Friday, October 30, 2009

Sports stations to switch network affiliations this weekend

Sports fans in Boston are about to hear some changes at competing sports talkers WEEI AM 850 and WBZ-FM/98-5 in overnight and weekend timeslots effective this Sunday.

As was mentioned here earlier, after a four-year stay at now-defunct ESPN 890, ESPN Radio's programming is returning to WEEI AM 850. After ESPN 890 went silent on September 14, ESPN and WEEI announced a new deal on October 7(
BRW 10/7) . The initial phase of the new union with ESPN was the addition of MLB playoffs earlier this month. The next phase of ESPN Radio's return to AM 850 involves weekend and overnight programming being added to WEEI's line-up starting this Sunday night after conclusion of Game 4 of the World Series. With WEEI forging forces with ESPN it also means that Boston's first sports station is dropping Fox Sports Radio programming after a four-year affiliation run(2005-2009).

But one station's loss is another station's find. After two and half months on the air, the new start-up sports talker WBZ-FM/SportsHub 98-5 is dropping Sporting News Radio's overnight and weekend shows to become Fox Sports Radio's Boston affiliate beginning this Sunday(11/1). Fox's programming will air from 11pm to 6am weekdays as well as weekend nights. Fox Sports Radio's new home in Boston will now be located on FM as national network's popular overnight personality JT The Brick will migrate from WEEI to WBZ-FM beginning this Sunday night where he'll be heard from 1am to 6am(Sun-Thur). For the past 13 years on WEEI, The Brick has built a large Boston listener base.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Raines out at the River

WXRV/The River 92.5 program director and morning personality Beau Raines has exited the Haverhill-based AAA(Adult Album Alternative) station earlier this week. Raines, a 37-year radio industry veteran took over as River's programmer and morning voice in mid-January. As was first reported here(BRW 1/12), former WROR 105.7FM(1999-2002) and WZLX 100.7FM(2002-2005) programmer who started his radio career at then-Top 40 WRKO AM 680 in the late 60's while studying at Northeastern University, became River's fifth fulltime program director in 14 years. Raines replaced Ron Bowen who left in June 2008. No word yet on who will be named River's new program director but for now music director/assistant PD Catie Wilber has been named the acting PD.

BRW Notebook :

Holiday concerts are rolling : 'Tis the time of year when listeners are inundated with radio station holiday concerts and benefit shows. You know the drill, big-label artits turn up and sing a few tunes for charity or/and promote the sponsoring station. WXRV-FM/The River 92.5 hosts its annual RiverFeast to benefit Greater Boston Foodbank on Fri. November 20 at Peabody Essex Museum with Marc Cohn, Needtobreathe and Eli "Paperboy" Reed. WFNX's annual "Miracle on Tremont Street" returns to the Orpheum on Friday, December 4th with Sppon, Phoenix and Passion Pit. This year's WXKS/Kiss 108's Jingle Ball at Tsongas Arena in Lowell on Thu. December 10th is already a sell-out despite no-flash line-up - Boys Like Girls, The Fray, Jordin Sparks, Sean Kingston, Justin Bieber and Jay Sean. Boys Like Girls, Kingston and Sparks all performed at the Jingle Ball concert in 2007, while The Fray performed in 2006.

One notable absence on the local seasonal radio concert circuit is Mix 104.1's annual MixFest concert. WBMX which moved its format from 98.5FM frequency to a more powerful 104.1FM this past August has apparently left its major annual station promotion on its former frequency. MixFest dates back to 1993 when Mix started it out as the FallFest.

The American Invasion : Tomorrow's Patriots-Bucs game from Wembley Stadium will be streamed live on SportsHub 98.5's website. Gil Santos and Gino Capelletti will deliver the play-by-play from London at 1pm. If you prefer to hear the British commentary from BBC 5 Sports Extra's Neil Reynolds, it will be found here.

The Pirates From Oz : Pirate radio will be back in the news, thanks to the upcoming comedy flick Pirate Radio (released as The Boat that Rocked). It's a comedy about 1960's Britain where there was no commercial radio and the stuffy old BBC was depriving the nation of the swinging sounds of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks and the Who. Pirate radio stations sailed to the rescue, dropping anchor in international waters and blasting the mainland with the latest groovy sounds. Pirate Radio opens at a theater near you on November 13.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The new FM sports talker off to an encouraging start

The newest contender in sports-talk radio field has something to smile about according to September ratings report released by Arbitron yesterday.

