For over 25 years, Boston’s WRKO has been a national news-talk trendsetter, providing for New England a rare dissenting voice against Boston’s entrenched media and political establishment.
From the legendary voice of the late Jerry Williams, to Howie Carr and others heard today, it continues to provide a rare check on the excesses of Beacon Hill’s powerful elite.
In turn, WRKO’s fiercely loyal listeners have rewarded the station with consistently high ratings and substantial revenues.
And now, with Massachusetts facing single-party rule and few opportunities for speaking out against the tax-and-spend agendas of Governor Deval Patrick and his legislative partisans, WRKO is needed now more than ever before.
Without any apparent business-related reason, however, WRKO as we know it is now facing sudden extinction. In recent months, we’ve seen multi-sided debates between callers and hosts disappear, while fluffy, non-controversial programming takes its place.
We’ve seen WRKO’s entire newsroom shown the door, including award-winning anchors and reporters, for reasons that still remain baffling.
And we’ve also noticed an obvious clampdown on conservative opinions, in addition to an apparent edict against criticism of Governor Patrick outside of Carr’s program.
In its place, there are news reports that the ultimate Beacon Hill Democrat Party insider, convicted felon Tom Finneran, will soon be handed the all-important morning drive slot, despite his incompatibility with the station’s audience and lack of full-time talk radio experience.
Next, we wonder how long it will take before industry leaders Rush Limbaugh and Howie Carr are also removed from the station’s lineup.
Beyond that, WRKO is for the first time ever run by local managers without any experience programming talk radio. With their flawed decision-making, that lack of format expertise shows. In addition, it appears that one local executive is attempting to impose her own tastes on an unwilling audience.
While we understand that airing Red Sox games will likely boost evening ratings, there is simply no justification for throwing away the rest of the station’s schedule, especially when there’s no evidence that planned changes could improve the station’s ratings and revenue.
Watching the wholly unnecessary implosion of a great heritage talk radio station is sad, but hopefully preventable. Now, WRKO’s many listeners must make their voices heard, before it is too late.