Wednesday, July 25, 2012

101.7 trades alternative rock for the Harbor's anything floats format
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WFNX 101.7, Boston's radio station that for nearly three decades has served as a purveyor of everything that's alternative rock music, dumped its long-running genre for the variety hits format which runs off a broader list of mainstream hits from the 1970's through the 90's.  WFNX's original owner, Phoenix Media/Communications Group agreed to sell the station to the Texas-based Clear Channel Entertainment and Media for $14.5 million back in mid-May. The deal officially closed yesterday and the new owners took over the frequency shortly after 4pm.


WFNX had already bid farewell to its listeners last weekend as former DJ Neal Robert ushered out the format to the sounds of Cure's "Let's Go To Bed", the first song ever played on the station in March 1983.  Since shortly after 7pm last Friday(7/20) after Neal Robert signed off, WFNX has been running automated simulcasting the stream from www.WFNX.com portal which is now the new digital home of the legendary station.


At 4:03pm yesterday, WFNX's signal went silent. At 4:16pm, the new WHBA/101.7 The Harbor sailed onto Boston airwaves with three plays of 1966's "Dirty Water" classic by the Standells which was followed up by a quick pre-recorded one minute greeting/introduction from the new station's imaging voice - veteran voice-over talent/actor/comedian Ken Hudson Campbell letting listeners know that The Harbor will be commercial-free for the next 6 weeks thru Labor Day Weekend. The new website is up and running at 1017theharborradio.com


101.7's new variety hits format is definitely no stranger to Boston radio. Entercom Boston programmed it with relative success on its 93.7 frequency from Spring 2005 until last September and branded it as Mike 93-7. Entercom silenced MikeFM to make room for sports talker WEEI's FM simulcast on September 12, 2011. 


Over the past 8 years, radio programmers around US have been adopting the Canadian-born variety hits format which is more commonly referred to as "Jack-FM". The format is built from a bigger-than-usual music library of about 1,200-1,300 titles and results in odd mixes of songs from various eras and genres, partly as a response to the popularity of iPods and satellite radio, which offer deep playlists with no commercials. Of course, just like with Mike before, there will be no live DJ's on the Harbor but plenty of prerecorded snippets by Ken Hudson Campbell all day and night between blocks of music. And, just like actor John O'Hurley(played Peterman character on Seinfled) did on the old MikeFM, Campbell's voice imaging will be nearly constant presence on the Harbor but will never have any connection to the music which will all be picked by Clear Channel's programming department.(Ed. Note : To be fair, the influence of live disc jockeys on what songs get played on the radio was already weak/nonexistent even before the advent of Jack format and his clones).


Here's Clear Channel's official press release on the launch of  101-7 The Harbor :



July 24, 2012
CLEAR CHANNEL MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT WELCOMES 101.7 “THE HARBOR” TO ITS BOSTON MARKET LINEUP
 WHBA Will Debut With A Commercial-Free Music Summer And Will “Play Anything” Today at ____

Boston, Mass. – July 24, 2012 – Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Boston today announced the debut of its newest station 101.7 WHBA-FM “The Harbor.”  WHBA will mark Clear Channel’s fifth radio station in the Greater Boston area and will represent the area’s first Variety Hit music station that will “play anything.”

Unlike any other Boston radio station, 101.7 The Harbor will play a variety of music and styles spanning four decades.  WHBA-FM will feature listeners’ favorite songs from a variety of artists across the board such as Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Madonna, Prince, No Doubt, Def Leppard, AC/DC, Maroon 5, Van Halen, U2, Journey, Nirvana, Matchbox 20 and many more.  Listeners will also enjoy a commercial-free summer of music in celebration of Boston’s newest station 101.7 The Harbor.

“We are extremely excited to bring a different sound to Boston,” said Mary Menna, President/Market Manager for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Boston.  “The Harbor offers the community quality programming and is a station that is not afraid to play all of the greatest songs all on one station.  It will be fun and upbeat and Boston listeners are going to love it.”

“We are going to play everything - and that means a surprising variety of songs from lots of decades, genres and artists,” said Dylan Sprague, Operations Manager for The Harbor.  “You can expect to hear 80s rock and pop hits, some 70s disco, 90s alternative and of course some great hair bands.”

