From Boston Radio Watch by Mark Schnyder
Take five : Carr benches himself
Howie Carrs much anticipated move from WRKO AM 680 to WTKK 96.9FM didnt happen this morning but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel for Carr and his fandom.
While the Suffolk Superior Court judge clearly backed the station in the contract dispute with Carr by deciding that the new five-year deal with WRKO is now in full effect, the only bright spot for the veteran talker was the courts acknowledgement that he can not forced to work for WRKO. And that’s precisely what he intends to do. Carr is now sitting out, cooling off his jets and playing a waiting game as he and his attorneys try to force WRKO to make the next move.
Theres also a good chance that Carr will appeal yesterdays ruling, but its also pretty clear that him and WRKO are thru. Carr even went on the local TV news this week to drive his message home to WRKO and Entercom.
Carrs representative issued a statement from the talk master who has decided to take a break from all the controversy that surrounds his very public dispute. Carr will continue writing his column in the Boston Herald while he remains off the air. His rep Nancy Sterling issued the following statement to the media late yesterday afternoon :
While we would like to have achieved a complete victory in court, we are gratified that the decision leaves open the opportunity for Howie to work at the place of his choosing. Not only did the Court find unlawful a portion of Entercoms employment agreement, but the Court adopted our argument that Howie cannot be forced to work for a particular radio station.
Howie looks forward to taking some well-deserved time off from one of his three careers and to joining WTKK in the very near future.
Meanwhile, WTKK 96.9FM published its statement on courts ruling(BRW 9/19) on its website under a new retooled station logo which bills the FM talker as Bostons Talk Evolution. As he has done for the entire summer, Michael Graham will continue to fill in the morning slot(6am-10am) and Boston Heralds reporter and WTKKs weekend host Michelle McPhee will sub for Graham(10am-Noon) until Carr is able to start on 96.9FM. In addition, WTKK will likely be revamping its night-time schedule pretty soon. Conservative talk show host Bill OReilly is giving up his radio show Radio Factor, heard on some 400 radio stations, and will concentrate on his 8 p.m. TV show on the Fox News Channel, according to Radio Equalizer. On WTKK-FM, Bill OReilly is currently heard 7 to 9pm weeknights.
While WRKO management ponders on how to handle unhappy Carr, it is now faced with even a bigger programming challenge. While the morning drive show with Tom Finneran remains a very slow and painful work-in-progress, the Talk Station has just lost a huge audience and revenue draw in Carr. While the station may try to fill the afternoon drive with not-ready-for-prime-time hosts, the issue of replacing Carr will become even more pressing once the Red Sox season ends(and the way it looks today, the Sox wont make it past the first week of October) and the advertisers will likely bail to more attractive programming options on the dial.
An interesting opinion about Howie from “ADC” at
radio-info.com board (all that follows is by him).
1. Entercom had the right to match any offer that was given to Carr, and has done so.
2. The non-compete clause is not legal in Massachusetts, so Carr should be able to work for WTKK if he becomes available.
It seems to me there are only three ways this can be resolved.
1. Carr continues to work at WRKO for the full run of his contract.
2. Carr breaks the contract and can now be sued by Entercom for breach of contract.
3. Carr and Entercom agree to terminate the contract.
Option 2 opens Carr up to a potentially huge lawsuit, so he’d be crazy to do it.
Option 3 makes no sense for Entercom, since they have nothing to gain by settling.
Seems that only leaves option 1.
It will be interesting to watch this. Carr may end up spending many unhappy years on WRKO. If he starts mouthing off about the station or management while on the air, this too could open him up to contractual problems.
If WTTK wants to have some fun, they could start running promos about how they’re the only talk station in town that doesn’t have to force their talent to show up for work.
I’m not sure it this would have worked or not, but if I had been Carrs’ lawyer, I would have put together a contract with WTKK that would have given either party the option to terminate the contract with 24 hours notice. Since WRKO would have had to have given Carr the same deal to keep him, once the new contract went in to effect, he would have been able to give notice and be a free man 24 hours later.
How did the local area feel about losing the station's local news people?
Instead of joining WTKK and WRKO in the downward spiraling chaos, why isn't WBZ taking advantage of the opportunity to fulfill the market need?
Unless they are Beacon Hill Bum Kissing, doesnt' it seem like the perfect time to go all out as a local station, with news and broadcasters in the studio, mixing the hot local, with national, etc?
There's got to be some talented Emerson graduates that know their way around a mic, a studio, and the issues.
Oh, and don't have to throw in "bro" at the end of every sentence.