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.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

CBS has eliminated all live/local overnight programming in Boston.
WBCN..WZLX..Oldies..Mix and now WBZ. Dark times for radio biz.

Anonymous said...

How can they get rid of the nicest guy on Boston radio, Steve Leveille? Just goes to show you; be a bumbling, no-nothing loudmouth, and keep your job(see all of WEEI). Disgusting.

Andrew said...

Like it or not the pirates are here. When they have their own advertizing campaigns and even elected officials get interviewed on these stations, we can no longer deny their impact on the market.

Anonymous said...

WBMX is still live in overnights so they have not eliminated "all live/local overnight programming in Boston"

Anonymous said...

I can almost understand the Cuddy cut, because it's easy enough to have the news anchors read the sports scores (especially when you consider most diehard sports fans aren't listening to 'BZ), but to eliminate thirty hours of live, local talk a week is mighty significant.

'RKO already has enough syndicated talk on nights/weekends. It's truly sad to see that the Boston radio market no longer has a unique voice.

It also makes me wonder about the future of AM radio, given that the talk format is responsible for almost all of its progamming.

Anonymous said...

WBMX is voicetracked at night.

Brian Flaherty said...

I listened to WBZ last night around 8pm and it was a "best of" of some woman. It sounded like a financial show but I didn't bother to listen.

raccoonradio said...

That was probably the Kim Kommando computer show. Word has it she was talking about how to sell stuff on Ebay

ryan said...

just listened to steve laveille's lame syndicated replacement jon grayson what a waste of 50,000 watts! they should just save a few more $$$ & shut down the station completely for 5 hours!
its sad that there won't be a live local show on overnite - wbz just lost this listener @ night & mornings!

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, Ordway gets a five-million dollar deal to stay at 'EEI while 'BZ is slashing on-air talent left and right. Where is the justice??? Maybe Leveille and Dyett should start brushing up on their sports knowledge.

Anonymous said...

CBS is in debt up to its eyeballs. All the radio stations must be for sale; even the legendary outlets like 'BZ. When they let LeVeille go, the first thing that came to mind was that there's no longer going to be a broadcast source for people to turn to for the next big local or regional story that breaks overnight. What about the next disasterous ice storm? And wasn't LeVeille right on top of his game the night the I-90 connector tunnel collapsed? Dan Rea took Unitil to task on his Monday night program for their incompetence during and after last month's ice storm, and I thought about whether we should also view WBZ radio in much the same way that we view our public utilities. It's a 24/7 world and a mistake to treat overnights as a "throw-away."

Anonymous said...

I really miss Steve LeVeille - nice guys sure do finish last!!

Anonymous said...

Shameful! Miss you Steve!

CompleteCynic said...

QUICK! Name the last big local story that sent you scampering for the WBZ overnight broadcast.

That's what I thought