Wednesday, June 27, 2012

CBS to Amp up a new Top40 challenge

CBS Sporting new voices, new music and a new name, CBS Radio will transform Boston's WODS 103.3 from classic hits to contemporary hit Top 40 format starting this Thursday(6/28) at Noon.

The new station will offer a contemporary hit radio(CHR) sound and will be named AMP 103-3 and will challenge the market's long-running Top 40 music leader and market's big ratings kahuna WXKS/Kiss 108. AMP103.3 will eventually add live and local personalities as well as the new program director.(There's some speculation that a Boston native Joey Brooks who has worked at a number of local outlets including Kiss 108, Star 93-7, WXLO 104.5 and most recently was afternoon drive voice at CHUM-FM in Toronto may be headed for an on-air job at the new station.) 

Back in the mid 1980's, 103.3 also featured a Top40 format and was known as WHTT/"HitRadio" After a three-year run(3/83-7/86), WHTT bowed out of a Top40 battle with Kiss 108 and Z-94(now Jamn 94-5) in July 1986.

As for the classic hits/oldies format which has been in place for nearly 25 years, it will move to WODS 103.3's HD2 channel and be available on-line at None of the current on-air staffers will be retained, but farewell shows with Karen Blake and John Laurenti(6am-9am) and Paula Street and JJ Wright(9am-Noon) will air on the last morning of the format.

Here's the official press release from CBS Radio issued this afternoon :

WODS Launches a Brand New Contemporary Hit Radio Format,
Boston’s New 103.3 AMP Radio Debuts Thursday, June 28

Classic hit music from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s to be available on WODS HD-2
and at

Boston, MA -- Wednesday, June 27, 2012 –  In an exciting move for Boston area Top 40 music fans, WODS 103.3 will launch a brand new format on Thursday, June 28 at 12N featuring today’s most popular songs. 103.3 AMP Radio will be a contemporary hit radio station that is programmed for listeners who love pop, pop rhythm, and dance music.  Artists such as Rihanna, Usher, Maroon 5, Pitbull, Flo Rida, Katy Perry, and Nicki Minaj to name a few will be featured on the station which is available on-air, online at and via mobile apps including iPhone and Android devices.

“When looking at the habits of Boston radio listeners, it is clear the music most favored by the biggest group of people is contemporary hit music,” said Mark Hannon, SVP/Market Manager for CBS RADIO Boston .  “Boston’s New 103.3 AMP Radio will serve the audience with all of the hits from artists topping the charts, and create a number of ways for listeners to interact with the station – from live events to special appearances and contests."

The launch of Boston ’s New 103.3 AMP Radio will be led by a team of programmers including Mike Thomas, Vice President of Programming for CBS RADIO Boston , along with Michael Martin, Vice President of CHR Programming for CBS RADIO.  A full- time program director for the station, as well as the line-up of live and local talent, will be named at a later date. 

In a related announcement, listeners who enjoy classic hits can hear all their favorite songs from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s on the HD multicast channel of WODS (WODS103.3 HD-2).  The station will also be available online at

103.3 AMP Radio is owned and operated by CBS RADIO, one of the largest major-market radio operators in the United States .  A division of CBS Corporation, CBS RADIO operates 127 radio stations, the majority of which are in the nation’s top 50 markets.  CBS RADIO also owns and operates WBZ-AM NewsRadio 1030, WBZ-FM 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBMX-FM MIX 104.1, and WZLX-FM 100.7 Classic Rock in Boston .
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

As terrestrial WFNX fades away, over-the-air and on-line choices will test its fans' loyalties

As everyone keeps trying to guess what format the new owners will install on WFNX 101.7, fans of the alternative rock music played there for over 29 years are trying to figure where to go next.

One thing is known - radio giant Clear Channel, which is buying the station from Phoenix Media Communications Group for $14.5 million, will not retain the format, call letters and, of course, DJs.

Federal Communications Commission still needs to issue its approval of the sale before the deal actually closes, but many expect the new format to launch on Monday, July 23rd. Clear Channel has made no official announcement on a new format, but today's menu of options points to a conservative-leaning talk format currently heard on AM 1200, Spanish Top40 tunes airing on a weak AM 1430 or something completely different(but don't bet on that one). Whatever the new format it has in the works, Clear Channel better be ready to spend a lot of money to reach its new target audience. 

With Clear Channel's plans for 101.7FM aside, where will WFNX's 250,000 or so weekly listeners go?

