Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jay Lite : Severin and WTKK's management agree to disagree with strings attached, host's suspension ends on June 2nd

Call it a softer, gentler Jay Severin. Greater Media announced today that Jay Severin is returning to his 3-7pm slot at WTKK 96.9FM effective Tuesday, June 2nd. This ends the month-long suspension saga of the controversial WTKK host. Greater Media sent out the following statement at Noon today.

Greater Media, Inc. Statement Pertaining to the Return of Jay Severin to the 96.9 FM WTKK Airwaves in Boston:

"We have had conversations with Jay Severin over the past several weeks about his hurtful, inappropriate remarks. He understands that we will not accept this type of commentary on our airwaves in the future. Based on this understanding, we have agreed to conclude Jay’s suspension and he will return to the 96.9 FM WTKK airwaves on Tuesday, June 2, 2009. We want to emphasize that WTKK still strongly supports an open and spirited debate about the many issues our community and our country currently face. There will no doubt be times when people disagree with what Jay says. Our goal is to maintain a level of discourse that is compelling and thought-provoking, yet civil and respectful. While we will not always succeed in walking this line, we will continually strive to do so."

96.9 FM-WTKK 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 as well as several telecommunications towers located throughout the United States.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Radio Silence : Still no resoltion in Severin's status at WTKK

It's been exactly a month since afternoon talk show host Jay Severin was yanked off the air at Greater Media's talker WTKK 96.9FM in response to an outcry of disapproval over his statements about Mexican immigrants and Swine Flu(BRW 4/30).

Greater Media's stern statement on May 4th was the last we heard from the company publicly on the Severin suspension, however, it appears something is definitely in the works behind the scenes. While Greater Media is falling short of announcing that Severin and WTKK are officially filing for divorce, the station's latest programming action is either an attempt to drive away whatever is left of his fandom during its afternoon drivetime or create a high demand among his followers for Severin's return.

For the first few weeks of Severin's suspension, the station brought in live fill-in hosts like former Howie Carr producer Doug 'VB' Goudie, NYC-based syndicated nighttimer Curtis Sliwa, Florida-based conservative Todd Schnitt and Philly-based national talker Michael Smerconish. However, in recent days, there has been a shift to fill Severin's afternoon slot with syndicated filler which is not even live. And, in what seems to be a very odd business decision on their part, WTKK is now airing Michael Smercnish's nationally syndicated show on tape-delay from 3 to 5pm(the show feeds live from Noon-2pm) and then repeating it from 5 to 7pm. Perhaps there's an explanation to this strategy but no one is saying anything right now. WTKK which is already having problems under the new PPM system maybe making it even harder for itself to climb out of a hole.

Stay tuned.

BRW Notebook :

The DMB alert : The Dave Matthews Band which is rocking out Fenway Park this weekend will host its own music channel on Sirius XM. DMB will be broadcast on the "Jam On" channel, Sirius Channel 17 and XM Channel 56, and will debut at noon Monday and run through 3 a.m. on June 8. The launch of the channel coincides with the band's release of its latest studio album, "Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King," which will be released worldwide Tuesday.

Knock, knock...Who's there?...1990's : Music radio's contribution in the 1990's? You really have to dig around among tons crap like "Macarena", "Ice Ice Baby", Chumbawamba, Right Said Fred, Aqua, etc. You get the idea. But, some of the better stuff that came out of the 1990's we'll be playing at Radio 92.9FM's annual Earthfest at the Hatch Shell tomorrow from Noon to 5pm.

Sports shorts : "Sports Blast with Joey Murr" heard on WBNW AM 1120 every weekday from 6am to 8am is spreading alll over the dial. The show will now be heard on 890 ESPN Boston starting this Sunday(5/31) at Noon.