Not only did the new Sports Hub 98.5 earn very respectable numbers in its target male demos but starting out with zero listeners on August 13th the new sports talker registered an estimated 488,000 weekly listeners after the first five weeks on the air. Meanwhile, now-dark ESPN 890 only pulled an estimated 52,000 weekly listeners after four years on the air.

In the overall listeners 6+ category, SportsHub 98.5/WBZ-FM came in 17th but in its target demo of male listeners 25-54, the station was tied for 8th place(not the 11th as was reported in the Boston Herald today). WEEI AM 850 finished first in that same demo. But in the younger male 18-34 demo which favors FM to AM listening, the gap between WEEI AM and WBZ-FM was much smaller - WEEI was tied for 6th while WBZ-FM was tied for 8th according to an Arbitron spokesperson who provided the rankings to BRW.

While the SportsHub came strong out of the gate, the sports audience also grew for WEEI in September which means the rookie sports talker pulled its audience from other FM stations on the dial, and not so much from the established AM sports talker.


BRW Notebook :

More changes on the way? : While SportsHub 98-5 may not be putting any major dents into WEEI's armor, it could be having an impact on the first FM all-talk station in the market. While the SportsHub may be all sports from 10am on, it has everything-goes format(including sports, of course) with super popular "Toucher and Rich".

As mentioned here last week, WTKK 96.9FM dropped the last two hours of syndicated Don Imus' morning show(the live show is now heard from 6am-7am) and shifted around its local line-up. Interestingly enough, "Eagan and Braude", the new morning team at WTKK were doing their own version of whatever-sticks format this week.(Yes, they even talked about the Red Sox' playoff game today.)

But there were a number of other changes, in front and behind the mic, that were made at WTKK : station's news director and afternoon anchor Ed Cherubino was let go and as of this week, WTKK hasn't been doing live afternoon news updates during Michael Graham and Jay Severin shows. Cherubino, a 25-year Boston radio veteran, was the lone holdover from Smooth Jazz 96.9FM sign-off in August 1999. Longtime assistant program director Eric Caldwell and promotions coordinator Corey Anderson were shown the door. WTKK's changed its on-air slogan from "Boston's Talk Evolution" to "Boston Talks". A number of Boston radio insiders expect Imus' show be dropped altogether by year's end.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

ESPN Radio returns to WEEI

As was reported first in the Boston Globe a few weeks ago, WEEI AM 850 is getting back its ESPN Radio affiliation, it was announced today. WEEI will also carry ESPN Radio's overnight programming replacing Fox Sports Radio starting Monday, November 2nd.

WEEI became ESPN Radio's Boston affiliate in January 1992 when the radio network launched with a weekend-only schedule. After 13 years, the WEEI-ESPN partnership ended in July 2005 when now-defunct WAMG AM 890/ESPN 890 acquired the rights to carry the national radio network's product in the Boston market. WEEI switched its overnight and weekend slots previously filled by ESPN Radio to Fox Sports Radio. But after a shaky four-year run, ESPN 890 signed off for good last month leaving ESPN without any clearance in the nation's 10th largest radio market.(BRW 9/10).

Today's announcement about the new WEEI-ESPN Radio agreement follows September 14's launch of ESPN's new hyper-local http://www.espnboston.com/ site. But don't expect any WEEI's local content or stream to be appear on ESPNBoston.com. According to the media reports, ESPN Radio is expected to take over WEEI's current AM 850 frequency with its 24-hour national sports format as Entercom's local sports powerhouse migrates to the FM band later this fall.

MLB playoffs are expected to air on WEEI this month, but between local sports talk programming, Red Sox, Monday and Sunday football, Boston College football and Celtics broadcasts filling out WEEI's busy schedule don't expect to hear many postseason games on AM850 between now and the start of the World Series. Even the Celtics preseason games are being shifted over to sister station talker WRKO AM 680 this Friday and Sunday because of conflicts with Red Sox.


