Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Finneran to depart WRKO's morning show this week

Tom Finneran, former attorney, former state representative, former speaker of Massachusetts State House , former head of Mass. Biotech Council is closing the book on another chapter of his life - the one as morning talk-show host. Finneran, 62, who has been doing morning drive for the past five years, will broadcast his last show on WRKO 680 this coming Thursday morning(5:30am-9am) it was announced earlier this morning. Full text of WRKO's press release can be found here.

When Finneran first joined WRKO in February 2007, his show was dubbed 'Finneran's Forum' with various guest co-hosts. In January 2009, the show reconfigured into "Tom and Todd" as Todd Feinburg came on board as a fulltime co-host(BRW 1/5/09). Feinburg is now expected to host solo but maybe not for long according to a published report.

WBZ's Lovell Dyett dead at 77

WBZ 1030 is reporting today the death of its longtime talkshow host Lovell Dyett at the age of 77. He suffered from kidney failure and passed away at a long-term care facility in Melrose. 
Dyett has been with the station since 1971. He was Boston’s premiere black broadcaster, hosting talk shows on radio and television over the years. When his weekend WBZ show was eliminated as part of budget cuts in early 2009, the public outcry forced WBZ's management to reinstate it. 

More on Dyett's life and career is on WBZ's website.

BRW Notebook:

Adding up the numbers :  An update to last update regarding the sale of WFNX 101.7 to Clear Channel. According to last week's FCC filings, the actual price Clear Channel is paying for Phoenix Media's alternative rocker is $14.5 million. The new owners already put down an initial downpayment of $3.6 million with the rest of nearly $11 million due at closing in mid-July.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Terminated Alternative : WFNX 101.7 is sold to radio giant Clear Channel as the pioneer alt-rocker soon to be silenced

Lynn-based WFNX 101.7, one of the best-known alternative-rock music stations in the country has been sold to the largest radio operator in the country for $11 million. WFNX's sale was announced this morning to the station's staff by the teary-eyed Stephen Mindich whose Phoenix Media Communications Group has owned the station for over 29 years. Mindich acquired a hard-rocker WLYN 101.7 for $1.2 million from Puritan Broadcasting in February 1982. A couple months later, he converted it to "Boston's Rock Alternative" and what eventually became one of the pioneer signals in radio industry's alternative rock genre.

WFNX's sale to Clear Channel, which already owns market's Top40 giant WXKS/Kiss 108, Rhythmic Top 40 WJMN/Jamn 94-5, Talk 1200 and Tropical Mia 1430, is contingent upon FCC approval. A format change is planned once Clear Channel takes over the station. A Thank You message posted on WFNX's website states that Phoenix Media will fully retain all of the station's intellectual property which may or may not lead to its rebirth as on-line radio station.

According to the Boston Business Journal report, 17 of the stations' 21 staffers were let go this morning, including midday and Leftover Lunch hostess Julie Kramer and morning newsman Henry Santoro. Program director Paul Driscoll was retained during the transition. Afternoon drive host Adam 12 tweeted that tomorrow (5/17) would be his farewell show at the station from 2pm to 7pm. Also, station's program director Paul Driscoll announced during afternoon drive that Julie Kramer would be doing her final show from 10am to 2pm on Friday(5/18).

The iconic WFNX was truly one of The Last of the Mohicans. Not only was it independently owned and operated, but the station has been battling to survive as the growing list of alternative and modern rock stations around the country succumbed to a declining younger music listeners' base and sharply falling revenues amid the continued onslaught of the digital listening devices and smartphones. 

Among those modern rock players who had disappeared in recent years was, of course, Boston's own WBCN 104.1FM as it made room for new sports FM talker the SportsHub in August 2009(BRW 8/7/09). While NY Times had technically declared the alt-rock format dead and buried back in 2005, Boston's WFNX and its parent company continued on the fight to survive. WFNX even increased its transmitting power from 3,000 to 6,000 watts in April 2006 as it moved its antenna from Medford to the top of One Financial Center in downtown Boston.

Looking back now, in many respects the formula that had brought WFNX its success also brought it down today. When WFNX first came on the scene in the early 80's, the alternative rock genre absolutely exploded. The success of WFNX probably peaked somewhere in the mid 90's as other much bigger signals like WBCN and WAAF started to pay attention and copy the music by playing a lot of the same top artists. WFNX's market share eventually got plucked away by the big players so by the time 1996 rolled around WFNX was resorting to short-lived programming gimmicks like Radio Anarchy and, of course, its revolving door of program directors, morning drive shows and afternoon drive hosts.

