Saturday, October 25, 2008

WBZ voices capture a moment in history on Mad Men

WBZ AM 1030 got an offer it couldn't refuse, a chance to be heard on AMC’s award-winning show “Mad Men”. The station was approached recently by “Mad Men" post-production people, according to WBZ’s news director Peter Casey.

“The producers of the show located some old archive audio at the JFK Museum(in Dorchester) and then sought our permission to use the audio in the program. Depending on which audio they used in the final edit some of the local WBZ voices you may here could be: Streeter Stuart; Morton Dean, Kevin O'Keefe, and/or Dick Levitan.”

WBZ Radio’s big moment will occur this Sunday night(10/26) at 10pm when AMC runs the final episode of season number two. It’s unknown when or in what context WBZ’s audio will be used but Casey says that “some of the plot of the season finale is focused on the Cuban missile crisis”.

“Mad Men” is AMC’s politically-incorrect hit drama series about a 1960s NYC advertising agency debuted in July 2007. The show won six Emmy Awards, including one for outstanding drama series in September and was just picked up for its third season.

BRW Notebook :

Police radio blotter :
Reese Hopkins who landed on local airwaves as a midmorning host on WRKO AM 680 last December and promised listeners that his life will be an
“open book” will need to add another chapter or two to his story. Hopkins was dismissed from the talk station as part of a company-wide budget cutting last Thursday. This week he was arrested in Malden and extradited to NYC to face charges of sexual assault on a minor reports NY Daily News..... Sports radio/TV personality Bob Gamere who had a controversial career as well as a troubled personal life is back in the news facing disturbing allegations reports the Globe. Over the years, Gamere has had his share of drunk-driving arrests including one where he smashed into parked cars(outside the old Garden), bar brawls and an endless list of other off-air misconducts. In the late 80’s, he was also stabbed four times while walking thru the Fens on the way home from a booze cruise. He got start at Worcester’s WTAG AM in the 60’s and moved all over Boston's TV and radio dials including hosting the super popular the Candlepins for Cash on Channel 7. For years he was the voice of Harvard Football on the radio and also hosted “Voice of Sports” on the old WITS/WMRE AM 1510(now the Zone 1510). Here’s a bonus read on Gamere's latest episode of personal demise from the guys at Barstool Sports.

On the mend : The Herald
updates on Bob Lobel’s recovery from October 7th back surgery. Lobel who signed on as a special guest host on Oldies 103.3FM in mid-September will now be phoning into the morning show with his rehab progress reports for the time being.

Grim times : The redesigned and consolidated Boston Globe has apparently decided not to devote any more print space to local radio coverage. That’s a shame. Clea Simon who wrote an enjoyable Radio Tracks for more than a decade wrote her last column this week. Over the years, she seemed to take a simpler and lighter approach with the industry often focusing on college and public radio programming and personalities in the Boston market. Her
last column is a pointed reminder why her work will be sorely missed by readers, including one in this space.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

WBCN brings back the X-Mas Rave

WBCN 104.1FM’s annual holiday radio bash called ‘X-Mas Rave’ which the rock station organized every December from 1995 thru 2004 is coming back this year. As the Rock of Boston closes out its 40th anniversary year, the station celebrates its legendary past as it and the rest of the radio industry looks to the unpredictable future. Station’s other former tradition – the River Rave – was also resurrected this past summer to mark WBCN’s birthday.

X-mas Rave makes its return at the recently opened Showcase Live in Foxboro for three nights with retro-flavored shows featuring bands from years past which surely to attract some of WBCN’s now-30/40-something-with-kids listeners : Dec. 1 is Sponge and Seven Mary Three. Dec. 2 : Candlebox, Hoobastank and Flobots. And rounding things out on Dec. 3: Stone Temple Pilots’ frontman Scott Weiland. Additional acts
will be added to the first and third nights, according to WBCN.

BRW Notebook :

The sounds of the season : Although for radio business this is not an easy time, it’s business as usual for some local stations who are going ahead with their sponsored seasonal shows – WFNX 101.7FM takes over the Orpheum Theater with its two-night “Miracle on Tremont Street”(December 6th : Franz Ferdinand, The Airborne Toxic Event and December 7th - Vampire Weekend, Black Kids)….Kiss 108’s Jingle Ball returns to Tsongas Arena in Lowell on December 11…Jamn 94-5’s Monster Jam is back at TD Banknorth Garden on October 27th.

Local support : For many years now, Sunday night’s 10pm-Midnight block on Boston rock radio continues to be the bastion of new and local music scene. All three commercial radio rockers are still showing support for the up-and-coming acts with their weekly shows - WBCN 104.1FM(Boston Emissions), WFNX 101.7FM(First Contact and New England Product) and WAAF(Baystate Rock).

