Skip to comments.Carr Wars: Legal fight brews as Carr leaves WRKO in radio daze
Posted on 07/10/2007 12:05:07 AM PDT by raccoonradio
WRKO appears set to launch an all-out legal battle to stop Howie Carrs defection to its FM rival, but lawyers for the star talk show host say station executives bungled a key chance to keep him.
Carrs contract, which is up in September, had a renewal option that gave Entercom the right to renew his contract for one more year by March 19, according to Carrs attorney, Bret Cohen of Mintz Levin.
Cohen said Carr agreed to extend the deadline three times but Entercom failed to exercise its option to renew his contract.
Carr, a Herald columnist who has hosted a highly rated WRKO afternoon-drive show since 1994, stunned station executives yesterday when it was revealed he is jumping to WTKK 96.9 FM Talk.
All they would have had to do was send us a letter saying we agree to extend his personal agreement for another year, Cohen said. And theres likely not much we could have done about that. They frankly dragged their feet on that issue.
Carr struck a five-year deal with WTKK to host the stations 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. show. He is slated to debut Oct. 1.
But WRKO AM 680 spokesman George Regan insisted in a statement, Howie Carr is under contract to Entercom.
He is a tremendous asset to WRKO and Entercom has every intention of retaining his services for many years to come. Any report suggesting a change is incredibly premature, Regan said.
Reached last night in Florida, where he is vacationing, Carr declined comment.
A two-decade veteran of WRKO, the local host known for his attacks on politicians and public-sector hacks, and his own run-ins with James Whitey Bulgers mob henchmen will move from aftertoon-drive to the morning-drive slot, where he will replace disgraced syndicated host Don Imus.
Sources said WRKO program director Jason Wolfe was so angered by the news of Carrs exit yesterday that he smashed a glass award sitting on his office desk.
Carrs contract with Entercom contained both a non-compete and right of first refusal or right to match provision. The non-compete clause prevents Carr from going to work at any other radio or TV station within WRKOs city-grade coverage area for 90 days, according to Carrs lawyers.
The right to match provision purports to give WRKO the right to meet a competing salary offer within 180 days from any radio or TV station within WRKOs coverage area. If Entercom matched an offer, Carr would have to stay at WRKO with the same undisclosed compensation as offered by WTKK.
But Cohen said both provisions are illegal and unenforceable under Massachusetts law. Cohen said theres a state statute that prohibits the enforceability of non-compete agreements and other post-employment restriction against individuals in the broadcast industry.
If it comes to it, we are prepared to litigate this issue, Cohen said.
Kirk T. Schroder, an entertainment lawyer based in Virginia, said the deck appears stacked against WRKO. As a general proposition, courts are loathe to prevent a person from pursing their livelihood and these types of provisions are given careful scrutiny, Schroder said.
The move puts Carr head-to-head with his nemesis, former House Speaker Tom Finneran, whose morning show on WRKO has had dismal ratings.
I cant speak for everybody at WRKO, but I think there were some people who were kind of caught maybe a little bit by surprise by this, said Finneran. I dont see it as a feud. I dont see it as a battle. I am going to do my show, and I think the results will speak for themselves.
HOWIE CARR LIST PING
WRKO The Talk Station died Monday. Visiting hours will be Wednesday from 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm.
Burial will be Thursday after a service at the Jerry Williams Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers,
send congratulations to Greater Media...
Hey Howie: you’ll be down the road from your fave paper, the Boston Globe-Democrat!
also in Herald
Howie Carrs defection to WTKK could have a devastating effect on rival talk station WRKO, to the tune of a few million dollars in lost advertising revenues, local media buyers estimated yesterday.
Calling the move a gigantic shake-up Bruce Mittman, president of media buying and ad agency Mittcom, said WTKK-FM (96.9) stands to reap lots of money from companies that advertise during Carrs afternoon time slot on WRKO-AM (680). I think it will have both a dramatic ratings and economic impact for TKK, Mittman said.
Some local media buyers said a few million dollars in ad money could shift from the AM dial to FM if Carr makes the switch to WTKK.
I cant even begin to think how (WRKO) would replace him, said one Boston-based media buyer, speaking on condition of anonymity. He is the staple of that station.
