Honors, Both Dubious And Well-Deserved

Nothing gets SaveWRKO readers worked up more than seeing some of our favorite execs winning awards for their hard “work” taking a wrecking ball to local radio. In today’s news, we’ve got a couple of especially bizarre examples, plus some bona fide, well-deserved honors.

With the most encouraging developments first, here they are:

— First, a big round of applause for Maine’s conservative talk radio powerhouse WGAN 560 AM after its huge ratings victory in the Portland market. In newly-released Fall 2008 Arbitron Survey figures, WGAN gained three full points to finish in first place with a huge 9.3 overall share of the audience.

WGAN’s conservative lineup includes Rush Limbaugh, Howie Carr, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and others.

Elsewhere, featuring an almost identical lineup, Cape Cod’s WXTK-FM also retained first place in the Cape book with a 10.4 share, while Worcester’s WTAG took fourth there with 5.5.

Given the near-certain surge in listeners thanks to the Obamists, one can only imagine how much higher this can go! Though we don’t yet have those figures, if the rapidly-increasing number of visitors to The Radio Equalizer since Inauguration Day is any indication, these are truly salad days for the medium.

— Meanwhile, in the dubious category is our longtime friend The Empress (above image), who’s been honored by some of her downtown pals:

ENTERCOM NEW ENGLAND’S JULIE KAHN RECEIVES 2009 PINNACLE AWARD

Kahn one of eight women honored by Boston Chamber of Commerce today for achievements in business and management

Boston, Mass. (January 29, 2008) – The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce today honored the winners of its 2009 Pinnacle Awards.

This year’s honorees were recognized for their accomplishments in the following categories:

Achievement in Management, Private Sector: Julie Kahn, Vice President/New England Market Manager, Entercom New England.

As the driving force behind WEEI, America’s most listened-to sports radio station, Julie has paved the way for women in sports radio. She has built a broadcast empire that spans New England – syndicating Boston sports across nine radio stations in four states – and is expanding on the web. Julie and her team also have an extraordinary impact on the community – raising over $20 million for charities such as the Jimmy Fund.

Of course, there’s no mention of hiring felons, accused child rapists and presiding over the near-complete destruction of what was once a hugely-successful radio cluster. Further, the manager most responsible for WEEI’s success now works for the competition!

As one local radio insider notes, “so, let me get this straight: while WRKO sinks into the ocean faster then a torpedoed battleship, the captain gets an award? What a joke!”

— It doesn’t stop there, however: rival Greater Media’s CEO has also picked up his own “honor”, according to All Access, a broadcast trade publication:

Peter Smyth To Receive ‘Golden Mike’ Award

The BROADCASTERS FOUNDATION OF AMERICA’s Golden Mike benefit is being held FEBRUARY 23rd at the WALDORF ASTORIA, reports BROADCASTINGCALE.COM, and a golden throat is taking the mic as a headliner for the event, singer MELBA MOORE.

Writer and MSNBC political analyst MIKE BARNICLE will emcee the event.

This year’s Golden Mike award goes to PETER SMYTH, Chairman of GREATER MEDIA, and to the BORDES family. The foundation calls GREATER MEDIA “one of the last remaining great family-owned broadcasting companies.”

Past winners include ANNE SWEENEY of DISNEY-ABC and former NBCU Chairman BOB WRIGHT.

The foundation raises money to help broadcasters who have fallen on hard times, a cause the current economy and news of almost daily layoffs across all industries brings into even sharper focus.

Aside from the inclusion of disgusting plagiarist Mike Barnicle in the ceremony, I don’t have any real objection to Smyth winning an award. The timing, however, is certainly amusing: it comes the same day as news of significant layoffs at Greater Media’s Boston cluster, which hit the firm’s music stations especially hard.

In addition, WTKK’s lineup is still a muddled mess and Greater’s takeover of WBT/ Charlotte has not been smooth. But why quibble over minor points?

What A Week- And It Ain’t Over Yet

All week, I’ve been struggling to keep up with a non-stop news cycle that’s had talk radio making front page headlines. What time I’ve had for this site has sadly been wasted policing the comments section.

Some thoughts:

— This week, Rush Limbaugh has been elevated to a level far above that of a talk show host, as he’s now serving as America’s de facto opposition leader. The medium’s significance has grown with his popularity.

