Could Howie Leave WRKO Sooner Than Expected?

It’s no secret that Howie Carr’s career now depends on how fast he can successfully bolt WRKO’s sinking ship. With Rush Limbaugh now gone, Howie hosts the only remaining program of significance on the station, especially from a sales standpoint. When he departs, it’s officially over.

There are at least two scenarios (potentially more) that could have Carr out of WRKO sooner than anyone would expect:

— Contractual language that now allows him to leave: is Howie guaranteed a timeslot “adjacent to Rush Limbaugh”? That or any similar wording used as a safety measure to keep Entercom from banishing him to midnight could be key to a case for departure. This would be a good time to take a second look at the agreement (which I suspect he’s doing now).

— Entercom simply allows Howie to walk and folds up WRKO’s tent: it’s not as far-fetched as you might think. Without Rush, revenue opportunities are limited and the station may now be operating at a loss. We already know the far-left Field family dislikes talk radio very much (they’ve already run almost all of their talk stations into the ground). So there’s certainly no passion for the format that would overcome the bottom line.

For the sake of his future, I don’t think Howie can afford to wait for WRKO and Entercom to sink. He’s got to find a way out now and it may be easier to escape than is commonly believed.

Carr image: Boston Herald

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Day One: What A Mess

Thoughts on Day One of the big Boston talk radio switcheroo:

— WRKO/Entercom blew it on a number of fronts, but these three stand out the most:

1) Rather than point the finger at Clear Channel/Premiere for yanking away WRKO’s marquee talent, Entercom used local media to make it appear it was their own idea, all in the name of going “local”. But that’s clearly backfired as longtime WRKO fans vent their anger at station management.

2) Of course, because it was “their idea”, they had to have a new local host in place in time for Rush’s removal from WRKO, so they rushed into hiring a rank amateur who will quickly be in way over his head with 15 hours of programming to fill every week. A clear tip-off: loading today’s show with big guests (as a crutch) instead of allowing the new guy to show his stuff.

A better plan: try out a number of people in the slot to see how they’d fare against the Talk Titan.

3) If it had any class, Entercom would have acknowledged Limbaugh’s role in BUILDING WRKO over the years and thanked him for his enormous contribution. But this is Entercom, a bottom-feeding outfit.

— The new station is baffling for several reasons as well:

1) There’s almost no outside promotion. How are listeners supposed to find where Rush has gone?

2) “Rush Radio” clearly wasn’t ready to go, even to the point where the schedule isn’t settled.

3) The new station’s weak signal locks out a lot of Rush’s former WRKO coverage area. Forget the South Shore, it’s now up to outlying stations such as WXTK 95 FM on the Cape to fill the gaps.

4) Rush himself has said little (nothing?) about the move and it was only mentioned at his site late today.

It’s one bizarre situation all around, with talk fans left scratching their heads. It can’t be fun for Howie Carr.

Boston Media Does WRKO’s Bidding On Rush Move

In a breathtaking display of corporate PR infused into local news coverage, Entercom has successfully been able to portray Rush Limbaugh’s move to a new Clear Channel-owned station as its own decision to cancel him.

But that’s a flat-out lie and everyone should know better. Clearly, local media outlets have allowed their dislike of Limbaugh to cloud good news judgment.

Lies! ALL LIES! Where is Frau when we need her?

Think about it this way: without the new station in town, which is owned by the parent company of Rush’s syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks, would WRKO willingly give up his show at any point during the next century? Of course not. This is a joke.

The Globies stand out with the worst coverage, claiming Limbaugh’s ratings are weak here. Did Entercom provide the paper with bona fide ratings data from the most recent reporting period (January 2010) to back up the assertion? Did the Globies independently confirm it?

Note the corporate spin here:

With Limbaugh leaving WRKO, the station will replace him with well-known Republican operative Charley Manning beginning Monday. “The Charley Manning Show’’ will air from noon to 3 weekdays on WRKO. Manning has served as an adviser to former Massachusetts governors William F. Weld and Mitt Romney.

“We think this is the best move for us,’’ said Jason Wolfe, New England vice president of AM programming at Entercom Communications Corp., which owns WRKO and WEEI. “Charley Manning brings top-notch insight and great credibility to us at a time when Boston politics are so intense and top of mind.’’

Obviously, we never expect honesty from The Globies on any subject, but using a well-known local advocate of liberal talk radio as some kind of an independent analyst on the subject of Rush Limbaugh is laughable:

“Charley Manning is very well connected locally,’’ said Donna Halper, a radio consultant and media professor at Lesley University. “He has a passion for politics. He has a tremendous amount of credibility. . . . There’s just so many stations that can air Rush Limbaugh.’’

Ask yourself why “conservative” Manning is praised by the left- what does that say about where his new show is headed?

Even funnier is the notion that a guy who briefly co-hosted a show 15 years ago is a threat to Limbaugh’s dominance.

