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

Is Howie really leaving WRKO?

Most local radio stations are notoriously slow in updating their Web sites. So it probably doesn’t mean anything that WRKO has kept its page up, or that WTKK has announced nothing. But still.

Brian Maloney, the “Radio Equalizer,” runs with an unsourced item claiming that WRKO program director Jason Wolfe was rather upset to learn of Carr’s departure. Interesting if true.

But is this really a done deal? Carr’s lawyer says it is, but the Herald’s Jessica Heslam quotes WRKO (and Herald) flack George Regan as saying, in effect, not so fast. Says Regan:

Howie Carr is under contract to Entercom. He is a tremendous asset to WRKO and Entercom has every intention of retaining his services for many years to come. Any report suggesting a change is incredibly premature.

Hmmm. Maybe Wolfe was on to something when he said, according to Maloney’s account, “We had a f–kin’ deal! He’s not goin’ anywhere!”

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  1. o-fish-l

    I stopped by WRKO’s 25th Anniversary party last October and it’s amazing to me that just nine months later, the entire weekday line-up is history. Scotto, DePetro and now Howie. Still, I’m in no rush to sound the death knell for WRKO, let’s see what happens here.Also, with Finneran struggling in the AM, one wonders if he will be moved to Howie’s afternoon slot, or an evening slot in an effort to pick up some of Paul Sullivan’s WBZ listeners, particulalry those who crave the political talk with a Presidential election looming. Gerry Callahan’s recent mysterious absence on WEEI also must be thrown into the mix.All in all, this seems to be a great opportunity for a few new personalities to break into the Boston talk-market and not soon enough! Outside of Howie, D&C, Graham, Eagan and Browdie, there isn’t much talent.Should be a great few months watching everything unfold.

  2. Anonymous

    There are a couple of very relevant factors people are not bringing up here:First, the big headed monster, Green monster to be accurate, in two words: Red Sox. Being pre-empted seemed to really p- him off to no end. I bet he took it as an insult to be constantly cut into by Celtics games and then Baseball games. If anyone should be breaking glass, it is Julie and Jason’s bosses. This sports link was a poor decision since the inception. What kind of fan would rather NOt watch a coveted Red Sox fan and choose to turn their radio on and talk sports instead? The product is diluted and there are less options in coveted talk and news programs for the area. It was a stupid decision and what is more perplexing is how the Red Sox brass would go along with such stupidity when they had leverage. (Someone explain please how Howie would covet an FM signal but the Red Sox powerhouse wouldn’t?)I remember one saturday I think where every station I turned was sports. in late afternoon early evening, RKO-EEI-bz-espn-1510 and including BU terrier BUR. It was unbelievable that in Boston, we have no outlet for news and talk when people yearn for it around the clock. Only option open? Rerun of Severin from earlier in the week. WTTT was not on my radar then. (That was your slot by the way, Dan. I still don’t get how they didn’t let your show test out much longer. You belong on the air as much as anyone in this town. YOu are much more valuable asset in some studio or newspaper newsroom then in Journo101 classroom being underpaid by a calculating tenure-adverse University (that’s for another day) You having kids under working internships would teach them a heck of a lot more.)Second…WRKO really p-d him off by hiring Tom Finn, this was another way to get back at them, and Julie more pointedly. (Watch for Boston Magazine being a new target for TKKarr.) He looked for every little way to scuttle the deal. First he made a big deal of a stupid joke by Tom about the troopers and a trunk. He sent a letter to the Federal Judge and lobbied the Herald to make it a Front Page hit. Din’t work. Now keep in mind that this is coming from a ‘brave’ Howie who dismissed a convicted mobster felon who confessed on 60 mimutes to targeting him at his home. Howie maintained “he didn’t have the guts” He wouldn’t do it.” (cue all the basket ball jokes) Ok, so a felon wouldn’t but a joking uhhh’joke’ of a 110-pound politician would. Yeah, right. Then came the ratings book result and the front page hit on the Herald how it is such a disaster for RKO. That didn’t get Tom canceled, so Howie’s got to keep trying. That brings us to the third aspect which might explain why the Herald is so complicit in this food fight: When Tom Finn first landed, he actually needed training wheels and a hand-holder, aka Joe Sciacca. That seemed like a beginning of a partnership, except that was shortlived and soon, the show was partnering with the Globe and my personal fave, Steve Bailey (the one who ‘took the severance package’ and then didn’t but we never personally called to check, that one) Now, that seems like a good motive for the Herald to be peeved at a station it thought was a secure partner. That explains the Herald delighting in Tom’s failure and by extention, WRKO’s failure for wronging their own star. Don’t count on slippery Joe to come clean on any of this. Of course ‘classy’ Joe is ALWAYS above any of this. Right, Joe?A couple of notes: This move tweaks another one of his rivals: Barnicle who supposedly “voluntarily backed out because he is ‘so busy'”But before you stop thinking of Howie and Jay as competitors but rather chummy co-workers now, remember how aciduous he was in his criticism of Jay on the inflated credentials and graduation claims right before Severin had ‘national issues.’ He was relentless, so it’ll be interesting to watch how they waltz together (Over-under kids, where is the first kissup barbecue in tony Wellesley or Manchester-by-the-ritzy?)What is the deal with this Feinburg crossover trial period? Is he really going back to normal next week? Any changes coming up there? Time is running out for ex-hack Mariellen to prove her fasc…err populist stripes so she can gain her permanent spot (“Send the little Revere girl home with her mother” is good training stuff. You go girl!)This Jump eliminates D&C’s own jump to TKK. SO is Gerry using his illness as leverage to really explore all options and extreme ends of salary figures or is his tactic running out of possible outcomes? Things on the political side are not going his way either these days, so it’s better he stay completely off radar. No more embarrassement.One Tom Finn question keeps ringing in my ear: Now that he reincarnated as a super rightwing ideologue, was he fooling people before who sent him at the ballot as the de-facto head of the Mass Dem party or is he fooling people now by saying what some people want to hear? Which is it? He has become unlistenable by the way)Finally, Dan what’s this business with ‘Rush is on Boston airwaves because he is CHEAP” And Lydon then is NOT on the air because he is “expensive” or so great or what exactly? Come on Dan. Rush is a showman, he lies on almost every single issue and segment but one thing you can’t deny: he is great radio. He does have a following and is a rating hit. We just have to be honest about that. It is like trying to explain phenomena like Savage being a hit in the Bay area. He is just entertaining even if he is a toxic liar.When Air America learns that it isn’t enough to be right on the issues but you have to know how to do great radio and keep people riveted and interested, maybe they’ll have a prayer.N.