Speaking of WBCN’s Boston Emissions, as of last weekend, the program has a new host who some rock radio listeners may recognize – Anngelle Wood. She also continues on as weekend DJ on sister-station WZLX 100.7FM. Here’s the release :

Meet Anngelle Wood: Stalwart Supporter of Local Rock, Pug Lover and New Host of WBCN’s Boston Emissions

Boston, MA – WBCN is happy to announce that Anngelle Wood is joining their roster as the new host of the station’s long running local music program Boston Emissions. No stranger to the local music scene, Anngelle has been involved with the local music community in numerous ways. As part of WFNX morning show, Anngelle routinely invited local artists onto the program to promote upcoming events and CD releases. She is responsible for the Rising Tide Series, concert events designed to showcase local female performers and their bands. She has served as one of the rotating DJs on WMFO’s “On the Town with Mikey Dee,” a local music program that continues as a way to honor the memory of its original host Mikey Dee, another stalwart supporter of local music who passed away in 2003. Anngelle is also a co-organizer of the Rock n’ Roll Social, a monthly networking event for members of the local music community that is entering its 6th year. For the past 3 years, Anngelle has been heard on the airwaves of CBS sister station, WZLX, where she will remain an active member of its airstaff as well.

As a result of these many diverse interactions within the local music scene Anngelle has developed a wealth of knowledge regarding New England’s unsigned local artists. In addition to knowing about the local scene she also brings a passion for turning people on to new, undiscovered local acts. Anngelle comes armed with both this knowledge and passion as she takes on her new role as host of WBCN’S Boston Emissions. Wood will also be actively involved in the annual WBCN Rock n’ Roll Rumble, the country’s longest running local music battle of the bands.

WBCN’s Boston Emission is featured every Sunday night from 10pm to midnight on 104.1FM, WBCN.

Considering all options : Reese Hopkins who lost his midmorning show on WRKO AM 680 due to company-wide budget cuts last week is already trying to land his next gig somewhere else. He’s been contacted by CNN Headline News to make some appearances on their talkshows. However, staying in the Boston market could be an option for Hopkins despite his one-year deal with Entercom including a clause for post-employment non-compete
reports Boston Daily blog.

Radio book club : For history buffs or fans of radio or both, there’s a new great book out. “Hello Everybody : The Dawn of American Radio” by Anthony Rudel. This latest radio history entry
takes a look at the early days of radio in this country. There are some amazing stories of quirky station owners and major financial challenges facing radio in its early days(Ed. Note : do things ever change?! :-]. Rudel was a guest on Jordan Rich’s overnight show on WBZ AM 1030 last weekend…The Globe’s radio column previews an upcoming book from media historian Donna Halper.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Troubled economy spurs cuts at WRKO and WAAF

The struggling economy is starting to cause some major changes and turmoil for local radio stations. And, this could be just the beginning.

The ongoing recession in the advertising market and now the tanking stock market are hitting hard at the publicly-owned media congloms such as Entercom which today announced layoffs in its Boston cluster.

Among Entercom on-air staffers let go were WRKO AM 680’s midday host Reese Hopkins who was with the Talk Station since last December. He’s being replaced by syndicated conservative pundit Laura Ingraham whose show aired on the rival WTKK 96.9FM since 2000. (Ingraham was bumped to late Sunday nights a couple weeks ago when WTKK added a new late night snow hosted NYC-based Guardian Angels founder and WABC/NYC personality Curtis Sliwa.).
WRKO AM 680 is now down to two local weekday programs – Tom Finneran in the AM Drive and Howie Carr in the PM drive. The rest of the day is filled out with syndicated conservative shows(Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage, Jerry Doyle).

In addition to Hopkins, WRKO executive producer and Finneran's producer Andy Strecker and WAAF 107.3FM’s morning show “Hillman” producer Dave "Super Producer" DiGando were among at least a dozen staffers let go today. Hopkins' producer Bill Cooksey escaped the ax as he doubles as the executive producer for the Celtics Radio Network(on sister station WEEI).

No known changes over at Entercom’s sports talker WEEI AM 850 but it will be interesting to see what will happen with the on-going pricey sports portal project where the company has been investing heavily over the past few months. Also, WEEI’s afternoon ringmaster Glenn “Big O” Ordway is up for contract renewal at year’s end and with Entercom’s CEO David Field declaring a companywide wage freeze in an internal memo yesterday, things could get really dicey on Guest Street.

