ObamaRadio: Does It Know Where You Live?

Took a look at Obama’s ridiculous seminar calling site and it immediately instructed me to phone Vay Cay Jay’s program. But Vay Cay isn’t actually there, of course, as WTKK’s Lite Talk FM is in drivetime advice mode.

Refreshing the page produced this result:

Here’s my “advice” to Obama: drop this foolish idea before your supporters embarrass themselves.


Boston Ratings: The Scott Brown Effect Lifts All Boats

As we’d anticipated last month, the latest batch of Boston ratings brought a huge surge for local talk stations. As nothing else could explain a January spike, we’re safe in calling it the Scott Brown effect.

Even sad-sack WTKK benefited, which ought to prove instructive to Greater Media’s generally-clueless regime, but probably won’t.

A brief rundown:

— WBZ-AM moved up to 5.9 share of overall (6 and older) audience from 5.7. Good for second place. Dan Rea’s now-infamous interview with Martha Coakley (Schilling / Yankees debacle) provided WBZ with a tremendous (nationwide!) publicity boost. He deserves the credit for any January gains, even if they came during other dayparts.

WBZ actually lost listeners during this period, from 822,400 to 740,900. But those who remained tuned in longer, leading to the overall boost. That normally signals talk show over drivetime newswheel listenership. Again, this one goes to Rea.

— WRKO scored explosive share gains, now tied for seventh place with 4.8, up from 3.6. Body count: 379,000, up from 347,800 last month.

— Beleaguered FM talker WTKK also saw a rare boost, to 3.7 from 2.6, tied for eleventh. It actually has more listeners than WRKO, by about 50,000, but has lower overall ratings because it fails to keep them tuned in for longer periods.

Interestingly, it was political talk that fueled WTKK’s rare bit of success, but it promptly returned to “lite talk FM” after the election. Why is an advice host filling in for Jay Severin? It makes no sense whatsoever.

Nationally, talk stations are also way up, but it’s mostly confined to outlets that carry Rush Limbaugh.

Should Rush Stick With WRKO?

Based on what we know so far about the new Boston talk station run by Clear Channel, I’m convinced Rush Limbaugh is better off sticking with WRKO. The new outlet, WXKS 1200 AM, doesn’t look terribly promising. That would leave El Rushbo to prop up a weak lineup.

Key concerns:

— In a region known for hostility toward syndicated talk, WXKS will feature almost no local content. This alone makes it not much of a threat to established competition.

— Rather than build a line-up based on market demand, Clear Channel is using WXKS to dump Premiere Radio’s national shows, some of which have already failed here or have little chance of success in our area. If there is no budget for local talk, why run Jason Lewis (a Premiere host) at 6pm when Mark Levin (Citadel – ABC) is up for grabs?

— Instead of bringing major-market programming talent to the new outlet, Clear Channel appears to be recycling Providence management to save money. Yes, the Boston mafia was once run from the Ocean State, but the very folks who have done little with WHJJ-AM aren’t likely to succeed here. Boston is a top ten market, so the stakes are much higher.

If I were advising Limbaugh, I’d recommend he steer clear of 1200 until there’s a credible plan for success.

Another False Alarm Or Head-Chopping Time?

Entercommies are buzzing about a previously-unexpected visit to Boston by the WRKO-WEEI owner’s CEO scheduled for Wednesday morning. Though David Field does occasionally stop by for rah-rah sessions to put a happy face on his debt-laden operation (repeat after me: “easy comps, easy comps, easy comps”), this one seems rushed and may have a more significant purpose.

Some staffers apparently believe Empress Julie Kahn may finally find her days numbered for a myriad of reasons, both personal and professional. Her replacement may already be in the building, but names will be omitted here as I don’t want to jinx anyone’s chances of being promoted, particularly since this person is said to be a pleasure with which to work.

After the overnight success of rival CBS’s WBZ-FM sports talker, Entercom is now so far behind the curve that the Boston operation may be beyond saving. And with Clear Channel’s new political talker set to arrive on scene shortly, WRKO could become as endangered as WEEI.

Good luck, guys, you’ll need it.

Talk Radio: More Relevant Than Ever

Nearly three weeks after Scott Brown’s earth-shattering political triumph over the entrenched political establishment, it’s clear those on the losing end have barely begun to lick their wounds. They never saw this coming and were done in by extreme complacency.

Postmortems from the left have begun to focus on the role of talk radio in Brown’s victory, the importance of which can’t be understated. But in The Phoenix, Adam Reilly manages to omit entirely the key player- Howie Carr:

Talk radio was huge for Brown. Yes, the dearth of exit polling in the Brown-Martha Coakley contest makes it hard to quantify its exact impact. But if you listened to Boston talk radio during the race — commercial talk, as opposed to the sedate stylings of NPR affiliates WBUR and WGBH — you know that this segment of the airwaves was, overwhelmingly, Brown country: a source of hope and good cheer when things looked grim, and a high-volume ally as the Brown juggernaut headed down the home stretch.

Consider, for example, the love lavished on Brown by WEEI, the sports-radio powerhouse that doubles as a source of conservative commentary. On primary day, Gerry Callahan, half of the duo behind its morning drive-time Dennis & Callahan, tossed Brown this softball: “Does it make any sense to you that people follow this far-left agenda, and want another far-left loon like [Senator John] Kerry, like [Congressman Barney] Frank, like [Congressman Edward] Markey, like the rest of them?” And shortly before the election, Glenn Ordway, host of the afternoon drive-time Big Show, and three Big Show associates (Pete Sheppard and former New England Patriots Fred Smerlas and Steve DeOssie) appeared in a video in which they gushingly endorsed the Republican. (Brown “believes in a country that’s sovereign,” Smerlas explained, sort of.)

Yes, WEEI, WTKK-FM, WBZ, WXTK-FM on the Cape, WBSM in New Bedford, WCRN in Worcester and other stations all played a role, but I don’t think Scott would be where he is today without Carr, who is heard statewide on several of those stations.

Carr’s presence alone didn’t put Brown over the top, it was the longtime afternoon host’s change in strategy that made the difference. Until the primary election, Howie’s focus was on saving Scott from the embarrassment of likely defeat by insisting he was merely warming up for a later statewide campaign.

Something clicked, however, once the general election campaign was underway. Howie shed the defeatist attitude and learned to exercise some muscle for a change. The audience was more than receptive and got to work immediately. Once it became clear he truly believed Scott could win, it became a campaign worth an investment of time and money.

New England has always had the benefit of a great deal of local talk versus a national landscape cluttered with (largely unsuccessful) syndicated fare, but the US Senate campaign represented the first time in years hosts really stepped up to the plate and led the way.

From here, anything is possible. Let’s hope defeatism has been abolished for good.