WHBA 101.7 The Harbor will join WXKS-FM, WJMN-FM, WXKS-AM and WKOX-AM as part of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Boston.  Listeners can visit1017theharborradio.com for more information and to listen online.

About Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Boston
Clear Channel Boston owns and operates 101.7 The Harbor, KISS 108, JAMN 94.5, TALK 1200, MIA 1430 and is part of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment.  With 237 million monthly listeners in the U.S., Clear Channel Media and Entertainment has the largest reach of any radio or television outlet in America. Clear Channel Media and Entertainment serves 150 cities through 850 owned radio stations. The company’s radio stations and content can be heard on AM/FM stations, HD digital radio channels, Sirius/XM satellite, on the Internet at iHeartRadio.com and on the company’s radio station websites, on the iHeartRadio mobile application on iPads and smartphones, and used via navigation systems from TomTom, Garmin and others.  The company’s operations include radio broadcasting, online and mobile services and products, live concerts and events, syndication, music research services and independent media representation.  Clear Channel Media and Entertainment is a division of CC Media Holdings, Inc. (OTCBB: CCMO), a leading global media and entertainment company. More information on the company can be found at clearchannel.comclearchanneloutdoor.com and ccmediaholdings.com.


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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bruins sign a new deal with the SportsHub

WBZ 98.5/The SportsHub will remain the radio home of the Boston Bruins. The new deal is a multiyear one, though neither the station nor the team would say how many years the contract is for. 


As part of the new agreement announced late on Monday afternoon, the station will also expand Wednesday night's "The Hockey Show" from one to two hours.  The pre and post-game shows will remain 30 minutes long. 


The Sports Hub carries all Bruins games, as well as all broadcasts of New England Patriots and New England Revolution games.  The station is owned by CBS Radio which has held Bruins radio broadcast rights for the past 17 seasons.


BRW Notebook


Food for thought : Starting this week, WTKK 96.9 is inserting the Andelman Brothers' "The Phantom Gourmet Radio Show" into its Friday lineup from 10am-1pm, adding to their regular Saturday afternoon show(4-7pm) which has aired on WTKK since April 2007. As the result, Doug Meehan's 10am-Noon show will now be heard Monday thru Thursday and syndicated Michael Smerconish will lose an hour on Fridays(1pm-3pm).


Rocking the Harbor :  With WFNX 101.7 getting out of the business of playing alternative rock for the past 29 years, frequency's new owner, Clear Channel, is bringing back adult hits/variety hits format to Boston which is expected(repeat, that's -expected- and things are subject to change) to launch sometime in the late afternoon on Tuesday. There is still no definite timetable for a format switchover as there are some technical work that needs to be done first. The new station will be branded as Harbor 101.7 and sound almost identical to former WMKK/93.7 Mike which was scrapped last September(BRW 9/7/11) to make room for WEEI's simulcast on FM. And just like Mike-FM, which had attained a modest ratings success during its 6-year run(2005-2011), the adult hit formatted Harbor will be a fully automated "play-everything" jukebox, have no DJ's and  play a wide variety of music from the past four decades including listener favorites from hundreds of artists, including Aerosmith, Maroon 5, Prince, Bon Jovi, Pink, Duran Duran, Def Leppard, Matchbox 20, Van Halen, Nickelback, Madonna, Train, U2, etc. The new website will also launch at www.1017theharborradio.com once the new format is up and running. The new call letters will be WHBA replacing WFNX.


Clear Channel quickly acquired legendary WFNX 101.7 from Phoenix Media for $14.5 million back in May supposedly preventing rival radio group, Entercom, from looking to add an FM signal to its local station portfolio. After much speculation and rumors on the new sound for 101.7, the company has finally decided on the new Harbor format in the past few weeks.

