Thursday, July 30, 2009

WEEI is set for 8th Jimmy Fund Radiothon

Boston's sports talk radio giant WEEI 850 AM will hold the 8th annual Jimmy Fund Radiothon August 27th and August 28th from 6 a.m. to midnight. The entire program will also be simulcast on New England Sports Network. WEEI Radio's network stations in Providence, Worcester, Springfield, Portland ME, Bangor ME, Keene NH and on the Cape will also carry the two-day fundraiser.

Here's the press release from WEEI Radio :

8th annual WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon set for August 27th & 28th
Two day broadcast from Fenway Park to help strike out cancer

BOSTON (July 30, 2009) – WEEI and NESN are proud to announce that the eighth annual Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon will take place at Fenway Park over two days beginning Thursday, August 27th. The 36 hour broadcast will feature compelling stories and celebrity guests, as well as emotional ceremonies prior to both Red Sox games during the two day period. Last year’s event set a record by raising 4.8 million dollars, with gifts coming in from every state in the country, bringing the total raised over seven years to just under 17 million. The radio-telethon is the Jimmy Fund’s fastest growing event. Once again, listeners and viewers will be able to make gifts online or by phone at 877-738-1234 or at
www.jimmyfundradiotelethon.org.

The two-day lineup is packed with interviews with Dana-Farber patients, doctors, researchers and nurses. The event also attracts an array of national celebrities. Comedians/actors Jimmy Fallon, Lenny Clarke, Jimmy Kimmel and Denis Leary are among those already confirmed to participate this year. The WEEI portion of the Radio-Telethon is sponsored by BNY Mellon Wealth Management. NESN’s portion of the Radio-Telethon is sponsored in part by Arbella Insurance, Dunkin Donuts and Olympia Sports.

“There is nothing more important to us than these two days. The Radio-Telethon is filled with heart-warming and sometimes heart breaking stories from patients and doctors at Dana-Farber,” says Jason Wolfe, VP of AM Programming for Entercom New England. “We continue to generate support across New England and the entire country. Each year we make great progress in the fight against cancer, and it is due to the incredible generosity of the listening public.”

As part of the Radio-Telethon there will be special ceremonies at both Red Sox games. Leary and Clarke will throw out the first pitch at Thursday’s game, while Fallon will throw it on Friday. Kelly Clarkson will perform during the 7th inning of the game on Friday evening.

"NESN is proud to support the great work that is done every day at the Jimmy Fund," said Sean McGrail, NESN President. "In these tough economic times NESN’s commitment to the success of this event is stronger than ever as we will once again extend our coverage to two full days to help support the life saving work of this incredible group of people."

The goal of the 2009 WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon is to raise five million, which will bring the event’s total to more than 22 million dollars. The Red Sox are planning special messages during both games as various milestones are hit.
"We are so thankful for the WEEI and NESN listeners and viewers who have given generously to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and The Jimmy Fund over the past years," said Jimmy Fund Chairman Mike Andrews. "We have been able to make so many important advances in cancer care and research, but as you'll hear during the Radio-Telethon, we still have not achieved our ultimate goal of striking out cancer."

“The Jimmy Fund has made a tremendous impact on our community and in the lives of many of our clients and employees. BNY Mellon Wealth Management is honored to continue our support by sponsoring WEEI's annual Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon,” said Vicary Graham, regional president for BNY Mellon Wealth Management in New England.
To help strike out cancer during the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, call 877-738-1234 toll free. For more information, to purchase tickets, or to contribute online, go to www.jimmyfundradiotelethon.org.

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BRW Notebook :
WBCN's old studios at 1265 Boylston Street were tagged by the graffiti artists a day after the station announced its departure from the Boston airwaves.(Photo credit : Bostontweet.com)
So long, WBCN : WBCN 104.1FM was not merely an album rock station with a 41-year heritage. WBCN's range and influence extended far and beyond the Boston area of dominant influence. The station provided initial exposure for countless rock bands and played a major role in shaping listners' musical tastes. So, starting at 10am on Saturday, August 8th and continuing thru Tuesday night, August 11(WBCN's last official day on the air), the Rock will pay itself a much deserved tribute. If you're a radio fan and/or current or former WBCN listener, this will be the time to forget about all the 'whys' and 'what ifs' and who won and lost in the end. This will be the time to remember the Rock of Boston.
Music for the people : WFNX 101.7FM's will be hosting its annual Best Music Poll this Saturday, August 1st at the City Hall Plaza. The free event will kick off at 4pm.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

WEEI makes a move to retain local and national football coverage

WEEI AM 850 has made a couple of big deals to retain its signature programming content. The local sports leader has reached an extension deal with the New England Patriots to keep "Patriots Monday" and "Patriots Fridays" as part of multi-year renewal deal which follows last year's multi-year renewal deal. Entercom's local sports powerhouse WEEI also grabs the game ball with a new 2-year contract with national syndicator Westwood One to air all prime-time NFL action on Sundays, Thursdays and Monday nights as well as exclsuive local coverage of NFL playoffs and Super Bowl as long as it doesn't involve the Patriots. The Patriots games will air exclusively on WEEI's new competitor and team's flagship WBZ-FM/Sports Hub 98-5 which debut on August 13th.

