Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Peter Casey out as WBZ's programming and news chief

WBZ/News Radio 1030's director of news and programming Peter Casey has been let go earlier today according to reliable sources and station's staff memo obtained by Boston Radio Watch. Casey has been programming WBZ's since 1996. He joined WBZ as an assistant news director in 1993. In addition to his 24 years at WBZ, his distinguished news career in the Boston market includes stops at WHDH 850, WLVI-TV56 and WCVB-TV5. 

Under Casey's leadership, WBZ has been consistently ranked as one of the top listened radio stations in the market and one of the most respected news operations in the country. While Casey guided WBZ, the station was recognized with radio industry's top honors - Marconi Awards - in 1998(Major Market Station of the Year), 1999(News/Talk/Sports Station of the Year). 2010(Legendary Station of the Year) and in 2013(News Talk Station of the Year).

While no official word for the split has been given, it's mighty apparent that station's new incoming owner, the financially-troubled Iheart Media, is looking to keep the operational and programming costs down. 

Meanwhile another station longtime vet, assistant director of programming Bill Flaherty, will head the programming on interim basis according to station's staff memo.

Ironically, just two weeks ago, iHeartMedia and the union representing station's union staffers, SAG-AFTRA, had averted a major public relations nightmare in Boston — days before WBZ was set to be formally acquired by iHeart.(the station is currently being operated by Iheart under Local Marketing Agreement while awaiting FCC's license transfer approval which is expected in early January). The company and the union had reportedly reached a tentative agreement for iHeartMedia to accept the union after an initial controversial announcement from iHeart that originally stated the company would not honor the two union contracts in place, adding that WBZ employees would have to re-apply for their current positions.

As the Boston Herald reported on November 9th, the two sides reached an interim agreement on , smoothing over many of the issues that had threatened to derail the sale. The Herald said, “iHeartMedia’s agreement with the union is a major concession from its initial threats to refuse to honor union contracts and force staffers to reapply for their jobs.” The proposed agreement, obtained by the Herald, read, in part, “The Employer agrees to recognize the union as the exclusive bargaining representative for all full-time and regular part-time announcers, producers, editors, writers and production assistants employed by WBZ-AM. The Employer agrees to offer employment to all current union represented employees of WBZ-AM who are listed on the attached exhibit at their current salary or hourly rate of pay.”

SAG-AFTRA released a statement that read, “SAG-AFTRA is pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with iHeart for an interim agreement covering WBZ-AM. SAG-AFTRA members and iHeart management representatives worked hard for this resolution, and we look forward to a good partnership for this New England institution. The tentative agreement will be presented to the full bargaining unit for a ratification vote.”

Chris Tyler returns to Boston to program WZLX

On Tuesday(11/21), HeartMedia Boston announced that Chris Tyler  has been named Program Director of 100.7 WZLX/Boston's Classic Rock. Tyler replaces veteran programmer Mike Thomas who was with WZLX since February 2006 and last week moved with his other role as program director of WBZ 98.5/The Sports Hub which will shortly be owned by Beasley Broadcast Group.

Tyler, a Warwick, RI native,began his radio career interning at WPRO 92.3/PRO-FM in /Providence in 1990 just before becoming an assistant Production Director and on-air personality. In 1996 he would become a part of the programming department at WERZ/Portsmouth, NH, serving as its Music Director. In 1998 he joined Clear Channel(now Iheart) as an overnighter at WJMN/Jamn 94-5 where became music director in 2002  In 2006 he moved down the hall to WXKS/Kiss 108 to become its music director/assistant program director.  In 2008, he was named Program Director overseeing both Kiss and Jamn. In November 2010, he was headed back down 95 to Providence where his career began. This time he was named Operations Manager at Clear Channel Providence overseeing Rock staion WHJY 94.1FM, Hot AC WSNE/Coast 93.3 and Classic Hits WWBB/B101(BRW 11/12/10). But in February 2014 he was on the road leaving New England for Ohio after being named program director of  Iheart's Top 40 WAKS 96.5 KISS-FM, Rock WMMS 100.7 FM in Cleveland.

