Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Clear Channel cuts nationally, consolidates local traffic operations

Earlier today, massive personnel reductions took place place at corporate titan Clear Channel's radio stations in small and medium sized markets around the country as the company struggles with its huge $21-billion(and climbing) debt. While reportedly none of Clear Channel's major market stations were impacted today that may change soon. The company's major market general managers met in Chicago today and could very possibly be headed back to their stations with their own set of reductions to implement according to well-respected media reporter Roger Feder.

At Clear Channel Boston's local radio cluster there were no known staff cuts but a big reduction in force took place in the local traffic reporting business as Clear Channel began merging its own Total Traffic Network operations with the Metro Networks traffic service the company purchased from Westwood One in late April for $119 million.

Metro Networks has been Clear Channel’s Total Traffic Network’s (TTN) largest competitor, and April's deal made the company the largest player in the traffic business. Metro which supplies traffic, news and sports reports for many Boston market TV and radio stations already had a budget-related round of layoffs three years ago(BRW 9/15/2008) took another pretty big hit today. Close to two dozen staffers including managers, reporters and producers at Metro Networks' Boston office were laid off today. Some of the more familiar voices you often heard on various local TV and radio stations during morning and afternoon commutes were let go - Matt Phipps, Marshall Hook, Mike King, Scott Pike and Brian Sullivan.

As of tomorrow, Clear Channel's Total Traffic staffers will relocate from their Clear Channel Boston's Medford studios which also house Kiss 108/Jamn 94-5/Talk 1200 to Metro's long-time Government Center digs.

BRW Notebook :

Honor Roll : 89.7 WGBH Radio’s senior investigative reporter Phillip Martin has been named the 2011-2012 Margret and Hans Rey/Curious George Producer.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Getting ahead : CBS Radio promotes a rising radio programmer star in its Boston cluster

Earlier today, Mike Thomas has been upped to a programming quarterback of CBS Radio's operations in Boston. In the newly created position as Vice President of Programming he will oversee the programming strategies of CBS Radio' local five-station group which includes a blue-chip lineup of news/talker WBZ 1030, classic hits WODS 103.3, Top40 adult contemporary WBMX/Mix 104.1, classic rocker WZLX 100.7 and WBZ/98.5 the SportsHub.

While Thomas will continue in his primary role as program director of WZLX 100.7 and SportsHub 98.5, he will now work with the PDs of the other three CBS' stations on content development and audience acquisition. The news of Thomas' climb up the corporate ladder follows Monday's announcement that Jay Beau Jones was stepping down as Program Director of Mix104.1 and WODS 103.3 after nearly four years(BRW 10/10).

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

WTKK adds more news to morning drive and weekends

After a 6-month simulcast of New England Cable News(NECN) in the early part of the morning commute, Boston's FM talker WTKK 96.9 is apparently happy with the results thus far(BRW 4/13). The station announced today that beginning Monday(10/17), it will be expanding NECN's morning news simulcast by an extra hour which will now run until 7am. More news means less talk for Jim Braude and Margery Eagan whose show will now air from 7am to 10am. In addtion to the weekday news block, WTKK 96.9 will also run NECN on Saturday mornings from 6am to 8am. Here is the link to official WTKK-NECN's press release.
BRW Notebook :

Showcasing Innovators : WGBH 89.7/"Boston Public Radio" announced the launch of a new weekly program, Innovation Hub, a one-hour radio program examining the latest in local innovations, premiering this weekend(10/15). Each week, at 7am on Saturday and 10pm on Sunday, Boston-area inventors, researchers and entrepreneurs will highlight how they are tackling the world’s social, technological and systemic issues in a round-table discussion format. Innovation Hub will be hosted by Kara Miller, a regular WGBH contributor and Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. As a radio host, Miller has interviewed thinkers from E.J. Dionne to Howard Gardner, Deepak Chopra to Lani Guinier. She is a panelist on WGBH-TV’s “Beat the Press,” and her work has appeared in The Boston Globe, The National Journal, Boston Herald, Boston Magazine, and The International Herald Tribune.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mix 104.1 and WODS 103.3's director of programming quits

According to a report on radio trade publication's website, WBMX/Mix 104.1 and WODS 103.3' program director Jay Beau Jones resigned from the station today. Jones sent a memo to the staff and colleagues at CBS Radio Boston announcing his departure. His resignation came three weeks after Mix's annual MixFest radio concert which this year was held at the Hatch Shell in Boston and was free to the public.