To its credit, in recent years, WFNX and Phoenix Media battled back,  tried to stay afloat and continue the fight with its core of radio personalities -  veterans Henry Santoro(morning news man) and middayer Julie Kramer, afernooner Adam 12 who arrived shortly after WBCN bit the dust and program director Paul Driscoll.

Let's face it, the end of WFNX wasn't entirely unexpected. Actually,over the years many constantly wondered why it was taking so long. With that in mind, there are some truisms in radio. Stations come and stations go, but somewhere the spirit lives on.

So long, 'FNX.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

River installs Phipps as its music director 

WXRV/River 92.5 has appointed local veteran broadcaster Matt Phipps to Music Director position and officially named him as  full-time afternoon drive host (3-7pm). As mentioned in this space first, Phipps has been working afternoon drive at the River since the late winter(BRW 3/16). He has a a radio and TV background that includes work at Metro Networks as assistant director of operations and morning traffic host on Channel 7's local news shows. He spent five years in mornings at WBOS 92.9 as co-host in the late 90's. During his WBOS tenure, he also produced a Sunday morning show called "The WBOS New Music File".

In the afternoon drive at 92.5, Phipps officially replaces Bob Stuart who retired last June. The River has also been without a full-time music director since early January when music director/program director Catie Wilber left the station(BRW 1/3). Phipps will now focus on River's music selection while Denver-based radio consultant Mike Henry will continue to oversee the programming.

BRW Notebook :

Remembering Carl Beane :
 Boston Red Sox public address announcer Carl Beane, the voice of Fenway Park, whose booming baritone called ballplayers to the plate for two World Series champions, died Wednesday after suffering a heart attack while driving in Sturbridge. Beane, 59, had been a freelance radio sports reporter for more than three decades, producing live in-game updates and postgame wraps on the Boston sports scene for numerous outlets including WBZ 1030, Westwood One,  Metro Networks, Sirius Satellite and ESPN Radio before landing his dream Fenway Park gig in 2003. In addition to his freelance work, he had worked at stations in Springfield, Pittsfield, Ware and Southbridge.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

WBCN relaunches...in HD

Just in...As mentioned in NY Times and Boston Globe articles from a couple weeks ago, CBS Radio is relaunching its HD station 'WBCN Free Form Rock' starting tomorrow(5/2) with a 11am-4pm live remote broadcast in front of its old studio location at 1265 Boylston Street. The digital radio station currently has 3 live on-air staffers - the original WBCN's first program director and current WBCN Free Form Rock's program director Sam Kopper, DJ Destiny Curtis and Carolyn Fox. If you have an HD Radio receiver, you can currently listen to WBCN Free Form Rock on WZLX 100.7 HD3 sub-channel, on-line at www.wbcn.com or on your smartphone or Iphone. 

Here is the official press release from CBS Radio Boston :

WBCN Free Form Rock’s Inaugural Remote Broadcast
TOMORROW Thursday, May 3 at 11AM-4PM
Entitled “LIVE From 1265”

Boston, MA – Wednesday, May 2, 2012 -  WBCN Free Form Rock, CBS Radio Boston’s HD and online streaming rock radio station with the music and programming format of the legendary WBCN, launches its inaugural LIVE remote broadcast tomorrow morning, Thursday, May 3 from 11AM to 4PM!  WBCN Free Form Rock’s inaugural remote program is entitled “Live from 1265” and will be broadcast live from a new mobile unit stationed directly in front of 1265 Boylston Street, the twenty-five year home of WBCN, now the address of Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar.   WBCN Free Form Rock can be heard anytime on HD radio at 100.7-HD3, streaming online at www.WBCN.com, or on the free Radio.com App for iPhone, iPad, and Android phones!
The host of the five hour remote “Live from 1265” broadcast, Sam Kopper, was WBCN’s first program director and morning show DJ in 1968.  Throughout “Live from 1265” he will be joined by co-hosts including WBCN Free Form Rock DJ Destiny Curtis as well as long-time ‘BCN DJs Charles Laquidara via telephone from Maui, Hawaii, Albert O, Shred, Lisa Traxler, Tank, and sister-station WZLX’s Annegelle Wood, and Carter Alan.  Also part of the show will be long-time close musician-friends of ‘BCN’s including Mike Gerard of The Fools, and young local musicians Mellow Bravo and Parlor Bells will perform on the air live from the remote at 1265 Boylston Street .