Dylan Sprague, Senior Vice President of Programming for iHeartMedia's Boston Region said in a press release : "I am excited to bring Chris back to Boston to program WZLX. His knowledge and experience in the format, exceptional leadership and vision and maybe most importantly, his knowledge of Boston and its legendary radio brands, uniquely qualify him to lead this heritage station and its iconic personalities"

BRW Notebook :

Beasley flips on Christmas music : Before handing over WMJX/Magic 106.7 to Entercom for $12 million check and WBZ 98.5 The SportsHub's FCC license, Beasley Broadcast Group  flipped the annual switch to Christmas music last Friday(11/17) at 5pm, November 17th at 5pm. Until Christmas Day at midnight, Magic will play the best variety of holiday favorites and will continue the station's commercial-free hours at 8:15am and 2:15pm each weekday. In addition, the MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS tradition continues with commercial-free music from 6pm Christmas Eve through 8pm Christmas Day to give listeners the opportunity to enjoy their holiday favorites without interruption as they celebrate with family and friends.

For listeners who miss the best variety of music on MAGIC 106.7, Today's Hits, Yesterday;s will be broadcast on MAGIC 106.7 HD-2, available at

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Closing time : Federal regulators clear Entercom-CBS Merger as SportsHub 98.5, WBZ AM, WRKO, WKAF and WZLX find new owners

Earlier this week, The Department of Justice's Antitrust Division has approved the pending merger of Entercom and CBS Radio, leading two big local swap deals involving iHeartMedia and Beasley Broadcast Group., Two CBS Radio Boston stations - classic rock WZLX 100.7 and news/talker WBZ 1030 and two Entercom Boston stations - all-talk WRKO 680 and r&b/soul WKAF 97.7 join iHeart Boston's cluster, which includes Top 40/CHR WXKS/Kiss 108, Top 40/Rhythmic WJMN/Jamn 94-5, WXKS 1200, WKOX/Talk 1430 and country WBWL/101.7 The Bull. Iheart is expected to divest WKOX/Talk 1430 upon acquisition of WRKO, WZLX and WBZ to stay under FCC's  same market limit of 8 stations.

However, the biggest surprise was the swap of two ratings and revenue monsters - Beasley Broadcast Group,and Entercom/CBS Radio will exchange adult contemporary king WMJX /Magic 106.7 plus $12 million in cash for WBZ/98.5 The Sports Hub. Entercom will begin operating Magic 106.7 via LMA upon the completion of its pending merger with CBS Radio which is expected on Friday, November 17th. .  In addition to WBZ 98.5, Beasley owns five other stations in the market alternative rock WBOS/Alt 92.9, classic hits WROR 105.7, WKLB/Country 102.5, WBQT/Hot 96.9, WRCA 1330 and a low-power repeater at 106.1 which is leased by Bloomberg Radio.

BRW Notes :

Annalisa back on the airwaves : Last week, Northeast Broadcasting's  WXRV/92.5 The River) had named former WZLX/WAAF personality Annalisa as the station’s new afternoon drive talent. Annalisa grew up in nearby Medford, MA and did college radio at Bridgewater State’s WBIM. After college, she did middays at WAAF/Boston and later crossed the street to become the first woman to host a rock radio morning show at WZLX. After leaving WZLX in 1993, she briefly part-time at WHJY in Providence before moving out West and working at legendary San Francisco' KFOG, where she did middays and hosted the 10@10 show until departing in April 2016.

WXRV GM Donald St. Sauveur remarked, “Annalisa is such a wonderful talent and a passionate professional. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of the thousands of artists and bands that the River features on a daily basis. She shares stories about the songs that are the soundtrack of our audience’s lives in an irreverent and witty way that’s authentic and approachable. The response from our listeners to Annalisa has been overwhelmingly positive. We’re blessed to have her join our very talented team of on-air hosts.”

Annalisa remarked, “I was raised on Boston radio, was lucky enough to start in Boston radio and am excited to be welcomed back to it at the River. It was important to me that I work at a radio station that respects their listeners, loves the community and loves to share their passion for music. The River stands out as an independent station in a cookie cutter corporate radio world.” Annalisa who's been filling in and working weekends on the Rive since late March succeeds Matt Phipps, who exited in late September.

Night-time is the right time : WKLB/Country 102.5 has hired a new evening host. As of this week, Marissa Lanchak is holding down the night shift.. She succeeds Renee Castle, who left in August(BRW 8/6) and expecting a baby. 

Lanchak most recently did middays at WGNA/Albany, NY until August, when her position was eliminated. She previously spent the better part of a decade as APD/MD/afternoon personality at Albany's Top 40 WFLY/FLY 92.