Talk 1200's corporate owner to scrap conservative talk, sends Rush back to WRKO 680
After nearly two and a half years on WXKS AM/Talk 1200, the nationally-syndicated conservative talk host Rush Limbaugh Show will return to WRKO 680 starting Tuesday, August 21, it was announced today.
In March 2010, after a 15 1/2 year run on WRKO 680, Clear Channel-owned syndicator Premiere Networks moved Limbaugh's show to Clear Channel's new Boston talk station WXKS-AM/"Rush Radio 1200" to serve as cornerstone of its conservative talk line-up (BRW 3/2/10) and hoping to take many of his former WRKO listeners with him in the process. The station even hired a local morning host - former WRKO personality Jeff Katz moved back to Boston from Florida a month after Rush Radio 1200 debuted(BRW 3/23/10). With Katz supplementing Premiere Network's big 3 syndicated line-up of Glenn Beck, Rush and Sean Hannity, Rush Radio 1200 didn't quite make a splash its owners had hoped for. Clear Channel really tried to make the station work by having morning and afternoon local elements such as news/traffic/weather reports anchored by Angela Anderson and George Brown and cross-promoting over the air on its Top40 giant Kiss 108 and simulcasting on Kiss 108's HD2 signal. The station was distant third after WRKO 680 and WTKK 96.9 in the ratings.
Year Two, brought some changes for AM 1200 - the station added a veteran Boston program director Paula O'Connor(BRW 1/26/11), changed its name from Rush Radio to Talk 1200 in February 2011 and installed controversial Jay Severin in PM drive late last summer(BRW 8/16/11). But for whatever reason(and most of it should be attributed to a very directional 1200's signal pattern which doesn't blanket the market as well as WRKO 680), the format just didn't click with listeners.
Earlier this summer as Clear Channel was deciding on what do with its new FM acquisition - WFNX 101.7(now variety hits WHBA/Harbor 101.7) - it also apparently decided to scrap Talk 1200's conservative talk format allowing Limbaugh's syndicator, Clear Channel-owned Premiere Networks, to offer him back to WRKO 680 which featured 3 different local hosts(Charley Manning, Michele McPhee,Jen Brien and more recently, McPhee again) after Rush moved from 680 to 1200 in March 2010. Obviously, WRKO management was more than thrilled to get an opportunity to get him back in the line-up.
Limbaugh announced the WRKO return himself when he called into Howie Carr's afternoon show a little after 4pm this afternoon. Starting on August 21, he'll once be heard again in the familiar 12pm-3pm slot on WRKO 680 and serve as a lead-in for Carr who just re-upped for two more years with the Talk Station last week.(BRW 8/3).
With Rush coming back to WRKO, the station will also re-arrange its weekday line-up. Michele McPhee who returned from her TV sabatical two months ago(BRW 6/6) will shift from 11am-3pm slot to morning drive to co-host with Todd Feinburg from 5:30am to 9am. DC-based political analyst and Washington Times columnist Jeff Kuhner who has been filling in at WRKO over the past 6 months will have an hour show from 11am to Noon. In addition, WRKO announced that another Premiere Network show which had moved to Talk 1200 along with Rush in 2010 is also coming back - Coast to Coast will take back its 1am-5am slot in WRKO's line-up.
As for Talk 1200, it let go its morning host Jeff Katz and afternoon driver Jay Severin. In addition, the entire programming, production and sales support staff was terminated. While Talk 1200 will air Premiere Networks' syndicated talk line-up including Glenn Beck(9am-Noon), Rush(Noon-3pm), and Sean Hannity(3-6pm) for the next two weeks ago, its future is uncertain beyond August 20th.