(Update 7/23 : Late yesterday, WEEI's press people actually sent in a clarification to their press release below. They stated that the Patriots Monday and Patriots Friday deals are currently into their SECOND year of the contract. As was noted in the post above, the renewal agreement for Patriots Monday and Patriots Friday was announced last July. It appears that only Westwood One's NFL package on WEEI was extended for two more years )

Here's Entercom's press release :


For Immediate Release

WEEI NETWORK ANNOUNCES CONTRACT EXTENSIONS FOR PATRIOTS, NFL PROGRAMMING

July 22, 2009 (Boston) —The WEEI Sports Radio Network announced two significant contract extensions today surrounding long-time NFL and New England Patriots programming.

WEEI has inked a multi-year extension with the Patriots to continue the top-rated Patriots Monday and Patriots Friday programs for the foreseeable future. The two shows provide listeners with the most comprehensive and insightful pre and post game analysis, and consist of top-flight interviews with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and a host of players. Past participants have included Richard Seymour, Vince Wilfork and Tedy Bruschi.

The network will also continue its exclusive local programming of NFL Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football and NFL playoffs through its partnership with Westwood One. The contract has just been extended another two years.

“Patriots Monday and Patriots Friday are staples of the WEEI lineup and are appointment listening for New England fans,” said Entercom New England Vice President of AM Programming Jason Wolfe. “The Patriots are tremendous partners and we’re thrilled to continue this can’t miss programming while expanding our relationship with the team.” Wolfe continued, “The Patriots are primed for another Super Bowl run, and that will put a much larger emphasis on the games, league wide. WEEI is proud to be Boston’s only home for the NFL’s primetime lineup for the next two years.”

Entercom is one of the nation’s largest radio broadcasters with operations, pro forma for pending acquisitions, 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.

# # #

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Matty, 2 stations nominated for Marconi Awards

WXKS 107.9FM/Kiss 108 morning personality Matt Siegel and two Boston stations have been nominated for a prestigious radio award. Siegel and radio stations WMJX/Magic 106.7 and WEEI AM/SportsRadio 850 are among this year's nominees for the Marconi Radio Awards. The awards, given each year by the National Association of Broadcasters, are generally viewed as the radio industry's version of the Oscars. Siegel and the two stations were chosen as Marconi nominees by a panel of NAB members. The award winners will be announced September 24 in Phiadelphia, during the NAB's annual convention.

Siegel, Kiss 108's morning man for the past 28 years, is one of five nominees for "Major Market Personality of the Year." Among the other contenders are personalities in NYC, LA, DC and Philadelphia. He won his first Marconi in this category in 2001.

WMJX/Magic 106.7, Boston's adult contemporary outpost for more than 27 years, is among the Marconi finalists for "Legendary Station of the Year." The station is up against rivals from Albany, Albuquerque, Minneapolis and South Bend.

The voice of Boston sports for the past 18 years, WEEI AM 850, is a nominee in the "Major Market Station of the Year" category. It faces competitors from LA, SF and Philadelphia. In 2006 and 2008, WEEI won a Marconi in the Sports Station of the Year category.


BRW Notebook :

Breaking down the changes on the dial : Very good discussion of the upcoming Boston radio changes on last Friday's Beat the Press segment.(Ed. Note : Great discussion and excellent points made by the BTP panelists with one major exception - labeling WBCN a 'hard rock station' is definitely a big stretch. This is 2009, not 1979. The Rock probably hasn't really touched the hard stuff since the days of scuffling with the headbanging WCOZ 94.5FM.)

A night to remember WBCN : As Boston waves goodbye to one of its best known cultural landmarks of all time, WBCN 104.1FM, station's present and past staffers have organized a little farewell party of their own. On Friday, July 31st at 9pm, the new backroom club at the Cask 'N Flagon which was reborn as Oliver's last year will be the gathering place for the voices and faces associated with WBCN thru the years. (Before the Cask became the Cask in mid 70's, it was known as Oliver's, a place where it all began for rock acts that came thru Boston from late 60's to 1973 - Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix, Boston, etc, etc). A tribute band Age Against the Machine featuring two of WBCN alums - former station engineer Bill Bracken(on guitar) and nighttime jock Deek(Derek Diedricksen on drums) - was already booked as part of Friday night local rock series at Oliver's, but now the show is being turned into a night of remembering the iconic Rock of Boston.