Here's the official release from Entercom Boston :


For Immediate Release:

WEEI, ESPN RADIO Announce Affiliation Agreement


October 7, 2009 (Boston, Bristol, Conn.) —The WEEI Sports Radio Network and ESPN Radio, the nation’s largest sports radio network, will join forces to bring ESPN’s national programming and personalities to New England’s top rated sports radio station. The Boston- and Bristol-based broadcasters announced an affiliation agreement that will bring ESPN weekend and overnight programming to WEEI 850 AM, as well as a variety of play by play programming, including the Major League Baseball playoffs, the NBA and NBA playoffs and the College Bowl Championship Series, highlighted by the 2010 BCS National Championship Game in January. MLB playoff programming will begin this week.


Staring November 2, 2009, WEEI will syndicate ESPN’s overnight programming including AllNight with Jason Smith (1-5 a.m. ET Monday through Friday), as well as select weekend programming in and around its local coverage.

As part of the agreement, Adam Schefter, ESPN’s NFL Insider, will join Dennis and Callahan every Friday during the NFL Season beginning this week, and Peter Gammons, ESPN’s veteran Major League Baseball insider, will join The Big Show with Glenn Ordway every week during the upcoming baseball playoffs and once a week next season. A slew of ESPN personalities will also be joining WEEI shows on a regular basis, throughout the week and the weekend.“This partnership is a win for everyone, especially our listeners,” said Julie Kahn, Entercom New England VP and Market Manager. “As WEEI’s footprint grows across the New England on the airwaves and across the nation online, ESPN brings invaluable national content and insight.”

Added Traug Keller, Sr. VP, Production, Business Divisions, “The recent success of the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins make this an exciting time to be entering the Boston market on one of the nation’s premier sports stations. Combining ESPN Radio’s content and personalities with WEEI’s local reputation is a win-win for both parties, as well as for the area’s passionate fans.”Jason Wolfe, Entercom New England’s VP of AM Programming said, “This newly formed partnership will continue to solidify WEEI as the region’s foremost authority for sports coverage. Adding Peter and Adam, who we’ve enjoyed regular relationships with in the past, in addition to the many incredibly talented hosts and commentators that ESPN has in its stable, creates must listen radio for our audience.”

About EntercomEntercom Communications Corp. (NYSE: ETM) is one of the five largest radio broadcasting companies in the United States, with a nationwide portfolio of 110 stations in 23 markets, including San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Denver, Portland, Sacramento and Kansas City. Known for developing unique and highly successful, locally programmed stations, Entercom is home to some of radio’s most distinguished brands and compelling personalities. The company is also the radio broadcast partner of the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, Kansas City Royals, New Orleans Saints and Buffalo Sabres. For more information, please visit
www.entercom.com.

About ESPN RadioESPN Radio is the country's largest sports radio network, providing more than 9,000 hours of talk and event content annually to more than 750 stations, including more than 350 full-time affiliates and owned stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Pittsburgh. ESPN Radio event programming features the NBA (and The Finals), MLB (and the World Series) and college football’s BCS (and regular-season schedule). Weekday studio programming includes: Mike and Mike in the Morning (Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic), 6-10 a.m. ET; The Herd with Colin Cowherd, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; The Scott Van Pelt Show (2-4 p.m.); The Doug Gottlieb Show (4-7 p.m.).

Monday, October 5, 2009

FNX gets a new boss to oversee its operations

A new name has turned up in an old place. Mike Tierney has been named VP of Broadcast Operations at alternative rocker WFNX 101.7FM and WFNX Radio Network effective today.

During his 25 years in radio and record music business, Tierney has developed an impressive resume which includes stints as label manager for the Dave Matthews-owned ATO Records and SVP of Sony Music’s Epic Records. Tierney has also logged time at VH1 as Vice President of Music Programming. His radio experience includes stints as program director at Rhythmic Top 40 KUBE/Seattle and MD at KPLZ/Seattle, program director at KUFO/Portland and WXRK/NYC.

Interestingly enough, station's parent company Phoenix Media Group eliminated this senior management position in early 2008 as part of a cost-cutting move letting longtime WFNX manager Andy Kingston go. But with the exit of WBCN from Boston radio landscape two months ago, WFNX is positioning itself to potentially grab a share of disenfranchised rock listeners.

