by Brian Maloney:
For the last several weeks, we've been tracking Howie Carr's regional affiliates to see if any had dropped the show that is still his in name only.
Because some stations have been slow to return messages (if at all) and don't keep websites up-to-date with programming changes, this has been a frustrating experience.
As far as I can tell, however, all are still running "The Howie Carr Show", even while hosted by Todd Fill-inburg. A quick double-check shows Portland's WGAN, Springfield's WHYN and the Cape's WXTK 95 FM all still carrying the program as of today.
With Howie Carr having quit the program, the big question is why his former affiliates haven't yet dumped it.
One programmer who was kind enough to explain her station's position is WXTK General Manager Allison Makkay, who told me by phone two weeks ago that contractual obligations are a key reason. As long as "The Howie Carr Show" continues to exist, even sans Howie, it must be carried through their agreement's end date.
Makkay also indicated they had not begun to look for a replacement program as of that point.
In other conversations with regional radio insiders, two other issues have emerged: one, a perception by some, apparently created by Entercom, that Howie will soon be returning to WRKO's afternoon drive slot.p> Another biggie: what to run instead? For a relatively small fee, New England stations have enjoyed running a talk show that focused at least partly on regional issues. Howie's absence now means either picking up a nationally syndicated show in afternoon drive (free, but not a very appealing programming option) or hiring a local host (a great move, but could be slightly more expensive).
No wonder they'd prefer to believe Howie will soon return to WRKO. I think he'd rather meet up with Whitey Bulger in It-lee than go back to Guest Street, however.
A great move -- if they can find someone people want to listen to! Not as easy apparently as one would hope! (I'm not one of those knocking Todd Feinberg as if it were somehow his fault -- he's OK, in fact better in Howie's slot than he was in his own).