the program to promote upcoming events and CD releases. She is responsible for the Rising Tide Series, concert events designed to showcase local female performers and their bands. She has served as one of the rotating DJs on WMFO’s “On the Town with Mikey Dee,” a local music program that continues as a way to honor the memory of its original host Mikey Dee, another stalwart supporter of local music who passed away in 2003. Anngelle is also a co-organizer of the Rock n’ Roll Social, a monthly networking event for members of the local music community that is entering its 6th year. For the past 3 years, Anngelle has been heard on the airwaves of CBS sister station, WZLX, where she will remain an active member of its airstaff as well.

As a result of these many diverse interactions within the local music scene Anngelle has developed a wealth of knowledge regarding New England’s unsigned local artists. In addition to knowing about the local scene she also brings a passion for turning people on to new, undiscovered local acts. Anngelle comes armed with both this knowledge and passion as she takes on her new role as host of WBCN’S Boston Emissions. Wood will also be actively involved in the annual WBCN Rock n’ Roll Rumble, the country’s longest running local music battle of the bands.

WBCN’s Boston Emission is featured every Sunday night from 10pm to midnight on 104.1FM, WBCN.

Considering all options : Reese Hopkins who lost his midmorning show on WRKO AM 680 due to company-wide budget cuts last week is already trying to land his next gig somewhere else. He’s been contacted by CNN Headline News to make some appearances on their talkshows. However, staying in the Boston market could be an option for Hopkins despite his one-year deal with Entercom including a clause for post-employment non-compete
reports Boston Daily blog.

Radio book club : For history buffs or fans of radio or both, there’s a new great book out. “Hello Everybody : The Dawn of American Radio” by Anthony Rudel. This latest radio history entry
takes a look at the early days of radio in this country. There are some amazing stories of quirky station owners and major financial challenges facing radio in its early days(Ed. Note : do things ever change?! :-]. Rudel was a guest on Jordan Rich’s overnight show on WBZ AM 1030 last weekend…The Globe’s radio column previews an upcoming book from media historian Donna Halper.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Troubled economy spurs cuts at WRKO and WAAF

The struggling economy is starting to cause some major changes and turmoil for local radio stations. And, this could be just the beginning.

The ongoing recession in the advertising market and now the tanking stock market are hitting hard at the publicly-owned media congloms such as Entercom which today announced layoffs in its Boston cluster.

Among Entercom on-air staffers let go were WRKO AM 680’s midday host Reese Hopkins who was with the Talk Station since last December. He’s being replaced by syndicated conservative pundit Laura Ingraham whose show aired on the rival WTKK 96.9FM since 2000. (Ingraham was bumped to late Sunday nights a couple weeks ago when WTKK added a new late night snow hosted NYC-based Guardian Angels founder and WABC/NYC personality Curtis Sliwa.).
WRKO AM 680 is now down to two local weekday programs – Tom Finneran in the AM Drive and Howie Carr in the PM drive. The rest of the day is filled out with syndicated conservative shows(Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage, Jerry Doyle).

In addition to Hopkins, WRKO executive producer and Finneran's producer Andy Strecker and WAAF 107.3FM’s morning show “Hillman” producer Dave "Super Producer" DiGando were among at least a dozen staffers let go today. Hopkins' producer Bill Cooksey escaped the ax as he doubles as the executive producer for the Celtics Radio Network(on sister station WEEI).

No known changes over at Entercom’s sports talker WEEI AM 850 but it will be interesting to see what will happen with the on-going pricey WEEI.com sports portal project where the company has been investing heavily over the past few months. Also, WEEI’s afternoon ringmaster Glenn “Big O” Ordway is up for contract renewal at year’s end and with Entercom’s CEO David Field declaring a companywide wage freeze in an internal memo yesterday, things could get really dicey on Guest Street.

Here’s WRKO’s press release on the changes in the midday slot which also mentions tough economic situation :

WRKO Begins Airing The Laura Ingraham Show Starting Tomorrow


Boston, MA (October 16, 2008) – WRKO AM 680 today announced that it will begin airing The Laura Ingraham Show on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. beginning tomorrow, October 17th. Ingraham, whose show is syndicated by Talk Radio Network Enterprises, will replace Reese Hopkins. The Laura Ingraham Show is now ranked the 5th largest syndicated show according to Talkers Magazine with over 300 affiliates nationwide. Ingraham has affiliation in 21 of the top 25 metro markets and 42 of the top 50 metro markets.