Those who go the Net route, in fact, can keep WFNX. On Monday(6/25), the station's outgoing owner, Phoenix Media, has officially announced plans to continue its legendary alternative rock format at on 24/7/365 basis. 
In addition, The Boston Globe made a media splash of its own on Monday by announcing an upcoming launch of an alternative on-line station voiced by former WFNX staffers which will be hosted on 

While and will duke it out exclusively on-line, WFNX fans will likely to spread out to other stations(and their on-line streams) in the area - jockless WBOS/MyRadio 92.9( plays a mix of contemporary rock from the 80's, 90's and today and will likely be the main beneficiary(at least, in the car) of 101.7's demise, but there are other over-the-air options. To the north of the city, there's adult album alternative WXRV/River 92.5( In the city, there's Emerson College's WERS 88.9( which sprinkles a lot of interesting new music, including rock, into its "Daytime" block which runs weekdays until 7pm. To the south of Boston(and you may need a good FM antenna to pick this one up), there's Brown University's alternative rocker WBRU 95.5(

Sirius XM satellite offers a lot more variety, and, of course, rock is all over the Internet. 

BRW Notebook :

Saying goodbye : With WFNX announcing its plan to relaunch on-line, it has also announced special programming to celebrate its last 29 years on the air. The month-long celebration will culminated on Saturday,July 21 with all-day "SendOff Party". Here's the list of special programs, features and special
that get underway this week :

* Listener / Band Takeovers, Monday 6/25 – Friday 6/29 @ 9am, 1pm and 7pm
Listeners and Bands will take over the airwaves and play their favorite WFNX songs
*   "Z to A Countdown", Monday 7/2 – Wednesday 7/4 will revisit history and artists that were integral over the years  

*  "WFNX Rewind", Thursday 7/5 –  Friday 7/20 WFNX on-air personalities (from 1983 – 2012) will return to host shows throughout the month
* "101.7 FM Sendoff Party", Saturday 7/21. Special guests will be live in the studio. Bands will return to play live in the green room.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Alternative rock off WFNX and onto

When Clear Channel drops the long-running alternative rock format on WFNX 101.7 later this summer, there is going to be one well-known local media company waiting by the door to jump on the new opportunity., the 17-year digital subsidiary of the Boston Globe,  announced this morning that it will bring on board a number of former WFNX on-air and off-air staffers including DJs Henry Santoro, Julie Kramer, Adam "Adam 12" Chapman and program director Paul Driscoll to launch a live, streaming music service on its site. It's not yet known whether the new digital music station will have any partnership with outgoing WFNX owner, Phoenix Media/Communications Group, and have any WFNX branding elements or access to the current music library.

While's parent company has been pouring a lot of its energy into making its print franchise work online(it's paywall experiment launched last October has already proved to be a miscalculated disaster), it's also nurturing successful web portfolios in hopes of emerging from the downturn with more diverse digital businesses.

While online music listening and music revenues keep growing at a rapid pace,'s new on-line music venture could provide a large appeal to already existing WFNX fan base which in turn could translate into bigger advertising profits for its owners.  

The official press release is here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

All that Jazz makes way for more news on WGBH

WGBH 89.7, Boston’s public radio station has been building its identity around news and public affairs programming over the past 3 years(BRW 11/30/09), is again beefing up its line-up with more of it at the expense of remaining weekday jazz programming starting next month.

Starting Monday, July 9th, the station will air news and public-affairs programs from 8pm until midnight Monday thru Thursday, thus dropping the evening block of jazz with station's 31-year mainstay Eric Jackson that currently runs in that time period. "Eric In the Evening" will move to a 9pm-Midnight slot on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights beginning Friday, July 13th. Meanwhile, Jackson's fans have already begun a Save Eric in the Evening page on Facebook. One casualty in the move is Friday night's jazz host of "Jazz from Studio 4", Steve Schwartz, who is out of a gig after 27 years with the station. In addition, the Boston Phoenix is also reporting that the weekday overnight jazz programming which includes nationally-syndicated San Francisco-based show hosted by Bob Parlocha will now be only heard on weekend overnights and yet to-be announced news programming will its place turning WGBH 89.7 into 24/5 news/public affairs outlet. The move to eliminate all music on weekdays obviously reinforces WGBH's news branding as it continues to compete against leading FM newser WBUR 90.9. In addition, WGBH is also saving money on music licensing fees as it reduces its music programming by about 40 hours  a week.