Moving van update : As mentioned here previously(BRW 5/14), after a 10-year stay at 1200 Soldiers Field Road, WBMX/Mix 98.5 will soon be joining its FM sister stations - WODS 103.3FM, WZLX 100.7FM and, briefly, WBCN 104.1FM at the "TV 38" building in Brighton. The Mix move is scheduled to take place around the beginning of August. Before Mix actually moves down the dial to 104.1FM frequency on August 12th, the station is getting a brand new studio being completed at CBS' local FM cluster. The new Sports Hub 98.5FM will be taking over WBCN's current studio space on the lower level of the TV 38 building.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

In the PPM world, Mix looks to gain with the move to the new frequency

Get ready for a change on Boston's radio dial, as WBMX/Mix 98.5 relocates to a new dial position next month. As part of a bigger programming shake-up announced and well-covered here and everywhere this past week(BRW 7/14), the August 12 frequency move by the Mix' corporate owners, CBS Radio Corp, will give a more powerful signal to the Top 40 adult contemporary format.

As WBCN's 41-year rock format migrates to on-line(http://www.wbcn.com/) and HD2 broadcast form(as 98.5FM HD2) on August 11th, WBMX will take over the 104.1FM frequency on the morning of August 12th after 18 and a half years on 98.5FM. On August 13th, the new Sports Hub 98-5 will sign on with "Toucher and Rich" leading off the morning drive(the rest of SportsHub's line-up will be officially announced in the next few days).

So why is Mix 98-5 moving over to 104.1FM? The most obvious reason - Mix will inherit WBCN's powerful signal transmitting from atop of the Prudential Center which will put the station on the equal footing with its two highly successful competitors fighting for the slices of the big "money" demo of listeners between ages 25 and 54. The stronger signal ties in to the second, perhaps slightly less obvious, reason behind CBS' decision to give Mix a new place on the dial. Both Clear Channel's WXKS/Kiss 108 and Greater Media's WMJX/Magic 106.7 transmit from the Pru. While Kiss and Magic are sitting pretty at the top of the 25-54 ratings, Mix has been steadily gaining listeners since introduction of Arbitron's PPM system which hasn't gone unnoticed by its corporate bosses. But Mix' makover isn't limitted to a new frequency. The station already introduced a brand new hip, more pop-culture oriented morning show("Karson and Kennedy") back in January which replaced long-running John Lander who has been losing listeners in the AM drive.

With its arrival, Arbitron's PPM system was expected to be the game changer in deciding which format and what music will be heard on Boston radio. After several months of Arbitron's portable people meter-derived ratings, it's very clear that the new methodology has changed the game here as well as other major PPM markets.(Ratings participants no longer fill out diaries, often from memory; they wear cell phone-size electronic devices that pick up the radio signals they are hearing or listening to, and ratings are issued every month, replacing the less reliable quarterly "book") . As PPM results show, adult and hit contemporary formats are clearly benefiting, as those as those mainstream radio formats are likely to be played in retail outlets and offices, where a PPM carrier might visit or work. Mix has the the third highest overall weekly listener totals in Boston, behind Kiss and Magic based on the June ratings released this past week.

BRW Notebook :

Let the memory live again : There will be countless more recollections on-line and on the air until WBCN signs off for good on August 11th. From Howie Carr to the member of the Fools to Howard Stern(see July 15, 6:10am segment).

Friday, July 17, 2009



The Sports Hub starts Boston radio war

Although the official launch is not until August 13, a radio war has already broken out in Boston this week when CBS Radio announced it will convert the 98.5FM frequency to an all-sport format to challenge the market's established sports station WEEI AM 850.

While "Toucher and Rich", WBCN's super-popular morning duo are already talking smack and taking shots (pre-requisites for a morning radio job) at WEEI's "Dennis and Callahan" as they finish up their run on WBCN 104.1FM, will they and the new Sports Hub 98.5FM be able to bring it when the clock officially starts next month?

Some say this might end up as a replay of the all-sport fight that resulted in WEEI closing out WWZN AM/Zone 1510 in 2004 and technically fading out WAMG/ESPN 890 out of any contention. But there are number of major factors outside of WEEI's 18-year domination that allowed those challengers to self-destruct on their own. For the Zone 1510, the bad timing was everything. The station launched a month after 9/11 when the last thing people wanted to listen to and talk about was sports. With the economy going bust, the radio advertising dried up quickly. The 9/11 recession quickly followed by the complete burst in the dot-com bubble which in turn cut much of the operational funding from WWZN's corporate owner, former Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen whose business portfolio was heavily invested into on-line media. The only thing that kept WWZN on the radar was the Celtics radio rights. When the Celtics moved their radio rights to Entercom's WRKO in 2005, the Zone immediately became a non-factor, not just in sports programming but on the radio dial in general. As for the ESPN 890 which is somehow still on the air after four years, it has minimal local content(2-hour afternoon call-in show, 4-6pm and a brokered time night recap show 10pm-Midnight) to go with a tricky AM signal reception. Although ESPN Radio's national programming could be a good alternative in small doses, in Boston all sports is local. Always was, always will.

