Skip to comments.(Not) Howie Carr thread week of Apr 17-25, 2010
Posted on 04/17/2010 1:04:05 AM PDT by raccoonradio
Howie thread for the week--note that Howie Carr has been suspended by WRKO/Entercom for the week of Apr. 19 due to his badmouthing the station. Various fill in hosts. If there are any Howie columns they will appear here.
Things have gotten ugly at the "sneaker building" (the New Balance bldg in Brighton where WRKO is) as WRKO management has finally had enough of Howie's on-air digs at him. Stay tuned here for commentary on this, the usual fun, and so on
Is there more to Howies suspension?
April 17, 2010 at 8:44 am
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. So maybe Howie Carrs suspension from WRKO Radio (AM 680) is just a suspension. But let me inject some uninformed speculation into the matter. The once-great station has been running on fumes for some time. Maybe its corporate owner, Entercom, has decided to force an end game, let Carr out of his contract and turn RKO into an outlet for, oh, lets say Spanish-language infomercials.
The Boston Globes Erin Ailsworth reports that Carr was suspended for a week for badmouthing the station on the air something he has done continuously since he was forced into staying in 2007. (Apparently its gotten worse lately.) Carr is said to be unhappy that Rush Limbaughs syndicated show recently moved to Clear Channels WXKS (AM 1200), part of a national Rush Radio network.
Funny, but I thought one of the reasons the station replaced Rush with Republican political consultant Charley Manning was that Howie and Manning are buddies, and that Charley might keep the petulant star more or less in line. I dont have any numbers in front of me, but Boston radio observers have long noted that this is one of Limbaughs worst markets. The idea of not fighting to keep Limbaugh and going with a local show struck me as pretty smart, even if Mannings show is a work in progress.
Carr does seem to be wallowing in bitterness lately. For instance, he recently wrote in his Boston Herald column that President Obama wouldnt have made it through college and law school if he werent black:
“Of course, no one expects Barack Obama to really know anything. We understand, all too well, exactly how he got through Columbia and Harvard Law. He had certain intangibles, shall we say.”
Thats pretty rancid even by Howies standards. No, Im not leaving anything out the ellipses are his, not mine.
Back in 2007, Carr tried to jump to WTKK (96.9 FM), which wanted him as its morning guy. Unfortunately for Carr, he turned out to have a contract more restrictive than Curt Floods, and he was forced to stay.
Whats not known is whether Greater Media, which owns TKK, still wants him. Morning drive is now ably helmed by Jim Braude and Margery Eagan. Would TKK move Jay Severin out of afternoon drive to make way for Carr?
Moreover, given the changed economic climate, it certainly seems unlikely that Greater Media would still be willing to pay Carr $7 million over five years.
The other mystery factor is how much Entercom really wants WRKO to succeed. Theres a lot of audience overlap between RKO and another Entercom station, WEEI (AM 850), a sports-talk outlet that also carries the Red Sox. No doubt the company wants WRKO to make money, but not at the expense of its more-valuable sports station.
Carr is a legitimate talent, but its been years since hes showed more than an occasional glimmer. His suspension comes at a time when he probably has little leverage. Maybe hell be back on the air in a week as though nothing happened. But you have to wonder if Entercom executives have finally decided its time to do something drastic about its faltering talk station.
wow, I will have to go silent next week....
It also happens to be the truth.
Zero's records are in the lock box and we know nothing. If he was a good student the narcissistic braggart in the White House would never shut his purple lips about it.
I don't think that WRKO had any real chance to keep Limbaugh. As I understand it, the whole "Rush Radio" concept is national, and creating local stations built around Rush is something where WRKO had no choice in the matter.
Of course, no one expects Barack Obama to really know anything. We understand, all too well, exactly how he got through Columbia and Harvard Law. He had certain intangibles, shall we say.
Thats pretty rancid even by Howies standards. No, Im not leaving anything out the ellipses are his, not mine.
Howie says what everyone, including Dan Kennedy knows in their heart and he's "rancid".
Dan Kennedy’s a lib. If Obama were white where would he be?
Here are a couple interesting commentaries on Howie and the WRKO situation—sorry if they’re a bit inside radio (literally). Both are written by people who are in radio
and come from the comments at http://www.dankennedy.net
But its still a 50,000 watt Class B signal that covers a huge number of people and puts a solid signal over most of the core Boston/Cambridge area.
So it kind of demands that a major format be put on WRKO, not a niche format.