Not happy about that? Then take your complaints to Barack Obama, who picked a fight with El Rushbo, or to the GOP, where real leadership is in short supply these days.

Pity the major-market talk station that doesn’t carry his program; it’s about to break through new ratings barriers for this still-growing format.

— How can a company that no longer seems to employ more than a handful of people institute a “wage freeze”? WRKO-WEEI owner Entercom’s move does little more than rearrange the Titanic’s deck chairs. I’d be surprised to see it survive 2009.

— Beyond listener complaints and the low quality of out-of-market programming piped into one of America’s largest news/talk stations, WBZ radio management had another incentive to bring back overnight talk: their own hides. A station running on autopilot doesn’t need much local oversight.

— As an alternative to Entercom’s evil ways, I would love to root for rival Greater Media, which runs WTKK in Boston. But they rarely give me a reason to do so.

The latest: the mess in Charlotte, where their takeover of market leader WBT has been a fiasco. After firing afternoon host Jeff Katz (formerly of WRKO), new ratings show he was up strongly in his final survey period.

Sadly, talk radio remains baffling to Greater Media’s suits, but no one has the guts to admit it.

— Today’s Boston Herald coverage of Deval Patrick’s tax hike binge is fantastic, the image they’ve created for the occasion (shown above) is hilarious.

Ready For Radio Sal?

If only it were a joke, we could laugh about corrupt Massachusetts House Speaker Sal DiMasi (D as in Democrat– Cheese & Cannoli Town) and his near-certain upcoming talk radio gig.

But as the North End kingpin prepares to resign over his shady dealings, the joke’s on us. With yet another crooked Beacon Hill Democrat on the way out, voters still have an unhealthy love affair with his party and we’re all worse off as a result.

DiMasi’s modus operandi was simple: while lining one’s own pockets and rewarding pals, keep just enough of a left-wing base happy via goofy moonbat legislation in order to ensure continued political power. Seemingly copied by other corruptocrats elsewhere, that scheme worked well for a number of years.

And thanks to our weak, ineffectual Obama clone in the governor’s office, Sal has served as the Bay State’s de facto leader since 2007.

Eventually, however, the temptation to push one’s luck overcomes common sense and that’s where DiMasi finds himself today. After a period of rapid spending growth in the face of economic doldrums, he leaves behind a Commonwealth in a sad state of affairs.

Beyond the damage his crooked antics and warped political policies have caused here in Massachusetts, the sad reality is that he probably will be courted by one or more of our local talk radio stations and perhaps a newspaper or cable channel as well.

Thanks to The Felon on WRKO, The Other Felon in Providence and the accused child rapist (ex-WRKO) now hosting pretend talk shows behind bars at Rikers Island, the medium’s reputation locally has been tarnished. Other than to sabotage their own operations, I have no idea why local radio suits want any of these creeps.

Instead of moral convictions, these guys have felony convictions, or will soon enough. And yet, on the air, they don’t add entertainment value or generate ratings. It’s just amazingly crappy radio.

But WRKO’s resident non-felon (he got in the door before criminal activity became a job requirement) Howie Carr has already beaten me to this. From Monday’s Boston Herald:

Welcome to talk radio, Sal DiMasi.

I know, you haven’t officially resigned as speaker yet, but after Felons Flaherty and Finneran, we all know the drill. Where else can a shady House speaker driven from office in scandal hope to work?

Our radio station policy is, “If you’re indicted you’re invited.” Or, at the very least, a new host is required to have a fugitive warrant out on him, preferably for some really dastardly crime.

For you Sal, we make an exception. Your transactions have been so, well, innovative. Not our employees’ usual run-of-the-mill felonies – perjury, motor vehicle homicide while drunk, etc.

No, Sal, you have an, ahem, accountant. This accountant, an unregistered lobbyist, gives you a third mortgage on your condo – even Honest John Rogers never thought of that one! Then the accountant paid off the legal bills of your liquor-store-owning in-laws.

Wow! Nobody will ever pick up on that one, Sal.

But now the cops have the State House surrounded yet again. So come out with your hands up, Sal, and welcome to the exciting world of Boston talk radio, where it doesn’t matter how rotten your ratings are, you’ll still get paid big bucks. At least if you’re a disgraced, corrupt pol.