Why does CBS Radio think/know it can succeed with the Sports Hub 98.5? Many reasons and most of them make sense, at least on paper. For one, CBS has already been producing lots of local sports content with Patriots on WBCN and Bruins on WBZ-AM since mid 1990's so bringing two teams onto one signal is a no-brainer. A no-brainer number two, with a clear and crisp FM signal covering the entire Boston market and beyond, the new SportsHub has a potential to reach a lot more ears than any current and/or former WEEI challengers on the AM dial. This one goes under the "marketing/promotional goal" column, but CBS will surely use the local synergy with sister TV station and CBS-affil WBZ/Channel 4. The new SportsHub will be able to tap into WBZ-TV's sports department for any live updates on major breaking or developing local sports stories. CBS can also cross-promote its new sports talker among its other three FM stations and one AM station. On the national level, CBS Radio is heavily invested in sports content. Ths SportsHub will have full access to company's national resources including access to sports media outposts in NYC, LA and everywhere else. CBS also produces radio sports programming which includes college football, college basketball including March Madness, and of ourse entire NFL package from regular season to the Super Bowl(expect the NFL package to shift from WEEI to the new WBZ 98.5FM/SportsHub). On line, CBSSportsline.com is one most popular sports destinations for sports fans on-line.

But the underlying rationale for CBS introducing FM sports format to Boston is, of course, money. Well-run sports radio format has a track record of producing significant advertising revenue even when the audience figures are smaller than other radio formats. Advertisers like to buy time on sports stations because listeners tune in and connect with the format based on emotion, not because they love the personalities. There is also the appeal to advertisers of the sports radio demographic - males 18 to 54 with money to spend. In 2008, WEEI AM 850 was the second most profitable station in the Boston market with $31.2 million in revenues. WBCN 104.1FM which is ending its 41-year run as the result of CBS' local radio shake-up made only $15.1 million.

Sports radio like all radio is entertainment. That is why the morning duo of Toucher and Rich will not be all-sports-all-the-time. Neither is "Dennis and Callahan" show on WEEI if you really sit down and listen. There is enough politcs, current events and pop culture talk on WEEI in the AM morning drive to fill a stadium full of unhappy sports nuts. But it has worked for WEEI and based on Toucher and Rich's ratings on WBCN, CBS hopes it works for the new Sports Hub 98.5.

BRW Notebook :

Don't cry for me WBCN : WBCN tributes/eulogies/analysis of demise have been pouring in from every corner of the media world. Here, here, here and there.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


WBCN rolling over ain't no big surprise

Yesterday's big story had sent shock waves throughout the radio and record community. WBCN, Boston's rock torchbearer for more than four decades, is going away. With most of the local newsprint, TV and even some of the rival stations making this is a big deal, let's stop and take a deep breath. Putting it all into its proper perspective, and legendary call letters notwithstanding, WBCN's best days as a rock station were long, long gone even despite the best intentions of its current staffers. The station which was once a ratings force back in the 80's and later cashing in in a major way with Howard Stern's impressive run from the mid-90's to mid-2000's, has now become CBS' lowest-rated station in the Boston market.

While the corporate suits will allow many number of ex-WBCN listeners to mourn the station's glory days over the course of next four weeks, something that's rarely done in the industry noted for its abrupt format flips and sudden programming changes, the sad explanation for WBCN's demise is pretty simple - modern and alternative rock music genre has been steadily narrowing for more than a decade. Musical tastes have changed drastically and, younger rock listeners have so many other choices via new digital technologies(Iphones, Ipods, MP3's,etc) and on-line delivery platforms that modern rock stations are not able to attract that elusive segment of the audience.

Even when WBCN dominated the local ratings and revenues with Stern, for all intents and purposes its music format was done. Here's an article by the Boston Herald's former radio critic Dean Johnson from early 2001 calling for the end of WBCN as a music station. Johnson who always had a great pulse on Boston radio beat already knew that WBCN's days as a music station had come and gone :

from the Boston Herald
February 1, 2001


Time is right to pull the plug on rock at The Rock
Boston Radio/by Dean Johnson


Writing today's column isn't easy for me. I was born and raised in Boston, and no radio station has had a greater influence on my life - and my passion for rock 'n' roll - than WBCN-FM (104).

So I'm not making this statement lightly: It's time for WBCN to pull the plug on its long history as Boston's legendary rock station and feature full-time talk.

WBCN has been local radio's neither-fish-nor-fowl station for too long. It's a talk station. It's the New England Patriots' flagship station. And it plays rock music.

And now it's time to finally yank those CD players out of the studio.

It's not as if WBCN hasn't been headed in the direction of an all-talk format for some time. Howard Stern's syndicated morning show is all talk, of course, and runs each day until he wants to go home, which messes with the timing of the midday music shift.

A few hours later, Nik Carter's afternoon drive-time block at the "Rock of Boston" is typically more talk than music. Carter has acknowledged music often just gets in the way of his show's flow.

On Saturday at 10 a.m., New York shock jocks Opie and Anthony will be in town for a live show from the WBCN studios. The appearance by the former WAAF duo is likely a stunt designed to launch a new weekly "Worst of Opie and Anthony" compilation show already airing on the pair's current station, WNEW-FM in New York City. And it's a way to formally mark their Bay State return.

