Friday, January 30, 2009

The Captain is back!!!!!

The Voice of WBZ's morning sports signs off

The top story on today is obviously the retirement of its longtime morning sports anchor Gil Santos who has been at WBZ AM 1030 full time since 1971 and was a broadcaster in New Bedford and Fall River since 1959.

Santos began at WBZ in 1966 as play-by-play for Boston College and New England Patriots football games. After an 11-year hiatus, Santos resumed his role as voice of the Patriots in 1990 and will remain the team's voice on flagship WBCN 104.1FM for the foreseeable future the team has announced.

The station, meanwhile, is still looking for someone to permanently take over Santos' early morning shift. Former WBZ-TV4 sports anchor Bob Lobel will be behind the mic starting next Tuesday(2/3).

BRW Notebook :

Let the music play : As mentioned in yesterday's update, Greater Media Boston laid off some staffers at its local stations. Among those let go were local radio veterans Albert Oram(overnights) and Julie Devereaux(evenings) at Classic Hits WROR 105.7FM. BRW has confirmed thru Greater Media spokesperson that those two shifts will now become music-intensive and will not be filled. Elimination of local personalities during less-listened dayparts on radio stations has been a growing trend nationally and locally over the past two years. Similarly, WROR's competitor WODS 103.3FM/Oldies 103.3FM features syndicated programming in the evening and no overnight on-air personality. Sadly, WROR and WODS won't be the last Boston music stations to eliminate local personalities in the evening. Other stations are expected to follow suit. However, WROR does plan to name a new afternoon personality shortly to replace Paul Perry whose contract wasn't renewed earlier this month.

Award season : WEEI AM 850 has been nominated for two “2009 R&R News/Talk/Sports Industry Achievement Awards.” The annual awards, presented by industry publication/website Radio and Records, will be presented at the R&R Talk Radio Seminar in Los Angeles March 12-14. WEEI is among six nominees for the News/Talk/Sport Station of the Year Award (Markets 1-25). Additionally, “Big Show” host Glenn Ordway was nominated for the News/Talk/Sports Local Personality of the Year (Ordway is one of six nominees in the category and the only local nominee). For more information and a list of all award categories and nominees, see here.

The Big Game : Speaking of WEEI, the station will be broadcasting the SuperBowl this Sunday(2/1). Calling the game for Westwood One radio will be Marv Albert, Boomer Esiason, John Dockery, Mark Malone and Jim Gray, plus studio host Tommy Tighe. WEEI will pick up the Westwood One's pregame coverage starting at 4pm after Celtics-Wolves game and John Ryder's "Celtics Rewind". SuperBowl kick off is scheduled for 6:28pm.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Marshall out as WBOS program director as layoffs hit Greater Media cluster

Way before President Barack Obama made 'change' the in-word of 2000's, WBOS 92.9FM made it an unofficial slogan when it came to its program directors. Less than a year after being named program director of the new WBOS/Radio 92.9FM, Dana Marshall was out of the job yesterday according to the Boston Globe as part of a programming consolidation with sister station WROR. Ken West who programs clustermate Classic Hits WROR 105.7FM has added programming responsibilities as WBOS' PD confirmed Greater Media spokesperson.

A year ago this Friday, WBOS let go its entire on-air staff and tweaked its longtime AAA format to concentrate on the younger 25-34 demo with an alternative/modern rock gold library sprinkled with rock and alternative currents such as Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Pearl Jam, and the Dave Matthews Band. The station has also assumed the new moniker, "Radio 92.9". When the new Radio 92.9FM was launched, the Greater Media-owned station promised in a press release to get back "to its musical roots, keeping with the WBOS philosophy that the music is all that matters as we evolve to meet the needs of the next generation of WBOS listeners".

Update : In a related note, according to industry website, Greater Media's five-station cluster(WBOS, WKLB, WTKK, WROR and WMJX) also had a round of layoffs this week. In a downsizing move, two well-known personalities from WROR 105.7FM were let go. WROR's overnighter Albert "O"(Oram) for the past 3 years who was with WBCN for 21 years(1982-2003) before joining Greater Media in 2003. Albert O also worked at WTBS(now WMBR) and WLYN(now WFNX) throught his 27-year Boston radio career. WROR's evening host, a 22-year Boston radio vet, Julie Devereux was also shown the door. She was was with WROR since 2000. She was formerly with WBOS(1992-2000) and WCGY(1987-1992). WROR let go afternooner Paul Perry four weeks ago.

The budget cuts follow the arrival of industry veteran Tom Baker as the new Greater Media Boston market manager last week.

BRW Notebook :

Super funny guy alert : Comedian Frank Caliendo, famous for his many impressions and television show “Frank TV” will be WROR 105.7FM's "Loren and Wally" show tomorrow(1/31) at 8am to plug his Valentine's Day(that's Feb. 14 for you guys) show at the Wilbur Theater. Caliendo is known for uncanny impressions of famous actors like Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Robert De Niro; politicians like George W. Bush and Bill Clinton; and broadcasters like John Madden, David Letterman, Jay Leno and Jim Rome. Caliendo also is a seven-year veteran of television sketch comedy series MADtv and Hype.

