Skip to comments.Getaway Carr: Why WRKO should cut Howie loose
Posted on 07/12/2007 8:20:20 AM PDT by raccoonradio
Howie Carrs jump from WRKO-AM (680) to WTKK-FM (96.9) isnt a done deal just yet. Carrs new morning drive-time show is supposed to begin in October. But after the Herald reported this past Monday that Carr was poised to bolt WRKO, station spokesman George Regan released a statement hinting that WRKO might take legal steps aimed at keeping Carr from leaving or, barring that, at making his exit as unpleasant as possible.
He is a tremendous asset to WRKO and Entercom [WRKOs parent company] has every intention of retaining his services for many years to come, said Regan. Any report suggesting a change is incredibly premature.
If the station has a case, it probably hinges on a clause in Carrs contract that gives WRKO the right to match any competitors offer. But on Tuesday, Carr filed a pre-emptive lawsuit of his own, accusing WRKO of repeatedly declining to extend his contract, and arguing that any provisions aimed at keeping him from leaving for a competitor were legally unenforceable.
Whether the courts will agree remains to be seen. But even if they dont, WRKO should think twice about mounting a fight. Carrs relationship with WRKO seems to have been seriously strained even before this dust-up hit the headlines; now that things have reached this point, its hard to imagine the station and its marquee talent making peace.
One source with knowledge of the situation says that Carr whose populist conservatism runs the gamut from witty erudition to juvenile mean-spiritedness had accumulated a long list of grievances with WRKO. Among other things, he was concerned about the stations declining ratings; he felt management wasnt promoting or syndicating him effectively; and he bristled at being pre-empted for preseason Red Sox games, which WRKO began broadcasting this year in an awkward joint-broadcasting arrangement with WEEI-AM, Entercoms Boston sports station. Howies overall feeling is that its a poorly run operation, this individual, who works in Boston radio, tells the Phoenix.
This casts a new light on the alleged feud between Carr and Tom Finneran the exMassachusetts House Speaker who, after pleading guilty to perjury in a legislative-redistricting case, took over WRKOs morning-drive-time slot earlier this year. In March, the Herald turned this purported beef into a cover story, reporting that Carr (whos also a Herald columnist) was incensed after Finneran joked that he should be killed and stuffed in the trunk of Governor Deval Patricks car. At the time, I argued that the whole flap seemed to be a shameless publicity stunt. In retrospect, though, Carrs stagy wrath may have obscured genuine frustration: a strong morning host would have helped Carrs own ratings and market position by driving listeners to the station. But Finneran clearly wasnt ready to fly solo and hasnt been given a reliable sidekick to help him along.
More significantly, Carrs disenchantment and potentially imminent departure also raise questions about Entercom executive Jason Wolfe, who went from running WEEIs programming to directing programming for both WRKO and WEEI in early 2006 and has been considered something of a golden boy in local radio circles. Given WEEIs continued success, the underwhelming performance of WRKO under Wolfes watch is especially striking. Former hosts Scott Allen Miller and John DePetro are gone. Finneran is struggling in the morning drive-time slot, both in terms of ratings and in terms of establishing a compelling on-air persona. Its still not clear how splitting the Red Sox between WEEI and WRKO helps either station. And now Carr the stations name-brand talent is poised to bolt to its major competitor. (Wolfe and Julie Kahn, Entercom New Englands vice-president and market manager, did not return calls from the Phoenix.)
If and when Carr starts broadcasting from WTKKs studios, hell be going head to head with Finneran, which will make the ex-Speakers already dicey situation even more precarious. Itll make for an interesting battle because of the personal hostility between the two men, says Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine. But theres no question in my mind that Carr is the more accomplished. Being on the FM spectrum also stands to expand and diversify Carrs listener base, Harrison adds: FM talk is the coming wave, and new people might discover him who otherwise dont hang out on the AM dial. There are a lot of young people on the FM dial, a lot of women.
And lets not forget the bottom line. Carrs current salary at WRKO is unknown. But based on what comparable hosts have made here and elsewhere, its likely that he was at or over $300,000 and that WTKK plans to pay him significantly more. Nice work if you can get it.
With the exception of Howie's show WRKO has had changes in the format for the last few years. Even former hosts started talking "psychobabble" regarding a "fair and balanced" format. I suppose that was to attract more listeners BUT WRKO did NOT consider its audience at all in this decision. Its listeners are entrenched conservatives who probably didn't appreciate any part of liberal speak...therefore turning the dial to 96.9 fm talk.
That's what I did.
HC filed a complaint with the judge overseeing Finneran’s
probation. He received the letter and basically said,
“duly noted”...he felt that Finneran was in no position
to even joke about something like that. What really got murdered was WRKO, and blame Finneran/Wolfe/Kahn for it.
heh the same thing happened to me, the whiner line is pretty damn clever. alot more references.
That's what I thought (for some reason). Thanks for the info.
Howie allegedly back on today and if so well see how far hes allowed to go in discussing this.
I'd wager he's going to be very coy about it. I'll tune in for a minute or two, but mostly, I'll be listening to Stern on Sirius! They're re-playing the Baba Booey roast today, don't you know . . .
LOL...if the Phoenix wants him gone...I am all for keeping him on!
How dare you accuse me of having no original thoughts. Why I remember quite clearly that on the day that Mark Goddard was on to push the new Lost in Space movie, Howie talked about how he would run away if he came upon a home invasion where a senior citizen was being beaten. I opined that we had found the new Dr. Smith.
I was born in Reveah, so I understand that.
You know, I’ve Scotto’s cell phone number, I think I should call it.
The Robert Kraft guy slays me. "(Covers phone mouthpiece) Hey . . . Jawnathan . . ."
It is, or should be, axiomatic that whatever is written in “The Boston Phoenix” is garbage. Period.
This’ll foul up my listening habits. He takes the edge off the end of the workday quite nicely. I wonder if he will be taking some of his sound effects (”Ted”, and the “erh-erh”) with him. Damn shame if they are left behind.
I wonder how he and “Jay Severin” would get along.
Now if 96.9 can only get Rush from 12-3.
True.It's claim to fame has always been its "personals".
"M seeks foursome for..." Well,you get the picture.
I’m still having a hard time relating that headline to the story.
At least one third of the paper is pornographic.
“But, hey, if nobody gets hurt, what’s the harm?”
That’s one hell of an ethic. It turned large parts of MA into cesspools.
I know...I simply replied on the basis of the headline, but I understand the story itself...the headline is completely ass-end backwards, which is about right for the Phoenix...:)
Before getting his own show, Jay used to sub for Howie.
...but...but... he *is* a fat bahstid...
Good luck, Howie!
Kick the Felon in the keister!
Howie’s only making $300K?! No wonder he’s willing to do all those book signings!
As for WEEI they should be doing Belichick and Brady’s laundry because their success is directly related to the success of the Patriots, and to a lesser extent, the red Sox. If Boston’s teams were struggling, their numbers would be a fraction of what they are today. It has nothing to do with Wolfe. Proof of that is how he manged to destroy the oldest and one of the most successful talks stations in America virtually over night.
Wolfe did nothing for WEEI. That was Bill Belichick and Tom Brady with a little, Curt Schilling, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz thrown in to cover the summer months...