Neutered Jay Severin To Return To Troubled WTKK

After weeks with an outdated message regarding Jay Severin’s suspension, troubled WTKK has finally updated its website to announce this:

On Tuesday June 2nd, at 3 p.m., Jay Severin will return to the weekday afternoon timeslot on Boston’s Talk Evolution 96.9 FM-WTKK. Jay regrets the remarks for which he was suspended and understands that his comments were indeed wrong and hurtful to the Mexican and Mexican-American communities.

Accordingly, we feel it is time to end Jay’s suspension and welcome him back to WTKK. All of our hosts have strong opinions and talk radio is a format for open and spirited debate about the many issues we face in Boston, New England, our nation and our world.

There will no doubt be times when you disagree with Jay – and our other hosts too – but our ultimate goal is to maintain a level of conversation that is entertaining, compelling, and thought-provoking, yet civil and respectful. While we will not always succeed in walking this line, we will continually strive to do so.

We hope you’ll experience what Jay has to say this Tuesday and every weekday from 3 to 7 p.m.

Many thanks for listening to Boston’s Talk Evolution 96.9 FM-WTKK.

Warm regards,

WTKK Management

Anyone care to translate this into what they really mean to say?

The Boston Herald has full coverage here.

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Severin: Not Quite Forgotten

Considering the brutal media climate that exists today, Jay Severin’s disappearing act is all the more puzzling: wouldn’t he fight to keep his job?

The answer is that by remaining quiet, Severin hopes to preserve his gig, hoping the negotiations will succeed behind the scenes.

But there’s one serious side effect: with each passing day, listeners forget a bit more and are introduced to any number of potential replacements.

Clearly, WTKK owner Greater Media has introduced a scare tactic or two into the mix, one being the potential addition of syndicated wishy-washy Philly weirdo Michael Smerconish. He may not be very good, but can be added without cost, while Jay’s return will require big money, even with a substantial pay cut.

On WGBH’s Beat The Press, panelists spent a portion of yesterday’s show discussing his fate. While it’s always humorous to get the establishment elitist’s perspective on commercial talk radio (calling Obama a “socialist” is apparently seen as extreme, for example, even as he effectively nationalizes auto manufacturers and banks), they did have a few interesting points.

Host Emily Rooney said she believed there were serious negotiations for his return underway, with a string of potential conditions attached, including a possible change in compensation, an end to home broadcasts, managerial oversight of his content and the kitchen sink thrown in for good measure.

Clearly, Greater Media is dropping hints as to its next move, but has picked a strange venue to do this.

In other words, a host who is generally boring except for occasional spurts of inflammatory language would be neutered. Welcome to the Jay Severin snoozefest! How will that fare under the people meter?

During the segment, one particularly interesting tidbit was the bizarre idea that Severin’s insults and slurs had actually chased away WTKK listeners, leading to the listenership drop. The introduction of electronic ratings has hurt the station badly across the board.

As its overall lineup, marketing and imaging remain a muddled mess, Jay talking about Mexicans and condos is NOT a factor. If this isn’t clear to every manager inside the company, it’s time for heads to roll.

But WGBH panelist Dan Kennedy’s point is correct: despite hosting a local show, Severin has mostly avoided local issues.

At the end of the day, Severin just isn’t all that entertaining, while WTKK absolutely doesn’t have a Plan B. Returning him at perhaps one-third of his current salary or less is probably an agreeable compromise.

And all of this has worked to confuse the real issue: Greater Media probably can’t afford his salary and may not want to say so for reasons related to Jay’s contract language.

Even Margery Gets It: It’s Time To Revolt

Clearly, Massachusetts Corruptocrats have learned nothing from California’s overwhelming rejection of tax-and-spend initiatives Tuesday. The attempt by Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Democratic-controlled legislature to shove this bloated excess down their throats failed uniformly across the state.

As the Golden State’s results and impact is felt across the country, this tidbit from the San Francisco Chronicle’s analysis stands out:

Focus groups run by the “yes” campaigns were so uniformly negative that consultants thought there was a problem with the groups.

“We moved to different cities and tried different questions, but we got to the same place with every group,” said Gale Kaufman, a consultant for education groups supporting the ballot measures. “People sent a very simple message: ‘It’s not our job.’ ”

Even before the election, focus groups were sending a clear message to Sacramento: after a wild spending spree, you created this mess. Now that it has become unmanageable, you want us to fix it?

In the Bay State, the key difference is that politicians aren’t inclined to place anything on the ballot when they can simply sneak in big tax hikes during a late-night session.

But the public anger is the same: anyone assuming Massachusetts taxpayers are going to roll over and play dead (like they usually do) may be proven wrong this time.

In today’s Herald, even WTKK’s Margery Eagan gets it, to the point where she’s quoting Howie Carr in her column. An excerpt:

The Tax Stealers – aka, our legislators – just did again what they do best: Tell us taxpayers to drop dead.

And we taxpayers just did what we do best: play dead.

Reform before revenue! That’s been Senate President Terry Murray’s mantra.

Guess that’s gone by the boards.

Several dutiful taxpayers told me yesterday they’re doing all they can to fight back: e-mailing and calling to harass The Stealers.

Either The Stealers ask for lots of personal information before responding, or they don’t respond. Or they send a form letter answering nothing. Or they do call back, and lie.

But there are signs that taxpayers are ready for all-out revolt. From Hillary Chabot in today’s Herald:

Outraged small businesses and tax watchdogs promised yesterday they’ll be heard on the hikes, be it at a rally planned for the State House steps today or at the voting booth in November.

