So it’s official. Former Massachusetts House Speaker Tom Finneran, barely a week after pleading guilty to federal obstruction-of-justice charges, is the new morning drive-time host at WRKO Radio (AM 680). But why?
Finneran used to do a lot of fill-in work at WBZ (AM 1030), especially when the legendary David Brudnoy was alive. He struck me as OK as a substitute, but not someone I’d want to listen to every day. He talked too much, throwing out a blizzard of verbiage when a few words would do, and wasn’t particularly funny, either. (Unlike legislators, Mr. Speaker, listeners don’t have to laugh at your jokes.) In fact, he was pretty much like the way he came off at today’s news conference, which you can watch here.
Nor do I think Finneran is much of a marquee name, although Entercom honchos Julie Kahn and Jason Wolfe obviously believe otherwise.
In his press conference, Finneran did sound as though he wants to try something a little more newsy and elevated than WRKO is used to. (Of course, he’ll be doing it without a news department.) Presumably we won’t have to snore through Finneran’s complaining about how mad he gets when the ATM makes him choose between English and Spanish — an actual Todd Feinburg topic yesterday. So I wish Finneran well.
Scott Allen Miller, the man he’ll be replacing, will stay at the helm until the Finneran show makes its debut on Feb. 12. This is unheard-of in radio, but Wolfe said at the news conference that Miller is being considered for another Entercom job outside of Boston. So Miller will be a good boy.
Miller’s not a bad guy (disclosure: I yakked with him on his show a few times, and once did a morning as his substitute co-host), but I don’t think he ever figured out the Boston market. He really could have used a piece of advice I once heard from Brudnoy: In talk radio, the callers are far dumber than the listeners. The trick is to find a way to deal with the callers without alienating the listeners. Unfortunately, Miller’s show all too often sounds like he thinks the callers are his listeners. By this point, maybe they are.