Skip to comments.Howdie do, Howie (And Cary Pahigian Recalled)
Posted on 08/08/2007 12:31:44 AM PDT by raccoonradio
When I first met Howie Carr he was a shy newspaper columnist from Boston. How times have changed. Now Carr is the franchise player for team WRKO, a Boston talk radio station owned by Entercom Communications. He has also written a New York Times best seller, The Brothers Bulger. As host of WRKO's afternoon talk program from 3:00 to 7:00 Monday through Friday Carr is the station's biggest ratings and money draw. This is something usually achieved by the morning drive host. For years WRKO has not been able to muster the talent necessary either to top Howie's afternoon success or to beat out its FM talk rival, WTKK.
Now we read that Carr's contract with Entercom will expire in September and he is planning to jump ship; move to the morning drive slot at WTKK. Carr actually had the good taste to talk about all this on his current program on WRKO. There are two aspects to this drama that have local significance. First, Carr's program is carried live by Cape Cod's talk radio station WXTK. His exit will leave four hours of dead air. (photo of a Howie visit with the McKeags below)
Some might say that these four hours added to the three-hour morning drive program will make a total of seven hours of dead air daily. Second, for those of us who have been following this drama, Carr has sued WRKO, claiming that they are restraining him from moving to another station, but WRKO has filed a suit against Carr and "his agent, Cary Pahigian." Pahigian's name should be familiar to Cape Cod radio listeners of old.
From 1992 until 1998 when he left for his current job with Saga Communications in Portland, Maine Pahigian was General Manager of Boch Broadcasting's WXTK. Pahigian's demonstrated charm and easy management style brought him the warmest best wishes of many former and current employees; they wished him great success anywhere else. Now, he has been identified in print and by Carr's attorney, Bret Cohen of Boston's Mintz, Levin as Carr's agent and business advisor. Entercom confirms, however, that Carr is still their Portland boss.
Two interesting things arise from this. Pahigian as a radio manager refused utterly to have anything to do with any agent representing anyone when he was hiring local on-air talent. He continues this practice to this day...and this brings up the second interesting point: although Cary Pahigian is still employed by Saga Communications as boss of their Portland Radio Group, he is now also serving as the agent for a Boston radio personality and in that role has become embroiled in a very loud and very nasty legal battle between two rival radio groups, neither of them his employer. His current employer, in fact, carries Carr's WRKO program live daily. People in Maine should probably expect a new morning radio program. Pahigian has become what he would never acknowledge. To be faithful to his own dictum Cary Pahigian should never talk to himself, take his own calls or answer letters from himself. For many of those who knew Cary this should come as no surprise. And, many feel that if agent Pahigian applies the same logic to the question of what constitutes fair compensation for radio talent as general manager Pahigian did, Howie Carr will need a second job.
All that aside, Cape Cod's only talk radio station will now need new afternoon talent. Will audiences miss Carr's relentless rants against the Brothers Bulger, Mumbles Menino, Boston traffic and taxes and other things so meaningful to Cape Cod or will they be forced to endure discussions of things that actually make a difference in their lives locally? It is increasingly popular for radio prgrammers to buy syndicated content using an ad revenue sharing sytem of barter than to cultivate local live talent who expect to be paid actual cash. What will WXTK do without Howie Carr? Which of the many loud national agendacrats will fill his shoes?
In the final analysis Howie Carr could be the big winner in all this. He has used WRKO's airwaives, while on their payroll, to advertise his intended new radio program and even identified the rival radio station. In some countries he would have been shot within minutes of such outrageous behavior. Regardless the outcome of the various lawsuits, Carr will be employed somewhere in Boston. He will earn big...either WRKO will have to pay his ransom or he will move to WTKK where his listeners are expecting to hear him anyway, courtesy of the WRKO ad campaign Howie masterminded, plus all the free press he has received from the Globe and others. Call me anything, but call me often, as the old hooker's mantra says.
Through this all my little voice keeps saying, "There is no way Cary Pahigian did not know of and approve every step of this dance in advance. After all, he is Howie's agent and business advisor." Like most WXTK alumni I take some grim satisfaction in the fact that Cary has not changed. He is still the charming, toxic little man we would all like to forget.
Perhaps of interest to those on Howie ping list!
You read it here first....I'm writing the script right now......More to come....