Starting Monday July 2nd, the weekday morning news/talk line-up will also shift. NPR's Morning Edition which is currently heard from 7am to 9am and book-ended by PRI's(Public Radio International) "TakeWay" at 6am and 9am will expand to full four hours(6am-10am). Morning Edition will then be followed by The Diane Rehm Show from 10am to 11am and TakeAway will air from 11am to Noon.

Also on July 9th, the local talk from Noon to 2pm will also get re-branded as "Boston Public Radio" and will get a replay in the 9pm-11pm Monday-Thursday slot previously occupied by Eric In the Evening preceded by the World from 8pm to 9pm.  In addition, NPR show "Tell Me More" will now air from 2 to 3pm.

Here's official WGBH release on programming changes coming up in July.

Partners with Marketplace, Expands Morning Edition, Updates Eric in the Evening

(Boston, MA – June 20, 2012) Boston Public Radio, 89.7 WGBH is expanding its programming to include more NPR, more Marketplace, a focused jazz destination and a seamless local talk block from 12Noon-2pm.
  Beginning Monday, July 2, 89.7 WGBH will expand its exploration of economic issues and trends with additional broadcasts from Marketplace, American Public Media’s program focusing on the latest business news both nationally and internationally, the global economy, and wider events linked to the financial markets. WGBH will begin airing Marketplace, hosted by Kai Ryssdal, weekdays at 6pm, and will expand to four Marketplace Morning Reports instead of its current two. The station also will introduce a daily, four-minute Marketplace Tech Report focusing on the innovation and technology sectors of the economy.
  “Our audience appreciates the high quality and the creative reporting done by Marketplace on weekday mornings during WGBH's Morning Edition,” says Phil Redo, 89.7 Managing Director. “As we add the fullMarketplace report at 6pm, WGBH Radio now will be the place where Boston listenersturn for relevant economic news, to start and finish their day.”
  The expanded partnership between WGBH and Marketplace will include a Marketplace reporter actively working with the WGBH editorial team to provide more locally focused coverage on a weekly basis, allowing both entities to enhance their coverage in Boston, a key economic region of the US.
  In addition, WGBH Radio is expanding the popular program Morning Edition to air an hour earlier, beginning weekdays at 6am, and run an hour longer until 10am. WGBH's Morning Edition includes content generated by NPR as well as local news and feature reports produced by WGBH News.
           “We’re pleased with the listener response to WGBH becoming ‘Boston Public Radio,’ ”Redo adds. “Our emphasis on local coverage of innovation, health care, the MBTA and Occupy Boston is part of our vision to provide listeners with a deeper exploration of the many issues facing our region.”
           The focus on important topics with a diversity of voices will continue as 89.7’s mid-day centerpiece Boston Public Radio, beginning Monday, July 9, with a seamless two hours of local talk led by Callie Crossley, who will bejoined by Emily Rooney, Kara Miller and other WGBH contributors. The program will reflect that 89.7 truly is ‘Boston Public Radio’ by drawing on an array of stories, and storytellers, from across our community that allows for expanded conversations of the day's top stories and showcases a breadth of opinions and opinion-makers.
           This summer also will bring a new focus on jazz on 89.7 as the program Eric in the Evening, featuring Eric Jackson the “dean of Boston jazz,” moves to weekends airing from 9pm-12midnight Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.
           The 89.7 schedule will continue to evolve, reflecting listener feedback and drawing on the resources of Boston’s only combined multi-platform (radio, TV, Web) newsroom.
           The 89.7 WGBH weekday schedule changes include:
  • Marketplace Morning Report airing at 5:50am, 6:50am, 7:50am, 9:50am with Marketplace airing 6-6:30pm
  • Morning Edition expanding to 6-10am
  • The Takeaway airing daily 11am-12Noon
  • Boston Public Radio (local talk format with Callie Crossley, Emily Rooney, Kara Miller, Jared Bowen, Adam Reilly and others exploring local news, politics, culture and technology) airing from 12Noon-2pm with a daily replay from 9pm-11pm
  • Eric in the Evening airing Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 9pm-12midnight
  • Tell Me More (NPR program hosted by Mishel Martin, examining U.S. and international news, ideas and people; its range of topics covers politics, faith and spirituality, the family, finance, arts and culture and lifestyle) airing 2-3pm
  • The World airing at 8-9pm

