Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Severin going back on the air
...and WTKK re-arranges its line-up(see update below)

Jay Severin, whose provocative on-air comments about sleeping with his female interns years ago got him fired earlier this year by WTKK 96.9, is returning to the airwaves at a rival station.

Severin's afternoon show will resume this Thursday(8/18) at 3 pm on WXKS AM/Talk 1200 the station said today. In hiring Severin, Talk 1200 seems to be  unfazed by the host's occasional penchant for tasteless gab.

As you recall, WTKK's owner, Greater Media, terminated Severin on April 6 because he did not maintain an "appropriate level of civility and adhere to a standard that respects our listeners and the public at large".(BRW 4/6).  In addition, Greater Media's statement said : "Unfortunately, it had become clear at several points in the past two years that Jay was either unwilling or unable to maintain our standards on the air. It's for that reason we have made the decision to end our relationship."

Severin's April firing after 12 years on city airwaves roiled some free-speech advocates and his fans. In recent weeks, on his Twitter and Facebook accounts he promised a 'major announcement' about his return to Boston airwaves.

Boston's talk radio bomb tosser, Severin, will broadcast Monday through Friday during afternoon drive time from 3 to 6pm. He replaces syndicated Sean Hannity show.

Here's the official Talk 1200/Clear Channel Boston press release :

BOSTON, MA – August 16, 2011 – WXKS-AM TALK 1200 announced today that Jay Severin has signed a multi-year contract to broadcast weekdays from 3-6:00 p.m. He will begin airing on TALK 1200 on Thursday, Aug. 18.
“I am a fan, friend, and follower of TALK 1200’S Jeff Katz, Glenn Beck, Rush and Sean Hannity” said Severin. “It is a great honor to become a member of this team. I’m excited to talk issues with the world’s best and brightest listeners each and every day.”
Severin began his radio career in 1996 at WOR in New York. In addition to his background in broadcasting, Severin was a political analyst for MSNBC. He also has provided commentary and analysis both in print and television, including appearances on Fox News, CNN, ABC and BBC. Prior to a career in media Severin worked as a prominent national media strategist in numerous major campaigns across the U.S.
“Jay’s addition to our team solidifies the strongest talk radio line-up in Boston” said Paula O’Connor, Program Director at WXKS-AM. “With Jeff Katz in the morning, Jay Severin and national powerhouse Sean Hannity back-to-back on your drive home, New Englanders will have the best local and national coverage on the dial.”
Fans can listen to TALK 1200 AM on the station’s website, talk1200.com, as well as on HD Radio at 107.9 – HD2, iHeartRadio.com and the iHeartRadio mobile app, the industry-leading digital radio service that delivers more than 750 of America's favorite radio stations from 150 cities as well as commercial-free digital only stations; specialized artist stations; non-music radio programming and national programming, including 24/7 Comedy Radio, White House Brief, The Elvis Duran Channel, Fox Sports Radio, AT40 with Ryan Seacrest; and more.

Update(5:00pm 8/16) :  A few hours after WXKS/Talk 1200 announced Jay Severin's hiring, his former station WTKK 96.9 fired back with a preemptive strike of its own. Starting tomorrow(8/17), a new on-air lineup will launch on 96.9 and it will have Michael Graham hosting the 3pm-7pm afternoon drive shift. Graham, of course, was originally hired as Severin's afternoon replacement when Severin left for a national syndication deal back in 2005. When Severin returned to WTKK in 2006 to host a local show, Graham moved up to middays.

With Graham taking over the afternoon drive, Doug Meehan shifts up to 10am-Noon slot while syndicated Michael Smerconish who has been airing on tape-delay from 6 to 10pm will now air live from Noon to 3pm. 

Here's WTKK's official release :

96.9 Boston Talks Announces New Line-up
Michael Graham to Host Afternoon Drive from 3 P.M. - 7 P.M.
Boston, MA (August 16, 2011): Greater Media Boston announces 96.9 WTKK-FM Midday Personality Michael Graham will now be heard weekdays from 3pm to 7pm beginning on August 17, 2011.
“I’m offering the afternoon drive guarantee,” said Michael Graham. “Let me ride home with you and you’ll know a little bit more and have more fun than any place else on the dial.”
In addition, WTKK's new weekday line-up will include:
Jim Braude & Margery Eagan (6a-10a)
Doug Meehan (10a to Noon)
Michael Smerconish (Noon to 3p)
Michael Graham (3p to 7p)

BRW Notebook :
Mixing it up at the Hatch : The acts will be announced next Monday(8/22), but WBMX/Mix 104.1 is going back to its roots by holding its annual MixFest as a free event at the DCR Hatch Shell on Saturday, September 17.