First we’ll need some publicity photos. Head-on and profile – it’ll be good practice for later, if you know what I mean. Then you’ll be needing a producer. Almost all of ours have been laid off. May I suggest a dear friend and client of yours: Vinny “the Animal” Ferrara. Is he in or out right now? I can never keep it straight.

So, will there be a bidding war? Will he generate the same one share achieved by the other crooks? When does he start? We’ll await word from DiMasi’s agent.

DiMasi image: Lisa Hornak, Boston Herald

Item Overload!

Boy, is there a lot going on, just keeping up can be overwhelming. Let’s throw a few items against the wall and see what sticks:

— Has anyone in politics ever self-destructed as quickly and thoroughly as Caroline Kennedy? I’d feel sorry for her, but for some reason I just don’t. Her quasi-campaign was one mistake after another and she’s gone from being well-liked to strongly disliked in a stunningly brief period of time.

Using Ted’s illness as an excuse when she actually had tax troubles was especially troubling, even for a Kennedy.

— It seems interesting that Curt Schilling has decided to return to the public eye, even if it is sports talker WEEI. With at least one US Senate opening sometime in the next few years a near certainty here, is there any chance he might give it a go after all?

— Are the Obamists really foolish enough to believe their Messiah won’t conveniently find a way to keep Gitmo open? He’s bought himself a year, that placates the left at least for now.

— Did the massive Clear Channel layoffs hit New England less severely than elsewhere? It’s either that, or local stations did a better job keeping a lid on the news. There were some cuts in Providence, however.

Overall, it appeared that the news/talk format might have been hit a bit less than the music formats. Either way, it was brutal for the radio industry.

— Beyond propping up Democrats, is there any point to the Boston Globe these days? Their silly obsession with the flubbed oath of office, as though it was a right-wing plot, is petty and juvenile.

Schilling image: Boston Herald

What Did We Do To Deserve The Kennedys?

Does ANYONE believe that Caroline is dropping out of the US Senate race in New York because of concerns for her uncle’s health? Does that seem plausible?

She’s out because Governor Paterson badly needs to get Andrew Cuomo out of his Dem gubernatorial primary and this is the only way (short of sending in the Gotti family) to accomplish that.

But wait, there’s more! Now, the AP is reporting that her hat is still in the ring. So which is it?

Either way, the process has turned into a sad joke. It’s exactly why I’m not looking forward to the day we’ll be forced to deal with it here in Massachusetts.

And Now For Something Completely Different

Now that the lavish parties are over and the crowds have gone back to San Francisco, Cambridge and Madison, can the Obamist media get back to business? Or, at the very least, could they remain consistent on the Barack front with what was reported just days earlier?

Here’s a mix of stories that deserve comment:

— We’re told there was “an outpouring of joy in the Hub” yesterday. But here’s an inconvenient truth: Hillary Clinton trounced Obama in the Massachusetts Dem primary. Obama’s regime got even by giving the state party just two tickets for the inaugural.

So with the hoopla over, here’s the big question: how deep is Obama’s support here? And how long did Deval Patrick’s honeymoon last? A day?

— While I’ve never been a Kennedy fan, a few months ago I said here that I hoped Teddy would stick around so we don’t end up with someone far worse (a dozen names come to mind, at least).

Today, this is even more important: do we really need to deal with New York / Illinois-style hassles over Senate seats? Who needs it?

But with another public Ted K health scare, one gets the feeling the inevitable could be drawing nearer.

— Wall Street hasn’t joined the cult: it was the worst inaugural day for stocks in American history. They were clocked.

— Diane Patrick, of all people, believes Michelle Obama will “stay strong” under fire. But how has Deval’s style-over-substance tenure worked out? It wins elections, but is ineffective in governance. Obama’s free ride will soon be over and hot-headed Michelle will need to keep cool. Right now, the fixation is on her dress. What happens when she takes an unpopular position?

— As State Street shares fell 60% in one day on billions in unexpected losses, Boston was hit by an economic earthquake Tuesday.

— And saving the best for last, WRKO’s Tom Finneran, AKA The Felon, failed to convince President Bush he was deserving of a pardon. Hey Tommy, why don’t you ask Obama? If he’s such a great guy, why won’t he help you?