Saturday, March 3, 2018

BREAKING : Owner of eight Boston radio stations prepares to file for bankruptcy

Embattled IHeartMedia is circulating documents for a bankruptcy filing that could come as soon as this weekend for the biggest U.S. radio broadcaster and owners of eight Boston stations.

A Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing is all but certain, with iHeart and creditors each swapping proposals in recent weeks for a consensual restructuring. But pressure is mounting on iHeart after it missed a February 1 interest payment, with a 30-day grace period about to run out. On top of that, the broadcaster on Thursday skipped payments on two more sets of bonds. If the company files without a pre-negotiated restructuring plan in place, the bankruptcy could turn into a free-fall, with prolonged, contentious tussling for years over about $20 billion of debt.

Billionaire media mogul John Malone's Liberty Media stepped in with a last-minute offer to senior creditors that would help salvage iHeart by injecting cash and financing a trip through bankruptcy, but the bid wasn't high enough to win over creditors. Still, talks remain fluid and ongoing between the secured creditor group and Liberty Media.

Liberty has already bought a substantial position in iHeart debt and sees potential synergies between iHeart and SiriusXM radio. IHeart runs the biggest land-based radio network with about 850 stations and Sirius has the largest satellite radio platform with nearly 32 million subscribers.

The company's stations in the Boston market are WXKS/Kiss 108, WJMN/Jamn 94-5, WZLX 100.7, WBWL/Bull 101.7, WKAF 97.7, WRKO 680, WBZ/NewsRadio 1030 and WXKS/Talk 1200. WKOX/Rumba 1430 is currently in trust awaiting a sale. (Ed. Note : Some local and regional media watchers reported that Iheart owns 10 stations in Boston which is incorrect and not legal.)

BRW Notebook :

Daze in the Life : On the eve of the 50th WBCN anniversary, its longtime morning host Charles Laquidara will hold a special event to preview his new multimedia memoir called "Daze In the Life". The event will take place at 8pm on Wednesday, March 14 at Paradise Rock Club in Boston. Full details and ticket info are available here. Boston radio icon, Laquidara, signed off his morning show at WZLX 100.7 in August 2000 and retired to Hawaii where he currently lives. WBCN ended its 41-year run in August 2009.

Mutual admiration society : In his recent sitdown with Boston Magazine, legendary Kiss 108 morning man Matt Siegel who turns 68 later this month mentioned that he had quietly renewed his contract. The extension now runs thru 2020. Siegel also happens to be a big fan of WGBH 89.7's midday duo Eagan and Braude who recently celebrated their 5-year anniversary at Boston Public Radio and were also recently featured in the same publication....And speaking of contract extensions, Entercom and WEEI's morning man Kirk Minihane haven't quite worked out a new deal(last one was signed in early 2014).  Kirk and Callahan show was named country's top morning drive sports show of 2017 by trade publication Barrett Sports Media.

Schedule change : Starting Monday(3/5), WRKO 680 will begin airing Joe Pagliarulo's nationally syndicated The Joe Show from 10pm to 1am where it will replace syndicated Jim Bohannon's show. The Weekend Edition of the Joe Pags show will remain on the new Talk 1200.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Michael Holley exits WEEI for exapnded TV role and a teaching job

On Wednesday(2/28), after a 13-year run at WEEI 93.7, afternoon drive co-host Michael Holley announced he is leaving the station for a higher profile role at the regional sports network NBC Sports Boston and a teaching position at Boston University.

Holley, former Boston Globe sports writer,  joined WEEI back in March 2005, made a moving announcement during the final hour of Wednesday's "Dale, Holley with Keefe" show. "I'm nervous," Holley said. "I never imagined making this announcement. Thirteen years ago, I took this job, and that in itself is a blessing. Today is my last day at WEEI."  Holley spent 10 out of 13 years at WEEI his on-air partner Dale Arnold, first as a midday show(2005-2011) and later on afternoon drive program(2014-2018). For three years in between, Holley co-hosted WEEI's afternoon drive with Glenn Ordway(now in middays) from 2011 to 2013 and for a year with a very unpopular Mike Salk who left to return to program his former Seattle station KIRO/ESPN 710 where he's also a morning co-host. 

WEEI VP Mark Bannon said in a statement that Holley chose not to renew his contract after they offered him a multi-year extension. Instead, Bannon said, Holley chose to "expand his role with NBC Sports Boston." where he's been co-hosting "Boston Sports Tonight"(9pm-Midnight). Boston Globe's media writer also reported that Holley will become an instructor at Boston University's College of Communication starting in September.

