Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Bloomberg is switching stations in Boston

Bloomberg Media announced yesterday that it will be adding new FM and AM stations in Boston starting today at Noon. The New York-based financial information giant will take over programming on Beasley Media's WRCA 1330, WRCA 106.1 and WBOS 92.2 HD-2. Florida-based Beasley also made the same announcement

For the past fours years, Bloomberg Radio has been airing on IHeart Radio's WXKS 1200 and WJMN 94.5-HD2 (BRW 2/27/13). That arrangement will continue for the next few months as listeners are transitioned over to the new frequencies. 

WXKS 1200 also serves as the Boston affiliate for Umass-Amherst football and a flagship for Harvard football. It hasn't been announced yet if these sports packages will also be moving over to  the new Bloomberg home 1330 AM/106.1FM/92.9 HD2 or stay on the existing AM 1200 frequency.

Beasley which has owned WRCA 1330 locally since 2000, acquired Braintree-based Greater Media and its five local FM's(WBOS 92.9, WKLB 102.5, WMJX 106.7, WROR 105.7 and WBQT 96.9) last July(BRW 7/20/16) and took over the operations in November. WRCA which for many years featured brokered/leased time format underwent a major signal upgrade recently. Last year, the company also acquired a license for 106.1 FM, 100-watt repeater which sits atop of 200 Clarendon office tower(formerly John Hancock Building).  106.1's signal blankets entire downtown Boston including the Financial District. 

When it officially relaunches later today, WRCA 1330/106.1 will continue its run as brokered/leased air time format as it adds Bloomberg as the new program provider.

Bloomberg also announced that tonight's July 4th Boston Pops concert at the Hatch Shell will be simulcast on WRCA 1330/WRCA 106.1FM and WBOS 92.9 HD2 in addition to the outgoing WXKS 1200/94.5-HD2 signals.

Bloomberg tailors much of the weekday programming for the Boston market with dedicated business news anchors in NYC but supplements them with local traffic, sports and weather updates from local Total Traffic Network offices in Medford. In addition, Bloomberg maintains its own Boston news bureau in the heart of the Financial District where bureau chief Tom Moroney and anchor Anne Mostue produce local content and feature programming such as BayState Business Hour.

As for Iheart's WXKS 1200's future format, it's not yet known what its local management's plans are when Bloomberg programming leaves in a few months. One possibility could be simulcasting lower-powered syndicated talk format on WKOX/Talk 1430 where big name national talkers like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin are heard during the day and evening and Fox Sports programming runs overnight and in the morning drive. 1200 used to feature a talk format as mix of local and syndicated shows from 2010 until August 2012 when switched to brief-lived all-comedy format(BRW 8/13/13).

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Boston's once-iconic AM station goes dark

WMEX 1510, a local mainstay on the AM radio dial in Boston for more than eight decades, went off the air at 6pm on Friday(6/30) when current owners,,Daly XXL Communications, LLC, decided to pull the plug after indicating the the station has been sold and the new owner has not decided on the new format.  (As of this writing. the identity of new station owner has not been announced and no transfer of station license application has been filed with the FCC)

From its start in the mid-1930's and for decades to come WMEX had evolved into one of Boston's famed pop music stations. However, by mid 1970's a growing music competition on AM and FM dials forced its sale and a format change. In 1976, WMEX became the first all-talk format station as well as the new flagship for Boston Red Sox broadcasts for the next seven years. In 1978,  the station changed call letters to WITS("Information, Talk and Sports") by the new ownership.   The Red Sox contract called for the station to improve its signal coverage but despite a $1 million investment into a new antenna, a crucial signal problem remained. Coupled with disadvantageous spot on the end of the dial (1510) and AM radio in general is being challenged more and more by FM, the downward turning point for 1510 was well underway.

In the past four decades, the 1510 frequency has been far from a smashing success of its first 40 years.  Regardless of the ownership, call letters or the programming, a continuing problem had been the station's 50,000 watt signal, adequate during daytime hours, but shaky nighttime directional signal left much to be desired  - WMRE(Golden Oldies/"Memory"Big Band/Nostalgia), WSSH(simulcast of soft pop WSSH FM "Wish 99.5"),  WKKU(Country), WNRB(Spanish language religious programming), WWZN(sports talk and Celtics broadcasts under Sporting Radio/Zone 1510), WUFC(Yahoo Sports/Talk format) and last two years as all-talker WMEX. The station was also in Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1986 but never actually signed off the air.
.
As for current situation, after leasing out 1510 for about a year(2014-2015), a family-owned Daly XXL finally acquired WMEX from Blackstrap in June 2015 for $175,000. Over the past two years, the all-talk format featured local morning show "Renegade Radio" show with John Pica and station's general manager Bryan Berner, Boston Herald Radio, Joe Shortsleeve, Sandy Shack, Michele McPhee, Tim Constantine, syndicated Michael Savage. Very briefly, WMEX served as the temp home for Howie Carr who was in the midst of negotiating a hard-bargained affiliation deal with WRKO 680 and desperately needed a Boston signal to support his new self-syndication venture. (The WRKO syndication deal was finally struck in March 2015 and Carr immediately returned to AM 680)

It's not clear whether 1510's discontinued signal transmission will be temporary or permanent. The Federal Communications Commission won’t let a station remain silent for longer than one year, or its license gets automatically cancelled.

Stay tuned.

BRW Notebook :

Fireworks : The annual July 4 concert and fireworks event at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River Esplanade produced by The Boston Pops has a brand new media partner starting this year. That means the change in radio signals. Exit CBS/WBZ-TV and WBZ 1030 and enter NewYork-based Bloomberg TV and Radio. Bloomberg will broadcast The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on Bloomberg Television on cable/satellite nationally and internationally. Locally, on radio over WXKS 1200/WJMN 94.5 HD2 will run TV simulcast from 8pm to 11pm. The concert will be also heard on WBBR 1130 in New York/New Jersey/Connecticut areas; WNEW FM 99.1 in the Washington, D.C/ Baltimore areas; 960 AM in San Francisco; SiriusXM Channel 119, on the Bloomberg Radio+ app for iPhone and Android, and on TuneIn. Bloomberg's anchors/personalities Alix Steel, Carol Massar and Matt Miller are the hosts. 

Happy Returns : Couple noteable returns on local dial - after a three year absence, former WEEI nighttime host John Ryder has returned to Red Sox Radio broadcasts on WEEI as weekend and fill-in pre and postgame host earlier June. Ryder is still working with ESPN Radio in CT......Jim Clerkin, who was with WXKS/Kiss 108 from 1999-2015 in various roles including music director, assistant program director and Matt Siegal's morning show executive producer has landed as executive producer at WRKO 680's Boston Dot Com morning show in early June. Clerkin officially replaced Dave Cullinane who exited in late February(BRW 3/1/15).