About WGBH
WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including MasterpieceAntiques RoadshowFrontlineNovaAmerican ExperienceArthurCurious George, and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle, and children’s series. WGBH’s television channels include WGBH 2, WGBH 44, and the digital channels World and Create. WGBH TV productions focusing on the region’s diverse community include Greater BostonBasic Black, and High School Quiz Show. WGBH Radio serves listeners across New England with 89.7 WGBH, Boston Public Radio; Classical New England; andWCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR® Station. WGBH also is a major source of programs for public radio (including The World), a leader in educational multimedia (including PBS LearningMedia, a free online service providing the nation’s educators with curriculum-based digital content to meet 21st-century learners’ needs), and a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to the 36 million Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys,Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards…even two Oscars. Find more information at

BRW Notebook :

"Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see" : With WFNX 101.7 ceasing to exist as a broadcast station in just about 4 weeks(July 21), this may be a small clue as to what the new format might be on 101.7 frequency come later this summer. A recently-registered domain name points to Clear Channel's low-powered AM station WKOX/Mia 1430's website. The AM station has been playing Spanish Top40 hits since September 2009. Since WFNX sale was first announced back in mid-May, there has been no official announcement from Clear Channel as to what the new format is going to be but this new domain name may or may not be an indication that they're planning to bring Mia's format to FM dial. Stay tuned...

New MD at 'UMB : Non-commercial Triple A(Adult Album Alternative) WUMB 91.9 has named Jay Moberg as its new Music Director. Moberg who who also hosts an afternoon drive show(3-7pm) has been with WUMB for the last four years. He replaces John Laurenti who left to work morning drive at WODS 103.3 in early May(BRW 5/2).

In a statement, WUMB's Director of Administration & Operations/COO Patty Domeniconi  said, "Over the past year and a half Jay has established beneficial relationships with music companies, performers and producers and has maintained a strong presence for WUMB in the music industry. He has demonstrated extensive knowledge of the full spectrum of Folk, and Americana music and artists and played a key role in the review and assessment of WUMB's music library. His broad knowledge of music and commitment to research and acquire music from a range of familiar and unfamiliar performers has been, and will continue to be an excellent asset to the station. In this new role, Jay will manage all areas of the music department, as well as maintain his ongoing contact with artists and music company representatives to obtain new music from a diverse variety of roots based genres and labels. Please join me in congratulating Jay on this achievement!"

Car Talk slams on the brakes : Alas, world, it's curtains for the popular NPR radio show Car Talk. Ray and Tom Magliozzi, better known as Click and Clack, the Tappett Brothers, say that as of September they'll park the show in the garage after 25 years (35 with originating station Boston's WBUR 90.9). Tom's 74, Ray 63. Reruns of their 1,200-plus NPR shows will be on many stations, but no new shows. Four million listeners over 600 stations now will have to figure out their car troubles themselves or go to Youtube.

Dancing His Way into the Hall of Fame : As mentioned in this space previously, the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame will present its annual Gala Awards Ceremony and Luncheon on Thursday, September 13 from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM at the Boston Marriott Quincy Hotel.  Hosted by WBZ 1030’s Jordan Rich, the Hall of Fame will induct fourteen of Massachusetts’ most popular and respected radio and television broadcasters into the Hall of Fame. 

This year's event, will be an exciting one for sure as the Emmy-Award winning host of Dancing with the Stars, Tom Bergeron, makes an appearance at long last, five years after he was honored in 2007. Bergeron began his broadcasting career in 1972 in his hometown of Haverhill on WHAV and later spent time in New Hampshire radio and at New Hampshire Public Television before spending over a decade with Boston's WBZ-TV4 and WBZ 1030 in Boston before leaving for Hollywood TV fame in 1994.

Ticket for the Hall of Fame awards ceremony are currently on sale and more info is here

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

McPhee rejoins WRKO

Michele McPhee, who left WRKO 680 last August(BRW 8/16), will return to the talk station with a new 4-hour midday show beginning at 11am on Monday(6/11), it was announced today. 

For the past 10 months McPhee worked at WCVB-5 in Needham as a general assignment reporter focusing on law enforcement and crime stories. Her last day at the TV station was last Friday(6/1).

With her return to WRKO 680, McPhee  displaces nationally syndicated Laura Ingraham(11am-1pm) and local host Jen Brien(1pm-3pm) on the schedule.  She will now serve as a lead-in to WRKO's afternoon icon Howie Carr(3-7pm). According to WRKO's announcement, McPhee also becomes Carr's primary fill-in host, the role more recently shared by weekend host Avi Nelson and Col. David Hunt.

