Now that the dust is beginning to settle, it’s clear that something very interesting is afoot with WGBH’s acquisition of WCRB Radio (99.5 FM): WGBH Radio (89.7 FM) is going to be repositioned as primarily a news and public-affairs station, with its classical-music programming shifting to WCRB.
The move puts WGBH in direct competition with WBUR Radio (90.9 FM), long the city’s public radio powerhouse when it comes to news. And it’s not like ‘BUR has showed any signs of weakness recently. By all appearances, the station is doing well, both on air and on the Web.
But WGBH has a more powerful signal than WBUR, which means that many listeners in Boston’s exurbs have always been stuck with ‘GBH’s limited news line-up rather than ‘BUR. That gives ‘GBH an opportunity to make a real impact. (Disclosure: I am a paid contributor to WGBH-TV’s “Beat the Press.”)
I do have one piece of advice for WGBH: add a daily, two-hour local interview and talk show to the mix — something WBUR, good as it is, lacks. Yes, “Radio Boston” is excellent, but one hour a week? Local talk shows are a staple of public radio, from small stations all the way up to WNYC in New York. Boston should have one, too.
Over at WGBH’s “Beat the Press” blog, Ralph Ranalli has more, including a quote from WBUR general manager Paul La Camera. “In terms of competing on the news front, I have every confidence WBUR is going to maintain its position as the dominant NPR news station in the market,” La Camera says.
On WGBH’s “Greater Boston” this evening, WGBH Educational Foundation executive vice president Ben Godley, veteran radio and advertising executive Bruce Mittman and I talked about the acquisition with host Emily Rooney.