Here's WFNX press release on Tierney's hiring :

MIKE TIERNEY NAMED VICE PPRESIDENT OF BROADCAST OPERATIONS FOR WFNX RADIO NETWORK

Boston, MA — The Phoenix Media/Communications Group (PM/CG) announced today that Mike Tierney will become the Vice President of Broadcast Operations for the WFNX Radio Network.

Tiereny will take over the daily operations of the radio network and combine his extensive radio experience with a deep understanding of brands and marketing which will help not only WFNX, but the entire PM/CG.

Tierney is a veteran of the music and media industries, with experience in both radio and television programming, at major and independent Record companies, and in artist management and consulting. Tierney started his career in radio and grew to become the Program Director for Seattle's KUBE, and over his twenty year career he has spanned multiple music and entertainment disciplines including being an Senior Vice President at Epic Records to Program Director for WXRK/New York to being the manager of the Presidents of the United States of America to being VP of music programming for VH1.

“Mike brings a wealth of experience and tremendous energy to our organization,” says PM/CG President Brad Mindich, “For over 25 years WFNX has been a pioneer in new music both in New England and across America and we see Mike being instrumental in the development of the WFNX brand.”

"I couldn’t be more excited to join the teams at WFNX and the Phoenix Media/Communications Group,” says Tierney. “WFNX is one of Boston radio’s most indelible brands, synonymous with independent broadcasting, independent music, and independent Boston ownership. I look forward to a new stage in WFNX’s evolution, to interacting with the music-loving WFNX staff members and listeners, and to tackling the challenges that face WFNX in the rapidly changing landscapes of music and the media business."

More about the PM/CG publications and companies: The Boston Phoenix began as a four-page arts-and-entertainment weekly in 1966. The Phoenix is the flagship property of the Phoenix Media/Communications Group, which in addition to the Phoenix weekly newspapers in Rhode Island and Maine and Stuff magazine, comprises the WFNX Radio Network; Phoenix Interactive (
thephoenix.com, wfnx.com, stuffboston.com); Phoenix Ventures (the sports and magazine group that publishes the official yearbooks for the Boston Bruins, the Boston Celtics, and the Boston Marathon); People2People Group (audio text and social-networking applications); g8wave (marketing and content using SMS and other mobile technologies); and Mass Web Printing (four-color offset printing).

All Phoenix companies are privately held.

Friday, October 2, 2009

WTKK changes lineup

Beginning Monday(10/5) there will be changes in the program lineup at FM talker WTKK 96.9FM.

The Don Imus fans won't be too thrilled with the syndicated talk show's hours being cut from 6-9a to 6-7am, but those who want more local talk in the AM drive will welcome WTKK's programming shake-up.

The biggest change on the new schedule has midday team of Margery Eagan and Jim Braude shifting from Noon to 3pm to mornings where they'll follow Imus at 7am. Michael Graham will get more air-time as he will now start at 10am and end at 2pm. Jay Severin moves from his 3-7pm slot to 2-6pm. And, Michelle McPhee also adds an hour as she will now handle 6pm-10pm. Rest of night and overnight line-up doesn't change : syndicated talkers Curtis Sliwa(10am-1am) and Phil Hendrie(1am-5am) stay put.

WODS youngs up its image

Old? Who are you calling old, buddy?

"Zito and Blake" are going after the younger set - with the same set list.

As of this week, WODS 103.3 has completely dropped the word "Oldies'' from its name. The station, known as "Oldies 103.3'' since its first day on the air in October 1987, is calling itself ''Boston's #1 for Greatest Hits, 103.3 WODS-FM" in an effort to attract younger listeners. A new station logo has been rolled out this week and is featured on the newly redesigned website http://www.wods.com/ (http://www.oldies1033.com/ now also directs to http://www.wods.com/).

The station still plays music primarily from the 1960s and '70s. WODS' image change is obviously driven to appeal to younger set of listeners. While 25-35 year-olds may have The Beatles or Aretha Franklin songs in their iPods, they don't feel comfortable with the outdated "oldies'' tag. WODS, which has had an oldies format since October 1987, targets to listeners between 25 and 64 but in the age of competing technologies - Ipod's, on-line streaming, satellite radio and other digital deliver platforms - marketing image is sometimes half the battle for listeners' ears.

WODS' HD-2 station "The Cove" is on the air for listeners with digital HD radios. The Cove is playing much more contemporary music covering 1960's thu today.