I'm just sayin'...: While there is still no official announcement as to where Boston Bruins' radio home will be on the local dial come 2009/2010 season, in Pittsburgh, the Penguins just re-upped with their flagship modern rocker WXDX 105.9FM for six more years. An interesting wrinkle to the Pens' deal is the creation of all-Penguins station on WXDX's HD subchannel. With the renewed interest in the B's this past season, can we see a similar all-Bruins-all-the-time HD channel around here if one the local FMers gets on board under a new deal? Or is there a new FM sports talker in the making?

Going for the record : Community radio is alive and kicking. Suburban WDIS AM 1170 in Norfolk, Mass will be covering World’s Longest Baseball Game. Station's sports director Jim Lucas will be broadcasting the complete and uninterrupted play by play from McMorrow Field on Randall Road starting at 8 a.m. on June 6th and ending at 8 P.M. on June 7th. The game and the broadcast will run for 36 straight hours. Since WDIS has a daytime only signal, after the station goes off the air at sunset, the broadcast will be fullly available on-line on station's website The game will break all records for the length of play and WDIS will hold the record for the longest ever baseball broadcast.

Everybody is out for themselves : Tough days in the media advertising world these days. feels puzzled after hearing WRKO's spot which kicks the newsprint business while it's falling. Call it Boston media's Battle Royale.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

WROR revs up afternoon drive with Doyle and Devereaux

Greater Media has just sent out a press release(see below) announcing a new afternoon drive team for its classic hits WROR 105.7FM. Starting today, morning funnyman Tom Doyle and veteran radio personality Julie Devereaux will team up to form "Doyle and Devereaux" which will run from 3pm to 7pm. WROR has been running without a permanent afternoon drive host since Paul Perry's contract wasn't renewed at the end of 2008.(He's currently heard at WROR on weekends). Part-timer JC Haze has been subbing in the PM drive slot for the past five months.

Doyle has been part of the legendary morning team "Loren and Wally" since 1991 when he worked at the old WVBF. In 1992, he left WVBF for a brief morning stint at sports talker WEEI AM 590 followed by a morning show at now-defunct country WBCS 96.9FM. Doyle rejoined L&W at WROR 105.7FM in September 1996 when Greater Media brought back the familiar call letters to launch the station's current classic hits format.

Devereaux has been heard in the Boston market since 1987 when she was a DJ at now defunct WCGY 93.7FM. Then followed an eight-year run at WBOS 92.9FM from 1992 to 2000. She moved to afternoon drive at sister station WROR 105.7FM in 2000. Earlier this year, she lost her evening show at WROR due to budget cuts.

Doyle & Devereaux to Premiere TONIGHT on 105.7 WROR!

Boston, MA (May 26, 2009): Tom Doyle, member of The Loren Wally Morning Show on 105.7 WROR and creator of Tom's Townie Tunes, will join forces with Julie Devereaux for Boston's first ever morning show spin-off into PM Drive... Doyle & Devereaux, afternoons from 3 to 7pm!

Drive in with Loren & Wally... Drive home with Doyle & Devereaux! The show will feature Tom's Townie Tunes, as well as thoughtful discussions about the latest in entertainment and local news. Julie will always be there to correct Tom and keep him in his place.

The big announcement was made today at 8:30am by 105.7 WROR Morning Personality Loren Owens, who assured listeners that Doyle would still be a part of The Loren & Wally Morning Show. "I always wanted my own show," said Doyle. "I didn't know I'd have to do it though." Lucky for him, Julie will be running the show.

Tune-in today at 3pm.

WROR-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 as well as several telecommunications towers located throughout the United States .

Follow Greater Media, Inc. on Twitter for up to date headlines and press releases at Become a fan of the Greater Media, Inc. page on Facebook.

BRW Notebook :

Cuddy returns : Freelance sports reporter Tom Cuddy who was cut by WBZ AM 1030 in January(BRW 1/2) is back delivering sports updates during station's "Afternoon News" block. Cuddy runs his sports update business which serves a number of New England radio stations.