The Top40/adult contemporary station which celebrated the 20th anniversary(2/8/1991) of its format earlier this year originally launched its MixFest as "Fall Fest" in 1993 as a free event on the Boston Common. In the late 90's, WBMX's radio event was redubbed as MixFest and became a paid-event(with proceeds going to charity). It has moved around different concert venues over the years - beginning at the Boston Common and then with stops at the City Hall Plaza, the old Foxborough Stadium, Suffolk Downs, Tweeter Center, FleetCenter, Bank of America Pavilion and more recently Agganis Arena.
MixFest has been held every year since 1993 with the exception of 2001 when it was cancelled due to the tragedies on 9/11, and again in 2009 when the station switched frequence from 98.5 to 104.1.

Line-up change : After 7 months at WRKO 680, Michele McPhee left the station last week. She will join NewsCenter 5 as a general assignment reporter with a focus on law enforcement, crime and exclusive stories, as announced by WCVB-TV Channel 5 President and General Manager Bill Fine announced earlier this month. McPhee will hit the streets for the station on September 6. Meanwhile, effective Monday(8/15), Jen Brien will host the 1-3pm slot on WRKO. Brien who has previously worked at WPRO 630/Providence and WXTK 95.1/Cape Cod has been working as a weekend host at WRKO since May 2010.

Entercom honors Navy SEALs : . The parent company of WRKO 680, WEEI 850, WMKK 93.7 and WAAF 107.3, Entercom Communications launched a fundraising campaign to benefit the Navy SEAL Foundation in the wake of the recent helicopter crash in Afghanistan that took the lives of a number of Navy SEALs – including several members of SEAL Team Six responsible for the recent death of Osama bin Laden.  Entercom Boston Vice President and Market Manager, Jeff Brown, stated, “These fallen heroes are great Americans.  Entercom

Monday, August 1, 2011

WEEI begins to utilitize HD Radio technology

Not quite a move to FM band but close enough.

If you're a sports radio listener and one of the few who owns an HD radio receiver, as of last month you can listen to Boston sports talker WEEI AM 850's programming, including Boston Red Sox games, on the FM side of the dial. WEEI's content is now being streamed via HD2 side-channels of its rock-formatted sister-stations WAAF 107.3 and WKAF 97.7.

When HD Radio technology first rolled out 5-6 years ago the idea behind it was to add variety and diversity to radio markets by launching formats that were not already available over the air. For the most part, this still holds true in Boston where four major radio groups like CBS Radio , Entercom, Clear Channel and Greater Media do utilize HD technology to mix up some format options. For example, Entercom's WMKK/Mike 93.7 streams rhythmic "FunkyTown" on its HD2 side channel while Greater Media's WMJX/Magic 106.7 runs a 24/7 Smooth Jazz station as its HD2 offering. For a full list of HD2 stations and what formats are available in the Boston market, please click on HD Radio's website.

On the bigger scale,terrestrial radio industry was hoping HD Radio, the new competitive matrix, would create a strong listener interest and advertising would then follow. As it stands now, things didn't quite work out that way. While  ongoing economic recession has slowed/halted HD Radio's growth, big radio groups are also re-assessing their HD strategies  locally and nationally. The new trend here and elsewhere has been to simulcast local market AM stations on its FM HD sidechannels - CBS added WBZ 1030's stream to its WBZ 98.5's HD3 side channel back in August 2009. Prior to that, WBZ 1030 was available on WODS 103.3's HD3 stream. Also, locally, Clear Channel shifted its WXKS/Talk 1200 on Kiss 108's HD2 stream earlier this spring.

And now, Entercom Boston is simulcasting WEEI on HD2 channels of its local rock combo WKAF 97.7/WAAF 107.3. By the way, this move falls in line with Entercom's company-wide strategy in its other national market clusters from - Buffalo to Sacramento - where it's streaming AM news/talk and sports stations on HD sidechannels of its local FM sister-stations.

BRW Notebook :

Big guys who run the show : The trade magazine Radio Ink puts a veteran Boston radio executive in the top 10 on its annual "40 most powerful people in radio" list.

Peter Smyth, vice president and CEO of Braintree-based Greater Media which locally owns WTKK 96.9, WBOS 92.9, WKLB 102.5, WMJX 106.7 and WROR 105.7, 
placed No.7 on Radio Ink's list. Smyth is among an impressive group of national radio mucky mucks like Clear Channel's chairman Bob Pittman(1) and CEO/President John Hogan(2),  CBS Radio's CEO/President Dan Mason(4) and Entercom's CEO/President David Field(5).

The little guy who runs his own show : One-man show Bob Bittner who rescued WJIB 740 out of a bankruptcy court back in 1991 and has played soft oldies on his tiny 250-watt station since 1992 is profiled in the Boston Observer this week.