Opie and Anthony have made big names for themselves since being booted from WAAF-FM after announcing during an April Fools' Day prank that Mayor Thomas M. Menino had died. They're radio's hottest property this side of Stern. They're even going to be part of the new XFL's pregame show on NBC.

And Opie and Anthony's soon-to-be-syndicated radio show is being produced by Infinity Broadcasting, which owns WBCN.

WBCN should move Carter to evenings and replace him with Opie and Anthony. Or the station could start out airing the duo on tape, as it first did with Stern. It doesn't matter. Just bring them in. Let Carter do all the talking he wants, put talk in middays and be done with it.

There already is a model for just such a transformation. New York's WNEW was an FM rocker every bit as legendary as WBCN, although it didn't update its sound as effectively as WBCN has. WBCN has become a rock-talk station with football on weekends and music in the odd shifts.

Last year, WBCN made more money than any other music station in the city. But consider the recent ratings: Rocko and Birdsey at WAAF have beaten Carter in important ratings demographics for a full year.

And yes, WBCN won the 18-34 ratings this fall with a 13.9 share of the listening audience. But one year earlier, it won with a 16.4 share. That's a Big Dip.

Take Stern's dominant morning ratings out of that mix and WBCN's hold on the market appears to be shaky.

Although it was once the reason for WBCN's existence, music now appears to be an afterthought. Pulling the switch should be the next step in the station's evolution.

Rather than serving multiple masters, let Carter do what he does best: blab. Bring back Opie and Anthony. (Someone get Menino a glass of cold water, quick!) Leave Howard alone. And if program director Oedipus still wants to play his favorite records, he can do it on the weekends when ratings don't matter.

WBCN will make so much money, it will have to give it away on the streets - and Oedipus, you don't have to give me a penny as your consultant.


There are only a handful of modern rock stations doing well around the country in the ratings and revenue and the struggling ones like WBCN are disappearing fast. Locally, while WAAF and WFNX are looking to lure some of WBCN's audience, there are also faced with the same issues of the shrinking young rock audience. The problem is not going away.

One station that has done a good job of steering away from all the issues of today's rock music is WBOS-FM. In the early 2008, WBOS blew up its long-running AAA format and fired the entire on-air staff as it flipped to a retro/gold pop-rock oldies from the 80's and 90's. WBOS' format has so far been a success on the ratings front. The station is now chasing the somewhat older, more mature and settled-down set of 30-40 year olds who like most in that age group probably grew up listening to WBCN, WFNX or WAAF in their younger days.

Back to WBCN, while the name may not be completely dead. CBS Radio still owns the brand with its streaming site(www.wbcn.com) and the call letters which obviously the company will place on one of its other stations around the country. There will also be a digital HD2 subchannel called "WBCN" under 98.5FM frequency which is becoming an all-sports "98.5 The Sports Hub" on August 13. There's always that remote chance the WBCN call letters will return to Boston radio dial.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Entercom responds to exit of WBCN and entry of Sports Hub 98-5

Entercom New England chief Julie Kahn released a statement regarding today's big announcement from CBS Radio Boston(see next item below) :


Statement from Julie Kahn, Vice President/New England Market Manager, Entercom New England

“For decades, WAAF and WBCN have competed fiercely against each other for rock radio listeners in this market. It truly has been an epic competition. With the announcement that WBCN will soon go off the air, WAAF has won that battle and is now in an even stronger position to attract new listeners and build upon its dominance among Boston rock stations.

“WAAF Boston is New England’s most listened to Rock radio station broadcasting on 97.7and 107.3 FM. Over the course of four decades, WAAF has been able to garner ratings in more Arbitron measured markets than any other station in the country. In Boston, WAAF is consistently ranked the #1 station among Men 25-44. WAAF is among only a handful of radio stations in the world that has been able to thrive in the same format as the day it signed on decades ago.

“On the sports side, this announcement was not a surprise. We’ve been expecting it given the many rumors over the last few years. We’ve dealt with competitive situations in the past and we’re fully prepared to do it again. We’re blessed to have built the strongest lineup of sports content and talent in the country, and are proud to have expanded that content platform through the newly designed
WEEI.com, and our 9 station regional network. We have the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, and Patriots Monday/Friday, and we’re fully committed to providing the best sports programming to our listeners for many years to come.”


Official ruling on the field : The Rock is dead as FM sports talker comes to Boston airwaves

The whispers have been in the air for months and it looks like this is really going to happen.

After 41 years and 5 months as the Rock of Boston, the legendary WBCN 104.1FM will be no more come Thursday, August 13th. The Rock is dead, folks. Here is the official press release link that BRW received a few minutes ago.

