WMEX tries to reboot its talk format with two familiar local voices
WMEX 1510, the 'other' AM talk station in town is re-launching tomorrow with a lineup featuring two former FM Talk personalities and hoping to give the struggling talk format some jolt with ex-WTKK weekend host Joe "This Guy From Boston" Ligotti in the morning drive(6am-10am) and, as tipped first in this space, former WTKK night-time host Michele McPhee going up against Howie Carr on WRKO 680 from 3pm to 6pm. Carr was heard in the afternoons on WMEX up until two and half months ago when he returned to his old home at WRKO(BRW 3/9).
There aren't many new ideas for Boston's ailing AM dial, where audiences are growing older and smaller and where with one or two exceptions stations are renting out their airtime to foreign-language broadcasters, religious groups or the infomercial industry.
AM radio, the birthplace of the medium, was the core of the business until FM radio became standard equipment in cars in the late 1970s. Since then, the superior sound quality of FM and the dominance of music as the primary entertainment format in commercial radio have steadily diminished AM's attraction.
The only exception on AM dial in Boston is WBZ 1030, an all-news station by day and a talk station by night. WBZ is the only AM outlet to show up regularly in the Top 5 of Nielsen Audio's ratings. But though WBZ has completely cornered the market on news/talk format when CBS station shifted away from music/information/talk back in 1991, the full-time talk radio genre has really struggled mightily in this town in recent years. Even when FM talker WTKK 96.9 dropped out of the game two years ago, WRKO 680 had failed to capitalize and didn't see any significant gains in its listenership right after its 13-year talk rival turned into a hip-hop station.(BRW 1/2/13).
The new management group, Daly XXL Communications, which is leasing out Quincy-based WMEX 1510 from its current owner, Blackstrap Broadcasting, is hoping to reverse talk radio's downtrend in Boston. WMEX's new weekday line-up will consist of Ligotti(6am-10am), Boston Herald Radio's Morning Meeting(10am-noon), Utica-based Bill Keeler who will host Noon to 3pm slot from a radio studio 260 miles away, McPhee(3-6pm), Tim Constantine's Capitol Hill Show(6-9pm) and Michael Savage(9-Midnight).
And as for a recent rush of social media speculation about Rush Limbaugh's new Boston home, WMEX's management told the Boston Globe last week that conservative talk radio giant will not be heard there after he ends his run on WRKO on July 3rd. Daly's Catherine Remmer told the Globe that her group declined four offers by Rush's syndicator Premiere to place the show on WMEX. Of course Globe's article also fails to give the other side of the story and neglects to mention that Rush's show costs money, big money(up to $500,000 a year) and that Daly, WMEX's current operators, are technically renters, and not in a position to make that kind of cash commitment considering they don't even own the station. One also wonders what if their current programming effort stumbles, will they still pursue the planned purchase?