  3. Anonymous

    Howie, “the Rat” Carr is in the news again…This time for falsely reporting that South Boston State Rep. Brian Wallace was quitting his elected position for what Carr called a “hack state job.” Carr who not only was sued successfully by Superior Court Judge Ernest Murphy for slander and libel in 2004, but he has been severely scrutinized in the past as having a reputation for reporting half-truths and innuendo. Carr’s inability or refusal to back up his columns with facts led to this current situation which prompted Brian Wallace to verbally deck Carr.Wallace refuted Carr’s charges with the following Letter to the Editor which appeared the next day in the Boston Herald. Not only does Representative Wallace tell Carr that he’s a lousy writer, but even goes so far to allude to Carr’s long-time feud with Mike Barnicle who in 1998 leaked to Don Imus that Howie Carr’s wife, Kathy, had been having sexual relations with former boxing heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe. Imus, on live radio, is notoriously remembered as having said in reference to the affair that: “Bowe stuck his (you know what) up Kathy Carr’s (you know where).”The following is a reprint of Representative Brian Wallace’s letter to the editor in the Boston Herald:Here to stayBy Rep. Brian P. Wallace/ LettersTuesday, June 5, 2007 Howie Carr’s column, “If you can’t buy their vote, buy their job,” (June 1) should have been entitled “Why let the truth get in the way of a good story?” Howie wrote that I was leaving the Legislature that day (June 1) to pursue, what he calls “a hack state job.” He simply made that up. While he continues to rail against columnists from another paper in Boston, who had made up stories, he has proven to be no better. The worst part is the wording of the story. “Wallace is checking out of the Legislature today,” Carr writes, as if it were factual. It isn’t. How can he write something so definitive without even calling to ask me if it were true? Before I was elected to the Massachusetts House, I wrote a weekly article in seven local Boston newspapers. I know that always writing a good column can be difficult. But when you continue to recycle old material or simply make up stories that are untrue, it might be time to give it up. I thought Howie was a better writer than that.Rep. Brian P. Wallace, Fourth Suffolk District

  4. Peter Porcupine

    Finneran take over the Sullivan time slot against WBZ?BE STILL, MY HEART!Morning drive is what’s a bad fit, not the Speakah and talk radio. And he can take Jordan Rich’s milk money any day of the week and make Dan Rea cry!A more contemplative evening audience would be perfect for him – move Laura Ingram to afternoon drive, and we’ll have a show to rival Jerry Williams!(PS – this is who he ALWAYS was – he’d be a Republican in any other state in the nation!)

