By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Big boom

I’m facing a deadline and 2,000 words to write. But before I sign off for the day, I just wanted to mention a few things about the explosion in Danvers this morning, which took place barely two miles from Media Nation Central.

First, the blast was unlike anything I’d heard before — loud and deep, as though a bomb had gone off, which I guess is not far from what actually happened. Mrs. Media Nation assumed it was the “snow thunder” that had been predicted, but it sure didn’t sound like thunder to me. Still, we couldn’t imagine that part of a neighborhood had just been wiped out.

Second, it is incredibly good news that no one was killed or seriously hurt. Now there’s something to be grateful for on Thanksgiving.

Third, though television and radio have obviously been all over it, I’m interested to see how the Globe and the Herald perform online today. This is the worst possible scenario for print — it’s the biggest story of the day, and the papers don’t publish until tomorrow. But they’re already posting coverage on their Web sites. Take a look, and you’ll see that they’re both off and running. The Globe’s already got sidebars, a slide show and a discussion board.

Finally, WRKO Radio (AM 680) dodged a bullet this morning. Faced with the first big local story since firing its entire news staff, the station had Joe Sciacca, a top editor at the Herald, filling in for the vacationing Scott Allen Miller. Sciacca, in turn, hooked up with Herald reporter O’Ryan Johnson, who delivered live updates from the scene.

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Digital Danvers


  1. Brigid

    Inspired by this post, I went over to to check out the story. Instead of the news page, I got an ad. Boooo! I clicked onto the front page and started reading the blurb, but then their automatic tab rotator zipped me over to the business section. At times like this, perhaps they should think about turning off the more irritating features of the site. And then leaving them off.(I know you can set the page to not rotate between tabs, but I hardly ever go to so I’ve never done it. I wonder how many new visitors got turned off by that?)

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Brigid: That is big-time irritating.

  3. Aaron Read

    That was indeed a big bullet dodged by WRKO. Wonder how long they can pull that off before it really bites them, though?FWIW, I remember the transformer explosion in Lower Allston back in April of 2002…aka “Fire in Allston’s Skies“.In fact, I remember it well because I was in O’Briens Pub (barely 2000ft away) engineering an Allston-Brighton Free Radio concert when that sucker blew. Fireball looked it was about 3 miles high. And remember, this was barely six months after 9/11. Yikes!You’ve got my sympathies, Dan…as does everyone else near that blast.

  4. Anonymous

    The local paper, The Salem News, has the story on its Web site, too … courtesy of the Associated Press. Oh well.

  5. Anonymous

    I’ll be surprised if the overall best write up over the next couple of days doesn’t come from the New York Times.

  6. Brian Maloney

    Dan, with all due respect, you’re setting the bar quite low here. Whether a regular or a fill-in, I would expect any talk host to at the very least keep an eye out for major news developments. In addition, there’s no doubt that many listeners were actively calling the station to let them know what had occurred. I’ve nothing against any particular host here, it’s just that this is a very, very basic part of the job. Let’s not allow standards to fall even lower than they already have.

  7. Dan Kennedy

    Brian: Joe Sciacca is O’Ryan Johnson’s editor, so we can be sure he had his cell-phone number. Not sure that would have been the case otherwise.

  8. Donna L. Halper

    Praise is due to WBZ Radio, which has always been live and local overnight. Callers informed Steve Leveille about what they saw and heard, and WBZ had a reporter on the scene (Carl Stevens, I believe) almost immediately. Those who were worried or afraid had somewhere to get accurate information. For those who think local radio doesn’t matter, once again, we have proof that it truly does.

  9. Dan Kennedy

    Donna: I probably should have mentioned WBZ, but we know they’re going to do a good job. Now they’re the only commercial station left with a news staff. It’s everyone else I’m concerned about.

  10. BosPhotog

    Boston Herald was not only off and running but is pretty good on the follow through too. The photo coverage from photo editor Jim Mahoney and shooters Patrick Whittmore, Nancy Lane, Mike Adaskaveg and Stuart Cahill has been excellent and the writing side has been anchored by the aforementioned O’Ryan Johnson with Marie Szaniszlo and blogger Joe Dwinell.

  11. Anonymous

    Herald appears to have a nice exclusive up on line that no one matched during the pre-print web v. web smackdown — an interview with the owner of the exploding ink plant.

  12. raccoonradio

    WRKO is saying its news department was sacked as a cost cutting measure. Entercom, WRKO’s owner, shelled out $20 million a year for the next 10 years, I believe, for Red Sox radio rights. It’ssad that local news coverage had to take the fall as a result of big spending (and WRKO is certainly banking on the Sox to bring them huge ratings.) The attitude is”we’ll talk about the news” but the news coverage itself gets short shrift.I saw the blast from Rt 128 as I drove north; a mushroom cloud and loud explosion. WBZ was the only way to get the story, for awhile.As for Globe/ distractions, it seemed just before the election I kept getting a huge picture of a guy I didn’t intend to vote for (hint: he won) in an ad…Oh well!

  13. Bill O'Neill

    WRKO’s street cred couldn’t have been dealt a tougher blast on Monday. Will listeners care that WRKO is out of the local news game? Only time (and future events) will tell the story. So much for “news you’ll talk about all day long.”

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