Carr, who is also a columnist for the Herald, is considered a marquee name for WRKO and has brought in top ratings in the afternoon slot. Carr scored a 4.9 share in the ratings last winter among 25-to-54-year-olds, according to the most recently available figures from Arbitron, ranking him fifth for his time slot in the Boston market.
A conservative commentator, Carr typically plays well among a male audience and is attractive to advertisers, such as car dealers and banks, looking to reach that demographic, local media buyers said.
It doesnt bode well for WRKO at all, said Steve Kalb, senior vice president and director of broadcast media for Wenham-based ad agency Mullens mediaHUB unit.
Still, it appears WRKO is readying for a fight to keep Carr. Entercom, the stations owner, yesterday said it has every intention of retaining his services for many years to come. Any report suggesting a change is incredibly premature.
WRKO will probably be able to keep advertisers on board throughout the summer while it broadcasts Red Sox games. But once the season is ends it will be tough to sell advertisers without Carr behind the mic, sources said.
Its going to really, really hurt WRKO, another Boston media buyer said.
WRKO blew it : )
Howie Carr, the Fat Bastid, is one of the guys I miss most after leaving the Boston area. I used to listen to him on the way home from work. I particularly miss the Howie Carr Hotline, where one could leave a message to be played after the 5:00 news break.
I hope his new venue is available off the Internet.
What’s next for WRKO... get rid of Rush?
At this rate they could be Air America within days :(
also in the Herald:
They either love him or hate him, but radio listeners agreed on one thing when it came to Howie Carr yesterday: News of his jump from AM to FM had them buzzing.
I like him because hes straightforward. Hes brutally honest, said Gerard Doherty, 48, a nurse from Braintree. I dont blame him for the move. Its more money for him. AM stinks. Its always breaking up. At least FM is clear all day. Its a step up for him.
Tom Kelly, a retired T worker from Wollaston said, I like him, hes conservative. Ill listen to him more now if hes moving to FM.
But over in South Boston, a group of retirees said Carr is too negative.
If he takes a dislike to you its forever. Hes a professional rabble-rouser, said one. He mustve had a miserable upbringing. Hes making money at everyones expense.
Said John Carras, 79: Hes vindictive and remembers everything. But, he added, Hell do a good job.
Some of those interviewed by the Herald were longtime Carr listeners even though a few resented the fact that his arrival at WRKO in 1994 meant the departure of veteran talkmaster Jerry Williams. Others said it is his skill as a Herald columnist who rides the politicians that makes him a good listen.
Id rather listen to him than Rush Limbaugh, said Richard Gross, 57, of Boston. As long as I get the channel, I dont care where Howie goes. I love Howie. I know he has more money than God. I wish him good luck, but I wish I had his money.
Many fans said they were torn as to why they love to hate Carr but said they will follow him wherever he goes.
You know the saying, To whom much is given, much is to be expected? The man has a lot of power. He riles the masses with negativity. Howie is a double-edged sword, said Larry Herr, 45, a contractor from Avon.
I enjoy his program, but at the same time I think hes a bit of a hypocrite. Hell deny it with a chuckle, but hes a homophobe and a racist. He can be a little more responsible in the sensitivity department, he said.
But, Herr added, Hes the most interesting thing on talk radio.
The afternoon-drive host is the stations highest-rated talk host by far and it looks like WRKO wont let him go easy.
Carr, which I reported online yesterday, is jumping ship to WTKK (96.9 FM) to take over the morning drive slot. Its unclear whether Carrs producer, Sandy [Nancy Shack—raccoonradio], will go with him.
Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers Magazine, said its a big loss for WRKO. Hes established as a major player in Boston. He brings his brand and he brings a following to the FM station,’ Harrison told me.
Harrison said theres no doubt’ that a good FM station will beat a good AM station. Also, WTKK has a much better signal than the weaker WRKO (680).
There are more younger people and more women who hang out on the FM dial,’ Harrison said.
Harrison called Grace Blazer, who left Philadelphia last month to work at WTKK, a fabulous program director.
If this is her first major move as PD, its a good one, Harrison said.
Brian Maloney, who runs www.savewrko.com., called Carrs exit a devastating blow for an already struggling station.
I cant even imagine what would fill that slot, Maloney said.
Maloney called it an ingenious move by WTKK. Youve now taken away Jay Severins competitor. Youre taking the No. 1 show off the table and youre moving it to your own and youre giving Severin a free ride.
