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

Jay Severin returns to Boston’s airwaves

Four months after being fired by WTKK Radio (96.9 FM), Jay Severin is returning to the air — this time with WXKS (AM 1200), a Clear Channel-owned station that has tried to build a talk-radio alternative around nationally syndicated right-wingers like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. The Boston Herald reports today that Severin will helm afternoon drive (3 to 6 p.m.) starting this Thursday.

Severin, who has a long history of making incendiary racial and sexual remarks, was canned after a preening, offensive monologue about his alleged swordsmanship with interns. More to the point, I suspect, was that his ratings had plummeted, making it hard to justify his reported $1 million salary. No word in the Herald as to what Clear Channel is going to pay him.

Rob Eno wonders if Severin might actually beat his replacement at ‘TKK, Doug Meehan, since Severin will be following Limbaugh — “gold in the talk radio game.” (Meehan’s lead-in is Michael Graham, so I can certainly understand Eno’s reasoning.) Problem is, Boston has always been one of Limbaugh’s weakest markets. Indeed, when Clear Channel converted ‘XKS to a right-wing talk station a couple of years ago, it called itself “Rush Radio.” Now it’s just “Talk 1200,” which suggests that executives don’t see Limbaugh as much of a local asset.

A far bigger issue is WXKS’s weak signal. Though promos tout its 50,000 watts of power, that doesn’t translate into listenability. Driving in from the North Shore earlier today, it wasn’t until I hit Revere that the static finally dropped to a tolerable level. Even liberal talk station WWZN (AM 1510), with its notoriously weak signal, came in more clearly.

As for Severin’s return, it will be interesting to see if anyone cares. Somewhere, Scot Lehigh is quietly celebrating. But I’ve missed it if anyone has been pining for Severin’s return to the Boston airwaves.

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  1. Laurence Glavin

    Already WTKK-FM is reacting by moving M-I-C-H-A-E-L G-R-A-H-A-M to afternoon drive and slotting Doug Meehan back in time to 10:00 am, but just for two hours. The Michael Smerconish Show by satellite will now be live from noon till three. No news yet on the 7:00 pm till 10:00 pm…more later.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Laurence: Hmmm … Graham was originally hired to do afternoon drive when Severin jumped to syndication. They also tried him on morning drive. Both times, the station had to move him out of those slots because no one was listening. He’s doing middays because that’s where he causes the least harm. Now they’re going to send him into battle against Severin and Howie? Good luck with that.

  2. Nial Lynch

    Dan: Your personal stuff with Graham aside, he is the only one there that does hard-core politics. Rumor has it that WTKK is interested in obtaining the call letters WFLF– All Fluff, All the Time.

  3. Bob Nelson

    Despite denials by at least one Greater Media bigwig, you have to wonder if WTKK might sign Howie Carr in a little over a year from now. Then they could shift Graham again… WTKK’s Jim and Margery must attract some centrists and even liberals.
    My leftist sister, when I told her awhile back that J&M had picked up another hour, replied, “Jim and Margery? I love them!” Supposedly WRKO had coveted them.

    The quick move by Greater to put Graham on shows they know they could lose some listeners to WXKS and Severin, even if he’s not pulling the numbers he used to. From what I’ve heard, Graham does have some fans, and Severin does too. Whether that translates to ratings and billing remains to be seen. At least we can be sure 1200 isn’t switching to Spanish,
    progressive talk, or anything else anytime soon.

  4. Rick Peterson

    @BobNelson: “centrists and even liberals”? Jim and Margery give a whole new meaning to the phrase “preaching to the converted”. Margery is the left wing version of Sarah Palin, thus her obsession with her. I’m sure somewhere there is a media student who could objectively analyze the shows of J&M and an equally slanted right winger like Graham. It would be interesting to compare quantitatively how much talk is policy based and how much is personal ad hominems on each show.

  5. wardell helps

    to whom it may concern i miss hearing jay on the radio. when you hear his show its like being in class in a ivy league college.i have been listening to jay from the verv first day he hit boston and boy does he educate you as well as build your speaking ability when talking with people that have a different point of view. i can not wait jay.i heard you will be on today at 3:00 i will be listening

  6. karen tierney

    welcome back jay!ive learned a lot about politics from you.hoping to learn more

  7. Severin educates, amuses, frustrates,
    Graham amuses.
    jim (interupts) Marjorie(laughs at anything ) and the rest i.e Andleman’s etc. are like amateur college radio buffs. You pay for what you get. And the listeners will follow.

    The ratings will tell who listens.

    All who want listen to Imus in the Morning tune in at 790 out of Providence.