And from the Patriot-Ledger, here’s another ominous sign on the Manning front:

Manning said he had heard “some complaints” that talk radio had focused too much on Scott Brown during his campaign for the U.S. Senate. He urged all campaigns to make their candidates available for talk shows.

“I’m just going to throw out the welcome mat to everyone,” he said.

Manning must know little about talk radio (and clearly doesn’t listen to Howie’s show) or he’d understand that stations are REQUIRED to invite all candidates. Coakley turned down repeated interview requests from Carr and many other area hosts.

Beyond that, talk radio’s demographic and Brown’s support base fit like a glove and the huge January ratings boost confirms that fact. Coakley appealed to the NPR / Globie crowd. Does he really not know the difference? Next time, Charley, think before you speak, if that is possible.

Ultimately, however, none of this changes the fact that WRKO is doomed without Rush. He’s been WRKO’s premium product for decades and provided Carr with a sizable lead-in audience. Manning will not.

Unfortunately, however, the new station appears slapped together and certainly won’t win these public PR battles until Clear Channel decides to get serious about creating a major market talk powerhouse. What we’ve seen so far is less than encouraging.

But Rush’s listeners will follow him anywhere and that won’t change no matter how inept the new operation might prove to be.

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.

HOWIE CARR: THE FELON IS A ‘MAGGOT’

With renewed public outrage, the attempt by disgraced former Democratic House Speaker Tom Finneran to win a presidential pardon for his felony perjury conviction has opened up a huge can of worms locally.

During a phone conversation with a local media person Friday afternoon, I asked why The Finne-felon doesn’t simply wait for Obama to take office to mount his campaign. Why would Bush, a Republican, feel compelled to help an entrenched Massachusetts Democrat?

The quite logical answer: given the nature of The Felon’s crime, lying about his racist gerrymandering scheme, a pardon could prove politically sensitive for the Obamist Regime. That’s why the race is on to get this done in the next ten days.

Meanwhile, fellow WRKO talker Howie Carr isn’t waiting for Bush’s response, if any: his latest Boston Herald column, published in Saturday’s editions, offers his strongest language yet. Calling Finneran a “maggot”, Howie’s truly unleashed here:

The Four Stooges said Felon Finneran has been “severely punished.” Really? He’s still making big money for his wretched radio show, which we call “Sweet Sixteen,” because that’s generally about where it finishes in the ratings. The Felon usually runs neck and neck with “The River,” and sometimes he even edges the Manchester N.H. soft-rock station. Sometimes. His show is so compelling it now goes off the air at 9 instead of 10, and they’re trying to prop him up with a co-host.

Finneran should be breakin’ rocks in the hot sun. He fought the law and the law won. Although I still remember the day he was “sentenced,” and how Judge Rick Stearns was almost apologizing for having to ask him the questions every convicted felon has to answer.

Are you on drugs this morning, wiseguy? You do know you can’t own a firearm anymore, maggot. But no, it was all “Mistah Speakah” this and “I know this is a silly question but . . .” I was there in the courtroom hoping to make a victim-impact statement. See, I was at the courthouse the day Felon Finneran told his string of incredible whoppers about his racist gerrymandering scheme in the city of Boston.

I was shocked, shocked, I tell you. I tried not to let it destroy my faith in the integrity of the Massachusetts Legislature. But I can’t get over it. Then last year, the Felon speculated to Gov. Patrick that I should be taken for a one-way ride in the trunk of the governor’s Coupe Deval.

Just out of curiosity, I looked up “maggot” and discovered that Howie’s actually being a bit too kind to the Felon. He might even owe the little guys an apology.

That’s because the worm-like insects actually have an important medical benefit for patients suffering from flesh wounds, particularly for those who no longer benefit from conventional antibiotics, as a result of resistance.

That’s maggots 1, The Felon 0.

What is his benefit to society? He’s spent his entire life taking what he can from us and giving back not a damn thing.

Nonetheless, I think this kind of Bostonian public battle is healthy. After the damage The Felon has done to Massachusetts taxpayers, ethnic minorities and governmental ethics, why shouldn’t it be payback time?

By contrast, in “nice” Seattle, local newspapers would be scolding us all for a lack of “civility” and imploring everyone involved to get back to traditional Scandinavian pursuits, such as making stinky lutefisk. There, political scores are settled through pathetic backstabbing, while in Boston, it’s a good old fashioned fistfight.

Of course, all of that “niceness” has both of their daily papers in even bigger trouble than ours. They have two boring broadsheets, while we are burdened with just one.

Finneran image: Boston Herald

The Finne-felon Seeks Bush Pardon

No, I’m not making this up, nor is it an early April Fool’s joke. WRKO’s resident morning show felon and former Democrat House Speaker Tom Finneran has actually got the nerve to petition President Bush for a pardon!