Friday, July 20, 2012


WFNX streams out as Clear Channel sails into the Harbor


WFNX 101.7, which for 29 years impressed its loyal listeners as the most adventurous commercial radio station in Boston, lost its battle with low ratings and tight advertising market tonight and left local airwaves to try to make it as an online-only radio station. This evening, at around 7pm, former WFNX personality(1987-1995,1998-2000), Neal Robert ushered out the alternative rocker off the terrestrial radio with the same tune that launched it back on March 15, 1983 – The Cure’s “Let’s Go To Bed”. Robert bid farewell but not final goodbye : "FNX has always been about the future and while the station is migrating off of the FM dial ... FNX will continue online"


The station then switched to an automated music stream which will run on 101.7 until the new owner, Clear Channel, is ready to install a new format to go with a new set of call letters. That’s expected to happen sometime on Monday(7/23).


WFNX left a huge mark on the radio landscape over the past three decades as it helped to break a number of new local and national acts. But because of changes in the radio industry and the way radio audiences are measured, independent station owners in Boston and elsewhere are being forced to sell or adopt formats that rely more on popular Top 40 music or more familiar pre-tested selections that are neither new nor cutting-edge.


Earlier this year, WFNX’s outgoing owner, Stephen Mindich and his company Phoenix Media Communications Group, made the decision to not to play the corporate radio game any longer and sold WFNX to Clear Channel for $14.5 million back in May(BRW 5/16). Rather than changing the sound, spirit and soul of what has earned WFNX an alternative rock pioneer status, the station bid farewell to the terrestrial airwaves and took an alternative course by putting its brand on the Internet-only stream, a place where rules do not apply and where new music thrives, be it grunge, punk or alternative - simply put, a true alternative.


As for Clear Channel, the new owner of 101.7 is replacing WFNX call letters with WHBA and new moniker The Harbor 101.7. According to a report on RadioInsight, a new website theharbor1017.com was just registered earlier today. RadioInsight is also reporting, and there’s still no confirmation from Clear Channel, that the new format under the new The Harbor 101.7 moniker will be Variety Hits which would very similar to the former WMKK/93.7 Mike(2005-2011) - a jockless format playing a variety of music, mostly from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Mike enjoyed a modest rating success with the key 25-54 demographic during its 6-year run in Boston consistently placing in Top10 among that group. But because WEEI 850’s was falling seriously behind the upstart sports newcomer WBZ 98.5/The SportsHub, its parent company Entercom unplugged Mike to run WEEI’s simulcast on FM last September(BRW 9/7/11)


Again, there's been no official announcement from Clear Channel so it remains to be seen what the new actual format is going to sound like even we now know the new call letters and station moniker.


Stay tuned…


BRW Notebook :


Gino calls it a radio career : Longtime Patriots radio analyst Gino "The Duke" Cappelletti has decided to retire after an amazing 32-year broadcast career. He, along with legendary play-by-play man Gil Santos, have called Patriots games for CBS Radio  (on WBZ 1030, WBCN 104.1 and most recently on WBZ 98.5/The SportsHub) for 28 seasons. Full release and Capplletti's retirement letter are here.


Cappelletti, 78, has been in the game of football for nearly 50 years. Before his radio career, which earned him a spot in the team's Hall of Fame, Cappelletti played in the NFL as a wide receiver and a kicker in the old American Football League for the Boston Patriots. He was a five-time All Star and was selected to the All-Time AFL Team.


The Honor Roll : Finalists for the National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Radio Awards competition have been announced. Established in 1989 and named after inventor and Nobel Prize winner Guglielmo Marconi, the awards are given to radio stations and outstanding on-air personalities to recognize excellence in radio.


Two local stations that were nominated this year include: WEEI 93.7 for Sports Station of the Year, WZLX 100.7 for Rock Station of the Year. The winners will be announced Sept. 20. 


This is the 5th time WEEI has been nominated for the radio industry’s most prestigious award, which it has won three times, twice in 2006 for Large Market Station and Sports Station of the Year, and once in 2008 for Sports Station of the Year. Last year, WEEI lost out to its new crosstown rival WBZ 98.5/The SportsHub in the Best Sports Station category(BRW 9/16/11).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Santos is expected for return on Pats call for his final season

Local sports broadcasting legend Gil Santos who came down with a serious case of pneumonia requiring hospitalization shortly after his call of Patriots loss in the Super Bowl followed by long stay at a rehab facility is expected to be behind the mic when the team's preseason opens on August 9th in Foxborough.  According to a published report in the Brockton Enterprise, the 2012 season will be Santos' finale. The same report also quotes a source  saying that Santos' on-air partner for the past 21 years, Gino Cappelletti, 78, will retire and be replaced SportsHub 98.5's midday co-host and Patriots Radio's reporter Scott Zolak.  There has been no official announcement on Santos' and Cappelletti's status from the Patriots or team's radio rights holder WBZ/98.5 the Sports Hub but one is expected any day now.