  8. Rich Parker

    Couldnt stay awake listening to 96.9 after Jay left. Can you say boring and pointless content? Glad to hear he’s back and hoping he crushes the crap coming out of that fm station. Time to get a real education in politics again.

  9. Sherrie Therrien

    I have been waiting patiently for Jay to resurface. I’ll be listening…

  10. Tim Wilson

    I’m not surprised he’s back it appears his career is going in the wrong direction, two failed attempts at syndication, and now he’s on station with a questionable signal and it’s AM which he used to trash on a regular basis when on WTKK.

    Look, he will be a short term draw because there are those who want to see if he and Michael Graham will get into some sort of mine is bigger than yours contest. No doubt his agent sold management that he has a following that will come over and the station’s ratings will be boosted and they will draw a new set of sponsors. So there will be short surge in ratings but give it time he will once again implode and when that happens perhaps he will finally learn that his future in radio is over and he will need to consider some other line of work.

  11. Matthew Masnik

    I listened religiously to 96.9 daily for 10 years with Jay, Michael and Michelle and stopped listening to 96.9 day after he was fired. They got rid of Michelle and the Jay and that was the last straw. Seemed to me the 96.9 station was bowing too much to people and politicians who were the problem Howie is great and so is 680 AM but I miss listening to Jay Severin. I will now listen to 1200. Jay you are missed by people who want the truth. Please keep it to politics so we do not lose you again. Welcome back

  12. Dee Shruhan

    I join the others who are glad to have Jay back on the air. I hope the station can do something about the signal-it’s frustrating to try and listen above the in and out static. It’s sad what happened to WTKK – that used to be my favorite station with Jay, Michelle and Michael. With 2 out of the 3 gone I hardly ever turn to it. I had no idea of the line up at 1200 or that 1200 even existed until I found out that Jay was there. What a find! Love it!

  13. Kristin Logan

    Listened to Jay from the start as well. Well educated, thoughful, and thought provoking. Yes, he’s a man’s man and a bit deep in the nostalgia, but seriously…loosen up and laugh people. Can’t wait to hear him again…glad he is still around! BYE BYE WTKK!!!!!

  14. James Sullivan

    I can’t wait to hear Jay again. He was a breath of “fresh” air on my drive home. While I do not agree with all of his positions, I have great respect for his opinions, and ability to articulate these thoughts. In short, he made me think. I have not listened to WTKK since the day of his firing. Now, I can only hope that the signal for AM 1200 is strong enough to take me home. Welcome Back Jay!

  15. SOOOO great to hear Jay again.
    Welcome back my radio friend, let the learning and laughing continue!

    John “from car”.

  16. Thomas Monroy

    I had been a regular listener of Severin’s diatribes against those who would dare to subvert the constitution, illegal aliens, liberals etc… Sometimes I agreed with him, other times I would find myself shaking my head in disgust. I respected him for his views, but would always have to hold my nose when ever he would allude, ad nauseum to his dionysian sex drive, first president of his sixth grade civics class…indeed. Enough already!

    I couldn’t believe Severin didn’t get fired the first time he made incendiary and disrespectful remarks about Mexican immigrants several years ago. And figured TKK brass would bail him out again when he bragged about his sexual exploits with fellow females in his employ. I’m glad they didn’t. I was wondering when and where he would pop up again and was rather amused when he came back on the AM band he maligned on a daily basis whilst at TKK for 10 years. Seems appropriate. He belonged there all along.

  17. Ed Dewey

    OK, here is the deal folks, Jay Serverin is an entertainer and a very good one. I myself agree and sometimes disagree with his view but nevertheless I find his approach very entertaining.

    For those who are offended by Jay’s antics then you must also be offended by Al Pachino after all he was a cuban drug lord who killed a lot of people.

    Loosen up critics.

  18. Kim Mantz

    I used to listen to Jay’s show when he was on WTKK, but I personally thought it lost some of it’s edge after he got married (ironic that he was fired for being TOO edgy). I appreciated that he was more respectful to women, but he always cracked me up when he flirted with the lady-callers.

    However, I started listening to Michael Graham a couple years ago and I like his show more than Jay’s. I got bored with Jay as he can get a little pretentious. Michael has a very tell-it-like-i-see-it view and I appreciate that. I don’t always agree with him and I like that. I’m glad he moved to the 3-7 slot.

    Nial Lynch, agreed.

  19. mike brewer


    I, we, the Best & Brighest missed you,
    boy oh boy did we miss you 🙂
    Our afternoons just haven’t been the same without you.

    Doug Meehan sure and hell ain’t no replacement for you, unless you like fluff and talking about a bunch of stuff that don’t add up to nothing.