Here’s WRKO’s press release on the changes in the midday slot which also mentions tough economic situation :

WRKO Begins Airing The Laura Ingraham Show Starting Tomorrow

Boston, MA (October 16, 2008) – WRKO AM 680 today announced that it will begin airing The Laura Ingraham Show on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. beginning tomorrow, October 17th. Ingraham, whose show is syndicated by Talk Radio Network Enterprises, will replace Reese Hopkins. The Laura Ingraham Show is now ranked the 5th largest syndicated show according to Talkers Magazine with over 300 affiliates nationwide. Ingraham has affiliation in 21 of the top 25 metro markets and 42 of the top 50 metro markets.

As the most-popular female radio show host in the country, Ingraham has catapulted to the top of the industry in her seven-year on-air career. According to Talkers Magazine, it is ranked the 5th largest syndicated radio talk program in the United States , and is distributed by Talk Radio Enterprises.

The conservative host is also a regular contributor on the Fox News Channel, where she is the permanent substitute for Bill O'Reilly on The O'Reilly Factor. Ingraham is the author of three books, including The Hillary Trap and Shut Up & Sing. Her most recent book Power to the People debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. As a Connecticut native and graduate of Dartmouth College , Ingraham's New England roots run deep. She received her law degree from the University of Virginia and afterward served as a Supreme Court law clerk and practiced white collar criminal defense law.

“I am honored and humbled to be joining the legendary WRKO, with its booming signal and unsurpassed reputation for on-air excellence,” said Ingraham. “For several years, Boston has heard me at night, but being on ‘RKO live every weekday morning is thrilling. Legions of new listeners will have the chance to laugh and learn along side with me as we fight for our country's political, economic and cultural future. My dad grew up outside Boston , and my oldest brother and his family settled here, so in many ways this feels like I'm coming home.”

“Reese did an excellent job for us and I certainly wish him well going forward,” said Jason Wolfe, Vice President of AM Programming & Operations at Entercom New England. “These are challenging times for our industry and we need to adjust accordingly. Having said that, Laura Ingraham is one of the truly outstanding radio broadcasters in the country today, and the success of her program speaks volumes about her. She’s got strong ties to Boston and New England , has tremendous brand equity in this market and will be a fabulous asset to the WRKO programming lineup.”

BRW Notebook :

Hitting the road : Paul Kelley has resigned as the GM of Nassau-owned classical WCRB 99.5FM this week. Kelley has been hired to manage stations in Virginia for Saga Communications. Prior to being named WCRB's GM in December 2006, Kelley was GM for Nassau's Frank-FM(WFNQ-FM) in Manchester, NH. His resume also includes a stop at WRKO where he worked as a local sales manager.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Summer ratings : WBZ is tops again, talkers WRKO and WTKK rank lower

A summer of presidential politics and political conventions didn't light a fire under ratings for Boston's two all-talk radio stations.

The big winner again in the summertime ratings was all-news/talk WBZ AM 1030, which finished No. 1 overall for the second straight survey period. The station had a 6.4 percent share of listeners during the summer ratings period of June 26 to Sept. 17.

Talker WRKO AM 680 finished in fifth place with a 4.7 percent share. That's down from a 5.3 share in the spring. Boston's other talk station, WTKK 96.9FM, finished 9th overall with a 3.5 share, down from a 4.0 in the spring.

The declining numbers for both WRKO and WTKK are somewhat surprising considering we’re in the hotly contested presidential race. Both stations can probably blame the weaker ratings on carrying too much right-leaning talk on their schedules. And in the election cycle when the listening public has definitely grown tired of the same old-same old political spin and seeking fresh ideas, there is simply not enough programming on either talk station without a particular political take.

Tied for No. 2 in the summer ratings period was rhythmic Top-40 station WJMN-FM/Jamn 94-5 and adult contemporary WMJX/Magic 106.7FM. Magic jumped nearly a full share among listeners ages 12 and over. Magic also finished #1 among Adults 25-54 while Jamn finished in No.1 spot among Adults 18-34 continuing its 7-year win streak in that demographic group.

Other notables from the summer book : WODS-FM/Oldies 103.3 jumped a full share from 9th to 6th as radio icon Dale Dorman exited into semi-retirement in mid-September…WBOS 92.9FM which dumped its entire airstaff and replaced the fickle adult album alternative format with the retro-heavy modern rock tunes of the 80’s and 90’s in late January finished with the same listening share as it did last summer. [Ed. Note : If you're a corporate radio suit, you must be smiling. Low-bottom, robotic, no live human radio presentation featuring the same overplayed tunes sure beats an expensive sports talk format, especially in this economy. Don't you think?! Brilliant!]