Back on radio : You can't see him anymore, but you sure have been able to hear a lot of him on the radio recently. Former WBZ-TV4 sports guy Bob Lobel will fill in as the sports anchor on WBZ AM 1030's morning news next week. With retirement of WBZ sports icon Gil Santos this week, morning sports anchor spot is now up for grabs. Lobel will fill in from Tuesday(2/3) to Friday(2/6). Lobel, of course, was the 'special' guest co-host with Karen Blake on sister station WODS/Oldies 103.3 last fall.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

LeVeille, Dyett back on WBZ

Steve LeVeille usually had a lot to say on his five-hour overnight show on WBZ until he was totally silenced three weeks ago when his contract wasn't renewed(BRW 1/2). But since then, a slew of LeVeille's loyal fans who were not at all pleased with his syndicated replacement Jon Grayson out of Midwest did a lot of gabbing for him as they let WBZ and CBS Radio know about it. A group of LeVeille's fans called for advertiser boycott and a complete WBZ tune-out. The listener pressure did work at the end as both WBZ management and LeVeille were able to hammer out a new deal. LeVeille is scheduled to be back on the air this coming Monday morning(2/2) at Midnight.

In addition to LeVeille's return, former Saturday night host and 37-year WBZ veteran Lovell Dyett who was replaced by syndicated Kim Komando Show will now host a half-hour(4:30am-5am) taped public affairs show.

Today's press release on LeVeille-WBZ reconcilation is here.

BRW Notebook :

Repeats and nothing but repeats : While WBZ has restored its live and local talk in the overnight schedule, WEEI AM 850 got some bad news thanks to recent cuts at radio titan Clear Channel. "Third Shift" which was Fox Sports Radio's live, overnight show is no more as of last week. Clear Channel's Premiere syndicator which programs and distributes Fox Sports Radio brand has replaced "Big" Ben Maller and Karen Kay with the 'best-of' segments from FSR's weekday shows. WEEI is currently running FSR's new overnight offering(2:00am-5:30am) but it's unclear if the station will try to find a live replacement.

Widening sports appeal : Speaking of sports programming that's in the growth mode, "Only A Game", the weekly sports show hosted by Bill Littlefield produced locally by WBUR 90.9FM and syndicated nationally by NPR, has picked up 13 affiliates in the past few weeks including the entire Mississippi Public Radio Network, and affiliates in Houston, Lexington, KY, Harrisburg, PA, and Aspen, CO. The latest additions bring the show's affiliate total to 183. Locally, "Only A Game" airs on WBUR and its Massachusetts affiliates Saturdays at 7am and 6pm.

Radio movers : Boston radio veteran Dennis O'Heron who has worked at WXKS/Kiss 108 and WJMN/Jamn 94.5 for the past decade in the variety of roles including program director, promotions director and most recently as VP of marketing is the leaving Medford's Top40 combo for a program director job at WHJY-FM/Rock 94.1 in the Providence market. He starts there next week. No word on who will replace him at Kiss/Jamn which is like Rock 94.1 is owned by Clear Channel.

Pitchers and Catchers report in 15 days : In about a month there will be finally something worthwile to listen to on weekends on WRKO AM 680 as the Red Sox flagship has announced its 15-game spring training broadcast schedule.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

ESPN Boston on the move

ESPN Boston(heard via AM 890 and AM 1400) is in the process of changing its address. The sports station which airs mostly ESPN Radio's national shows and two local talk shows during weekdays("Salk and Halloran" from Noon to 2pm and "Lew and Mike" from 4pm to 7pm) is leaving its longtime digs at the Schraffts Building in Charlestown and heading for the suburban Waltham. ESPN 890/1400's owner Waller Sutton has been actively looking to rent new studio space over the past couple years. ESPN 890/1400's new studio and offices will now be based in a building on South Street owned by Nassau Broadcasting where it currently operates classical outlet WCRB 99.5FM and a classical music network.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Radio giant Clear Channel reduces its national workforce, some cuts hit home

Texas-based broadcasting company Clear Channel on Tuesday cut 1,850 jobs, or about 9 percent of its total work force, according to a memo Chief Executive Officer Mark Mays sent to employees.

The company is making a "significant portion" of the cuts in its ad-sales department as it reacts to the current recession, Mays said. However, he added that the pullback spans all departments in its corporate, radio and outdoor advertising divisions."As I've mentioned previously, we are facing an unprecedented time of distress in the general economy - and the ripple effects have hit some of our largest customers hard," Mays said in the memo. "Today, we had the unpleasant task of bringing our Outdoor and Radio business' staffing in line with these challenging economic conditions."

The company didn't release any specific information on its restructuring effort or disclose how many workers in each market were laid off. But sources familiar with the local situation said Clear Channel laid off some people at its Boston stations. Most of the job cuts were sales and promotions positions where account executives and sales managers were let go. One longtime promotions/marketing person was let go and as well as some of the promotions part-timers. No programming or on-air changes were made. Locally, Clear Channel owns four radio stations it operates in Medford. The stations are WXKS/Kiss 108, WJMN/Jamn 94.5, WKOX/Rumba 1200 and WXKS AM 1430/Rumba 1200.

Last week, both the Wall Street Journal and New York Post reported that the company planned to lay off workers as it looked to trim $400 million in expenses. Both papers citied unnamed people familiar with the situation.Clear Channel's owners Bain Capital Partners and Thomas H. Lee Partners spent more than $18 billion to take over the company in July. Like others in the media industry, the company has struggled with diminished ad revenues as the economy keeps floundering.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Throw your old radio out the window…

….and replace it with a Blackberry, G1, Iphone or Ipod Touch because radio-as-we-know-it is bypassing many of the old standbys (car tuner, clock radio or portable boombox) once used to spread its signal.

Today, another Boston radio station announced that is now accessible on Apple’s Iphone or Ipod Touch. WFNX 101.7FM has joined the quickly growing field of terrestrial radio stations trying to reach the segment of its audience via constantly-evolving new media platforms.

