Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Together at last : Sirius XM Satellite Radio is born

The merger of Sirius Satellite Radio and former competitor XM Satellite Radio is now a done deal. Sirius today (7/29) completed its $3.3 billion absorption of XM in an all-stock deal that took close to 18 months to make it happen. The long delay was the result of getting the deal through the regulatory process -- the stickiest of which was obtaining FCC approval, which finally came last Friday(7/25).

Ultimately, the merger cost the satcasters millions of dollars for lobbying to influence decision-makers, leaving the share prices of each company down significantly. The new combined company, Sirius XM Radio, starts out with 18.5 million subscribers.

The conditions of the FCC approval, announced last Friday night, include three major points : a) new radio receivers able to receive both satcasters signals be offered to consumers; b) two dozen satellite channels be set aside for separate programmers to use - 12 for minority groups and 12 for public access and 3) a la carte programming with a three-year price freeze.

BRW Notebook :
Parade route : It’s unlikely on your calendar but today is WRKO’s Radio Hall of Fame afternoon personality Howie Carr’s day to shine in the sun. From WRKO’s release(Ed. Note : No word whether or not Mumbles is showing up for any part of Howie’s Rolling Rally) :

WHAT: To commemorate the induction this month of WRKO host Howie Carr, WRKO has declared that this Tuesday will be “ Howie Carr Day in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts .”
Never one to shy away from self-congratulation, Carr will board a Duck Boat and take the ride of champions to the State House. At approximately 3:08 PM on the stairs of the State House, Howie Carr will present a proclamation, signed by none other than himself, declaring it “ Howie Carr Day in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts .” He hopes to be joined by some of his loyal listeners. Carr will continue his live broadcast from the Duck Boat until 4 PM, and then continue the broadcast from Eastern Standard Restaurant in Kenmore Square . The Boston Red Sox will acknowledge Howie’s induction into the Radio Hall of Fame by honoring him during their pre-game ceremonies tonight before their game with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Last week, the National Radio Hall of Fame announced its 2008 inductees. Carr will be inducted in the category of “Local or Regional – Active” nominees. The induction ceremony takes place in Chicago on November 8, 2008.
WHEN: Tuesday, July 29, 2008.Carr will arrive at the State House on a Duck Boat at 3 PM and make his proclamation at 3:08 PM.
WHERE: Front steps of Massachusetts State House, Beaco Street , Boston

Look who’s talking now : The Herald’s Jessica Heslam takes a look at the battle of the Talk Stations based on Spring Arbitron numbers. Speaking of WRKO’s Hall of Famer, he’s still behind Jay Severin on WTKK 96.9FM but closing the gap since he returned to WRKO after prolonged sit-out last fall.(Ed. Note : Considering that a year ago Carr was planning a funeral for AM band and getting ready to listen to Severin on his *FM* radio, that’s quite a turn of events. Tonight he is being recognized in front 35,000 fans at Fenway Park. Three months from now, he’ll be chowing away at the Radio Hall of Fame dinner and giving his speech wearing the WRKO hat….in Chicago(Obama’a turf) of all places… four days after the Presidential Election….maybe a week after the Sox beat the Cubs in the World Series…It’s the Howie Carr Day. Anything goes.)

Honor roll : There will be a large number of Boston music stations represented at this year's Radio and Records magazine’s Industry Achievement awards. Nominations were announced yesterday morning. Preliminary votes were cast by selected R & R subscribers in June and final ballots, where subscribers must choose one winner from each category, are currently being distributed. The winners will be announced September 19 at the annual R&R Convention in Austin, TX.

Nominated in the station of the year category : WMJX 106.7FM/Magic in the adult contemporary format; WXKS 107.9FM/Kiss 108 is in the top-40/CHR category; WBCN 104.1FM and WFNX 101.7FM in the alternative rock format; WJMN 94.5/Jamn in Rhythmic format; WAAF 107.3FM in the active rock format; WKLB 102.5FM in the country format;

WMJX’s Don Kelley is nominated program director of the year for adult contemporary while Mark Laurence is nominated in the music category in the same format. WKLB’s Ginny Rogers(country) and former music director for WJMN, GeeSpin(Rhythmic) are also nominated.

