It’s now confirmed: Grace Blazer will be the new program director at WTKK-FM. According to Perry Simon at All Access, she’ll be introduced to staffers this week.
After a long run at the helm of CBS Radio’s WPHT-AM in Philly, Blazer will bring a fresh perspective to WTKK that’s free of any local baggage, something the station badly needs.
As external and (possible) internal pressure to keep things the way they are will be intense, I don’t think her job will be easy. But if she can break some of Boston talk radio’s worst habits, the sky’s the limit.
A few of those weird quirks:
— Sucking-up to the local political establishment, the opposite of what listeners are seeking. This is a very recent (and frankly disturbing) trend, as Boston talkers have traditionally been very successful taking on the bad guys. With one-party rule now in full force, talk radio represents the Commonwealth’s last bastion of opposition.
— Tying the station to the Boston Globe and assuming every columnist there would make a great talk show host. With a rapidly- declining readership and elitist approach, the Globe and talk radio go together like oil and water. Beyond the success of Howie Carr, Herald columnists have fared only marginally better.
— A recent unwillingness to really develop a local topic and run with it. Successful crusades against corruption, mismanagement and waste can bring free publicity to hosts and stations and have worked very well here in the past. But talkers seem afraid to rock the boat these days, instead killing time dealing with national topics that don’t offend Beacon Hill’s power structure.
Philadelphia and Boston are both highly provincial, inward-looking media markets. While that isn’t healthy for either area, it means Blazer will already be familiar with this peculiar quirk.
As moving to Massachusetts creates a nightmare of bureaucratic red tape (try registering cars, making sense of local taxes and permits, buying auto and homeowner’s insurance, etc), she’ll have a crash course in what makes the Bay State so amazingly dysfunctional.
For talk radio, however, it’s one heck of a target-rich environment.