Report : Entercom seeks to bolster WEEI's brand with a move to FM
The real fallout from CBS Radio's new entry - 98.5 The Sports Hub - into the local sports radio fray is only starting to take shape. With 890 ESPN shutting down for good come Monday(BRW 9/14), a much bigger move(or a series of moves) is now apparently in the works by WEEI AM 850's parent owner Entercom Commnications.
According to a published report in today's Boston Globe, the local sports powerhouse and the flagship for the Red Sox and Celtics, WEEI AM 850, is now about to take its game to FM dial.
That is really no big news, at least not in this corner.(Ed. Note : As stated in this space right after CBS Radio made its splashy announcement in mid-July about the upcoming birth of Sports Hub on 98.5FM, it was inevitable that WEEI's programming would find its way to Boston's FM dial sooner rather than later.. Actually, a real surprise in all this is why it took Entercom years to figure which band - AM vs. FM - offers a much better signal coverage and a larger audience pool in the Boston sports-crazed radio market.).
Moreover, WEEI's planned shift to FM this fall will be a bit more complex and prolonged than a simple overnight frequency switcheroo/format change engineered by CBS Radio to launch SportsHub this past August. As Chad Finn's report in the Globe indicates, the gradual infusion of ESPN Radio programming will first find its way to AM 850 via weekends and overnights. One assumes that once the Red Sox conclude their regular season schedule on AM 850, WEEI's full on-air content would then move from AM to one of the two Entercom's FM signals in the Boston market - 93.7FM(now variety hits Mike-FM) or 107.3FM(active rock WAAF-FM). From all the indications, WEEI's programming including all its daily shows and Red Sox and Celtics broadcasts will be heading over to 93.7FM where Mike 93.7FM format is currently heard.
For Entercom the move of WEEI's lucrative programming to FM is more revenue-driven than anything else. With a more powerful FM signal, WEEI will have a bigger potential to reach more listeners as it fights off rookie SportsHub 98.5. The more listeners WEEI lures to its brand on FM, the more money it can charge for its advertising time which would add to Entercom's bottom line. And, at the end of the day, it's all about the bottom line for radio managers and owners.
This seems to be a win-win situation for both companies - Entercom and ESPN. WEEI goes to an FM signal which provides better fidelity and reception in some local areas for a broader reach. Meanwhile, in AM 850, ESPN gets a definite upgrade over AM 890 AM's spotty signal, as the nation's top sports media machine will be looking to clear all of its national programming and cross-promote its brand new local digital venture ESPNBoston.com.
BRW Notebook :
TV on radio : Starting Thursday(9/17), Boston's ABC affiliate WCVB TV5 will simulcast its morning 6am newscast and its afternoon 5pm newscast over on WWZN AM 1510/Revolution Boston as reported by the Boston Globe. WCVB can also be heard on Lowell's talker WCAP AM 980 from 5am to 6am and 5:30pm to 6:30pm. For the past couple of years, WBIX AM 1060 has been simulcasting New England Cable News from 8pm to 10pm weeknights.
Talk this way to FM? : With the migration of WEEI to FM, it's likely that one or both Entercom's FM formats may now be in jeopardy. Blast.com is speculating that rocker WAAF 107.3FM will be the one to go. (Ed. Note : However, don't expect WEEI to move to 107.3FM as Blast.com is speculating. More likely, Entercom will abandon programming on antiquated AM dial altogether. The theory here is this : WEEI moves from AM 850 to 93.7FM and WRKO AM 680's issue-talk programming jumps to FM band on an existing(107.3FM or 97.7FM) or possibly another soon-to-be acquired FM outlet. Entercom would retain WAAF 107.3FM's Greg Hill Morning Show which is a basically a talk show on a rock station(WAAF plays no music between 6 and 10am) to launch a new all talk 24-hour talk on FM. Howie Carr, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage would likely fill out the rest of the WRKO-FM schedule. What do you think? Leave a comment below. AM 680 and AM 850 frequencies would then either be sold off or leased out).
Are you ready for some football on the radio? : There will be two options for Sunday morning local radio shows during the Patriots' season – rookie spots talker SportsHub 98.5FM which takes over from now-defunct WBCN 104.FM as the club's flagship station and WEEI AM 850.
This week, WEEI announced that its game day football programming line-up will kick off this Sunday(9/13) with the first airing of the "NFL Sunday" pre-game show airing 9am-noon with Dale Arnold, Michael Holley, former Patriots tight end Christian Fauria and WEEI.com's blogger Chris Price. After a 3-year absence, Arnold returns to the show that he launched on WEEI in 1991. Doug Brown(2006), Greg Dickerson and Butch Stearns(2007) and Mike Felger(2008) were hosting WEEI’s NFL Sunday for the past three years.
Over on the Patriots’ flagship, 98.5 the SportsHub, the three-hour pregame will still be in effect as Gary Tanguay, Scott Zolak, Pete Brock and Andy Gresh return as co-hosts. For the scheduled nine 1pm games, the Sports Hub’s flagship coverage will start at 10am, one hour after NFL Sunday kicks off on WEEI
WEEI’s "The Real Post Game Show" with Pete Sheppard, Fred Smerlas and Steve DeOssie is returning this weekend and will run immediately following Patriots games. Meanwhile, SportsHub will run the 3-hour postgame wrap-up show with Tanguay, Zolak and Gresh.
Yea, yea, yea all day : The height of their fame has passed, but the Beatles' songs were in high rotation again this past Wednesdya. Boston stations catering to the baby boomer listening segment WROR 105.7FM, WZLX 100.7FM and WODS 103.3FM were playing lots of Fab Four all day coinciding with the launch of the group's remastered catalogue of 14 albums. Even Mike 93-7 joined on the action throwing a few Beatles tunes here and there. Meanwhile, WROR 105.7FM went all-Beatles all day as Boston Radio Examiner points out.
The Honor Roll : This coming Wednesday(9/16) at Noon, Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame will hold its 3rd annual induction ceremony. The event will take place at Dedham Hilton and will be hosted by WBZ AM 1030's talk personality Jordan Rich. This year’s event honorees include: The Voice of Boston Bruins Hockey, Fred Cusick; TV pioneer, host, interviewer and innovator Bill Hahn; the nation’s first nightly news cultural reporter and women’s movement trailblazer Sonya Hamlin; one of the most respected and distinguished television news journalists in New England, John Henning; legendary rock radio deejay and activist Charles Laquidara; prominent public affairs director, news director and host Don Latulippe; 48-year WBZ personality Dave Maynard; radio manager and multi-station CEO Allan Roberts; host, newswoman and executive editor of WGBH TV’s Greater Boston, Emily Rooney; esteemed radio voice of the New England Patriots and morning sports anchor on WBZ radio Gil Santos; renowned broadcast consultant and radio station owner Al Tanger and revered classical, jazz and elevator music host Len Zola. More information on this event is at www.massbroadcastershof.org