WEEI's official statement on Holley's departure :

Starting Thursday(3/1) the show has re-branded as The Dale and Keefe Show. The search for the 3rd co-host is now officially on and some of station's current fulltime and part-time personalities(John Tomase, Mike Mutnansky, Trenni Kusnierek) are expected to on-air audition.

iHeart debuts new Talk 1200 in Boston

iHeartMedia Boston announced the debut of the new WXKS/TALK 1200, Boston's Conservative Talk, effective Thursday(3/1). The station launched at 9am on Thursday with The Glenn Beck show. The rest of the day features Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Buck Sexton, Mark Levin. From 1am to 9am, the station features Fox Sports Radio programming including Ben Maller(2am-6am) and Clay Travis(6am-9am). [Ed. Note : This is basically a shift of programming  from another IheartMedia AM signal - WKOX 1430 - which was Talk 1430 since June 2015(BRW 6/29/15). WKOX is currently in a trust and awaiting an ownership change. More on that below]

In March 2010, WXKS 1200 launched a similar format initially branded as Rush Radio 1200(later switching to more generic name Talk 1200) with a mix of local(Jeff Katz, Jay Severin) and nationally syndicated talkers including Rush Limbaugh.(BRW 3/3/10).  After 2 1/2 year run, in August 2012, the station changed formats to a short-lived all-comedy programming. (BRW 8/13/12). 

In February 2013, IheartMedia Boston and Bloomberg Radio signed a 5-year lease to air Bloomberg Boston programming(BRW 2/27/13). However, Bloomberg's new radio strategy involved expansion to FM dial and Beasley's new 106.1 downtown translator sealed a new deal between two companies last July(BRW 7/4/17). Bloomberg is also heard on Beasley's WRCA 1330 and WBOS 92.9's HD2 sub-channel. 

In addition, last August(BRW 8/6/17), Bloomberg plunked down $1 million for a North Shore combo of FM 106.1 translator and a 1,000-watt 1450 AM signal.

Back to Iheart, in addition to moving syndicated talk to Talk 1200, WKOX 1430 was rebranded as Rumba 1430 and features Latin hit music format.  Last fall, WKOX/Rumba 1430 AM was placed into Ocean Station Trust pending a spinoff to a new owner after Iheart acquired divested Entercom-CBS merger stations - WRKO 680, WZLX 100.7, WBZ 1030 and WKAF 97.7.  Per FCC ownership rules, a company can not own more than 8 stations in a single market. Iheart Media already owns WXKS/Kiss 108, WJMN/Jam 94-5, WBWL/101.7 The Bull and WXKS-AM/Talk 1200.

Talk 1200's  is now also simulcast on WJMN 94.5's HD2 sub-channel. 

iHeartMedia Boston Announces the Debut of the
New TALK 1200

 All-New Programming Lineup Launches with
America’s No. 1 Talk Radio Personality Rush Limbaugh

Boston, Mass. – March 1, 2018 – iHeartMedia Boston announced today the debut of the new TALK 1200, Boston’s Conservative Talk, effective immediately. The station will launch at 9 a.m. with The Glenn Beck Program.

TALK 1200 will broadcast premier conservative programming featuring America’s top talk radio personalities including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Buck Sexton, Mark Levin and more. The station’s programming will simulcast on 94.5 HD2.

“We are excited to have this powerful lineup of conservative talk on a new channel here in Boston,” said Alan Chartrand, President of iHeartMedia’s Boston Region. “We are confident that with the biggest names in the talk radio format, we'll be able to serve our listeners and advertisers well.”

“We are proud to have the best talent in talk radio on TALK 1200,” said Dylan Sprague, Senior Vice President of Programming for iHeartMedia’s Boston Region. “With a more powerful signal, we can now reach a wider audience.”

Full Programming Lineup:
The Glenn Beck Program                   9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The Rush Limbaugh Show                  12 p.m. – 3 p.m.
The Sean Hannity Show                      3 p.m. – 6 p.m.
The Buck Sexton Show                        6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
The Mark Levin Show                         9 p.m. – 12 a.m.

iHeartMedia is the leading media outlet in the Boston market with multiple platforms, including its broadcast stations; live events; data; and its digital businesses and platforms, including mobile, social and its own iHeartRadio, iHeartMedia’s free all-in-one digital music, podcasting and live streaming radio service – with more than 1.7 billion app downloads and 110 million registered users.

About iHeartMedia Boston
iHeartMedia Boston owns and operates WXKS-FM, WJMN-FM, WBWL-FM, WZLX-FM, WKAF-FM, WBZ-AM, WRKO-AM and WXKS-AM, and is part of iHeartMedia. With over a quarter of a billion monthly listeners in the U.S. and over 129 million social followers, iHeartMedia has the largest national reach of any radio or television outlet in America. As the leader in multiplatform connections, it also serves over 150 local markets through 858 owned radio stations, and the company’s radio stations and content can be heard on AM/FM, HD digital radio, satellite radio, on the Internet at and on the company’s radio station websites, on the iHeartRadio mobile app, in enhanced auto dashes, on tablets, wearables and smartphones, and on gaming consoles.

iHeartRadio, iHeartMedia’s digital radio platform, is the fastest growing digital audio service in the U.S. and offers users thousands of live radio stations, personalized custom artist stations created by just one song or seed artist and the top podcasts and personalities. With over 1.7 billion downloads, iHeartRadio reached 110 million registered users faster than any other radio or digital music service.

iHeartMedia’s platforms include radio broadcasting, online, mobile, digital and social media, podcasts, personalities and influencers, live concerts and events, syndication, music research services and independent media representation. iHeartMedia is a division of iHeartMedia, Inc. (PINK: IHRT). Visit for more company information.

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Joe Mazzei 781-396-1430