As the most-popular female radio show host in the country, Ingraham has catapulted to the top of the industry in her seven-year on-air career. According to Talkers Magazine, it is ranked the 5th largest syndicated radio talk program in the United States , and is distributed by Talk Radio Enterprises.

The conservative host is also a regular contributor on the Fox News Channel, where she is the permanent substitute for Bill O'Reilly on The O'Reilly Factor. Ingraham is the author of three books, including The Hillary Trap and Shut Up & Sing. Her most recent book Power to the People debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. As a Connecticut native and graduate of Dartmouth College , Ingraham's New England roots run deep. She received her law degree from the University of Virginia and afterward served as a Supreme Court law clerk and practiced white collar criminal defense law.

“I am honored and humbled to be joining the legendary WRKO, with its booming signal and unsurpassed reputation for on-air excellence,” said Ingraham. “For several years, Boston has heard me at night, but being on ‘RKO live every weekday morning is thrilling. Legions of new listeners will have the chance to laugh and learn along side with me as we fight for our country's political, economic and cultural future. My dad grew up outside Boston , and my oldest brother and his family settled here, so in many ways this feels like I'm coming home.”

“Reese did an excellent job for us and I certainly wish him well going forward,” said Jason Wolfe, Vice President of AM Programming & Operations at Entercom New England. “These are challenging times for our industry and we need to adjust accordingly. Having said that, Laura Ingraham is one of the truly outstanding radio broadcasters in the country today, and the success of her program speaks volumes about her. She’s got strong ties to Boston and New England , has tremendous brand equity in this market and will be a fabulous asset to the WRKO programming lineup.”


BRW Notebook :

Hitting the road : Paul Kelley has resigned as the GM of Nassau-owned classical WCRB 99.5FM this week. Kelley has been hired to manage stations in Virginia for Saga Communications. Prior to being named WCRB's GM in December 2006, Kelley was GM for Nassau's Frank-FM(WFNQ-FM) in Manchester, NH. His resume also includes a stop at WRKO where he worked as a local sales manager.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Summer ratings : WBZ is tops again, talkers WRKO and WTKK rank lower

A summer of presidential politics and political conventions didn't light a fire under ratings for Boston's two all-talk radio stations.

The big winner again in the summertime ratings was all-news/talk WBZ AM 1030, which finished No. 1 overall for the second straight survey period. The station had a 6.4 percent share of listeners during the summer ratings period of June 26 to Sept. 17.

Talker WRKO AM 680 finished in fifth place with a 4.7 percent share. That's down from a 5.3 share in the spring. Boston's other talk station, WTKK 96.9FM, finished 9th overall with a 3.5 share, down from a 4.0 in the spring.

The declining numbers for both WRKO and WTKK are somewhat surprising considering we’re in the hotly contested presidential race. Both stations can probably blame the weaker ratings on carrying too much right-leaning talk on their schedules. And in the election cycle when the listening public has definitely grown tired of the same old-same old political spin and seeking fresh ideas, there is simply not enough programming on either talk station without a particular political take.

Tied for No. 2 in the summer ratings period was rhythmic Top-40 station WJMN-FM/Jamn 94-5 and adult contemporary WMJX/Magic 106.7FM. Magic jumped nearly a full share among listeners ages 12 and over. Magic also finished #1 among Adults 25-54 while Jamn finished in No.1 spot among Adults 18-34 continuing its 7-year win streak in that demographic group.

Other notables from the summer book : WODS-FM/Oldies 103.3 jumped a full share from 9th to 6th as radio icon Dale Dorman exited into semi-retirement in mid-September…WBOS 92.9FM which dumped its entire airstaff and replaced the fickle adult album alternative format with the retro-heavy modern rock tunes of the 80’s and 90’s in late January finished with the same listening share as it did last summer. [Ed. Note : If you're a corporate radio suit, you must be smiling. Low-bottom, robotic, no live human radio presentation featuring the same overplayed tunes sure beats an expensive sports talk format, especially in this economy. Don't you think?! Brilliant!]

BRW Notebook :

Going to the candidate's debate.Laugh about it, shout about it. When you've got to choose Every way you look at this you lose : WTKK 96.9's midday team Jim Braude and Margery Eagan will host the only radio debate between U.S. Senator John Kerry and his Republican challenger Jeff Beatty on October 27 from 1pm–2pm....The third and final presidential debate and post-debate analysis will air on WTKK 96.9FM, WRKO AM 680, WBUR 90.9FM and WBZ AM 1030. WBZ will shift the Bruins-Canadiens game to sister-station WODS 103.3FM.