Nominees for local air personality of the year include Ramiro and Pebbles of WJMN in Rhythmic, David Allan Boucher of WMJX in Adult Contemporary, Toucher and Rich of WBCN in Alternative Rock, and Greg Hill of WAAF in Active Rock.
Blair Garner(overnights on WKLB 102.5FM) and Ryan Seacrest(American Top 40 on WXKS 107.9FM) is nominated for nationally syndicated air personality of the year

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Build it and they’ll come : WEEI looks to strong on-line presence

WEEI and Entercom Boston made it official yesterday. The local sports radio powerhouse is getting into a somewhat scaled-down version of what we came to know as the print journalism. The new online hybrid at WEEI.com will feature a combination of the current live audio streaming from Entercom’s sports radio leader, and WEEI-branded, exclusive sports content. Up until now, the NESN/Boston Globe-powered boston.com site has been the preferred on-line destination for thousands of hundreds of local sports fans seeking info on breaking sports stories as well as advertisers looking to push their services to the masses. On-line is where the next big influx of population, young and old, has already migrated. Radio broadcasters like any other business providers must adjust and go where they live.

Instead of quoting boston.com for breaking sports stories and sending web traffic to the competition, WEEI.com will now be transforming itself into a one-stop-shop by hoping to retain listeners who are listening to the station’s live stream on-line via home, work or mobile devices. The new on-line plan is a pretty large undertaking requiring almost 24/7 commitment from Entercom to provide exclusive station-branded on-line sports news content. Obviously, by hiring former Herald sports reporters - Rob Bradford, who will work as WEEI.com editor, and Mike Felger - the station is showing its willingness to branch out into an unchartered territory as it seeks to generate additional ad revenues in a sluggish media economy.

On the local level, news stations like WBZ AM 1030 and WBUR 90.9FM have been heavily involved in linking their on-air and on-line products for years. So WEEI is not breaking any ground as far the whole on-line concept is concerned, but it should be interesting to see how it does for the sports-only format as it battles against established destinations like boston.com and to some extent nation's #1 sports site - espn.com.

As for Mike Felger’s re-entry into WEEI’s thunderdome after 3 years with ESPN 890, expect to hear him a lot on weekends during the NFL season. It’s almost a given that he’ll take over as the host of WEEI’s Sunday morning football show and play some part in Patriots Monday on the Big Show where he was a regular for five years(2000-20005).

BRW Notebook :

The Replacements :
Mike Felger has been officially replaced at ESPN 890. The sports talker has re-launched its local afternoon drive show with “PrimeTime Live”(not to be confused with ABC News’ version of its long-running PrimeTime TV newsmagazine) hosted by Kevin Winter and with Adam (Not the Pacman) Jones sliding into the sports flasher role. On the first day of the new show, Winter’s microphone wasn’t working at the start of the show leaving Jones to hold down the fort after delivering his flash at the top of the 3 o'clock hour. When Winter got on the air a couple minutes later he made a wisecrack comment about a mic(as in Mike, get it) not working at the station. Planned or unplanned? (Ed. Note : I am here all afternoon…Try the veal).

Rolodex update : Speaking of former ESPN 890 staffers who moved on to much bigger and better things. Doug Tribou has been named Associate Producer of National Public Radio's weekend sports show, Only A Game with Bill Littlefield. He will also report for the program. Tribou has been a news anchor at Only A Game's flagship station in Boston, WBUR 90.9FM, for more than two years. Only A Game is heard on about 175 stations around the country and airs locally on WBUR 90.9FM Saturdays at 7am and 6pm.
Tribou has also been working as a news/talk/sports radio programming consultant and spent the last year working with Salem Communications' Boston Cluster (WEZE, WTTT, WROL). Prior to joining WBUR 90.9FM/ NPR, Tribou was the first program director ESPN Radio/Boston (WAMG AM 890/WLLH AM 1400) and spent six years as program and news director for news/talk 560 WGAN, hot talk/sports WZAN AM 870, and adult standards The Bay (WBAE/WVAE) in Saga Communications' Portland, ME cluster…..

Spinning off : WJMN 94.5/Jamn assistant program director/music director and on-air personality GeeSpin(also known as Geoffrey Gamere, the son of former Boston TV/radio sports broadcaster Bob Gamere) has left the station after 7 years. The 37-year old Brookline-bred GeeSpin is moving down to the Big Apple starting his new gig at Clear Channel's sister station WWPR-FM/Power 105.1 in New York. He will take over as an Assistant Program Director/Music Director role and will continue to work at WJMN as Mix Show Coordinator and, thru the magic of voice-tracking technology, its overvenight personality. He’ll also be heard on overnights at WWPR where he’ll be working for his old boss, program director“Cadillac” Jack McCartney. McCartney moved to WWPR five months ago after 17 years with Clear Channel Boston’s Kiss 108 and Jamn 94.5(BRW 2/5/08). Jamn is looking for a new music director.