Apparently, the fact that Tommy Tune Out was caught red-handed committing perjury is irrelevant, the Bay State’s Hack-In-Chief has enlisted the support of four ex-governators in his appeal to the outgoing president.

From The Globies:

Former House speaker Thomas M. Finneran, seeking to cleanse the stain left by his 2007 conviction for obstruction of justice, is angling for a last-minute pardon from President Bush and has lined up a group of former Massachusetts governors to back his request.

Finneran submitted an application for a presidential pardon last month, and the four governors – Democrat Michael Dukakis and Republicans William F. Weld, Paul Cellucci, and Jane Swift – followed up with a letter to the White House praising his integrity.

Finneran has already been “severely punished,” the governors wrote, citing the loss of his state pension, the suspension of his license to practice law, and his firing from a lucrative private-sector job.

“And he has suffered daily taunts and ridicule of those who believe that every elected official is the equivalent of a common thief,” the governors told the president in their letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Globe. They assured Bush that Finneran has “seen the error of this episode” and is truly sorry.

How could Team Swifty really believe The Felon was punished? Other than ridicule in the local press, he hasn’t suffered a bit. Despite tiny ratings, he makes a fortune as WRKO’s failed morning show host. They had to shut down the entire newsroom in order to pay his bloated salary!

Did he spend time in prison? Who are we kidding here?

Though I’m not surprised Tommy would try to pull this stunt, why were these former governors willing to help? He certainly doesn’t deserve it.

Don’t Be Suckered By This Cheap Sympathy Ploy

Let me get this straight: after hiring a convicted felon (and former Democrat House Speakah) as morning host and an alleged child rapist for the midmorning shift, we’re supposed to feel sorry for two of the radio industry’s most notorious mismanagers?

The very public effort by Coffee Boy (in Herald image below, making his first-ever visual appearance at SaveWRKO!) and The Empress to be seen as victims of an angry WEEI listener is beyond belief. In broadcasting, threatening calls come with the territory, to the point where they’re mundane.

Not for a moment am I condoning the actions of one David Banner, who definitely doesn’t moonlight as The Incredible Hulk:

The man charged with leaving death wishes and menacing messages for WEEI sports yakkers John Dennis and Gerry Callahan and their bosses is a down-and-out wedding photographer who says he’s sorry and insists he never would have harmed them.

“I’m really sorry. I’m more angry at myself than anything else,” said David Banner, who says he’s getting help after he allegedly left messages wishing the radio bigwigs would “die.”

In an interview with the Herald yesterday, Banner said he’s been having “a bad couple of years.” He said his mother has Alzheimer’s and he’s been under a lot of stress. He said he also suffers from depression and has had a couple seizures over the past few months.

“It’s been tough. It’s not an excuse. I meant them no harm,” said Banner, 57, who appeared mild-mannered as he spoke from the multi-family Cambridge home where he lives. “If I could take it back I would.

“I’m just an average guy just trying to live a life, and I made a mistake,” he added.

At the same time, anyone with significant tenure in broadcasting who hasn’t toughened up to this kind of crap by now should find a new career.

Want to hear about REAL threats? In 1997, while working the afternoon drive shift at KOH 780 AM in Reno, somebody driving by the rear of the station (which unfortunately fronts a major thoroughfare) took a shot at my engineer, with the ammo stopped only by the interior bulletproof pane. If not for that protection, it would have hit him in the head, the positioning was perfect. Because it occurred during the wintertime, it was already dark, so he didn’t see who did it.

Who did I tick off that day? In Nevada, rather like Boston’s mobbed-up era, there are certain people one must avoid angering.

Before that, I worked at a Monterey Bay, California station that had absolutely NO security. The front windows were shot out repeatedly by friendly passers-by.

And in 1998, just as I was arriving at Seattle’s KVI to begin a new position as evening host, a violent demonstration took place in the building’s lobby, spilling out into the streets. The reason for the OUTRAGE (!!!): KVI hosts were adamantly supporting Initiative 200, which banned certain racial preferences. It ultimately passed.

When Rush Limbaugh visited the station a short time later, it took a full security team to protect him after angry threats of violence were made by dozens of supposedly peace-loving Seattle “progressives”. Standing next to KVI’s newsroom fax, I watched as these unhinged nuts spread this vision of “tolerance” from one machine to another.

Finally, sometimes the most dangerous people in broadcasting are inside the building, not out in the parking area. While at Seattle’s KIRO-AM, then owned by our good friends at Entercom, a fellow host with an unpredictable personality carried a gun with him at all times. Later, he was murdered by a drug addict who had moved into his home several months earlier.

Talk radio, with WEEI’s sports chatter most certainly included, is a medium with both friends and enemies. Whether one is a host or manager, working in this field requires a thick skin.

Though Boston’s a tough town, most of our broadcast outlets are run by touchy egomaniacs. In a dangerous business, that’s not a good fit.

That’s why I see right through The Empress and Coffee Boy: with their track records, they resemble perps much more than victims.