“We are thrilled to be launching live remote broadcasts on WBCN Free Form Rock because we are connecting directly with listeners and taking it to the streets,” said Kopper.  “We’re excited to bring the radio basics of ‘BCN into the 21st century with HD radio.  Like we did in the late 60s through the late 80s, we are musically very broad playing older rock classics as well as a great deal of new music and support the new Boston music scene and young artists.”

Having grown up in Boston listening to WBCN, it's an honor for me to connect what is now the home of Jerry Remy's Sports Bar to WBCN,” said Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar manager Don Bailey.  “We are following in the footsteps of WBCN in becoming a Boston institution at 1265 Boylston.”

The WBCN Free Form Rock mobile unit being used for “Live from 1265” is a very bright green, converted school bus named “Gypsy Dancer.”  Kopper named the mobile unit after an early 70’s Joni Mitchell song, “A Little Green,” in which Mitchell sings of a young free-spirited hippie girl: ‘…she’s just a gypsy dancer.”  “Gypsy Dancer” has taken a full year to convert to a broadcast facility, and the vehicle has been improved to be energy efficient.  The vehicle runs on bio-diesel fuel provided by Mass BioFuel of Dedham, has low wattage LED lighting, and will soon sport photo-voltaic solar panels on the roof.

Don’t miss WBCN Free Form Rock’s first-of-many live remote broadcasts, entitled “Live from 1265” tomorrow morning, Thursday, May 3 from 11AM to 4PM on HD radio at 100.7-HD3, online at www.WBCN.com, or on the free Radio.com App for iPhone, iPad, and Android phones!

Breakfast for two : Boston radio vet Laurenti joins Karen Blake for the wake-up show at WODS 103.3

CBS Radio Boston’s classic hits station WODS 103.3 today announced the addition of Boston native John Laurenti to its on-air line-up. Laurenti, who has been in the Boston radio market for 26 years, will co-host Morning Drive weekdays from 5:30am–9:00am on 103.3 WODS with Karen Blake on the new morning program “The New Breakfast Club with John & Karen,” it was announced by Brian Thomas, Vice President of Programming for CBS Radio’s Classic Hits Format and interim Program Director for WODS 103.3. The appointment is effective this Thursday, May 3, 2012.

Laurenti has spent the past three years as the music director at Boston ’s NPR music station, WUMB 91.9. Prior to that, he had a successful run on WZLX 100.7 as part of three popular morning shows. At WZLX, he also hosted a locally produced "Breakfast with the Beatles" show on Saturday mornings for almost a decade. He moved to Greater Media's WBOS 92.9 to host afternoons in September 2005 and was there until early 2008 when the station changed formats and let go of its entire airstaff. Laurenti’s professional experience also includes afternoon drive co-host and music director at WHJY 94.1 in Providence.

Another Boston radio vet, Karen Blake, has been working mornings at WODS since late September 2008(BRW 9/19/08).

BRW Notebook :

Adding Salt to the mix : Some morning changes at WODS' sister stations WBMX/Mix 104.1 where Ryan "Salt" McMillan has been added as a sidekick to "Karson and Kennedy" as of this week.

Honor roll : Speaking of Mix 104.1, its longtime music director Mike Mullaney was named Best Music Director/Asst. Program Director in the country at the Worldwide Radio Summit held in LA this past weekend. Industry event was sponsored by on-line trade publication AllAccess.com.

Back by popular demand : The stations that have their big spring and summer concert events planned - WBOS 92.9 has its 19th annual free Earth Fest at the Hatch Shell on Saturday, May 19th. Spin Doctors, Third Eye Blind, Eve 6 and Switchfoot are on the bill this year...On the same date(May 19th), Kiss 108 is having its annual all-day Kiss Concert at the Comcast Center in Mansfield. Top acts include Adam Lambert, Flo Rida, JoJo and Enrique Iglesias. More info and tickets are here.  Two Saturdays later(June 2nd) at the same venue, sister station Jamn 94-5 will unroll its 2012 edition of Summer Jam with Rick Ross, B.o.B and Big Sean. Ticket info is here...Back to the free side of the dial, WODS 103.3 has lined up 3 Saturday night dates at the Hatch Shell for its annual Free Summer Concert Series. Details are here.