    Been listening to you on “nineTEE” six nine since almost day one.
    You taught me to listen, open my eyes, and pay attention to what I won’t see reported on the nightly news.

    It’s GREAT to see ya back in action again Jay, we love ya !!

  20. Fred Cooke

    I’ve been listening to talk radio since you were knee high to a grasshopper. You rank with all time greats. Keep the masses thinking.

  21. Paul Yarmo

    I listen to Jay Severin because he is INSIGHTFUL. There are a few times I’ve cringe at his comments but most of the time his keen interpretations of world and national political events educate and entertain. Most of the time his insights and preditions turned out to be spot on. I look for Jay on the dial during that time. TKK is still programmed into my car radio but probably for not mush longer.

  22. Susann Koelsch

    As a person trying to educate myself on local and national topics etc, I have found that I need to listen to a bit of everyone out there to get a pulse. But Jay has educated me the most (as well as infuriated me with his self-serving remarks). What I appreciate is he tells you when he is stating his opinion. I listen to Rush as well, and have had a hard time distinguishing just what was fact and what was opinion (at times). Naturally, those well read would all ready know the difference with Rush.

    We need someone out there to help us Newbies learn more (I just can’t read all the articles and books needed to gain the knowledge I get from talk radio). I believe Jay does that. He sure captured my attention a few years back and now I am proud to say that I continue to quench my thirst for knowledge.

    Welcome back Jay and thank you.

    As for a weak AM station?? I have the iHeart app on my iPhone. When I get static on my car radio, I connect my iPhone and listen from anywhere !! You all should try it !! It’s available for Android, Blackberry and Windows too.

  23. Joe Blancato

    I’ve been a faithful Best and Brightest since Jay’s first day on the new 96.9 FM, and I left that station the day after he was let go. I have learned more from these folks over the years than all my formal education. Talk 1200 is great on I Heart Radio, and is on constantly in my office, car and home. Glenn, El Rushbo, Jay, Sean, Levin…come on, there really is no better.

  24. Thomas Monroy

    Jay is doing the same shtick he did at TKK for 10 years. I cannot understand why the “best and brightest” have not resigned to the fact that the emperor has no clothes. From the false claims of possessing a Pulitzer for on-line journalism, of which there is none, according to Pulitzer administrator Sig Gissler, to Severin’s phony New England persona which he inculcated into us from the inception of his show here in Boston. Is Jay entertaining? Of course he can be. Unfortunately his “Jersey Shore” antics are covered in verbosity and mistaken for true wit and satire. C’mon best and brightest, you, deserve better.

  25. John Goodrich

    What all listeners to people like Rush Limbaugh and Jay Severin types must realize is that their purpose is not to educate.
    Their purpose as stated by Howie Carr years and years ago is to sell product.

    In order to do this they must be entertaining.
    In order to be entertaining they must be controversial.
    They cannot be scholarly nor factual .
    They most often apply the simplistic and erroneous solutions to complex problems which appeal to the right wing, blue collar and already disinformed crowd which are the types that go for the WMD, Iranian threat, Israel is always right, the Moslems are out to get US lies .

    There are whole books on Rush Limbaugh’s “Reign Of Error” .

    Recent studies have shown that those on the right with deep seated and erroneous beliefs are not only NOT persuaded of their wrong thinking by exposure to facts but instead block out those facts and retreat ever deeper into their erroneous way of thinking.

    Another study has shown that those who get their news from Fox by close to 100% do not look to other sources for either confirmation or denial of what Fox says is the truth which dovetails nicely with the first study.

    It is no mistake that neither Limbaugh nor Severin et al will have someone like Noam Chomsky or Paul Street or any other brilliant lefty on their shows to debate the nonsense that is their public views which again, are presented primarily to gain audience share/advertising $ and not to disseminate the truth.

    They are ENTERTAINERS and not dispensers of truth.

    Here’s a challenge for the believers.

    Take any of Limbaugh or Severin’s positions on foreign affairs and compare what they say to what you find at:
    or in any of the articles you can find by Noam Chomsky

    Of course I’m taking no risks here because those ‘best and brightest” will and cannot do anything of the sort.

    One last thing for the “best and brightest”
    Iraq is correctly pronounced “eee-rock”; Iran , “eee-ron” and not Eye-rack and Eye-Ran.

    Unless you’re from Eye-tally or Eyes-real

  26. phillip w. girard

    Jay, glad your back, you’re the only one that ever got me interested in politics, you’re the best bro!

  27. Diane Kerwin

    I wondered where and when Jay would turn up. I never thought it would be AM radio! I may listen now that he is back on. I want to see if he has changed his attitude for the better.

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