Speaking of Carr, his current WRKO contract is set to expire in early fall but according to the Boston Herald it contains a 2-year renewal clause which he is attempting to escape and find another radio home on the dial. Carr briefly addressed his contract situation last week when he talked with "Ken and Mike" from WGAN 560/Portland,ME which is one of his New England affiliates.

BRW Notebook :

Coming to a Theater Near You : "Car Talk - The Musical" inspired by the hit WBUR 90.9-produced National Public Radio 35-year radio show of the same name and written and directed by Suffolk University Professor Wesley Savick will begin a 2-month(June 14-August 12) run at the Central Sq. Theater in Cambridge next week.  

Brothers Ray and Tom Magliozzi, co-hosts of NPR’s “Car Talk,” , aka Click and Clack, first appeared on the Boston airwaves in 1977. Their WBUR radio call-in show, which offers automotive know-how with an air of hilarity, was picked up by NPR for a nationwide audience in 1987.

Ticket and theater information can be found here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

WBZ's overnight host Steve LeVeille is retiring
Insomniacs and night owls within the wide range of WBZ 1030's powerful nighttime signal have something else to lose sleep over: They're losing a longtime overnight companion.

WBZ's overnight host Steve LeVeille will say goodbye to his listeners on the last edition of "The Steve LeVeille Broadcast" this Thursday night/Friday morning(12am-5am).

LeVeille, 57, informed station's program director Peter Casey via a phone call on Monday that he has decided to retire.

He had been working in Boston radio for the past 35 years and at WBZ since 1991. He was named WBZ's overnight host back in June 1999 after Bob Raleigh retired. LeVeille, a Burlington native and Emerson College alum, who grew up listening to Larry Glick on WBZ to started his Boston radio career at the now-defunct all-news WEEI 590 in 1977.

Here's the official WBZ announcement on LeVeille's retirement :

Boston, MA – June 5, 2012 --  Steve LeVeille, longtime personality on WBZ NewsRadio 1030, has decided to retire after thirteen years of hosting “The Steve LeVeille Broadcast.”  WBZ NewsRadio Director of News and Programming, Peter Casey, made the announcement today.  LeVeille’s retirement will become official at the end of the week.

"Steve called yesterday and informed me of his decision.  Although it came as a surprise, I do know Steve enjoys his time in Maine and had always thought that he would retire there sometime.  I just didn't think it would be this soon.  Steve has been a tremendously creative broadcaster and friend to the overnight audience here at WBZ, and he will be missed."

LeVeille, 57, said it had always been his goal to retire early: "This is a quality of life decision for my wife, Diane, and me.  We have been making moves during the past number of years to be able to do this without any particular date in mind.  We have just reached a point where we said the time is right now.  After spending most of our weekends and vacation time in Maine for the last fifteen years we are looking forward to making it our year round home."

LeVeille is a native of the Boston area and was familiar with WBZ NewsRadio as a teenager saying "I grew up in the Boston area listening to Larry Glick on WBZ.  And as cliché as it sounds, it was the dream of a teenager to do the overnight show on WBZ and I am proud to be able to retire from that position."   

LeVeille has worked in radio for more than 35 years and has been with WBZ since 1991.  LeVeille began his career at all-news WEEI in 1977 as a news writer and producer.  He worked for ABC News in New York as an assignment editor and writer from 1980 to 1986.  From 1991 to 1997, LeVeille worked for Monitor Radio as a program host and news anchor on nationally and internationally broadcast programs.  He was also heard frequently as a news anchor on WBUR in the 1990s.  Of the awards he has won for excellence in broadcasting Steve’s favorite is the 1988 Associated Press Massachusetts Broadcasters award for Best Sports Commentary for pieces he did for WAAF.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030 is owned by CBS RADIO, a division of CBS Corporation.  CBS RADIO, one of the largest major-market radio operators in the United States, operates 130 radio stations including Boston’s WBMX-FM (MIX 104.1), WBZ-AM (NewsRadio 1030), WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub), WODS-FM (103.3), and WZLX-FM (Classic Rock 100.7).

BRW Notebook :

Shutting off the lights : Late(around 11pm) last Saturday(6/2) night, WFNX 101.7's Twitter feed announced that the station's final day on air would be Saturday, July 21st. The 29-year rock alternative station which is being bought by corporate radio empire Clear Channel will be done for good on that day.  The station is expected to have a live on-air party to remember and celebrate the history of WFNX. After the 21st, the station will become automated/jockless without any staff until Clear Channel's official FCC license takeover. Stay tuned to this space and BRW's twitter feed(@bostonradio) for further details on July 21st event.