The most annoying radio personality? : That's easy. Mike Greenberg from "Mike and Mike" national morning show on ESPN Radio heard locally on ESPN 890. Not that his partner Mike Golic any less annoying, but Greenberg is the cheeziest radio personality today. Check this out.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Who Makes the Call? A Choice Along the Dial for Sox fans

When the American League Championship Series between the Sox and Rays begins tonight, two radio teams will also vie for listeners: Joe Castiglione and Dale Arnold, the Red Sox' team, and the ESPN Radio’s Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, who will be heard on WAMG AM 890.

When it comes to local sports, the hometown fans listen to the hometown announcers. Between the regular season and spring training, local announcers call over 170 games. Home broadcasters usually have a better feel for the team. On the other end, the national broadcasters usually provide less biased, more down the middle call backed up by more facts and stats since they don’t really get to see the teams on daily basis.

WRKO AM 680 will air every ALCS game, except for Columbus Day afternoon Game 3(on WEEI AM 850). WRKO will have the local version with Joe “Can You Believe It?!” Castiglione calling his 8th ALCS in 26 years on the Sox radio network. Dave O’Brien will not be in the Sox radio booth during ALCS as he one again will be working the TV feed for ESPN International. Glenn Geffner-bashers will be happy to know that WEEI’s midday host Dale Arnold gets the nod to sub for O’Brien in ALCS and, hopefully, in the World Series. John Rish will handle expanded one-hour pregame shows plus postgame talk.

Meanwhile, over on ESPN 890 Joe Miller who was the Sox voice alongside the late Ken Coleman from 1980-1982 will work his 11th straight ALCS on radio for ESPN Radio. His “Sunday Night Baseball” partner Joe Morgan will join him for their 9th consecutive radio call of ALCS. Miller left the Sox radio after the 1982 season and was succeeded by Castiglione the following spring.

Game 1 Sox at Rays Fri Oct. 10 8:37pm WRKO AM 680, ESPN Radio(AM 890)
Game 2 Sox at Rays Sat Oct. 11 8:07pm WRKO AM 680, ESPN Radio(AM 890)
Game 3 Rays at Sox Mon Oct. 13 4:37pm WEEI AM 850, ESPN Radio(AM 890)
Game 4 Rays at Sox Tue Oct. 14 8:07 pm WRKO AM 680, ESPN Radio(AM 890)
Game 5 Rays at Sox Thu Oct. 16 8:07pm WRKO AM 680, ESPN Radio(AM 890)
Game 6 Sox at Rays Sat Oct. 18 4:37pm WRKO AM 680, ESPN Radio(AM 890)
Game 7 Sox at Rays Sun Oct. 19 8:07pm WRKO AM 680, ESPN Radio(AM 890)


BRW Notebook :

The best of college radio :
As mentioned in this space previously(BRW 9/25), Emerson’s WERS 88.9FM gets the prorps from national music channels reports
the Globe and Emerson’s Berkley Beacon.

The Champs are back! : The defending NBA Champions Boston Celtics returned to radio dial this past week. No changes in the Celtics radio booth as Grande and Max are back with the team. WEEI AM 850 began its preseason broadcast schedule this past Weneday with a loss to Philly at UMass Amherst. WEEI will air all C's pre-season games(winning a champship makes a difference) but without the 30-minute Celtics Tonight pregame show except next Friday's(10/17) game at the Garden.

How low can you go?! : Crash from afternoon's "Toucher and Rich" show on WBCN 104.1FM was holding a cheap gas promotion in Kingston yesterday afternoon. The station was sponsoring cheap gas giveaway at...duh!..$1.04 a gallon. [Ed. Note : Hey, I am all for publicizing cheap gas during crappy economic times but media consumers need to be aware. My beef is more with Ch.4 which has become a joke of TV news operations around here. Aren't Ch.4 and WBCN owned by the same media conglom? Was this Ch.4 report a manufactured PR tie-in to pump up some corporate synergy for a sister radio station doing this promo or a real news story? Ch.4 has been doing a lot of these artificial news pieces lately. It's a bad trend. It's crap TV news.]
You got anohter gig coming....: Former Ch.4 sportscaster Bob Lobel who has been moonlighning at Oldies 103.3 in the morning drive for the past three weeks, just added a new gig. Lobel has been named a columnist at Boston.com's weekly sports magazine "OT". Remains to be seen if he'll be back on Oldies after his fourth week is up(my guess is no for many obvious reasons), but it sounds like he'll be more at home in the sports kingdom of Boston.com/NESN empire than commenting on useless fluff like Dancing With The Stars during morning drive radio on the oldies station.