A number of local stations already available on Iphone/Itouch or other smartphones like Blackberry or T-Mobile's G1. Clear Channel's WXKS/Kiss 108 and WJMN/Jamn 94-5 are on Iphones via its parent company's partnership with Local CBS Radio stations(WBZ AM 1030, WODS 103.3FM, WBMX 98.5FM, WZLX 100.7FM and WBCN 104.1FM) are also available on iPhone as part of a huge content deal with AOL. In addition, Entercom has partnered with FlyCast to make its three Boston stations(WEEI, WAAF and Mike-FM) heard on Iphones and other smartphones. Lastly, with Jacobs Media’s JacApps listeners can directly access Greater Media’s WBOS 92.9FM without browsing thru long lists of radio stations around the country.

Here’s WFNX’s press release on its new media partnership :

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Boston, MA – WFNX and Radiolicious are now streaming WFNX 101.7fm & 92.1fm to all iPhone users completely FREE. As one of the innovators of the radio / media industry WFNX continues its trend setting ways by teaming up with Radiolicious at no cost to users.

How does it work: iPhone users visit their application store and download Radiolicious for free onto their iPhones. Once installed users can search for WFNX and be connected to the stations stream anywhere their phone has service.

About WFNX:
The FNX Radio Network is part of a consortium of three alternative radio stations owned by the privately held Phoenix Media / Communications Group. WFNX-FM (101.7FNX)/ Boston , MA ; WFEX-FM (92.1FNX) / Manchester , NH and WPHX-FM (92.1FNX) / Portsmouth , NH form the network. FNX Radio also owns WPHX-AM (ESPN1220) in Sanford , ME an ESPN affilia ted sports station. Its parent company, The Phoenix Media/Communications Group also owns and operates the Boston Phoenix newspaper along with other New England newspapers, magazines and specialty publications such as the Portland Phoenix and Providence Phoenix newspapers and Stuff at Night magazine.

About Radiolicous:
Now mobile radio listeners have a new way to tune-in local radio stations, anywhere their iPhone® or iPod Touch® is connected. Thanks to Radiolicious®, a new native application player developed by MySimBook, broadcasters who stream their signal online can expand their local listener base, potentially by millions, and realize new revenue streams from mobile awareness-based advertising. Though it is just a smiley face with headphones resting on an iPhone® or iPod Touch® screen Radiolicious represents a spectrum of features to attract and enliven a growing market of young people who are getting accustomed to having a mobile mall of new, entertaining and interactive content on their portable devices. This is particularly optimistic for radio, since a January 2008 study by M: Metrics showed that 74.1% of iPod owners listened to music on a mobile phone. Now those users, and others, will be able to pick from thousands of radio stations, playing every kind of music. What is probably going to surprise iPhone® users and broadcasters is the cost of having Radiolicious: Free. MySimBook foots the bill. Users simply link to iTunes® and download the application player. Radio stations receive all of the hardware, software and set-up at no cost, just paying a low monthly service fee to be in system. As everybody knows economics dictate that somebody, eventually, has to pay. It is behavioral characteristics of young consumers that are creating the commerce in mobile phones and Radiolicious® seeks to amplify the trend. As the data shows, transition from iPod® players to iPhone® has been rapid and broadly spread. Ever-evolving technologies have built-in expectations for target consumers that their familiar features will be available and at their fingertips. The abilities to join a community through shared user profiles, interact with social users via text and chat, interact with radio stations, enter contests, bookmark favorite stations, browse music genres, subscribe to content and make music purchases are incorporated into the Radiolicious® application

BRW Notebook :

Local rock for kids : Next Saturday(1/31), WBOS-FM/Radio 92.9FM is holding a local rock event for charity. WBOS will sponsor "Boston Bands for Boston Kids" at the Hard Rock Cafe in Quincy Market to raise money for Camp Harborview.

“We wanted to offer our help with raising funds for Camp Harbor View in a way that celebrates Boston's best,” said Radio 929 Program Director Dana Marshall. “These three bands are a perfect representation of hard work, talent, and generosity. The idea is to enjoy some great live music while helping to provide a safe haven for Boston kids at risk.”

Admission is a suggested donation of $5 at the door. For more information, please visit

Thursday is Curt in the Car Day in Boston : Taking another step closer to becoming former-jock-turned-media personality, forever-the-Red Sox hero Curt Schilling will now become the regular fixture on WEEI AM 850. Today's press release from Entercom Boston announced that Schill will be joining the station every Thursday starting this week(1/22). One Thursday each mouth, Schilling will be live in studio for all four hours of "The Big Show with Glenn "Big O" Ordway." The other Thursdays, he'll be doing his "Curt In the Car" bit on the cellphone either calling into "The Big Show" or "Dennis and Callahan" in the AM drive. This past November, Schilling moved to his 38 Pitches blog to where is also a contributor. Read more on the Boston Globe's Red Sox blog or Boston Sports Media Watch.

Wah...wah..wah : Down the hall from WEEI, there is some drama going on. If there was an Academy Award for the best crybaby role, WRKO's Tom Finneran would probably win it hands down. As mentioned here in the last update(BRW 1/19), WRKO's morning co-host Tom Finneran failed in his attempt to receive Presidential pardon this past week. But the Globe's piece this morning makes it sound like Finneran is crying big tears to everyone who will listen..even the President of the United States..about how much grief he's been getting, especially at his own station, for breaking the law.

"They also said he had "suffered daily taunts and ridicule" from those who feel every elected official is a "common thief."

