Those Wacky Rooneys!

While daddy Andy Rooney successfully slides right through a racism flap that would have sunk many other broadcasters, daughter Emily sure has a lot to say about Boston area talk radio and Don Imus.

In a new interview with Boston Magazine, Emily Rooney denounces Howie Carr, accusing him of “viciousness”. At the same time, she has nothing but kind words for Don Imus, who is being replaced by Carr at Boston’s WTKK-FM:

Howie Carr seems finally headed to WTKK, filling Don Imus’s time slot. Is that good for the station?

Emily Rooney: It may be. I’m not a big fan of Howie Carr. I was a fan of Don Imus. I like Jay Severin. I like Michael Graham. I don’t think any of those guys, in their hearts, are mean-spirited. I think Howie is. I think his viciousness is genuine.

(WTKK Host) Jim Braude: Full disclosure: Margery and I wanted the job so badly. When our bosses told us [that they hired Carr], my response was “You know how much we wanted it.” But if I were them, I probably would have hired him, too. Not because I’m convinced he will do better than we would have, because I would argue that we’re better for morning radio than he may be. However, it’s the end of WRKO [Carr’s previous station]; it’s great for Jay Severin, because there’s no competition now. And it ends the career of the least-talented talk-show host in American history, Tom Finneran.

Rooney: The question is, what does it do for ’TKK in the morning? Because is that where I’m going to go? I was an Imus junkie.

Braude: Well, so was I. A huge fan.

Rooney: For a lot of reasons. I really enjoyed the repartee, and I enjoyed the interviews. I liked the whole shtick.

But doesn’t Carr bring a built-in audience with him?

Rooney: What built-in audience? They’re not going to be up at 6 in the morning.

Isn’t that funny: Emily Rooney loves Don Imus, another liberal with racist tendencies, just like her father.

Think that’s a coincidence? Guess again: her father was a regular on the I-Man’s now-cancelled program. Find examples here, here, here and here.

As for Carr’s audience finding him in the early morning hours, I agree that it could be tough for the first few months. But to suggest that his listeners don’t get up early to go to work is just plain silly.

More than anything, Emily Rooney comes across as a sorehead simply because her daddy lost one of his key outlets for interview opportunities.

WTKK Using Howie’s Name In Solicitations

WTKK clearly isn’t waiting until Howie Carr’s theoretical October 1 start date to tout him as one of their own, at least privately.

In fact, the station has already begun to describe itself as “96.9 FM Talk, the home of Jay Severin and Howie Carr” in solicitations to potential advertisers. At least one was sent at the beginning of this week.

Note to local stations: you might be surprised at how many area talk radio advertisers read SaveWRKO!

Given that Severin’s real name is “Vay-Cay Jay” and Howie’s entrance depends on a court victory, this seems a bit of a stretch, doesn’t it?

WTKK F-Bomb This Morning?

Memo to WRKO: want to bring down the competition? Simply call their shows and let the F-Bombs fly! Apparently they’ve never heard of the magic “dump” button.

One listener claims he heard this during one of WTKK’s morning shows today. Click here for the discussion.

Living In Two Different Worlds

That’s the best way to describe Entercom and Greater Media right now. Both companies believe Howie Carr will be working at their respective offices for years to come. Which firm is playing with a full deck?

From a local media insider:

At WTKK, they’re outfitting custom offices for Howie, while the story at WRKO still has him as an Entercom employee for years to come!

Land O’ Leaks

What motivates inside leaks to the news media? That’s always a good question, but it doesn’t take much thought to realize that some level of self-interest must be involved.

Take Wednesday’s Boston Herald report spelling out the terms of Howie’s new WTKK deal: all of the key details were revealed to the public. Somebody had a reason for tipping off the Herald, so which side did it?

Was it Entercom, who thought they could make it clear Howie wasn’t leaving for a better compensation package (since this one appears to result in a substantial pay cut)? If they can prove that point in the court of public opinion, perhaps they’ll succeed on that key contention in a court of law.

Was it Howie himself, who somehow thought revealing the details would work in his favor? This only makes sense if Carr believes he will easily meet the ratings targets spelled out in the deal, thus bringing about a salary that matches his current WRKO take. As I pointed out yesterday, it won’t be as easy as it seems, at least for the first year.

How about Greater Media, which has been oddly quiet throughout this entire flap? What might they have to gain from leaking his contractual terms? Perhaps a perception that Howie’s joining WTKK and there’s nothing Entercom can do to stop him. If I were coaching this team, I’d tell them to do anything necessary to create that perception.

Where’s The Big Money?

As media insiders and others wonder why his new base salary looks so relatively low, reactions to the details of Howie Carr’s pay package are quite interesting.

To some, it seems clearer than ever that Carr wants nothing more than to escape Entercom’s miserable work environment. From one surprised media veteran:

Howie is taking a big pay cut to go to WTKK.

Bonuses or not, that is a huge cut, and there’s no certainty about what, if any, bonuses he’ll get. That’s how badly he wants to get out of there. Money walks, bulls–t walks, but this is personal as well as professional.

The Real Story: Severino’s Wildly Overpaid

After taking a look at the specifics of Howie Carr’s new WTKK deal, it quickly becomes clear that Jay Severin is wildly overpaid.

First, from Jessica Heslam’s Boston Herald story, here again are the details of Carr’s deal:

As WTKK’s new morning-drive man, Carr would earn a base salary of $450,000 the first year; $500,000 the second year; $550,000 the third year; $600,000 the fourth year; and $650,000 the fifth year, according to WTKK’s offer of employment.

But the real money kicks in if Carr hits his performance bonuses.

At the Greater Media-owned WTKK, Carr could get a $200,000 ratings bonus four times a year – one for each ratings period – should his show grab the No. 1 spot among 25 to 54-year-old listeners, the key demographic eyed by advertisers.

Second place would earn Carr $150,000; third place $100,000; fourth place $80,000; fifth place $70,000; sixth place $60,000; seventh place $50,000; and eighth place $30,000.

Carr gets a $25,000 “premium” if he earns a bonus during the spring or fall Рthe two most important ratings periods.

If Carr ranks No. 1 during every ratings book, he could earn as much as $7 million over five years.

Think about it: Carr will make $450,000 against Severino’s $1m base salary in the coming year, even though morning drive is far more important than afternoons in terms of ad revenue. With many high-profile years as a columnist and WRKO host, Howie has substantially greater regional name recognition.

Finally, though Jay did beat his WRKO archrival before his ill-fated attempt at national syndication, that hasn’t happened since his local return last year.

Another thing: if this represents a better deal than WRKO’s, Entercom was probably underpaying Carr as compared to others in the market, especially considering the huge wad of dough thrown at ratings loser Tom Finneran.

As for meeting the bonus targets, Greater Media holds all the cards, at least for the first year. That’s because it will take Arbitron diarykeepers a few months to properly note the change in their listening habits.

In addition, as Howie ages, so will his core audience, right out of the 25-54 demographic. And since Carr was not taking first place there previously, it’s hard to see what would cause that to happen now.

In Howie’s favor: talk radio is rapidly migrating to the FM band, where younger listeners reside.