Severin hosts the afternoon-drive show on WTKK and is the stations highest-rated host.
The stunning move puts Carr against his longtime nemesis, ex-House Speaker Tom Finneran, who has a morning show on WRKO. According to the winter Arbitron ratings, WRKO lost listeners with Finneran at the mic.
I consider myself to be a much better talk show host than I was when I started on Feb. 12, but I also know theres a lot of room for improvement, Finneran told me last night. Ive succeeded at every job Ive ever had, every single job, and I intend to make sure this continues that pattern.
Mike Barnicle had been filling in for fired talk jock Don Imus on WTKK but withdrew from the morning-drive running last month. Imus lost his national show in April after the nappy headed hos scandal.
While he also gave up his mid-morning show, Barnicle is talking with WTKK execs about having some sort of on-air role at the station, most likely on the weekends.
Since Barnicle split, conservative talker Michael Graham has temporarily taken over WTKKs morning-drive show. Boston Herald Police Bureau Chief Michele McPhee has been hosting Grahams mid-morning show.
Sources say WTKK executives are talking about creating a nighttime talk show - and McPhee as a possible host.
Carr plans to debut on WTKK on October 1 and will host his show alone. Carrs lawyer says he plans to continue to host his WRKO show until his contract with the station expires in September.
from Brian Maloney; radioequalizer.blogspot.com:
“Staffers report hearing glass breaking inside Wolfe’s office and seeing debris scattered all over his office, spilling outward toward the front door. Others encountered the scene moments later, wondering what had just occurred....According to one source, “there was glass and plastic debris all over the floor by the threshold to his office. Behind a closed door he was shouting, “We had a f—kin’ deal! He’s not goin’ anywhere!”
Minutes later, according to the insider, “there was a station- wide page: ‘Jason Wolfe, please come to Julie Kahn’s office.’”
He will most likely be streamed, yes. WTKK streams all their hosts except for a couple national hosts who demand extra
money for carrying streaming. Hopefully they will put
together a Howie network of sorts; WGAN might want to
put him on, for one. WVMT? Prob not, sadly, as they have
their own Charlie & Ernie in the morning.
same here—I work 6p-2:30 a and sleep from 4-10 am. I can
tape his show and listen later:
—set radio to 96.9 (after 10/1)
—set timer of Audio Record Wizard 3 to record show
—listen back to file later
from the Globe:
Carr jumps from WRKO to rival WTKK
WRKO-AM radio host Howie Carr, who leads the afternoon talk show ratings in the Boston market, will move to the morning drive-time slot on rival station WTKK-FM this fall, his lawyer said today.
“Howie Carr believes it’s a better opportunity,” said Bret Cohen, Carr’s attorney at Mintz Levin. “He believes he’ll have the exact same listeners on a clearer sounding channel that’s more accessible to more people.”
The move puts Carr head-to-head with his current co-worker and nemesis, Tom Finneran — the former House speaker who hosts WRKO’s morning drive-time show.
“This is a huge loss” to WRKO, said media critic Dan Kennedy. “Certainly the sense for a long time has been that ‘RKO has not been doing very well and Howie has been pretty much their one shining exception.”
Carr currently holds the number two slot in afternoon programming, behind music station WXKS-FM, according to research firm Arbitron, which said 192,300 listeners tune in to Carr during a typical week, between January and March. His show, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily, also had a 6.3 percent market share — a measure calculated through a combination of how many people listen and for how long.
(By Carolyn Y. Johnson, Globe staff)
Even the little things are disasters... like the Saturday morning gardening show with Lauzier and Zoppo. They were an amazingly funny team that had excellent chemistry, on a 4 hour popular show. WRKO decides to remove Lauzier from it about 6 months ago, and shorten it to 2 hours. The other two hours now filled by some money show, is probably just a fill-air-time with no listeners whatsoever.
Its as if some mole was brought on staff with the specific goal of imploding the station.
Totally agree... The Gardening Show with Moe and Jim, Sundays 6-10 a.m. was tops. I miss the 4 hour format.
Eagan and Brody is painful. John and Jeff are boring. Howie is better than either. If they could get Rush...I'd never leave 96.9...ever.
I don't live in Boston but I have heard Howie Carr a few times. Here is my question: If he is a "fat bastid", why is he always calling other people fat?