  5. Anonymous

    Oh my Gosh!I stumbled upon that article yesterday on a cape website and I didn’t even want to touch it with a 10 foot pole. It looks like one of Carr’s many ‘fans’ thought it helpful to reprint it here.I guess that’s what happens when you open your mouth so much on everyone else. What do they say about payback?If I were Dan, I would only allow the State Senator letter part. But that’s me. When I mentioned you Dan, my thrust wasn’t so much that you did have a stint as much you should, in the sense that you deserve to be more visible on the radio. Emily actually did fine on TKK by herself, she would be a much better draw than many. (She batted down the loonies pretty well on there.)Ari will be hotter commodity now.Neumy will be in play big time, deservedly.Steve Bailey should have a shot. If that fails, he should be given one of the newspapers and he would run them like the great media guy he is.How about including Tappen from NESN in the morning somewhere. She serves many purposes in content and demos.Many other choices come to mind.One side note here, we are focusing so much on talk radio but if you pay closer attention, actually acroos the band, all local stations have experienced a true crisis of talent and creativty deficit. There has been so much turnover in DJ’s PDs and GMs. Nothing is working like before, especially when you add Sat Radio in the mix and podcasts, musical or newsy.I have argued before that it is inconceivable that in this day and age of tech advancement that we still have these miserable AM signals like we are still in the 40s and 50s. It is embarrassing to listeners, station owners, advertisers and Science today. I was countered by a radio insider saying that all is fine and the industry “is hard at work and working on aletnratives such as HD radio.” This episode is an example of how that is utterly false and signal strnegth figures prominently in the Carr deal, in the Red Sox deal and in the languishing ESPNBoston840 and AirAMerica struggles. No more excuses. All major stations should be on FM-strength and have repeaters on AM so they have better reach at night cross state lines. Only notable exception is ‘BZ1030 which is an outstanding signal and organization. I don’t like BZ’s approach to news with the McNews Bites, but they have outstanding people working for them and their strong signal goes a long way’ to explain their consistent top ratings rank.Talking about ‘BZ, one of their producers/ news announcers briefly appeared on Jordan’s program and sounded like a very smart and gifted guy, let alone that his voice is great for radio. That was Art Cohen..Ed Cohen.. I apologize for not remembering but he is a media profesional, teaches journalism and does media work. I hope someone pays attnetion to him. One more tidbit: he said his boyfriend was inline for the iPhone, so it would be fitting to have a very qualified gay radio personality in this town. That’s a notable abscence for local talk line-ups. One last unmentioned aspect: What role did newcomer Grace Glazer have in this transaction? What’s her input in these changes? When I first saw the hiring annoucement a couple of weeks ago, it seemed like a low key player coming to town. (Was this your doing, you little devil, you?) We’ll learn soon how she figures into this saga.N.

  6. Anonymous

    Three more questions about the (big) Deal:1- From the Herald:”According to the complaint, WRKO Program Director Jason Wolfe asked Carr to sign a one-week extension two days before the March deadline, which Carr signed. Over the next month, Carr gave Entercom two more extension deadlines for the renewal option, but the company failed to extend Carr’s contract. “Hmm…Let’s set aside the legal wrangling and technicalities for one minute here. One simple problem: how come such a Marconi-winning supposed Genius like Little Jason or even Julie would even THINK of coming close to, signing a deadline extention for and delaying contract talks with their most lucrative personality. Why would any fool come that close? What were they hedging against? What was this other mega deal they had to weigh against and try to figure out how much they could afford for Howie? None that I can think of. Someone should be sued for sheer incompetence. I mean I can understand delaying others’ contracts like Neumy and Mike Adams and Arnold (I’m sure he is glad he sealed his before this hit the fan) But waiver on Howie’s contract with millions at stake? Now we call the pricey lawyers trying to fix mistakes. Oh Boy…2- What will happen to owned by Entercom. By law, they can’t cybersquat on an eponymous web address of a ‘celebrity’ that means income and reputation to him or her. I am sure they will be paid handsomely to quietly hand it over without a fight but curious to see.3- What will happen to Michael Graham? He is once again being elbowed out. Until October, they’ll have plenty of time to figure what janitor’s closet to stick him in.4- Will Entercom screen angry Carr fans calling the show? This is no Finneran-proportion hire or fire, this is an 9 on a Richter scale for their following.5- The most frustrated person will be Howie for the next few months. Being silenced while he is so vocal and emotional on so many current issues will probably be an ulcer-inducing-like restriction on Howie. I am not sure a couple of columns a week is enough for him as an outlet anymore. October seems like long time. What will he do in the mean time? ( I have a suggestion: Lydon ‘interviewing’ Carr daily on Opensource. That would light up the ‘advertiser/donor’ tipjar for the Chris and Mary show, wouldn’t it?)N.

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