Much of that ridicule comes from Finneran's fellow WRKO talk show host, Howie Carr, who is unrelenting in his on-air attacks on the former speaker."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Radio Clear-ance Day is here

Tomorrow(1/20), Clear Channel Communications will begin layoffs and expense reductions to cut $400 million in costs, the New York Post reported last Friday, citing three sources "with knowledge of the plan." The Post didn't say how many jobs might be cut, but it said they would be across its radio, outdoor advertising and international operations. Texas-based Clear Channel has more than 30,000 employees in 66 countries. Locally, the company owns top-rated Top 40 outlets WXKS/Kiss 108 and WJMN/Jamn 94-5 as well Tropical/Latin format known as Rumba 1200 which is heard on a pair of AM stations WKOX AM 1200 and WXKS AM 1430. All four stations are located in Medford.

Clear Channel also is likely to move toward a "national programming" model where it would have fewer local employees at its radio stations around the country, the Post said. The nation's largest radio company faced criticism in the past for having using voicetracking feeds from out-of-market DJ's and relying on syndicated programming rather than producing live and local content by its local stations.

BRW has learned that Kiss and Jamn may likely have some changes in programming and operations starting Tuesday as preparations have been taking place inside their studios in Medford in recent days.

BRW Notebook :

That's all Folks : WRKO AM 680's morning co-host and former Massachusetts House Speaker Tom Finneran who enlisted the help of four former governors failed in his last-minute bid to get a pardon from shotly-to-be-former President Bush on an obstruction of justice conviction. Finneran submitted an application for a presidential pardon in December. The four governors Democrat Michael Dukakis and Republicans William Weld, Paul Cellucci, and Jane Swift followed with a letter of support. In the letter, obtained by the Globe two weeks ago, the governors saidFinneran has been severely punished and has "learned the error of the episode." Finneran pleaded guilty in January 2007 to obstruction of justice charges stemming from his testimony in a federal suit over House redistricting plan.

In attempt to cash in on his notoriety and try to move the ratings needle, WRKO AM 680 hired him to host morning drive show in February 2007 but so far that move hasn't paid off. While Finneran is now into his third, and likely last year, of his tenure at WRKO AM 680 it's becoming more clear he wants to create his own exit strategy out of talk radio business. On Tuesday(1/20), a special panel will look into a possibility of reinstating Finneran's law licesense.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

As Talk Evolution continues, WTKK renews "Jim and Margery"

Despite signals that they might jump to WRKO AM 680 as possible replacements for struggling morning drive fiasco Tom Finneran, Jim Braude and Margery Eagan have decided to stay put at the rival talker WTKK 96.9FM. The FM talk station announced this morning that Braude and Eagan agreed to a new multi-year deal to continue as midday talk show hosts(Noon-3pm) . Terms of their agreement with the Greater Media station were not disclosed. In recent weeks, there was some talk that the pair was being courted by WRKO to replace Finneran. Naturally, the talk of WRKO's interest helped to push their renewal deal along at WTKK where the pair will be celebrating their 10th year on the air this fall. As 2008 was drawing to a close, WRKO announced that it opted to retain Finneran's services for one more year and installed Todd Feinburg as his fulltime co-host.

Here's the offical release from WTKK :

Jim Braude & Margery Eagan Renew Contract with Boston’s Talk Evolution 96.9 FM, WTKK

Boston, MA (January 15, 2009): Greater Media Boston announced that mid-day personalities Jim Braude and Margery Eagan have signed a long term agreement with Boston's Talk Evolution 96.9 FM WTKK.

Jim Braude and Margery Eagan, the only male-female talk team in Boston radio, can be heard weekdays on 96.9 FM from 12 noon to 3pm.

"I'm excited about the challenge of providing our very special audience a unique and compelling, live and local show on 96.9 FM WTKK for years to come," said Margery Eagan. She added, "I want to thank my co-host Jim Braude for ten 'fabulous' years. We have evolved together and I'm grateful that my favorite anchorman lets me get a word in edgewise."

"Despite Margery's best efforts, Greater Media refused to extend her without me," said Braude. "I couldn't be happier about sparring with Margery on the topics that matter most to people in Boston and New England. We're finally getting the hang of this radio thing and I thank our listeners and Greater Media for hangin' with us."

"Jim Braude and Margery Eagan are one of the premier talk shows in Boston today," said Greater Media President & CEO Peter Smyth. "We look forward to providing the Jim and Margery Show to New Englanders and WTKK's growing audience for years to come."

WTKK Program Director Grace Blazer added, "Jim and Margery are the real deal. Their smart, lively, and witty program is in big demand by both listeners and advertisers. They are both deeply rooted in Boston and their popular mid-day show has become part of the fabric of our community."

Margery Eagan, a columnist at the Boston Herald for more than 10 years, is a native of Fall River and a graduate of Stanford University.

Jim Braude, host of NECN's Newsnight, is a University of Pennsylvania graduate, and received his law degree from New York University. He briefly ran for governor in 1994, and more recently served as a Cambridge City Councilor.

About WTKK-FM:
WTTK-FM is owned by Greater Boston Radio, Inc., a subsidiary of Greater Media Inc., the parent company of 23 AM and FM radio stations in the Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, New Jersey and Philadelphia markets. Greater Media also owns a group of weekly newspapers in central New Jersey and several telecommunications towers located throughout the United States.


BRW Notebook :

Hold on to your hats : Nothing like using Presidental Inauguration to divert attention from itself. Clear Channel, the largest radio station owner in the country, has reportedly scheduled a mass purge of its workforce this coming Tuesday(1/20) . Total job cuts are estimated to be around 1,000 according to various reports in radio trade publications. Clear Channel owns Boston's two top rated-FMs WXKS/Kiss 108 and WJMN/Jamn 94-5 and two AM stations WKOX AM 1200 and WXKS AM 1430. As mentioned in this space last week, the upcoming job cuts even had Kiss 108's morning man Matt Siegel concerned as he was leaving on vacation last week. He's scheduled to return on January 20.

