Irene Sege’s profile of Jason Wolfe in today’s Boston Globe raises a lot more questions than it answers. Wolfe, the 38-year-old vice president of programming at all-sports WEEI Radio (AM 850), was recently named to the same position at its news-talk sister station, WRKO (AM 680).
Wolfe helped turn WEEI into a huge success by encouraging a crude, locker-room approach that often veers into homophobia. (To be fair, he also presided over the hiring of Michael Holley and Mike Adams, the two best things to happen to the station in years.) Now, what will Wolfe do to WRKO? It’s a station many of us still care about thanks to the glory days of Jerry Williams and Gene Burns, even though it has offered less-than-compelling listening in recent years. (Disclosure: I’ve been known to cash a few freelance checks from the station, although not for quite a while.)
Wolfe tells Sege he wants to make the station “more exciting.” That sounds like a code phrase for something bad. Certainly mid-morning host John DePetro has made things more exciting by telling his listeners that murder victim Imette St. Guillen was “asking for trouble.” I don’t want to make too much of this — I’ve also heard DePetro says that what happened to her was not her fault (obviously). But I agree with Mark Jurkowitz’s observation that WRKO has been “shamelessly milking this for all its worth.”
Also, Wolfe seems to have liberated afternoon host Howie Carr to be himself, which is surely an ominous sign. I’ve definitely noticed that the David Scondras tape, which had been banned for a while, has been restored to airwaves.
When Wolfe took the helm, WRKO was in the midst of adding more local programming with a greater emphasis on quality. It would be a shame if he decided that what the station needs is WEEI-style towel-snapping “excitement.”