The two major formats for large AM stations are still news/talk (mostly right-wing) and sports, two formats that WRKO cant win with because WTKK 96.9FM and WBZ 98.5FM, respectively, have vastly superior FM signals with. Worse, WRKO cant really do sports because it detracts from the meal ticket (WEEI 850AM).
So WRKO is kinda screwed, in part by Entercoms own success with WEEI.
Worse still, Entercom could put WRKO on one of their other FM properties (WMKK 93.7 and WAAF 107.3/97.7) but neither of those signal pairings is equal to (much less better) than their chief competitors FM signals. And theyd be substituting a struggling product for a successful, profitable product in either case; WAAF does pretty well overall, and WMKK costs so little to operate that it rakes in the cash.
If WGBH hadnt gone news/talk, then a strategic partnership with WBUR to make WRKO an outlet for alternative NPR news/talk programming almost mightve worked. Emphasis on mightve. But that option is effectively off the table now.
Honestly I think Entercom really only has two options: muddle along with WRKO as it is and try to reduce costs to the point where lower revenues are still viable revenues. Or bite the bullet and switch to a niche format that lets them slash costs to the bone (a la Mike or a leased-time ethnic/foreign-language) and accept the huge drop in revenue because your costs have dropped equally.
Of course, neither is exactly a palatable solution.
I dunno. What the hell, put a Haitian/creole format on there. Theres tons of Haitian pirate radio stations, maybe theyve figured something out?
For those of you who dont know how radio works, heres a quick, admittedly simplistic view. Most stations run about 12 to 14 minutes worth of ads an hour. They set the price based on what they can get and what they have to make for the quarter. They take the amount they need to make for the quarter and divide it by the number of spots in that same quarter, which gives them a rough idea of the rate they need to get. It gets a bit stickier when you have big talent like Howie because it throws the math off. But, the formula is still the same.
In order to understand just how much money Howie makes or how much money they lose on Howie follow this math. Lets say WRKO has 12 spots an hour, just to make the math easy. Thats about 12,500 ad minutes. per year for Howies four hours. To break even on Howie, WRKO needs to sell every single ad during his program for at least $96 ($80 to pay for Howie, with 20 percent, a guesstimate, going to the sales people). Thats breaking even on just Howie, not counting any other expenses to run the station. But for the example to understand the money, lets just use this formula.
There are other billable things, like live reads (The Chump Line is sponsored by Lumber Liquidators ), promotions, sponsorships, non-traditional revenue like the Web site, and other things, that bring in money to a radio station. But like ads in the print edition of the newspaper are the bulk of their money, so are spots for radio.
Anyone listening to Howies show knows that its not sold out. There are PSAs running throughout the hour. Endlessly. So, the spot price is much more than $96 I would bet. In addition, Howie has a network deal, since the show is syndicated on a bunch of New England stations. So, the spots that air on multiple stations make a lot more money. At the same time, I have heard rumors over the years that the network spots have been difficult to sell. If youre in Boston, you dont care about some tiny audience in Maine or Keene.
Back in the heyday, Howie was billing a pretty chunk of change. When I called to get an estimate for a potential freelance client back in 2004, it was $300. I seriously doubt that it is $300 now. But, it might be. I dont know and I dont know anyone who is buying spots on WRKO now so I couldnt even guess.
But, in many of these cases, it is about the money $1 million is a ton of cash. It might be money for Entercom. In fact, as they have seen with their horrifically amateur, unlistenable paid programming, quality doesnt really matter. Whoever pays plays. As advertising has dried up for everyone, they could be looking at other options.
Heres some other math to wonder about, especially when considering this situation. WRKO could easily get quality talk show programming that could potentially be more profitable for a lot less money. There are a lot of talk show hosts out there who can do it for them that wont get $1 million. Heres how that math would work.
Say, for example, that Entercom is selling all of Howies spots for $100 each. They figure, well, were selling all the spots, paying Howie, and making $50K a year in profit (again, ignoring the other costs at the station, just to make the math easy).
However, they could get another talk show host, say, Tony Schinella, who will do compelling air, build an audience beyond just those people who are knuckle-draggers, and hell do it for say $100K. Well, sure, Tony wont be able to bill $100 a spot. But, could Tony bill $20 a spot? Probably, in the Boston market on a station like WRKO. And Tony would kill himself to make it work, let me tell you that right now
So, WRKO hires Tony for $100K, sells out all his spots at $20 a piece, and makes more money with Tony $150K in profit instead of $50K with Howie returning more revenue to the stations bottom line and to shareholders.