BRW Notebook :

Going to the candidate's debate.Laugh about it, shout about it. When you've got to choose Every way you look at this you lose : WTKK 96.9's midday team Jim Braude and Margery Eagan will host the only radio debate between U.S. Senator John Kerry and his Republican challenger Jeff Beatty on October 27 from 1pm–2pm....The third and final presidential debate and post-debate analysis will air on WTKK 96.9FM, WRKO AM 680, WBUR 90.9FM and WBZ AM 1030. WBZ will shift the Bruins-Canadiens game to sister-station WODS 103.3FM.

The most annoying radio personality? : That's easy. Mike Greenberg from "Mike and Mike" national morning show on ESPN Radio heard locally on ESPN 890. Not that his partner Mike Golic any less annoying, but Greenberg is the cheeziest radio personality today. Check this out.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Who Makes the Call? A Choice Along the Dial for Sox fans

When the American League Championship Series between the Sox and Rays begins tonight, two radio teams will also vie for listeners: Joe Castiglione and Dale Arnold, the Red Sox' team, and the ESPN Radio’s Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, who will be heard on WAMG AM 890.

When it comes to local sports, the hometown fans listen to the hometown announcers. Between the regular season and spring training, local announcers call over 170 games. Home broadcasters usually have a better feel for the team. On the other end, the national broadcasters usually provide less biased, more down the middle call backed up by more facts and stats since they don’t really get to see the teams on daily basis.

WRKO AM 680 will air every ALCS game, except for Columbus Day afternoon Game 3(on WEEI AM 850). WRKO will have the local version with Joe “Can You Believe It?!” Castiglione calling his 8th ALCS in 26 years on the Sox radio network. Dave O’Brien will not be in the Sox radio booth during ALCS as he one again will be working the TV feed for ESPN International. Glenn Geffner-bashers will be happy to know that WEEI’s midday host Dale Arnold gets the nod to sub for O’Brien in ALCS and, hopefully, in the World Series. John Rish will handle expanded one-hour pregame shows plus postgame talk.

Meanwhile, over on ESPN 890 Joe Miller who was the Sox voice alongside the late Ken Coleman from 1980-1982 will work his 11th straight ALCS on radio for ESPN Radio. His “Sunday Night Baseball” partner Joe Morgan will join him for their 9th consecutive radio call of ALCS. Miller left the Sox radio after the 1982 season and was succeeded by Castiglione the following spring.

Game 1 Sox at Rays Fri Oct. 10 8:37pm WRKO AM 680, ESPN Radio(AM 890)
Game 2 Sox at Rays Sat Oct. 11 8:07pm WRKO AM 680, ESPN Radio(AM 890)
Game 3 Rays at Sox Mon Oct. 13 4:37pm WEEI AM 850, ESPN Radio(AM 890)
Game 4 Rays at Sox Tue Oct. 14 8:07 pm WRKO AM 680, ESPN Radio(AM 890)
Game 5 Rays at Sox Thu Oct. 16 8:07pm WRKO AM 680, ESPN Radio(AM 890)
Game 6 Sox at Rays Sat Oct. 18 4:37pm WRKO AM 680, ESPN Radio(AM 890)
Game 7 Sox at Rays Sun Oct. 19 8:07pm WRKO AM 680, ESPN Radio(AM 890)

BRW Notebook :

The best of college radio :
As mentioned in this space previously(BRW 9/25), Emerson’s WERS 88.9FM gets the prorps from national music channels reports
the Globe and Emerson’s Berkley Beacon.

The Champs are back! : The defending NBA Champions Boston Celtics returned to radio dial this past week. No changes in the Celtics radio booth as Grande and Max are back with the team. WEEI AM 850 began its preseason broadcast schedule this past Weneday with a loss to Philly at UMass Amherst. WEEI will air all C's pre-season games(winning a champship makes a difference) but without the 30-minute Celtics Tonight pregame show except next Friday's(10/17) game at the Garden.

How low can you go?! : Crash from afternoon's "Toucher and Rich" show on WBCN 104.1FM was holding a cheap gas promotion in Kingston yesterday afternoon. The station was sponsoring cheap gas giveaway at...duh!..$1.04 a gallon. [Ed. Note : Hey, I am all for publicizing cheap gas during crappy economic times but media consumers need to be aware. My beef is more with Ch.4 which has become a joke of TV news operations around here. Aren't Ch.4 and WBCN owned by the same media conglom? Was this Ch.4 report a manufactured PR tie-in to pump up some corporate synergy for a sister radio station doing this promo or a real news story? Ch.4 has been doing a lot of these artificial news pieces lately. It's a bad trend. It's crap TV news.]
You got anohter gig coming....: Former Ch.4 sportscaster Bob Lobel who has been moonlighning at Oldies 103.3 in the morning drive for the past three weeks, just added a new gig. Lobel has been named a columnist at's weekly sports magazine "OT". Remains to be seen if he'll be back on Oldies after his fourth week is up(my guess is no for many obvious reasons), but it sounds like he'll be more at home in the sports kingdom of empire than commenting on useless fluff like Dancing With The Stars during morning drive radio on the oldies station.