Update : Here's the second press release from the Boston Bruins and CBS announcing that the team's new home will be WBZ 98.5FM(The Sports Hub) :
July 14, 2009

CBS RADIO TO LAUNCH BOSTON’S NEWEST AND ONLY FM
SPORTS STATION, 98.5 THE SPORTS HUB, ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 13


Sports Station To Be Available At 98.5 On The FM Dial,
Local Favorite, MIX, Home To Today’s Best Variety, Relocates To 104.1 FM

WBCN To Live On At
www.wbcn.com And 98.5 HD 2

CBS RADIO Boston is proud to announce the arrival of “98.5 The Sports Hub,” which will debut on Thursday, August 13 and feature a wide assortment of sports talk and play-by-play programming. The new station will be heard at 98.5 on the FM dial and be available streaming online at
www.985thesportshub.com, in addition to the iPhone, iPod Touch and select Blackberry devices, among other mobile outlets.

The station will serve as the home of the three-time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots and the NHL’s Boston Bruins, and feature personalities including Toucher and Rich in morning drive.

Adding to the distribution of the station, 98.5 The Sports Hub will also be an online destination and interactive experience powered by CBSSports.com (
www.cbssports.com). For the consummate Boston sports fan, www.985thesportshub.com will be the place to go for everything related to Boston sports featuring an array of local content including blogs from the station’s personalities, sports videos, scores, polls, message boards, community groups and the most up-to-date sports news, as well as on-air schedules, team schedules and talent information.

98.5 The Sports Hub will assume the call letters WBZ-FM upon launch, pending FCC approval. A full talent and programming schedule for the station will be announced at a later date.

Of the new station, Mark Hannon, Senior Vice President and Market Manager of CBS RADIO Boston said, “Boston fans eat, sleep and breathe sports, and are some of the most diehard followers in the country, so it makes sense for us to bring the city’s favorite pastime to an easily accessible platform where listeners- for the first time in Boston- will be able to take advantage of sports programming through the crisp and clear reception offered on the FM dial. CBS RADIO has a rich and influential background in sports radio and we are excited to join such illustrious company.”

98.5 The Sports Hub will interact with listeners through the use of social networking sites such as Twitter (
www.twitter.com/985thesportshub), Facebook and MySpace (www.myspace.com/985thesportshub) in order to connect users and talent and offer a more engaging and personalized experience. This integration of resources offers the audience the most up-to-date news and local information, while broadening the station’s fan base and providing more advertising opportunities.

As a result of the launch of The Sports Hub on 98.5, CBS RADIO’s legendary Hot AC station, WBMX, will change its dial location on Wednesday, Aug. 12 and move to 104.1 FM from atop the Prudential Building in Boston’s Back Bay. The station will feature the same great music and personalities familiar to listeners with improved signal coverage benefitting the at-work listener. MIX’s new website can be found by logging on to
www.mix104.com.

Finally, WBCN will say goodbye to Boston listeners after 41 years on the air with unique programming and stories celebrating the history and heritage of the station. Fans of WBCN will be pleased to know that the station will still be available online at
www.wbcn.com, as well as at 98.5 HD 2 for those who have an HD Radio receiver.

Press Contact: Cha-Chi Loprete
(617) 746-1460
Cha.chi.loprete@cbsradio.com

Allison Mandara
(212) 649-9606
allison.mandara@cbsradio.com


Boston Phoenix's media columnist Adam Reily broke the story this morning that a format change/frequency swap will take place in August and will result into a debut of a new sports FM talker WBZ 98.5FM"The Sports Hub". In adddition, after more than 18 years at 98.5FM freqeuncy, CBS Radio's Mix 98.5(WBMX-FM) Hot AC format will migrate to 104.1FM thus silencing WBCN/The Rock of Boston for good. Reily reports that WBCN's current morning drive team of "Toucher and Rich" will anchor the new sports entry.

According to Bruce Allen's Boston Sports Media Watch, there is also a good possibility of Comcast SportsNet's anchor duo Mike Felger and Gary Tanguay duo handling the PM drive shift(CSN's studios in Burling already have a fully-equipped radio studio that Felger had used to do his afternoon show on ESPN 890 prior to his return to WEEI/WEEI.com last year).

Obviously the Patriots games would move from 104.1FM to 98.5FM with the start of the preseason schedule. And, in addition the Bruins who are staying put with CBS Radio Boston will shift their games to the new WBZ-98.5FM. Also, Gary Tanguay has been hosting Partriots football pre-game and post-game shows on WBCN 104.1FM for a number of years so he's no stranger to Boston sports fandom.

So is Boston sufficiently interested in sports to support an all-sports FM radio station? We're about to find out.

Monday, July 13, 2009

It's been a couple of quiet weeks in Boston radioland where it seems every radio station has gone into its summer vacation mode filled with fiil-in personalities and very few, if any, programming moves of interest. Here are some little radio items for your beach reading pleasure.

BRW Notebook :

In the top story of the day...: Beginning September 1st, Boston University-owned NPR affiliate WBUR 90.9FM will have a new boss in the newsroom. After six years as WBUR's news director, local veteran news journalist John Davidow will assume the responsibilities of exexcutive editor at WBUR.org while NPR veteran editor Martha Little succeeds him according to a press release from the BU station.

