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.