Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Up in the Air : Celtics searching for a new radio home on the dial

The off-season has produced major personnel changes for the Boston Celtics, but as the October training camp quickly approaches, team’s brass now finds itself in the middle of an off-court switch of radio signals. The Celtics are in search of a new home on the dial after they were unable to reach a new agreement with Entercom Boston which had aired their games on WRKO 680(2005-06, 2006-07) and WEEI 850/93.7(2007-2013) for the past 8 seasons. Entercom Boston’s VP and Market Manager Jeff Brown confirmed to the Boston Globe that WEEI will not be back as C's flagship for 2013-2014 season.

The Celtics who lost two of their star players – Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce – and popular coach Doc Rivers during the bleak off-season are not expected to contend for an NBA title for at least the next 3-4 years as the franchise rebuilds. The radio industry is already struggling with declining advertising revenues and declining local sports broadcast rights fees. Put two and two together, the Celtics exit from WEEI was no major surprise, at least in this corner.  That doesn't mean the C’s won't have radio options to pick from as they are seeking a new radio partner with the first pre-season game scheduled for October 7th.

Considering the state of the economy in general, and the radio business in particular, the Celtics will be lucky to get any kind of revenue-sharing arrangement with a new outlet. More likely, the Celtics like a growing number of other professional franchises have been doing more and more as of late, will end up taking their radio broadcast rights in-house. That would mean paying a station for air time, promotion and broadcast production while selling advertising themselves.

The Celtics have two major obstacles going against them – a) the historic franchise has just begun its dreaded rebuild process. The on-court product is going to be woeful this year and for the next few seasons. b) mediocre team is going to hurt the club’s ability to attract media sponsors which in turn may force them to make a deal with a station that has less than ideal signal coverage. 

The team was in a similar situation back in 2001 when it chose to move their games from then-an-established-sports-powerhouse WEEI 850 to an upstart sports competitor Zone 1510. That proved to be a disastrous move by the Celtics’ former ownership as 1510’s weak signal greatly limited team’s audience and greatly hurt general public's interest in the team. In addition, 1510’s former owner lost a huge amount of money and finally opted out of the 5-year/$10million contract before the 2005-06 season. Celtics then moved their games over to WRKO 680. Two years later, the games shifted from WRKO to sister station WEEI 850. 

Stay tuned…

BRW Notebook :

New Boss for the Same Ole "Brand" : Entercom Boston has announced that it has hired Kevin Graham to lead WEEI 93.7 as its new Brand Manager. That's a more encompassing title for the Program Director role. Essentially, Graham replaces Jason Wolfe and will not just lead WEEI 93.7, but will "direct the entire WEEI ecosystem including on-air, online, mobile, play-by-play of the Red Sox and the WEEI Regional Sports Network." according to the press release. He starts in early September, coming from Cumulus Media's "1320 K-Fan" in Salt Lake City, where he's been Program Director and afternoon co-host. One of the original architects of the sports talk format at KFNZ-AM, Graham has built successful sports stations in Columbus, Pittsburgh, New York, and Detroit, as well as Salt Lake City. He returned to "K-Fan" in 2012 to re-launch the station. Graham also has extensive experience in the digital sports arena assisting in building in Phoenix and as the founder and editor of

How does he do that? : You know his voice from any of the thousands of comedy bits and hundreds of ads he has produced at WEEI over the past 15 years. The multi-talented WEEI's creative services director Pete Gustin was diagnosed with macular degeneration when he was eight years old and is now legally blind. But what not many knew is in this video  which Gustin released earlier this week where he shows off what does so well with the help of technology. Just amazing stuff.

New schedule : Earlier this week, Emerson College’s WERS 88.9 made a bigger step toward being market's full-time AAA(adult album alternative) formatted station. The new schedule now extends station’s AAA sound to 20 hours a day on weekdays and 6 hours a day on weekends. The change is never going to make everyone happy especially fans of the two long-running weekday shows - Rockers(roots and reggae) and 88.9 At Night(Hip-Hop) which were cancelled. Also, the following weekend shows were cut –the Coffee House(folk,acoustic,Americana) and Revolutions(EDM, electronica). For the fans of R&B, soul and slow jamz there’s some good news – formerly a weekend show The Secret Spot expands to 7 days a week now airing from 10pm to 2am weekdays.

Revisiting the March on Washington : 50 years after the live radio transmission of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, WGBH will devote special programming to commemorate the historic event.

Mixing it up  : You know the summer's over when "Hot AC" WBMX/Mix 104.1 announces the performing acts for its annual MIXFest show. As was the case in previous two years, Mix 104.1's event will once again be held at the DCR Hatch Shell in Boston. 90's crooners the Backstreet Boys and pop pianist Gavin DeGraw will join the headliners Of Monsters and Men on Saturday, September 14th at 4pm. The event is free. All details are here.

MixFest, originally tagged as FallFest, has been held every year since 1993 with the exception of 2001 when it was cancelled due to the tragedies on 9/11, and again in 2009 when the station switched frequencies from 98.5 to 104.1.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there a time awhile back that the Patriots organization were preparing to purchase 1510AM? Wasn't that story bandied about?

There was even talk that they were doing a site study to see if they could move the transmitter and entire operation to Foxboro.

Anyone else remember this?