Radio giant adopts new cost-cutting tool : According to last week's report in NY Post, the nation's largest radio operator Clear Channel, appears headed to a showdown with its lenders. But while it tries to avoid bankruptcy, the debt-strapped Clear Channel is introducing somewhat controversial company-wide programming options to contain costs.

Most Clear Channel's local music stations here and elsewhere are now implmenting the Premium Choice programming inititative which was first announced in mid-April. Premium Choice is the programming distribution system which comes preloaded with music logs and is designed to air on multiple stations, where program directors are to add local content and promos. This would remove local programmers from the majority of the music selection process, which is raising alarms among promotion executives in the recording industry.

Locally, in early May, Clear Channel's top 40 giant Kiss 108 has implemented Premium Choice which is used for its late-night and overnight shifts. Basically, what it means for Kiss 108's playlist is the following - all the music decisions for the weekday hours of 10pm to 6am and overnight hours on weekends are now based out of a central Clear Channel programming hub. Kiss 108's playlists for 6am to 10pm are still being compiled locally in Medford.

Locally, Clear Channel owns and operates Top40 WXKS 107.9FM/Kiss 108, Rhythmic Top 40 WJMN 94.5FM and Rumba 1200 which is heard over WKOX AM 1200/WXKS AM 1430.

Nothing but the Dead : This week is the bi-annual Orgy week at WHRB 95.3FM. The Harvard-run station will offer 129+ hours of Greatful Dead programming starting today. The station plans to air the entire Dick Pick's collection in the chronocological release order spanning the years of 1968 to 1992.

Monday, May 25th - 12:00AM-1:00PM, 10:00PM-11:59PM
Tuesday, May 26th – ALL DAY
Wednesday, May 27th – ALL DAY
Thursday, May 28th – ALL DAY
Friday, May 29th - 12:00AM-1:00PM
Saturday, May 30th - 12:00AM-5:00AM
Sunday, May 31st - 12:00AM-11:00AM, 12:30PM-11:59PM
Monday, June 1st - 12:00AM-?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kiss 108's Siegel brings his show to the Ocean State

Longtime WXKS 107.9FM/Kiss 108 morning man Matt Siegel is taking his wildly popular AM drive show to Rhode Island airwaves beginning next Monday(5/18). "Matty In The Morning" will be heard on WSNE-FM/Coast 93.3 which serves the Providence market. Coast 93.3, like Kiss 108, is owned by Clear Channel Communications.

Although Kiss 108's signal has a pretty good reach into the Ocean State, the regional syndication move makes more economic sense for Coast 93.3 whose line-up is already loaded with out-of-town personalities like Ryan Seacrest and John Tesh. Both Boston and Providence clusters are also managed by the same general manager, Tom McConnell. Coast's lone local show is hosted by midday DJ Kristen Lessard who was with Boston's WBOS 92.9FM and WROR 105.7FM a few years ago.

Siegel who's been with Kiss 108 since 1981 will keep his show Boston-focused. In 1995, the station's former owner Pyramid Broadcasting tested out the syndication of "Matty In the Morning" but the experiment was very short-lived(4 months) as both the host and three stations involved just couldn't make it work for many reasons.

BRW Notebook :

Looking back : Speaking of Kiss 108 and "Matty in the Morning", it was 30 years ago this past January 15 that WXKS 107.9FM, better known as Kiss 108, broke into the competitive world of Boston radio. The station started out as the disco station(Siegel was often referred to as "Disco Matty" by his competitors back in the day), but after the first couple years it segued to a more of the Top40 sound mxed in with dance and R&B artists. While it wasn't the first station to resurrect Top 40 in the early '80s, it became the primary engine of the format’s resurgence. Without a doubt it was one of the most-copied stations in America for at least first two decades backed up by power personalities who helped to put it all together - Sunny Jo White, Matt Siegel, JJ Wright, Dale Dorman, Ed McMann and "Lady D" Diana Steele. But what may be even more impressive than its acceleration is its cruising power.