Radio by numbers : Fall ratings are in. WJMN/Jamn 94-5 had a very strong showing in the last pencil-and-paper diary survey ever. Arbitron is now using the new cellphone-size Personal People Meter(PPM) technology to measure Boston radio audience. In the overall listeners ages Jamn posted a 6.1 share tying Greater Media's adult contemporary kingpin WMJX/Magic 106.7FM for second place among listeners 12 and older, just behind the perennial market leader, WBZ AM 1030 with 6.4 . Jamn was also number one with listeners 18 to 34 and winning every daypart in that specific demographic. Among listeners 25 to 54, also known as the 'money demo' that advertisers constantly seek, Jamn's sibling WXKS-FM/Kiss 108 came on top. Kiss delivered a 1-2 punch with with its 28-year morning franchise "Matty In the Morning" and afternoon man Romeo grabbing top spot in their respective dayparts among adults 25-54. Some bit of good news for local talk radio which enjoyed a nice bump thanks to the Election season. WRKO's Howie Carr was tied for first(with Kiss' Romeo) and WTKK's 96.9FM's Jay Severin was right behind him in the 25-54 demo. Breaking 25-54 demo by gender, Entercom's sports talker WEEI AM 850 once again ruled Men 25-54 while Kiss 108 was romancing the Women 25-54 as well as every female demographic imagineable.

The fall ratings period ran from Sept. 18 to Dec. 10. Boston market is now being surveyd weekly using PPM's. The results for January PPM survey, which kicked off last Thursday(1/8) and won't count for advertising purposes, are scheduled to be released on February 26.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Raines rows down the River

Former WZLX 1007.FM(2002-2005) and WROR 105.7FM(1999-2002) program director Beau Raines is back in the Boston radio market. As of today, he's the new morning drive-time voice on Haverhill's AAA WXRV/The River 92.5FM as well the station's new Program Director. The longtime industry veteran takes over for Ron Bowen who left the station last June.

After leaving WZLX-FM's programming post at the end of 2005, Raines has been programming and working as everning host at AAA KQMT-FM/"The Mountain 99.5" in Denver. But he was let go due to budget cuts at the Entercom-owned station this past October.

Raines started his radio career in high school at on his native Long Island, N.Y. While attending Northeastern University in the late 60's, he worked as a technician at then-Top 40 WRKO AM 680. He started his professional career as a DJ in Manchester, N.H. He nearly 40-year career includes on-air stints and programming jobs in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Fall River, Mass., Portland, Maine, Miami, St. Louis, Tampa, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Boston(WROR and WZLX), Denver and now Boston again.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Matty : Will I be back?

Job cuts at Clear Channel's local radio stations could be on the way as the nation's largest radio company copes with a decline in advertising revenue. After just-concluded general managers meeting in Dallas, the layoffs could be on tap for all Clear Channel markets nationwide. Boston is no exception. Some media reports suggested that Clear Channel could eliminate 20% of its workforce this month alone.

As Kiss 108 prepares to celebrate its 30th birthday this year, even station's longtime and top-rated morning personality Matt Siegel questioned his and other staffers' job security as the rumors of more layoffs could be coming next week. As he was signing off to go on vacation, on his Thursday's show (1/8), Siegel openly wondered whether a more difficult economy, with little growth and a squeeze on advertising revenue could affect jobs at Kiss 108.

Listen for yourself. Here's the clip.

BRW Notebook :

WBZ's Santos is retiring : As first tipped in this space yesterday, WBZ's longtime sportscaster and the voice of the Patriots for 32 years, Gil Santos is calling it quits to a truly amazing sports radio career in his own hometown market. Santos who has called all three Patriots's SuperBowl wins is the dean of NFL radio play-by-play with calling team's fortunes from 1966 to 1979 and from 1991 to present. He joined WBZ as fulltime sportscaster in 1971. Despite some media reports linking his exit to recent budget cuts at the CBS-owned news/talker, Santos is retiring on his own terms according to a number of reliable sources within the Boston media. He will stay on as the Patriots play-by-play voice on WBCN 104.1FM as his relationship with the Kraft family which owns the NFL team, continues to be extremely tight. [Ed.Note : It's still unknown when he'll officially sign off from WBZ's morning drive news but it would only be appropriate for him stick around at WBZ thru the wire-to-wire coverage of the 2009 Boston Marathon on Monday, April 20th since it happens to be...what else?!...Patriots Day in Massachusetts. Interestingly enough, Santos was born and married on Patriots Day.]

I-diss : Even radio people don't listen to radio anymore. WTKK 96.9FM's midday co-host Jim Braude apparetnly doesn't search for music on his employer's music FMs like WBOS or WROR. What does Braude tune in when he is in his car? What elese, but his I-pod...

Friday, January 9, 2009

special Vegas edition from C.E.S.

WRKO’s Finneran seeks a clean start after his radio career is over

According to the report in today’s Boston Globe, former House Speaker turned WRKO morning host Tom Finneran, who was convicted in January 2007 of obstruction of justice charges has applied for a pardon from President George Bush. Two years ago, Finneran pleaded guilty to lying during testimony in November 2003 about his role in redrawing legislative districts in 2001, however, the investigators concluded he did not try to influence the reforming of districts including his own to specifically favor white people over minorities. The conviction led to his resignation from a $416,000-a-year job as president of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council and a month later he was hired as the morning drive host at WRKO AM 680. The plea deal got him a $25,000 fine, 18 months of unsupervised probation, and the possible suspension or loss of his law license. The state Retirement Board also stripped him of his nearly $31,000 annual state pension.