Now, I admit, this is a stretch of an example. Im not going to replace Howie on WRKO and very few other people are either. But this is how they could be looking at it. Better to get a cheaper person and sell the rate for less money but make more money than to have an expensive person and play PSAs.
In many cases, WRKO isnt going to lose a ton of listeners for most of their shows. Sure, they will lose Howies rabid following. But studies done by Scarborough Research show that talk radio listeners rarely switch the station unlike music listeners who hear an ad and then flip the station. They have talk on all day long, even liberals, in the background, in the car, and are not often swayed to switch by the actual hosts. Sure, they can go to WTKK. But some wont switch. There will always be listeners on WRKO no matter who is on. Will they be the same as Howies numbers? No. But there will be numbers there.
On Howie calling Obama out for being an affirmative action success story, personally, I dont have a problem with that. From all that I have seen, including an amazing Frontline documentary on Obama, this rings true. Throughout his career, Obama has used his race and oratory skills to dazzle guilty, white progressives into thinking he is one thing when, in fact, he is quite another, as shown by the way he governs. That is where the messiah stuff comes from. The list of his accomplishments before becoming a senator were weak and limited when compared to many other statesmen and women of our time. The fact that he was able to win the primary against Hillary still shocks me to this day. However, it does show that, yes, anyone can grow up and become the president, especially when given many helping hands along the way Of course, the fact that anyone can grow up to be president is a good thing.
Sun column ping
Mansfield pulls the same old spring tax scam
By Howie Carr | Sunday, April 18, 2010 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Columnists
This is how you know its spring in Massachusetts - the first town threatens to shut down the high school football program unless the voters agree to a property-tax hike.
Its as predictable as the Boston Marathon gridlock tomorrow. Its right out of the playbook - the teachers union playbook.
This year the town of Mansfield seems to have opened the season. All the stories run together after a while: one side (the school committee) insisting that this is not a ploy while the other side (the board of selectmen) scoffs, saying its just a chess game.
Usually, the selectmen fold, and a Prop 2 override goes onto the ballot. Its . . . for the children. The hard-pressed taxpayers vote it down in the spring and in some towns they just reschedule a second vote - in July, on a Saturday, when everybodys at the beach.
Of course, sometimes the school committees and their union pals overplay their hand. For instance, its always a bad move to be grabbing state building funds - say, $3 million - to upgrade the high school football field while simultaneously claiming youre about to eliminate the grid program. That grift has been tried in MetroWest.
The Mansfield School Committee committed a tactical error this week by upgrading the acting high school athletic director to permanent just before they started talking about eliminating athletics.
Its always important to describe the cuts as unprecedented, which, of course, theyre not. Heres a headline from 1989: Athletics, clubs get the ax at schools.
The rationale is, these towns have fixed costs. Thats what they call them in the public sector. You and I call them union sweetheart deals. None of these municipal workers wants to go into the less Cadillac-y state health insurance plan, and changes are usually negotiable under their contracts.
In the Dreaded Private Sector, you know how such an impasse would be handled. The bosses would say: OK, if you want to keep those nice bennies, well have to start laying you guys off from the bottom of the seniority list. Well have to hit everybody whos been hired since, oh, 1998.
Which in the towns might mean that 60-year-old teachers would be back working as lunch monitors in the cafeteria. Pretty soon, a 5 percent increase in health premiums wouldnt look so bad.
But in the towns, its so much easier to run around crying The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
The local pols begin this annual rite of spring by going after services that matter to voters. If they threatened to lay off three assistant deputy associate senior human-resource administrators and take away their cars and gas credit cards, the taxpayers would rejoice.
Instead they make ominous noises about closing a police station or a firehouse. They reduce the hours at the dump or end garbage pickup altogether. Most of all, they threaten the football team.
If this happened on Thanksgiving, the refs would throw a penalty on the town hacks. For unsportmanslike conduct against the taxpayers.
Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/columnists//view.bg?articleid=1248050
Herald finally wrote about it.
Carr: Suspension no big deal
By Jessica Heslam | Sunday, April 18, 2010 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Media & Marketing
Suspended WRKO host and Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr said yesterday his weeklong, unpaid suspension from the radio station is nothing to get all lathered up about.
Im off this week anyway, fleeing the Marathon, so its no big deal. Ill be back soon, finishing my time, as always the happy warrior of AM radio, Carr told the Herald in a statement.
Carr hasnt hidden his contempt for the Entercom-owned station since he unsuccessfully tried to jump ship to rival WTKK-FM (96.9) three years ago. On Friday, the big-money hosts fed-up WRKO-AM (680) bosses told him he was being suspended for a week without pay, the Herald confirmed.