DL update : WRKO AM 680's afternooner Howie Carr underwent full hip replacement at Mass General over the weekend. With Carr going on the disabled list for the next two weeks, the President of Howie Carr Nation, Col. David Hunt answers the call of duty.

Midsummer Classic : 80th MLB All-Star Game on will be heard locally on ESPN 890 at 7:45 p.m on Tuesday night(7/14). ESPN Radio’s Dan Shulman will call the game with analyst Dave Campbell, with Marc Kestecher serving as on-site host. Peter Pascarelli and John Rooney, the voice of the St. Louis Cardinals, will serve as on-field reporters. Shulman and Campbell. who will also work tonight's Homerun Derby(also to be heard on ESPN 890 at 8pm), have worked the All-Star Game and Derby together for eighth consecutive seasons.

Sports shorts : Speaking of ESPN 890, the little sports station will celebrate its 4th birthday later this month. In addition to its afternoon drive programming - Boston Sports Show(w/Mike Vallee, Bob Lobel, Alan Segal and Kevin Winter) and Baseball PreGame Show(6-7pm with Kevin Winter) - the ESPN station recently added another local sports show to the line-up. In late June, the Young Guns(and its cast of thousands) migrated from WWZN AM 1510(now mostly progressive talk format) to ESPN 890 to host a a two-hour Boston Sports Postgame Show weeknights from 10pm to Midnight....Speaking of ESPN 890 alums, the local sports media kingpin Mike Felger(now with WEEI/WEEI.com and Comcast SportsNet) who was the first local voice heard on the ESPN 890 back in 2005 got a nice write-up in the Boston Globe last Friday...After media reports surfaced this spring that the Bruins were possibly exploring other options around the dial, the team and its longtime flagship WBZ AM 1030 have quietly agreed to extend their partnership for 2009/2010 season. Hockey is returning to WBZ Radio in October which this upcoming season will feature NHL's Winter Classic on New Year's Day at Fenway Park(Awesome!). The Bruins-Flyers outdoor game will be officially announced this Wednesday afternoon at Fenway Park...No new sports talk on FM yet, but Bruce Allen of Boston Sports Media Watch is already hard at work trying to fill some of the airshifts at the new sports station.

Forever Young : Kiss 108's morning legend Matt Siegel is showing no signs of slowing down after nearly three decades working at Medford's Top 40 institution. His show has been on the air at Kiss for more than 28 years which is older than some of the younger "Matty in the Morning" production support staffers or his morning drive listeners. One of the signs that Matty has been around a long time - some of his former interns like Wendy Williams now host their own national radio and TV shows. Siegel's pretty incredible run was captured in the Globe story last week.

HD Radio is trying to be heard : The first portable HD Radio receiver is now out and available at Best Buy for $49.99. (Ed. Note : Seems like one pricey walkman to take jogging or get all sandy at the beach. No thanks, I'll pass). The receiver comes complete with a 10-hour rechargeable battery and color LCD screen. The compact HD Radio, manufactured by Best Buy's Insignia brand, is able to store up to 10 preset radio channels. The Insignia HD Radio portable receiver weighs about two ounces. Ibiquity CEO Bob Struble says, “We applaud Best Buy for setting a precedent in the audio entertainment marketplace by offering the first-ever portable HD Radio receiver. With new HD2/HD3 digital channels, crystal-clear sound, no subscription fees, and now, thanks to Best Buy, the ability to take digital radio on the go, it's a total win for the consumer and one more indication that the HD Radio momentum is continuing." Best Buy is promoted in The HD Digital Radio Alliance’s commercials. Here is a list of all Boston radio stations broadcasting their signal in HD and as well featuring a number of HD subchannels.

Running out of options : BRW's resident contributor/radio critic Sarkis C. checks in with his not-so-stellar midyear report on radio programming here and elsewhere.

"Boston radio is simply beyond awful!!! The formats are all PC and they are so routine that it makes you wonder how mindless we all are.Take WRKO, Todd and Tom. Does Fienberg ever tire of ever bring right all the time? Then they go all right with Ingram, Rush and Howie. I do admit that Savage is interesting. How is Howie still in radio? His shows are awful! I will give him credit, he is local and national when the time calls for it but mainly local issues at 6:00 if you can survive the 5:00 hour. How can his demo be so off track at the 55-72 number. That is the average age that calls into the show, most are from Maine. Is Howie that much of a cash cow. He must as he plug, plugs, and plugs nonsense all day.

How about WTKK? That is a quaqmire of a station. Imus is still around by aged out. Jim and Margie are the same old story with the same left ideas to counter the right programming. Severn could be dominate if he went with local issues instead of a national all the time. Could you look into the Andleman boys on WTKK. I listened once it was awful. What do they have to stay on the air? Its plug this and plug that all the while they bragg about this and that and offer nothing to the table. They are trying to make it the Sports Huddle of Food Talk.