His lackluster ratings at WRKO over the past two years surely don’t spell out a long and prosperous career in radio. To everyone's surprise, in late falll, WRKO management opted to keep him around for the third and final year of his $300,000 contract. And, last week the station installed a fulltime co-host Todd Feinburg in order to keep the morning show from sinking even lower in the ratings. The “Finneran’s Forum” has also been re-dubbed as “Finneran and Feinburg”.

With aiming his sights at the life after radio, if granted President's pardon, Finneran would have a shot at getting his law license back and possibly return to his attorney practice. He also could be eligible to have his state pension reinstated.

Finneran hasn’t made a public comment about the pardon application since he’s currently on vacation in Hawaii.

BRW Notebook :

More changes in the air? : WBZ's recently dismised overnight host Steve LeVeille gave an interview to the Herald this past week. There is also a listener campaign under way to bring him back to WBZ. Check this site. Meanwile, LeVeille is already looking to land on his feet setting his sights at a morning drive host somewhere on the East Coast.

In a related WBZ note, a couple e-mailers are saying that station's veteran sports anchor and Patriots voice Gil Santos may be coming to an end of his 42-year tenure at WBZ. Santos is no longer doing morning updates during the 5-6 hour. They are now done by Mark Katic. In a recent interview with Worcester T&G's media reporter Bill Doyle, Santos said he will be back on Patriots play-by-play call for at least one more season(2009).

Also, as a sidenote, as part of its costcutting strategy WBZ AM has done away with live, local evening updates and now runs pre-taped local, news capsules complemented by live traffic reports. With WBZ-TV news department located in the same building, it's probably fair to assume that WBZ Radio will rely on a live feed from WBZ-TV's news department in case a major local news story breaks after 8o'clock at night. Another prime example where CBS has begun using radio-TV synergy is sister radio station WBMX/Mix 98.5 where this week Channel 4's morning news talking head David Wade is now delivering news/weather/sports updates during the new AM drive "Karson and Kennedy" show.

WCRB gets a new GM : Nancy Dieterich who has worked at WBZ Radio, WBCN, WMRQ, WEEI was named new general manager at Waltham's classical outlet WCRB 99.5FM. She replaces Paul Kelly who left a market cluster manager job in Virginia two months ago. According to sourdes, many staffers at the station were surprised that the current General Sales Manager David Schultz didn't get the job.

Afternoon spin-out : After two years as the afternoon drive jock at WROR 105.7FM, local radio veteran Paul Perry was shown the door at year-end. Station's weekend jock "JC Haze"(ed. note : anyone with a radio name like "JC Haze" should be guarenteed a lifetime employment at an oldies/classic hits station as far as I'm concerned) is currently filling in the PM drive shift. There are whispers that John Lander who last month got spun out of mornings at Mix 98.5FM after nearly 13 years, may be headed to the Greater Media-owned Classic Hits station.

Maybe we're craaaaazy...possibly : WEEI AM 850 called the cops on what appears to be a case of a mentally disturbed listener harassing station staffers. An unemployed wedding photographer from Cambridge was arrested and arraigned in court this week for making phone threats against station management as well as WEEI's morning duo of John Dennis and Gerry Callahan reports the Herald.

Tracking Lobel : After a brief and not-so-memorable stint as a morning host at Oldies 103.3 this fall, Bob Lobel is headed back to TV. He's part of a new show on NESN called Dirty Water which will debut next Saturday(1/17) night at 11:30pm. Kiss 108's "Matty in The Morning" sidekick Lisa (Roach) Donovan is also part of the new TV project.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Game changer : First in-car internet radio is being launched this year

The King has left the building a while ago. And, here in Vegas at the anuual Consumer Electronics Show, on Elvis' birthday, it's becoming pretty obvious that terrestrial and satellite radio in its current form may not be that far behind.

Car radio manufacturer Blaupunkt USA has introduced the world's first internet in-car radio receiver at CES. Blanpunkt's new gadget(currently priced around $500 and should be available on the market by fall) will give users access to a substantial amount of Internet radio content. This receiver will allow drivers to get access to thousands of live web streamed radio stations while driving. It's being touted as an alternative to regular terrestrial radio and a possible competitor to satellite systems. This being the first offical in-car internet radio receiver, it is not without flaws. Major one - drivers have to be connected to an Internet-enabled smartphone phone to receive the signals and that could cost extra for a pricey data plan.

In any case, I've seen the future, my friends, and it's not staying in Vegas.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

WTKK inserts new a Saturday morning show

Greater Media's talker WTKK 96.9FM is adding a new weekend show hosted by local motivational speaker Mel Robbins(apparently no relation to self-help guru Anthony Robbins). Robbins also has a weekday syndicated show "Make It Happen"(heard locally on a suburban WXBR AM 1460 from 10am to Noon) replaces Michelle McPhee in the Saturday morning line-up. According to the press release, McPhee will now focus on her evening(7-10pm) show. As part of the shuffle, "The Joe and Huggy" adds an extra hour.

WTKK's Saturday line-up looks like this : Hank Morse, 6-8am; Mel Robbins, 8-10am; The Joe & Huggy Show, 10am-1pm; The Money Show, 1-4pm; The Phantom Gourmet, 4-7pm; Jay Severin Rewind, 7-9pm; Mark Levin, 9-11pm; and Monica Crowley, 11pm-1am.