Back to School Time : WFNX 101.7FM’s “Disorientation 2008’ event will be held at the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston’s Seaport District on Saturday, September 13th. Starting at 5pm, Does it Offend You Yeah will take the stage followed by Rogue Wave, Alkaline Trio, The Kooks and Flogging Molly. Tickets for all-ages show go on sale this Saturday(7/19) morning and priced at $32.00.

Remembering Tony Snow : Former WRKO AM 680 morning host, Scott Allan Miller remembers former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, who hosted Fox News Radio's Tony Snow Show from 2003-2006. Snow passed away of cancer last Saturday. He was 53. Snow used to appear with Miller every Friday morning on WRKO to promote his FOX News show. He also filled in at WRKO a couple times in the early midday slot(9am-Noon) a few years ago.

Praise time : The host of “Matty in the Morning”, Matt Siegel, was voted the best morning show for the 6th straight year in the Improper Bostonian magazine….WEEI AM 850 and its afternoon drive personality Glenn Ordway have been nominated in the sports station of the year and major market personality of the year categories, respectively, in the upcoming NAB's Marconi Awards. WEEI AM 850 won a Marconi for the best sports station in 2006. Also, this is Ordway’s third Marconi nomination in the past four years. This year he’s up against KIIS-FM/LA personality Ryan Seacrest who's now heard on over 500 radio stations worldwide with his syndicated American Top 40 show, including Kiss 108 locally. Winners in all categories will be announced on September 18th at NAB Radio Show in Austin, TX…Greater Media President & CEO Peter H. Smyth has been ranked 9th among the "40 Most Powerful People in Radio" by Radio Ink Magazine in the July 7th issue. Smyth has consistently been featured on the list for the past seven years. Locally, Greater Media owns WKLB, WROR,WMJX, WTKK and WBOS….Voting for the Museum of Broadcast Communications' Radio Hall of Fame for 2008 closed at midnight yesterday. We should know sometime tomorrow(7/17) whether WRKO’s what seemed like never-ending on-air campaign to get its afternoon man Howie Carr inducted into the Hall has paid off. [Ed. Note : If Carr is inducted, he should definitely mention Mumbles in his acceptance speech. There would be no Howie if we didn't have Mumbles to kick around every week. Thank yous.]

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Local ESPN Radio affiliate hopes to stay in the game

ESPN 890, you're on the clock.

In the latest episode of Boston’s own sports-talk radio version of `Survivor', WAMG AM 890, the local ESPN Radio affiliate, promises to launch a new(and improved) and more local line-up shortly.

According to an internal staff memo sent out by ESPN 890’s general manager/co-owner Jessamy Tang, which was obtained and published, by Boston SportsMedia’s David Scott, the station is looking to replace departed afternoon host Michael Felge and add a new midday program. Felger ended his nearly 3-year stint at WAMG/ESPN 890 this past week. Felger who already has a fulltime job as co-host of Comcast SportsNet’s roundtable format “SportsTonight” show, is returning to the all-mighty WEEI AM 850. He’ll be writing original content for the station’s sports portal at weei.com which is expected to receive a major facelift in upcoming weeks. Felger was hosting his afternoon drive show on ESPN 890 from a specially-built radio studio at CSN in Burlington.

Another loss for ESPN 890 was the news that the “Patriots Friday” package is moving to all-mighty WEEI AM 850 which reached a new multi-year deal with the Krafts which also includes “Patriots Monday” and New England Revolution soccer games.

Among a long list of reasons(iffy signal, lack of ratings, WEEI's dominance,etc), one could also see why the Krafts would choose to cut ties with ESPN 890 after this last season's Tickgate story. Earlier this year, the Krafts weren’t too thrilled with their now-former "Patriots Friday" radio partner when they learned that some of the playoff tickets donated to station’s charity event were used for on-air promotion.

BRW Notebook :

Mike's Twoffer :
The Globe talks to WZLX 100.7FM PD Mike Thomas who recently added another program director hat at WBCN 104.1FM when Dave Wellington was let go after four years.(BRW 6/23). As for Wellington, he wasn't out of a job for long. His next stop is Washington DC/Baltimore market. He starts as program director for Clear Channel's Alternative WWDC-FM (DC 101)/Washington and the newly-launched Alternative WCHH-FM (Channel 104.3)/Baltimore on July 28.

