The Real Issue

Already, the inevitable speculation over The Felon’s fate has begun in the face of devastatingly bad ratings. The numbers are so stunningly pathetic that it really does seem hard to believe Tom Finneran could survive at WRKO.

Unless you’re new to this site, however, it should be clear that Entercom management will not fire His Crookedness. That would mean CEO David Field admitting to a mistake, something that isn’t likely in our lifetime.

Actually, focusing on Finneran’s future is a mistake, as there is a much larger issue facing WRKO: a staff that has come to resent arrogant company management so much that it is cheering the station’s ratings nosedive.

When there’s no support from within, you know an operation’s days are numbered.

Just as a station can’t force people to listen to bad programming, crappy managers can’t compel employees to like them. When WRKO completes its high-profile collapse, that’s the lesson all of us must learn and appreciate.

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Ratings: WRKO Crushed, WTKK Surges

As the race toward mediocrity in Boston talk radio continues, new ratings have seen WRKO crushed to bits while the competition eats its lunch.

For the first time in memory, WTKK has beaten WRKO in the overall 12+ ratings, with the former rising from 2.8 in the fall to 4.1 for the winter. The latter fell from 4.2 to 3.8 during the same time period.

As the Herald reports today, The Felon’s wildly unpopular program has dragged down the station’s all-important morning drive ratings:

WRKO radio host Tom Finneran has been hit with his worst ratings yet – and has failed to attract the throngs of listeners station suits were banking on during his 14 months on the air.

With Finneran manning the morning drive, WRKO-AM (680) lost more than 23,000 key listeners this winter compared to the fall among the revenue-generating 25- to 54-year-old demographic, according to Arbitron ratings released yesterday.

Finneran had a 1.1. share and 35,800 average weekly listeners in that important group of listeners this winter, from Jan. 10 to April 2. The resurrected Don Imus at WTKK-FM (96.9) beat Finneran more than 3-to-1, ranking 10th with a 3.5 share in the key demo.

Finneran debuted on WRKO in February 2007 with much hype but has languished in 15th and 16th place in morning-drive among 25- to 54-year-olds. During winter 2007, he had a 1.6 share in that demo; followed by a 1.9 last spring; a 1.6 last summer and a 2.0 last fall.

While it’s no surprise that Imus is regaining some of his previous base, it’s amazing to see Finneran actually losing many of his few remaining listeners. Might Air America be interested in hiring him?

From Coffee Boy, here’s the quote of the year:

“Tom is working extremely hard and he’ll do what he needs to do to bounce back,” said WRKO program director Jason Wolfe.

Bounce back? To what? There’s no past record of success!

Meanwhile, Jay Severin is winning the afternoon drive war by default, as a demoralized Howie Carr turns in the weakest possible performance allowed by law.

And with Reese “ask me about my bogus bio” Hopkins now in midmornings, the 10am – 3pm daypart has never looked weaker.

Watch here for more analysis. In particular, I’m waiting for more detailed data that breaks out hosts individually, which will provide an even clearer picture of the current situation.

Marjorie’s WRKO Return, Praise For The Felon

This excerpt from today’s Herald piece on Marjorie Clapprood sums up WRKO’s current environment perfectly:

Clapprood recently co-hosted a show with WRKO (680 AM) morning-drive host Tom Finneran and she’s scheduled to go on again today.

“He’s one of the smartest guys that I know,” Clapprood said of the ex-House speaker. “I think he’s finding his voice. I was always much better with a partner than without. A lot of people really don’t want to admit that.”

WRKO is pairing the solo Finneran up with a rotating roster of co-hosts, said Entercom vice president Julie Kahn. Kahn added that the station is “really considering” having Clapprood on “Finneran’s Forum” more frequently.

“She’s a big part of the history and past success of WRKO,” Kahn said. “We’re definitely in conversations with her about coming on board as some sort of contributor.”

So much for the station’s concern about The Felon’s lobbying practice, this makes it clear they’re set with Finneran and his tiny ratings for years to come.

Globie Magazine Rips WTKK

While I agree with a few of the points made here, I’m not sure how I feel about the messenger.

Why won’t the Globies rip apart Entercom stations these days? Is the relationship now that cozy?

Dear WTKK:

You appear to be “Boston’s Talk Evolution.” Or so say your advertising geniuses, anyway. I admit to being confused. Your typical broadcast day, which has you tied for 11th place in the market, according to the last Arbitron book, consists of the following: the renovated Imus Wrinkle Farm in morning drive; a guy named Graham who is working to become a wit and, thus far, has made it only halfway; a pair of apologetic demi-liberals at midday; and Jay Severin, the Sage of Sag Harbor who thinks Hillary Clinton is a communist but is far more concerned about the size of her thighs, still on evening drive.

He’s followed by a woman who sounds like she’s shouting her program off the back porch of a three-decker in Revere. Later at night, you run a recorded program by Laura Ingraham; in other words, it’s a call-in show to which nobody in your audience can call in. Does this make any sense? And even if they could call, how is WTKK different from the festival of sniggering Caucasians over on the AM? If this is the evidence that talk radio is evolving, well, it pretty plainly hasn’t yet developed opposable thumbs. More to the point, though, what is this completely conventional dreck doing on my FM dial?

It’s bad enough that this cheaply produced cheese eliminated AM Top 40. Now, it’s beginning to filter over onto the frequencies through which Iron Butterfly once flitted. FM used to be the place where we all fled to get away from the likes of Bobby Goldsboro. Then it became the place we fled to get away from the likes of Jay Severin. Now there’s no place to hide. Evolution isn’t supposed to be this brutal.

Charles P. Pierce

Jerry Williams Event Coming Up Tuesday

This sounds like a lot of fun:

Hear Elman speak

A free public event marking the 50th anniversary of talk radio in New England and the release of “Burning Up the Air: Jerry Williams, Talk Radio and Life in Between” will be held at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 29, in the dance theater at Boston University’s Fitness and Recreation Center, 915 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215. Parking is available, and free tickets can be redeemed by contacting Barnes & Noble at 617-267-8484. More information on “Burning Up the Air: Jerry Williams, Talk Radio and Life in Between” can be found online at http://www.jerrywilliams.org.

It’s my understanding that Howie Carr will be one of the event’s speakers. The book can still be ordered through Amazon here.