Three decades after its launch, Kiss 108 is as strong as ever and has consistently ranked in the city's top four and perpetuating a brand name so powerful that today's pop fans listen in huge numbers to their parents' radio station.

This Sunday(5/17), Kiss 108 will once again be honoring its heritage and history by throwing itself 30th birthday party at the Comcast Center in Mansfield where over 20,000 fans will pack the sold-out all-day music fest featuring today's Top 40 hit makers The Black Eyed Peas, The All-American Rejects, Flo Rida, Ciara, The Veronicas, The White Tie Affair, Sean Kingston and others. The station will be broadcasting from Kiss Concert 2009 all day Sunday as Matt Siegel and his morning show crew and afternoon driver Neil "Romeo" Paris will be providing updates on the festivities.

Living the dream : Quite a night for local sports radio play-by-play teams, Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell will be on working Game 6 as the Celtics try to close out the Magic in Orlando at 7pm as part of WEEI AM 850's big doubleheader as the Sox try to take the rubber game from the Angels at 3:35pm in the first game. Over on WBZ AM 1030, the Bruins will try to make an unimpossible comeback from being down 3-1 against the Hartford(or is it Carolina now?) Hurricanes with Dave Goucher and Bob Beers on the call at 8pm from the Garden.

Radio bailout : Goldman Sachs is now a majority owner of classical WCRB 99.5FM in Waltham as NYC-based investment firm they took 85% equity stake in parent company Nassau Broadcasting late last month. Nassau has been working on restructuring its outstanding debt with Goldman Sachs for the past few months. The end result, Goldman will call the shots as Nassau runs and operates its stations located throughtout New England states and New Jersey. In 2007, Entercom was going to acquire a 50% ownership of WCRB 99.5FM in addition to a bigger proposed deal with Nassau which involved syndicating WEEI on Nassau's stations around New England, but the deal fell apart as the year came to a close.

Boring radio invades : WFNX 101.7FM will change more than its schedule this Sunday morning. After 26 years on the air, Jeff Turton's "Jazz Brunch" bid a fond farewell to Boston airwaves last Sunday. Station didn't officially announce what will air in its place(PD Keith Dakin didn't return BRW's inquiry) but the loss of "Jazz Brunch" denies casual listeners the chance to hear a few minutes of Miles or Dara's African-influenced sounds in the middle of a lazy Sunday morning, and deprives the region's die hard fans, many of whom developed their tastes listening to Turton's show over two decades, opportunities to sample new music from all over the world. More significant, it changes the character of Boston's commercial radio. Even for those who never buy jazz records, jazz programming can be a refuge from the crush of the same of alternative rock, oldies and classic rock, adult contemporary, Top 40 carried on at least 10 other stations. Jazz Brunch was one of the few places on the dial at the time of the week providing important special-interest programming in favor of more radio sameness.

Mix on the Move : More changes ahead. WBMX-FM/Mix 98.5 which got a new morning show earlier this year is also getting a new studio later this year. The Hot AC station which has been housed at 1200 Soldiers Field Road for about 10 years will be joining its sister stations WZLX 100.7FM, WBCN 104.1FM and WODS 103.3FM down the street at 83 Leo Birmingham Parkway. The for-lease sign is already out in front of 1200 Soldiers Field as the construction of the new Mix 98.5 studios in the old TV38 building is now underway. The move is expected to take place in the fall.

Guess who's not coming for dinner : Heading into Day 11 of the suspension, there's still no word from Jay Severin or his employer WTKK 96.9FM. And that media-manufactured Porky Pig flu hysteria that got Severin into this big jam with his radio bosses is not even in the news anymore(The sanitizer is actually back on the shelves at my local CVS. So, I guess the worst is behind us, Matt Lauer? :-).