Jones has been programming Top40 adult contemporary Mix 104.1 and oldies WODS 103.3 since early February 2008 after working in the similar programming capacity at Worcester's combo WXLO 104.5 and WWFX/The Pike from 2002 to 2008. He has had over 25 years of programming and on-air experience previously working in Philadelphia, Chicago and Hartford markets.

Meanwhile, Steve Salhany, an operations manager for CBS Radio Hartford cluster and VP of CBS Radio's "Hot" AC format, will be overseeing Mix 104.1 while Brian Thomas, program director at NYC's classic hits station WCBS 101.1 and VP of CBS Radio's Classic Hits programming, will run WODS 103.3 until Jones' replacement is named.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

SportsHub sitting at top of the heap

Who knew?! The new station is the new leader in the local sports-talk radio listenership fight.

WBZ 98.5/SportsHub began broadcasting in the format a little over two years ago and has overtaken its competitor, previous long-running rarely-challenged leader in the genre - WEEI 850 - on the prime battleground - men ages 25-54.

In the Arbitron survey for the summer period(July-August-September) released today, WBZ 98.5 came in first attracting 7.5 percent of those in that bracket who were listening from 6 a.m.-12am Monday thru Sunday.

In the big picture, over the past couple years the overall sports audience has grown substantially as SportsHub is taking listeners from other FM formats rather than raiding WEEI. Actually, WEEI's current numbers are comparable from a year ago. So where are they all coming from? Audience growth on AM dial is virtually nonexistent while it's a totally different ballgame on FM because there's so much more audience available there to get.

After 20 years of being stuck on AM, WEEI finally moved its brand to FM three weeks ago by converting 93.7FM to an FM simulcast. The initial impact of the move won't be known until the results of Arbitron's October(9/15-10/12) survey are released on November 1. Before converting to sports, WEEI 93.7 had broadcast automated, jockless all-variety music format branded as MikeFM for 6 1/2 years. Meanwhile, with WEEI 850 falling out of Top 5 among men ages 25-54(WEEI 850 was tied for 8th in the summer survey) and WBZ-FM growing and retaining its audience, the much-delayed move to FM was vital for WEEI to remain competitive.

On directly-related note, SportsHub's success is also costing WEEI in revenue as the station is forced to charge less for ad time it sells. In turn, diminishing revenues are also costing money for some of its top talent. According to Boston Globe's report(9/22). WEEI's afternoon mainstay Glenn Ordway's $1 million-a-year salary has reportedly been slashed in half. Globe's report said that WEEI's parent owner Entercom cited a clause in Ordway's 2009 contract to opt out if Ordway's "The Big Show" did not finish in the ratings top three for men 25-54. The Big Show came in seventh in that demo in the Summer, fifth  in the Spring, down from fourth in the Winter ratings. When Ordway signed his current contract in January 2009, "The Big Show'' was first among men 25-54 for six years straight.

SportsHub's summer win was almost across the board in all its target male demographics and in all parts of the day save nights, where Red Sox broadcasts still helped to keep WEEI on top. SportsHub won morning, midday and afternoon drive with men 25-54, men 18-34 and men 18-49.

BRW Notebook:

The King of Mellow : Yea, the one and only David Allen Boucher, who hosts his show "BedTime Magic" on WMJX/Magic 106.7 from 8pm to 1am weekdays, has apparently been voted Favorite Local On-Air Personality in the 2nd Annual Boston Magazine's "People's Choice Awards" poll. He has been with the station since it went on the air in early January 1982.

Classical re-do : As of this Monday and after two years as "Classical 99.5", public classical music WCRB 99.5 now goes by "Classical New England". The WGBH-owned station is now emphasizing a growing classical music network spanning outlets in Nantucket(89.5), Providence(88.7) and low-power transmitter in Beacon Hill(96.3). The Classical New England network also features a new weekday and weekend schedule which can be found on its website

Calling all WBCN and Charles listeners : Attention fans of the old WBCN and/or Charles Laquidara. If you have old footage/photos of the heyday of WBCN, producer of a full length feature documentary "I am What I Play"  is looking to connect with people who might have material to share for this film. "I Am What I Play" profiles four legendary FM rock jocks from four different cities. One of them is WBCN's own Charles Laquidara. Please e-mail Roger King at if you can assist.