Julie Kahn, vice president and market manager of Entercom Boston, and WRKO program director Jason Wolfe didnt respond to repeated requests for comment yesterday.
Radio analyst Brian Maloney suspects Carr is attempting to head to another station and they know and theyre not happy.
Maloney also said he strongly suspects theres some effort being made to sign Carr at new conservative talk station WXKS-AM (1200), which recently swiped Rush Limbaugh - who preceded Carr on the air weekday afternoons - from WRKOs lineup. Theres some real bad blood between Carr and Entercom at this point, Maloney said.
Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/business/media/view.bg?articleid=1248040
RKO site says Avi Nelson in for the suspended/vacationing Howie Carr today. Max Robins as usual
avi is in today wed and fri - he announced he was sitting in for HOwie about two weeks ago, this past Sat he said mon-wed-fri! Wonder who will be sitting in tues and thurs - the col?
I’m going to miss the “Prisoner of Entercom” this week. I was really hoping he’d get one of his minions to corner Mayor Menino with a microphone and ask him what he thought about that Icelandic volcano, just to see what happens when Mumbles tries to pronounce “Eyjafjallajökull”.
Yes. Avi, Col, Avi, Col, Avi
And on Tue and Fri they go off (RKO only) a half hour early for the Very Exciting Red Sox Pregame. With C’s playoffs
(Howie isn’t the only guy who’s suspended, so is Kevin
Garnett) on WEEI, Sox get bounced to RKO
Howie related ping (btw Max wasn’t on yesterday due to a personal emergency)
(I have emailed Jason “Hokey” Wolfe at WRKO to express my displeasure, not that it’ll do any good.)
Tom Finnerans whale comment makes waves
By Jessica Heslam | Tuesday, April 20, 2010 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Local Coverage
WRKO honchos are looking into a disparaging remark that morning-drive radio host Tom Finneran hurled at Howie Carrs longtime producer - the same day the Herald columnist was suspended for bad-mouthing the station.
Finneran, co-host Todd Feinburg and producer Bill Cooksey were yakking about nail clippings Friday when the on-air exchange went below the belt, according to audio obtained by the Herald.
The Kowloons crunchy today. Nancy! Nancy! Whats with all the toenails? said Cooksey, referring to Carr and his producer, who goes by the alias Sandy on the air but whose real first name is Nancy.
You mean Sandy his producer? Feinburg asked.
Or whoever. Whatever she calls herself today, Cooksey said.
Click on the jumping whale, said Finneran.
A laughing Cooksey told Finneran his whale comment wasnt right - yet he repeated it when Feinburg asked what his co-host had said. Cookseys been saying that for six months, Finneran shot back.
Julie Kahn, who runs station owner Entercom Boston, told the Herald last night the station is handling it internally.
I dont think its a big deal. I mean, its a big deal if its a problem but were handling it, Kahn said. None of this stuff is acceptable. Well do the right thing as always.
WRKO-AM (680) fired host John DePetro in 2006 for calling gubernatorial candidate Grace Ross a fat lesbian on his show.
Carr declined comment. Finneran did not return messages left at his home last night. Carrs producer could not be reached. Cooksey declined comment.
(look for youtube video)
Hey Entercom, I bet you won’t want me to mention that there are other shows people could listen to instead like Jeff Katz on the new Rush Radio 1200. (And if you want something to hear 3-6 pm while Howie is on suspension, try 1200 for Sean Lobster Gram Ruth’s Chris Three Hours A Day That’s All We Ask You’re A Great American Buy My Books Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled Hannity...
I’d rather listen to static than hannity - as for howie, well he may be “suspended” but he was off this week anyway - he takes all the school holidays off now. Anyone know how long the felon’s contract was renewed for and for how much? What a waste of airtime.
Man, that’s ugly.
I’m not a big fan of Sandy/Nancy, but that was uncalled for.
I thought the contract was to expire a couple months back but maybe Finneran got an extension (but they didn’t say anything in media) or he could be working w/o contract for now.
Finneran began in Feb of 07 (the same yr Howie tried to jump to WTKK, around summer/fall of 07) and it was supp to be for two years; last yr he was probably renewed for 1 yr, so that takes us till Feb of ‘10...what now?
I just wish he’d go away, I can only take him in very very small doses, he’s anuseating the way he sucks up to his fellow dem hacks,,,,and his fav saying is....he’s a good good guy, yeah right! What a bleepin’ hack!