BRW did hear from one his sponsors - Michael Currier who owns Currier's Leather Furniture - dropped a note at this space this week. Currier says he's standing by Severin and that last week's Globe report on the advertiser pull-out conveniently misquoted him to fit their side of the story : "Globe just goes with throw it against the wall crap. Have another sponsor said the same. Illegal aliens don’t buy product from Jays sponsors greater Boston…..It’s more WTKK after 10 years trying to get out of $1M a year long term deal. Jay has been on the edge and said worse for all 10 years here. We will continue to support Jay and his program. We were grossly misquoted in the big surprise there. We told them "we would absolutely be advertising with Jay when he comes back on." I guess they saw fit to conveniently leave that part out. Thank you for your concern."

(ED. Note : As I said from the beginning when this all happened, the bottom line is the bottom line. This is not about free speech, stereotyping or offensive language as being spun in the newsprint, on non-profit media shows and other blogs. When Severin got into trouble in 2004 and actually had an official FCC complaint filed against him and WTKK, Greater Media backed him all the way. Why? Because his ratings were hot and he was making money for his employers. It was love at the cash register. This time around, his ratings are not hot, not even warm(Severin is not even in Top 10) and with the advertising market being what it is, you don't need to be an economics genius to figure out that paying $1million a year plus bonuses just doesn't make sense in this business environment. What happens next? There are only two options to consider : an agreed buyout or one big pay cut. )

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Manny The Cheater story juices up Boston sports talkers

Boston sports radio is absolutely buzzing today as Red Sox Nation is trying to sort out Manny Ramirez's 50-game suspension after testing positive for a banned substance. The local shows on WEEI AM 850 as well as 890 ESPN Boston's afternoon drive show both are being inundated with calls with most callers feeling that Ramirez story will now tarnish his Hall of Fame image as well as Sox' 2004 and 2007 World Series wins.

The Manny 'roid story first surfaced last month when former Red Sox outfielder and self-admitted steroid user Jose Canseco publicly stated that Ramirez's "name is most likely, 90%" on the list of 104 big-name players who tested positive during the 2003 season. While this story will easily dominate the airwaves over the Celtics and Bruins playoff runs for the next few days, it is also a natural competition between local leader WEEI which serves as the sounding board of the Red Sox Nation and ESPN 890, which puts ESPN's resources behind a mix of national and local hosts.

BRW Notebook :

And now a word from our sponsors : Today's Globe has a story about WTKK 96.9FM's sponsors fleeing the Jay Severin Show as the controversial host sits on the sidelines in the wake of last week's uproar about his comments. Some of the market's well-known radio spenders are saying they are pulling their ads from Severin's show because they don't agree with his views while other advertisers said they were evaluating the situation. No mention in the Globe article whether these advertisers who are distancing themselves from Severin have completely stopped advertising on the station or asked to move their ads to different dayparts on WTKK schedule.

Funny memories of Dom : This happens to be one of the classic Boston radio moments of all time. In 1985, WFNX 101.7FM's veteran news director Henry Santoro was interviewing funnyman Dom DeLuise about his new cookbook. DeLuise, who passed away earlier this week at the age of 75, fell asleep during the intereview. Twice! Hear it here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Update : Severin's suspension continues at WTKK 96.9FM

BRW just received an update from Greater Media's press person on the status of Jay Severin's suspension at talker WTKK 96.9FM for last week's comments(BRW 4/30). Here is station's official statement :

"WTKK and Greater Media value an open and vigorous dialogue, but we also strongly adhere to basic principles of civility, common decency and respect for all cultures. We believe Jay's suspension is the best way to uphold both of these corporate policies. WTKK Management met with Jay Severin and his agent today. He will continue to remain on suspension until further notice."

Severin remains off the air for third straight day. This afternoon, morning personality from Fox25/WFXT-TV Doug "VB" Goudie is filling in the 3-7pm slot at WTKK 96.9FM.