It's ovah! : And you don't have to tune in to Jay Severin, or any other conservative-leaning talker on the Boston dial, to tell you that T-Rex McCain can happily retire to whatever number of homes he owns.
It's for you, Mr. Siegel : As of this week, three Boston stations - Kiss 108, Jamn 94-5 and Rumba 1200 (all owned by Clear Channel) can now be heard via Apple's iPhone-oriented service. Great idea by conglom radio but industry vet Jerry Del Colliano thinks the Ipod/Iphone generation is not a reachable demo as far terrestrial radio goes. [Ed. Note : The guy has a point, the content still sucks for the most part. Who can disagree?! But at least this is more of a realistic strategy to gain some listeners than the farce called HD Radio.]

Thursday, October 2, 2008

WTKK adds Sliwa to line-up

Beginning yesterday(10/1). WTKK 96.9FM has added a new nightly show hosted by Curtis Sliwa, founder of vigilante crime-fighting group Guardian Angels. Sliwa, who faked his own kidnapping in the early 1980’s, currently hosts the 10am-Noon show on NYC’s talker WABC AM 770. He’ll use ISDN technology to host the live show for WTTK 96.9FM from 10pm to 1am weekdays. Syndicated talker Laura Ingraham, who previously occuppied Sliwa's current timeslot, was sent to the radio Siberia with the lone Sunday 10pm-1am appearance on WTKK’s line-up.

Sliwa has been on the air at New York's WABC since the early 1990's when he co-hosted a morning drive show with his ex-wife Lisa. After being bounced from WABC due to very low-ratings in mid-1990's, conservative Sliwa, with the help of former mayor Rudy Gulliani, ended up on public city-owned station WNYC in a major fundraising publicity stunt. He later ended up at WABC on weekends and eventually was named morning co-host with Ron Kuby in 2000. In 2007, he was bumped to middays on WABC after Don Imus returned to the airwaves.

Sliwa’s “live and local” debut in the talk-crazed Boston market is likely a test run for his possible move toward national syndication by his employer Citadel Broadcasting next year. Citadel currently produces and syndicates Don Imus’ morning show heard on WTKK 96.9FM in the morning drive.

Sliwa will anchor tonight’s post-debate special on WTKK 96.9FM which also be simulcast on his home station WABC. Just like last week, in addition to WTKK’s coverage, all Boston news-talk stations will take in the debate and air their own post-debate analysis – WBZ AM 1030, WRKO AM 680 and WBUR 90.9FM.

BRW Notebook :

There is only one October :
With no over-the-air(free TV) station to cover the Sox playoff run(thanks to brainless move by the Nutty Profession aka MLB Comissioner Bud Selig), there’s more emphasis on radio coverage this year. (TBS owns exclusive TV rights to televise ALDS and ALCS). WEEI AM 850 and WRKO AM 680 will have Dave O’Brien, Joe Castiglione and John Rish on the Sox call. Meanwhile, ESPN Radio will have its A-team of Dan Shulman and Dave Campbell working the national call on Sox-Angels.

In a related note, for the fourth straight year, WAMG AM/”890 ESPN” is carrying all of the Major League Baseball playoff schedule, including every Sox game, thanks to its ESPN Radio affiliation.

Radio transition? : WODS 103.3FM/Oldies 103 has retooled its line-up recently, but it appears that any reference to the "60's and 70's" in on-air liners have been replaced by the "Greatest Hits". Although, still very much trapped in the 70's musically, there's some 80's hits that are slowly starting to creep into the Oldies' playlist as of late(Denice Williams' 1984 Grammy winner "Let's Hear for the Boy" and Hall&Oates' 1980 "Kiss on My List"). Rival WROR 105.7FM had added the 80's decade to its playlist a couple years ago and is now the classic hits of the 60's, 70's and...80's.

Radio picks : Providence's Lite 105 morning show co-host Heather Gersten who in her past life co-hosted morning show with Karen Blake(and Ralphie Marino) on Star 93.7(now Mike 93.7) is the mother of a young budding radio star reports the Daily News Tribune.