Here's the official press release :

Boston’s Talk Evolution 96.9 FM, WTKK Adds Mel Robbins Show to Weekend Lineup

Mel Premieres this Saturday on 96.9, WTKK

Boston, MA (January 6, 2009): Boston’s Talk Evolution, 96.9 WTKK, announced today The Mel Robbins Show, will be added to the station's weekend lineup beginning on Saturday, January 10th, from 8:00am – 10:00am.

The Mel Robbins show is a talk show propelled by everyday life. Mel's live and local, fast paced, uninhibited Saturday morning program is the place where listeners can focus on real life problems, newsworthy topics, storytelling, personal dramas, and real advice. Mel Robbins replaces Michele McPhee, who will focus on her weekday, 7 to 10 p.m. show.

“I love talking to people about their lives and helping them to make things happen,” said Robbins. “ Boston is my home and the opportunity to bring my brand of life changing talk radio to New England and Boston ’s Talk Evolution 96.9, WTKK is an incredible opportunity to connect with listeners in a unique and compelling way.”

“Bostonians and New Englanders will get to meet a really cool and smart lady with a big heart," said WTKK Program Director Grace Blazer. "At 96.9, WTKK, Mel becomes part of our weekend Evolution. We will continue to expose our listeners to special hosts and special shows to compete for their all too precious weekend time. Local shows now account for two-thirds of our advertiser friendly weekend lineup.”

Mel Robbins is the national host of a hit talk show series for Boarders. Heard and seen live from Downtown Crossing in Boston- recent guests include Barbara Walters, Donald Trump, Bill Cosby, and Dr. Oz. Robbins is a CNBC Weekly Contributor and the spokesperson for Microsoft Office Live. She is a monthly columnist for Success Magazine and her media company Advice for Living creates programming and products that entertain and improve people's lives. She just released audio coaching sessions to help high school students beat stress and win the mind game behind the SAT’s with Kaplan test prep nationwide. Mel is a former criminal defense attorney, dot-com executive, graduate of Dartmouth College and Boston College Law School . She and her husband Chris live in Metro-West with their 3 kids.

WTKK’S new Saturday lineup is Hank Morse, 6-8am; Mel Robbins, 8-10am; The Joe & Huggy Show, 10am-1pm; The Money Show, 1-4pm; The Phantom Gourmet, 4-7pm; Jay Severin Rewind, 7-9pm; Mark Levin, 9-11pm; and Monica Crowley, 11pm-1am.

For more information, please contact Grace Blazer, Program Director, at 617-822-6820 or

WTKK-FM is owned by Greater Boston Radio, Inc., a subsidiary of Greater Media, Inc., the parent company of 23 AM and FM radio stations in the Boston , Charlotte , Detroit , New Jersey and Philadelphia markets. Greater Media also owns a group of weekly newspapers in central New Jersey and several telecommunications towers located throughout the United States .

Monday, January 5, 2009

Power Play : WEEI's Ordway gets a new 5-year deal

Update : Official press release on Ordway's new contract is below

Like many free agent big name pro athletes he talks about on his daily show, Glenn Ordway once he again proved that everyone has their price. In his case, the price's right.

Glenn Ordway has signed a very lucrative five-year contract to continue as host of WEEI radio's afternoon "The Big Show" according to the exclusive report in the Boston Herald this morning. According to the report, Ordway is expected to make a $1 million per year.

The signing came with Ordway's previous deal expiring on December 31 thus enabling him to explore other opportunities outside of WEEI. Ordway has been No. 1 for five years among the station's target demo of men 25-54 as his Big Show celebrated 13 years on the air this past fall.

The Herald's report mentions that as part of the Ordway's new pact, WEEI's video version will air on a regional sports TV network - either Comcast SportsNet or NESN. Ordway already hosts a weekly New England Tailgate show on Comcast SportsNet during the NFL season.

Ordway's tenure at WEEI predates the sports format. He's been at WEEI since 1987, when he was executive producer and broadcaster on Celtics telecasts and served as analyst with the legendary Johny Most. When the station went all sports in 1991, he was a midday host while continuing his Celtics duties. Ordway was WEEI's program director from 1995-97.

While signing off the Big Show in mid-December as he was about to go on his scheduled holiday break, Ordway warned his listeners that he didn't know whether he'd be back behind WEEI's mic after his his contract expires.

Here's the official Entercom Boston release :

Glenn Ordway Re-Signs Contract with WEEI

BOSTON (January 5, 2009) – Entercom New England today announced that it has re-signed WEEI Sports Radio host Glenn Ordway to a new multi-year contract. Ordway is host of WEEI’s The Big Show, a perennial powerhouse among talk radio programming.

The Big Show has ranked number one among men 25-54 in every ratings book since the spring of 2003, and has also ranked number one with adults 25-54 in every ratings book but three over the same period of time. The show originally aired from 3 PM – 6 PM, but shifted to 2 PM – 6 PM in September of 1999 where it remains.

Ordway has been a presence on the Boston sports broadcasting scene for over two decades. Prior to joining WEEI as Program Director in June of 1995, he was a commentator for Boston Celtics radio broadcasts for thirteen consecutive years, including five as play-by-play man. The Big Show was among the new programs he created upon joining ‘EEI and he has hosted it since its inception. At the same time, he also created the ever-popular Whiner Line, which has become the highest rated fifteen minutes in Boston radio today among both men and adults 25-54.

Today, Ordway’s influence transcends the airwaves. He has hosted The Whiney Awards to honor the top callers to the Whiner Line for the past six years. The event began as a small gathering of 150 people at Davio’s in Boston and grew to upwards of 3,000 attendees at the Wang Theatre in 2008. The event benefits a different non-profit organization each year.