In 46 years as a local sports play-by-play voice(Patriots radio, Celtics TV and Boston College radio),  Santos, 72, has never spent any time away from his work. In his 36th year as Patriots radio voice, Santos is tied with Philadelphia Eagles radio broadcaster Merrill Reese for longest tenure in the NFL.

BRW Notebook :

Schedule change : After a 7-year Sunday night run on WRKO 680, "Pundit Review", a local and live program hosted by a politics/news junkie blogger Kevin Whalen aired its last show on July 15. The radio show was based on The Pundit Review blog debuted in May 2005. You can hear the last episode here. Infomercial programming will now take over in that time slot.

Loveline re-enters : WAAF 107.3/97.7 has added "Loveline" with Dr. Drew Pinsky, Mike Catherwood and Simone Bienne to its evening programming lineup as of last week. The nationally-syndicated radio show, which tackles listeners questions about love and relationships with the help of its expert hosts and advice from a regular lineup of popular guests, now airs weeknights from 9-11pm on 1-day delay(the show airs live Sun-Thursday). The show had aired on WAAF in 2003-2004. It was previously heard in Boston on the defunct WBCN 104.1(1999-2000) and soon-to-be-defunct WFNX 101.7(1997-1999,2007-20009).

Sports stations battle it out while Top 40 and classic rock cater to respective genders :  The baseball season start and the basketball season finish were formidable factors in rearranging the Boston radio ratings chart for WBZ 98.5/The Sports Hub and WEEI 93.7/Sports Radio in  the all-important spring Arbitron ratings survey covering months of April-May-June. Bruins' early exit hurt WBZ 98.5's ratings momentum captured in a dramatic Stanley Cup win last June. At the same time, Celtics' gritty run into this year's NBA's Eastern Conference finals against the dreaded Miami Heat, certainly energized WEEI 93.7 a great deal and helped it to overtake WBZ 98.5 in the battle over 25-54 male listeners.  In any event, the two sports talkers are both claiming victory - WEEI is clearly the fan favorite with the older males while the SportsHub seems to be the choice among the younger male 18-34 demographics.
While the sports talkers duked it out, WXKS/Kiss 108 stood pat in the #1 position among all listeners over 6 years old, the advertiser-friendly 25-54 group and, of course, its target demo of females 25-54. On the male listener side of things, 25-54 demographic preferrd classic rocker WZLX 100.7 which finished first.

The Alphabet Soup :  Alternative rocker WFNX 101.7's format is reportedly going off the air at 7pm this Friday(7/20) as it's in the process of being purchased by Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. While Clear Channel is awaiting Federal Communications Commission's $14.5 million sale approval,(update : FCC has granted sale approval earlier today(7/17)) the company lawyers have requested a new set of call letters for the 101.7 frequency. According to a report by NorthEast RadioWatch, Clear Channel filed an FCC application last Friday to change FCC-issued call letters from WFNX to WHBA. The new calls may or may not be a clue to the new format which will be launched early next week. While there's still no official word on what the next format to replace alternative rock on 101.7 frequency after 29 1/2 years is going to be, but feel free to take a poll(a the top of BRW's main page) with your best guess.

