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.

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