Ordway’s extensive charitable initiatives have helped raised millions for numerous local non-profits, including The Jimmy Fund, Champions for Children, The Rodman Ride for Kids, The Genesis Fund, and The Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation, to name a few. In 2005, he was honored by the Jimmy Fund as the recipient of the annual “Jimmy Award”, an honor bestowed upon a media member who goes over and above to support and raise funds for the organization.

Ordway has also been nominated for three Marconi Awards (2006, 2007, 2008), which are widely regarded as the most prestigious awards in the radio industry.

“Glenn is a very special part of the WEEI "Magic"; having been one of the architects of the station and the only nationally recognized Major Market Personality by the Marconi Awards in the Boston market, three times in recent years,” said Julie Kahn, Entercom New England Market Manager. “His show is a must listen to destination for breaking sports news in America's best sports market."

“Glenn and I have been together since the beginning. He has played an enormous role in helping grow WEEI to the legendary status we currently enjoy, and I’m thrilled to be able to continue to work with him for the foreseeable future,” said Jason Wolfe, Entercom New England’s VP of AM Programming and Operations. “I’ve been privileged to work with some of the very best broadcasters in the business in the seventeen years I’ve been at WEEI, and Glenn is at the top of that list.”

“We have had a phenomenal run with The Big Show on WEEI and I am thrilled that we will have the opportunity to extend that run for years to come on America's number one sports station,” said Ordway.

Entercom is one of the nation’s largest radio broadcasters with operations in San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Denver, Sacramento, Cincinnati, Portland, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Austin, Norfolk, Buffalo, New Orleans, Providence, Memphis, Greensboro, Rochester, Greenville/Spartanburg, Madison, Wichita, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Springfield and Gainesville/Ocala.

BRW Notebook :

WBZ's additions : As mentioned in Friday's update(1/2), WBZ cut its longtime Saturday night and overnight show personalities last week. Over the weekend, the new replacments were introduced. The self-proclaimed "Digital Goddess" Kim Komando's nationally syndicated show will now occupy the 8-11pm slot on Saturday nights(...on a 10-hour tape-delay). As for Steve LeVeille's overnight replacment, St.Louis-based talker Jon Grayson launched a new "Overnight America" show on four CBS Radio news and talk stations including WBZ in Boston. Grayson's show will be heard on WBZ from 1am to 5am.

Friday, January 2, 2009

WBZ cuts longtime staffers

To any longtime company employee who has ever feared being downsized, here is a cautionary tale. Last week's job cuts and consolidations at one of Boston’s top radio stations claimed some of its most durable personalities.

Although no official announcement has been made, word is that a number of longtime staffers got cut at WBZ AM 1030 right before year-end. Lovell Dyett who started at WBZ back in 1971 as a news reporter was most recently the host of a Saturday night talk show(9pm-Midnight). Another casualty in the Saturday evening talk schedule was host Pat Desmarais(7-9pm). Also on the list of WBZ’s talk hosts let go was Steve LeVeille who has been hosting his overnight(12am-5am) “Steve LeVeille Broadcast” since June 1999. LeVeille first joined WBZ in 1991 as part-time and fill-in personality. Prior to that he was with the old all-news WEEI-AM and WBUR-FM. It’s not clear how WBZ plans to replace weekday overnight or Saturday night programming(BRW’s inquiry weren’t returned by WBZ’s programming department) but there are whispers that syndicated programming may be on the way come next week. WBZ will likely hold off on announcing the program changes until Monday.

Another WBZ mainstay that got shown the door this week was Tom Cuddy who worked as a freelance sports anchor during WBZ’s Afternoon News block since joining the station in 1985. (Cuddy also operates and owns a sports reporting venture which provides morning sports reports to radio stations around the region). WBZ’s news anchors are now delivering sports updates twice an hour during the afternoon commute.

While most talk stations around the country use syndicated shows on weekends and overnights when the ratings matter less, WBZ has been an exception to the rule with having local and live presence on overnights and Saturday evenings up until now. While WBZ is part of large CBS radio group where profits matter more especially during these tough economic times, the move to slash salaries in favor low or no-cost syndication fare makes sense on the business end. As for listeners, it means less local and live choices on the dial.

BRW Notebook :

More questions than answers : David Scott takes a break from his book-writing mission to update us on some going-ons in the Boston sports radio world. As always, Scott’s Shots is a fun read. This one doesn’t disappoint(Ed. Note : Happy belated ChakkaKahn, Dave. We missed you, man!). First, Scott is convinced that Glenn “Big O’ Ordway has no choice but to return to WEEI empire taking a paycut and all….Scott also reports that ESPN 890’s original minority investor and General Manager Jessamy Tang has left the Schrafft's building after telling staffers that she is expecting. With Tang out of the picture and with the majority owner Waller Sutton Media now in charge of running the market’s 'other' sports talker, Scott believes this is the beginning of ESPN 890’s eventual fadeout. Bring on those infomercials for nutrition and diet supplements.

Tom+Todd = ? : As mentioned here a couple weeks ago, WRKO AM 680’s Tom Finneran experiment will continue on the Talk Station for one more year as station’s management opted to pick up the third year of his deal. This week, WRKO announced that after several months as a guest co-host, Todd Feinburg will become fulltime co-host of "Finneran's Forum" starting on Monday(1/5). Luckily, the reconfigured show will now end at 9am giving syndicated talker Laura Ingraham an extra hour(9am-Noon). In other WRKO changes, beginning next weekend(1/11), Pundit Radio Review loses an hour as Fox News Report takes over the 7-8pm slot on Sunday nights. Pundit Radio will now be on from 8 to 10am and still hosted by Kevin Whalen who’s been flying solo since Gregg Jackson left the program this past summer.