It's ovah! : And you don't have to tune in to Jay Severin, or any other conservative-leaning talker on the Boston dial, to tell you that T-Rex McCain can happily retire to whatever number of homes he owns.
It's for you, Mr. Siegel : As of this week, three Boston stations - Kiss 108, Jamn 94-5 and Rumba 1200 (all owned by Clear Channel) can now be heard via Apple's iPhone-oriented ihearthemusic.com service. Great idea by conglom radio but industry vet Jerry Del Colliano thinks the Ipod/Iphone generation is not a reachable demo as far terrestrial radio goes. [Ed. Note : The guy has a point, the content still sucks for the most part. Who can disagree?! But at least this is more of a realistic strategy to gain some listeners than the farce called HD Radio.]

Thursday, October 2, 2008

WTKK adds Sliwa to line-up

Beginning yesterday(10/1). WTKK 96.9FM has added a new nightly show hosted by Curtis Sliwa, founder of vigilante crime-fighting group Guardian Angels. Sliwa, who faked his own kidnapping in the early 1980’s, currently hosts the 10am-Noon show on NYC’s talker WABC AM 770. He’ll use ISDN technology to host the live show for WTTK 96.9FM from 10pm to 1am weekdays. Syndicated talker Laura Ingraham, who previously occuppied Sliwa's current timeslot, was sent to the radio Siberia with the lone Sunday 10pm-1am appearance on WTKK’s line-up.

Sliwa has been on the air at New York's WABC since the early 1990's when he co-hosted a morning drive show with his ex-wife Lisa. After being bounced from WABC due to very low-ratings in mid-1990's, conservative Sliwa, with the help of former mayor Rudy Gulliani, ended up on public city-owned station WNYC in a major fundraising publicity stunt. He later ended up at WABC on weekends and eventually was named morning co-host with Ron Kuby in 2000. In 2007, he was bumped to middays on WABC after Don Imus returned to the airwaves.

Sliwa’s “live and local” debut in the talk-crazed Boston market is likely a test run for his possible move toward national syndication by his employer Citadel Broadcasting next year. Citadel currently produces and syndicates Don Imus’ morning show heard on WTKK 96.9FM in the morning drive.

Sliwa will anchor tonight’s post-debate special on WTKK 96.9FM which also be simulcast on his home station WABC. Just like last week, in addition to WTKK’s coverage, all Boston news-talk stations will take in the debate and air their own post-debate analysis – WBZ AM 1030, WRKO AM 680 and WBUR 90.9FM.

BRW Notebook :

There is only one October :
With no over-the-air(free TV) station to cover the Sox playoff run(thanks to brainless move by the Nutty Profession aka MLB Comissioner Bud Selig), there’s more emphasis on radio coverage this year. (TBS owns exclusive TV rights to televise ALDS and ALCS). WEEI AM 850 and WRKO AM 680 will have Dave O’Brien, Joe Castiglione and John Rish on the Sox call. Meanwhile, ESPN Radio will have its A-team of Dan Shulman and Dave Campbell working the national call on Sox-Angels.

In a related note, for the fourth straight year, WAMG AM/”890 ESPN” is carrying all of the Major League Baseball playoff schedule, including every Sox game, thanks to its ESPN Radio affiliation.

Radio transition? : WODS 103.3FM/Oldies 103 has retooled its line-up recently, but it appears that any reference to the "60's and 70's" in on-air liners have been replaced by the "Greatest Hits". Although, still very much trapped in the 70's musically, there's some 80's hits that are slowly starting to creep into the Oldies' playlist as of late(Denice Williams' 1984 Grammy winner "Let's Hear for the Boy" and Hall&Oates' 1980 "Kiss on My List"). Rival WROR 105.7FM had added the 80's decade to its playlist a couple years ago and is now the classic hits of the 60's, 70's and...80's.

Radio picks : Providence's Lite 105 morning show co-host Heather Gersten who in her past life co-hosted morning show with Karen Blake(and Ralphie Marino) on Star 93.7(now Mike 93.7) is the mother of a young budding radio star reports the Daily News Tribune.