“It’s completely out of control,” said Barbara Anderson, executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. “The only thing they care about is not getting re-elected. We have to throw them out.”

Corie Whalen, who organized the conservative anti-tax Tea Party in Boston last month, invited anti-tax citizens to gather at the State House starting at 11 a.m. today.

“They’re misleading people when they act like necessary cuts have to be made when they haven’t worked to clear up real waste,” Whalen said.

Jeff Golden, a buyer at Downtown Wine & Spirits in Somerville, said the vote to remove the sales tax exemption from liquor at package stores means many smaller shops would close their doors.

“It’s frustrating for a smaller place. We’re operating on the margins already,” said Golden. “We’re going to have a hard time convincing people to come here when they can get it for less in New Hampshire.”

In the end, it’s not enough to simply write columns about unfair tax increases. How about using that microphone? It’s right there in front of you.

First task: removing Therese Murray from office.

Time to raise some hell.

Arnold image: KCBS

Target: Therese Murray

*** UPDATE BELOW ***

With the Massachusetts Senate passing the New Hampshire Economic Recovery Act of 2009 tonight, talk radio has been handed an exceptionally effective weapon to use against Beacon Hill Corruptocrats for years to come.

It’s not just the fact that a huge sales tax increase was passed by Democrats without a serious effort to cut wasteful spending (not the draconian local aid scare tactics we’ve recently seen), but that the public has completely been left out of the equation.

Our crooked legislature has simply shut out taxpaying voters, assuming they will all be safely re-elected next year.

Talk radio has an opportunity to grab the bull by the horns and show that it can be an effective force. And the first place to start is with hotheaded malcontent Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth), who had an opportunity to stop this madness but instead chose to ram a 25% tax increase down our throats.

While Murray’s district does feature a few moonbat areas, it also includes some of the most conservative towns in Massachusetts. Murray hasn’t had an opponent recently. It’s time to change that.

Talk radio still has a chance to fight this increase, which is sure to benefit New Hampshire as shoppers will now have a much greater incentive to cross state lines and save big. Governor Patrick’s expected veto will be overridden by Democratic senators, but are there enough in marginal suburban districts that can be persuaded to change their votes?

Effective hosts would name names and single out particular districts. Voters aren’t tuning in to hear about our “hopeless” political system, they are ready for change and are looking for leaders. Who will step up to the plate?

UPDATE: According to the Patriot-Ledger, towns and cities won’t even benefit from the tax hikes, the Senate decided to screw them during a sneaky, last-minute maneuver.

‘Green Shoots’ Wilt: Media Fallout Ahead?

Since early March, we’ve been hearing about “green shoots” of supposed economic recovery almost daily. Just the suggestion of this concept, heavily promoted by the current political regime, has sent many banking and retail stocks up a dot.com bubble-like 300 – 400% in a short period of time.

But the more actual economic data we receive, the less it appears the recovery is real. And several recent stories have me wondering how this will impact our long-suffering local media:

— With a large number of car dealerships in Massachusetts closing, how can this not hurt local newspapers, television and radio? Auto advertising represents an important percentage of revenues in the media business. Does this impact the Globe’s survival prospects?

From the San Francisco Chronicle, take a look at how this is already impacting the badly-hurt Bay Area:

In flush times, television stations are accustomed to 30 to 40 percent profit margins. But the recession is goring even these cash cows with a 14 percent drop in advertising revenue in the first quarter of this year compared to last at Bay Area TV stations, analysts say.

Ad revenue took an even bigger tumble at Bay Area radio stations, with a 27 percent decline during the same period.

The main culprit is the imploding auto industry, which provides from 20 percent to one-third of the advertising revenue for broadcasters. With General Motors and Chrysler announcing plans last week to close 1,900 dealerships during the next year, it will take years for advertising levels to recover at TV and radio outlets. “And when it does return, it will be different,” said Robin Flynn, senior analyst at SNL Kagan, who recently conducted a nationwide study of advertising on radio and TV stations and projected the 14 percent TV decline.

“All advertising-driven media have been hit hard by the recession, not just newspapers,” Flynn said. “So companies are really trying to get creative to make up for that revenue.”

Spot TV ads drop

Broadcasters in top-10 markets like San Francisco are generally still profitable, Flynn said. Outlets in large markets are more dependent on national advertisers, so they’ve taken a bigger hit than broadcasters in smaller markets. In the first quarter of 2009, spot TV advertising by the top 200 Bay Area retailers dropped to an estimated $58 million from $62 million the year before, according to regional TV estimates by TNS Media Intelligence. And Bay Area radio stations – which collectively reach 5.5 million listeners a week – saw advertising revenue decline 27 percent in the first part of the year, according to a regional study by Miller Kaplan Arase Co.

“Never seen it this bad. Never,” said Mickey Luckoff, president and general manager of KGO-AM, who has been at the station more than three decades, much of that time with the news-talk broadcaster on top of the ratings chart. “It’s as close to a depression that I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

— Today, the Boston Herald reports JP Morgan Chase is largely exiting the mortgage market here in Massachusetts. That means they clearly don’t see an impending housing recovery here, or they wouldn’t be leaving New England. They’re voting with their feet.

I’m not sure how much local advertising Chase does here, but as a macroeconomic factor, it’s not encouraging.

What do these deteriorating conditions mean for already-weakened media outlets? How much worse does it get from here?

Westminster Dodge / Dorchester image: Mark Garfinkel, Boston Herald