All-Star’s tribute to the Yankee Stadium : …will be heard locally on ESPN 890. The radio broadcast of the 79th MLB All-Star game will air Tuesday, July 15, at 8 p.m. ESPN Radio’s Dan Shulman will call the game with analyst Dave Campbell, with Peter Pascarelli and John Rooney – the voice of the St. Louis Cardinals – providing reports and interviews from each league’s respective dugout. Joe D’Ambrosio will host pre- and post-game shows. Shulman and Campbell have worked the All-Star Game and Derby for eight consecutive seasons.(Ed. Note : the Game's tribute to the Yankee Stadium should be an amazing TV/radio spectacle on Tuesday night, but having classical pop weenie Josh Groban singing "God Bless America" instead of Ronan Tynan is an absolutely travesty). ESPN 890 will also air the Home Run Derby at 8pm on Monday, July 14.

I-listening to the future : Mobile devices and on-line content is the future of terrestrial radio. And, at least one local radio operator is actively starting to look beyond towers and transmitters for non-traditional sources of revenue. WEEI AM/WRKO AM/WAAF FM/WMKK-FM corporate owner, Entercom recently announced that will add all of its stations programming to the FlyTunes content network. Under the agreement, Entercom stations in Boston and other markets will be available on the IPhones in the next three months. Entercom's stream hosting provider Liquid Compass will facilitate the launch by incorporating FlyTunes' FlyCast server software throughout their Content Delivery Network.

Remembering Roger Allan Bump : Longtime WRKO AM 680 news and public affairs director passed away on July 1st at the age of 79. The Globe's story is here.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

New venue for WBOS’ summer concerts

Radio 92.9(the station formerly known as WBOS 92.9FM) has released the show dates for this summer’s City Steps Concert Series , featuring performances by Thriving Ivory(July 17), Tracy Bonham(July 31), and The English Beat(August 21). The big change this summer is the new venue for the station’s long running summer music series. In keeping up with its new strategy of mass-marketing the station to a greater audience, WBOS will trade the Copley Square Park for the spacious surroundings of City Hall Plaza.

Each performance will also feature a local Boston band that will be selected by fans on Radio 92.9’s OurStage.com webpage (www.ourstage.com/go/929citysteps). To be considered bands are to upload their music to the website for fans to vote on.

“We're excited to bring Boston more free live concerts to City Hall Plaza,” says Radio 92.9 Program Director Dana Marshall in a press release. “We’re thrilled that this summer series will feature great national acts as well as emerging local bands chosen by Radio 92.9 listeners.”

BRW Notebook :

GRLZ power :
Greater Media announced it’s teaming up with GRLZ Radio(formerly R-Log AM 540) to implement a sophisticated, cutting-edge summer internship program to benefit one Boston teen. Mirayah Rivera, 15, of Jamaica Plain, a current GRLZ Radio participant and DJ, is the first to be awarded such an internship position. She will spend her summer working with some of the nation’s top radio broadcasters and producers at Greater Media. GRLZ Radio is an internationally recognized radio station and after-school program based in Dorchester hat gives young women a voice in their communities. In her new role with Greater Media, Rivera will produce a weekly GRLZ Radio program to air on WBOS’s HD2 multicast station – “Radio You” Boston.

So you want to be Boston’s next country music star? : Country 102.5/WKLB-FM is joining forces with Hard Rock Café Boston and country music superstar Kenny Chesney in search of Boston ’s “Next Big Star!!”. Country 102.5 is currently accepting video submissions or audio submissions with accompanying video. Contest is open to musicians age 21 or older who are residents of the United States . Entrants can be an individual or a band/act. All entries must be received at the Country 102.5 WKLB studios by 5pm, Friday, July 11, 2008. Interested parties should log onto www.wklb.com for complete details and contest rules. Country 102.5’s “The Next Big Star” contest will be narrowed down to four contestants who will then perform before a panel of judges at Hard Rock Café Boston on Friday, July 25th. The winner from this event will open for Kenny Chesney’s sold out “Poets & Pirates” Tour the following day (July 26th) at Gillette Stadium.

Ingraham returns : Conservative talker Laura Ingraham returned to the radio this week after about a month's absence due to contractual dispute with her syndicator Talk Radio Network. She said in her opening comments: "I've missed you so much I don't know how to put it into words. I am ecstatic to be back on air." Ingraham can be heard weeknights on WTKK 96.9FM from 10pm to 1am(tape-delay).

Rush renews : Talk radio’s biggest star Rush Limbaugh who celebrates 20 years of his program in August has been rewarded with an 8-year contract extension with a whopping $100 million signing bonus and $38 million annually by his syndicator Premiere Radio Networks which is owned by Clear Channel. Limbaugh is heard on WRKO AM 680 from Noon to 3pm and is currently ranked 12the in the Boston market, the Boston Herald reports.