Where are they now? :  Fans of veteran radio personality Lisa Garvey who left WXRV/River 92.5 four months ago(BRW 3/16) can catch her work  at Salvatore's in Lawrence on Friday, August 17th, from 8 to midnight. Staying true to the eclectic mix of her former radio show, she'll be spinning an old school dance party  consisting of jazz, blues but mostly classic soul/R&B/funk tune. You can also follow Garvey on Twitter at @lisagarvey11

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Stations cover the 4th

If you go the most traditional route of listening Boston Pops Esplanade concert on the Fourth of July on your radio, then you'll have three local outlets available for your audio pleasure  - WCRB 99.5, WGBH 89.7 and WBZ 1030. All three stations will broadcast tomorrow's concert which this year starts 10 minutes early, at 8:20pm, with our national anthem and a flyover of F-15 Eagles by the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard in Westfield. 
In addition to all the Boston Pops' standards like "1812 Overture"(to be played at 9:30pm), the 39th edition of the July 4th program will feature Academy Award-winning actress and Grammy Award- winning recording singer, Jennifer Hudson, Boston rockers Dropkick Murphys, and cast members of the hit Broadway musical MAMMA MIA! will be performing ABBA's “Dancing Queen” and “The Winner Takes It All.”
WCRB 99.5's live broadcast will begin at 6 pm with Laura Carlo and Ron Della Chiesa sharing special features, interviews and Pops recordings, all leading up to the concert at 8:20pm. Sister station WGBH 89.7 will join the concert simulcast at 8pm. Listeners outside the region can hear the broadcast on classicalnewengland.org until 11 pm.
Over on the AM band, WBZ 1030 broadcast will begin at 7 PM and will be hosted by Jordan Rich and morning anchor Joe Mathieu. A live streaming audiocast of the concert will be available on-lne at www.cbsboston.com.  For those with HD radios, WBZ 1030 can also be heard on WBZ 98.5's HD3 stream.
BRW Notebook :
New kids on the block : As mentioned in this space last week(BRW 6/25), Boston.com is now in the proces of launching its live streaming alternative rock station which will directly compete with WFNX.com when WFNX 101.7 ends its terrestrial broadcast at month's end. 

Boston.com's new venture is named "Radio BDC"(BDC stands for "BostonDotCom', of course) and began to roll out its content last Thursday(6/28) with a new blog and a Twitter feed at @RadioBDC. "RadioBDC" is being led by former WFNX program director Paul Driscoll and will feature on-air staff of former 'FNXers Henry Santoro(morning), Julie Kramer(middays) and Adam 12(afternoons). While the debaters debate the future success of RadioBDC's venture, on the other end of the digital spectrum, WFNX.com will keep rocking with its established brand and will have DJ's Jim Ryan and Jason Layne providing musical play-by-play.
Climbing up that Hill : The morning drive's radio survivor club in Boston has a very limited membership. Only two other radio shows have managed to stick around longer on the same frequency than WAAF's Greg "Hill-Man" Hill. There are Matt Siegel on WXKS/Kiss 108 and, of course, "Loren and Wally"(aka Loren Owens and Wally Brine) on WROR 105.7 who have been working the morning shift at their respective stations since 1981.  Looks like Hill's morning streak which began in 1989 will continue for the foreseeable future. Last week, Entercom Boston announced that it has signed Hill to a long-term extension that will keep him on-air and in mornings with WAAF 107.3 through 2017. Hill has been with WAAF for 26 years, last 23 years as host of the “Hill-Man Morning Show”.

Remixing the schedule : As mentioned in this space a couple weeks ago(BRW 6/20), one of the nation's premiere public broadcasters, WGBH 89.7 will become exclusively news and public affairs stations during weekday hours starting next Monday(7/9). The long-running weekday evening and overnight Jazz programming will be contracted and will only be air on weekends where other musical and non-musical special interest programming is already heard. WGBH had already moved out its weekday morning and afternoon classical music programming to WCRB 99.5 when it acquired the signal back in 2009(BRW 11/30/09).

New WGBH line-up will look like this starting on Monday(7/9) :

12am-5am - Public Radio Exchange's Remix
5am-6am   - BBC World Service
6am-10am - Morning Edition
10am-11am - The Diane Rehhm Show
11am-12pm - Takeaway
12pm-2pm  -Boston Public Radio(Emily Rooney at 12, Callie Crossley at 1)
2pm-3pm  -   Tell Me More
3pm-4pm  -   The World
4pm-6pm  -   All Things Considered
6pm-6:30pm - Marketplace
6:30-7pm    -  All Things Considered
7pm-8pm   -   PBS' NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
8pm-9pm  -   The World(replay)
9pm-11pm -   Boston Public Radio(replay)
11pm-12am - The Story