Now for our beloved XM I mean Sirius!! O&A(Opie and Anthony) are done! I mean they are beat down from Howard. They could domiante with could stuff keep it up to date but they have thier comic friends and focus on them. Howard is good but I think he is on a 8 month vacation!

I am ticked that Satellite Radio is now canned radio. Eighties on Eight and the MTV DJ's ruined the channel with all that chat and banter. Edited songs are being played and that never happened before. The talk programming is ok, but that is shifting to PC-villes as edited content flows through. This is only the tip of the iceberg!"

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Santos to be ushered into WBZ's Hall of Fame
Former longtime morning sports anchor Gil Santos is returning to WBZ AM/NewsRadio 1030 tomorrow morning - the second of the station's legendary broadcasters will be inducted into the WBZ Hall of Fame at the station's studios in Brihgton. Santos' former colleague Gary LaPierre who retired after 40 years of service in December 2006 was the first inductee in February 2007.

Santos retired from WBZ at the end of January(BRW 1/30) but will continue to work Patriots' play-by-play action on WBCN 104.1FM. He'll be back with his Patriots' radio call beginning with preseason games in August.
Walt Perkins was promoted from weekend sports anchoring to take over Santos' weekday morning beat in early February(BRW 2/6). Santos had anchored the morning sports reports on WBZ for 38 years.
Here's WBZ's official press release :
Tomorrow morning WBZ News Radio will add another chapter to the history and heritage of its famous call letters. At 11:00 we will unveil a plaque honoring Gil Santos as the newest member to be inducted into the WBZ Hall of Fame.

Gil Santos retired from his morning sports anchor position in January of this year and WBZ News Radio is delighted to bring him back so he can see the permanent addition to the Hall of Fame wall on the front of the WBZ building on Soldiers Field Road. Gil was the voice of sports in New England for more than 38 years on WBZ. He’s covered an amazing 13 professional sports championships in Boston during his career. This will be Gil’s third hall of fame honor. He is already in the New England Sports
Museum Hall of Fame as well as the Fairhaven High School Hall of Fame.

Gil becomes on the second member of WBZ’s Hall of Fame. Former WBZ morning news anchor Gary LaPierre was the first inductee in February of 2007 following his retirement in December of 2006.

Date: July 9, 2009
Location: Front entrance of 1170 Soldiers Field Road, Boston, MA 02134
Time: 11:00 a.m.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Radio is fired up for the 4th

With cannons blasting, bells tolling, and fireworks exploding over the Charles River, there's no better way to celebrate America's Independence Day than right here in Boston.

Saturday night's Fourth of July concert at the Hatch Shell will feature patriotic songs, popular standards and appearance by The Glittery One - Neil Diamond - who will surely bring out a very enthusiastic sing-along with the Red Sox' PA staple "Sweet Caroline". With the expected half-million music lovers mobbing the Esplanade, the best way to enjoy the spectacle and avoid the crowds is to turn on your radio at home. For the seventh consecutive year, WBZ AM 1030 carry the music broadcast live beginning at 8:30pm. WBZ's 90-minute pre-show with station's weekend overnight host Jordan Rich will run at 7pm. A new wrinkle to this year's broadcast, WBZ AM's is now heard on sister station's WODS/Oldies 103.3's HD3 sub channel which began simulcasting the AM station's feed earlier this year. So, if you happen to have an HD radio tuner you can catch WBZ's broadcast in clear digital audio. In addition, classical WCRB 99.5FM will once again join WBZ in airing the July 4th broadcast from 8:30 to 10:30pm and have its own pre-show at 8pm.


BRW Notebook :

Graham 1, RMV 0 : WTKK 96.9FM's middayer Michael Graham won the first round of his battle against the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The criminal charge of driving with revoked license which led to his arrest back in February(BRW 2/13) was dismissed a couple weeks ago. However, he still faces a civil charge of driving thru a red light reports MetroDaily News.

MJ Salute continues : While Globe's Scott Lehigh thinks that all the Michael Jackson tributes and discussions all over the dial, even on public radio stations, had gone overboard. One spot on the local dial that has definitely embraced Jackson's music legacy is Mix 98-5 which will still crank out one of his big hits throughout the day. Mix 98-5's HD2 subchannel 'Boston 80's Channel' has been going strong with a continuous Michael Jackson salute. Mix is even throwing a Michael Jackson Dance Party at a local dance club on 4th of July.

If it's free, it's for me : Here's your chance to do some serious urban partying and hear a slew of bands for nothing, kids. And you may have one of the richest musicians in the world to thank for it being a freebie. On Saturday August 1 from 4:30pm to 11pm, the Boston Phoenix and sister station WFNX-FM 101.7FM take over City Hall Plaza for their 21st annual Best Music Poll festival which unlike years past will be free of charge. The list of bands includes Ra Ra Riot, Passion Pit, Metric , Gaslight Anthem, The Airborne Toxic Event, The Bravery.