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

Greater Media may pull plug on talk format for WTKK

Screen Shot 2012-12-11 at 7.34.32 AMThe Boston Herald reports today that Greater Media could be preparing to get rid of the talk format at WTKK Radio (96.9 FM) because toxic hosts like Michael Graham are increasingly repellant to advertisers.

The story, by Ira Kantor, has some resonance because rumors of the move have surfaced off and on for many months. An interesting new wrinkle Kantor found is that someone has registered music-related domain names like and in preparation for a switch. When I looked them up I discovered that whoever put in for them had paid a little extra for privacy protection. There’s no way of knowing whether they were registered by Greater Media or an entrepreneurial squatter, but the fact that they were only registered last week is surely indicative of something.

Kantor also quotes Friend of Media Nation Donna Halper, who thinks Greater Media will keep WTKK as a talk station but is nevertheless hedging its bets. Halper tells Kantor:

I am firmly convinced [Greater Media] will make things work for them and find a way to keep it around, but have a Plan B in the event they need to turn on a dime and have something that will attract a younger audience, because right now it’s not talk radio.

WTKK has had a schizophrenic format for quite a while. Its morning drive-time hosts, Jim Braude and Margery Eagan, are civilized and funny. Braude is a liberal and Eagan is — well, sort of liberal, sort of moderate. But whenever I tune in, they seem to be talking about something other than politics.

The afternoon drive host, meanwhile, is Graham, a right-wing bully who replaced the even more noxious Jay Severin a couple of years ago.

If Greater Media brings the hammer down on talk, I’d like to see Braude and Eagan land somewhere. In the current radio market, though — shrinking, moving online, with those that are still on the air embracing cheap robo-programming — it’s hard to imagine where.

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  1. Aaron Read

    Have a comment, Dan! 🙂

    • Dan Kennedy

      Heh. What @Aaron is referring to is a comment I made on Facebook, where we’re having a great discussion about this. The conversation has truly moved away from blogs and onto social media.

  2. You can get the full, original story on the domains here:

    One thing the Herald forgot to mention while failing to credit us as the source of the reports is that the registrations were made by the registrar that is used by Greater Media Boston. Compare the database entries for to the one made by Greater Media earlier this year when they rebranded the station

    -Lance Venta

  3. Bob Nelson

    The Ch 25 report (reporter managed to mangle pronunciation of Braude’s name and transposed WRKO’s calls) credited the Herald. They should have mentioned radioinsight or at least said “a trade website”, but maybe figured most people know the Herald (even if they didn’t break the story).
    Severin btw may have helped them get better ratings though. He’s on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze now–and btw Beck is poss. veering a bit left saying he kinda sorta doesn’t object to gay marriage. Maybe a libertarian view.

  4. Jim Braude would be a good host in the afternoons, solo. (Maybe like Jerry Williams – but would Jim address a caller as a “biddy” or a “nazi”?)

    I’m not surprised this is happening, after the death of “Talk 1200.”

    While NPR talk radio is popular with liberals and progressives, commercial talk radio has been popular with conservatives. Liberal Jerry Williams had the highest ratings because of his talent and ability not only in discussing the issues but provoking those conservatives. Jerry also had a wide-ranging sense of humor and he was definitely a well-read radio host.

    Sadly, talk radio in Boston has gone down the drain since Jerry Williams and David Brudnoy, mainly because the current crowd at WRKO and WTKK are mostly not just conservatives, neocons, warmongers and fascists, but also not particularly talented in that medium. They have fellow conservatives for callers and they all pat themselves on the back agreeing with one another in hating “illegal” immigrants, supporting wars of aggression for no good reason, and being good little Bush-Romney-Big Government sheeple.

    Boston talk radio could be revived with another Jerry Williams-type, or a David Brudnoy, or a Gene Burns or Janet Jeghelian. Back then (in the good old days of talk radio in Boston), they all discussed a variety of issues and many different points of view were encouraged. They were truly articulate and informed people, and had a lot of broadcasting TALENT!

    btw, the Jerry website has audio archives from Jerry’s shows on WRKO, WBZ and other stations:

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Scott: Brudnoy was a conservative and Williams became one in later life, but their appeal was never restricted to conservatives. I listened to them all the time.

      • and let’s not forget that Jerry helped launch the radio career of Howie Carr. I don’t view that as anything positive.

  5. Laurence Glavin

    Even with climate change, it’s a little too cold to hear the, um, “music” emanating from passing cars with the windows open. In the warmer months, I notice such things and it seems that very few people are listening to the radio as such. I don’t hear DJs, radio-station jingles or other identifiers, just what passes for “music” these days, even on motorcycles! Admittedly, many stations are going jockless, but just by chance I should be hearing commercials and other fare associated with broadcasting. The “total cohort of people to tune in to a radio station” is called the “cume”, short for cumulative audience. I don’t knoiw if an individual who listens to a station every day of the week counts for seven, but in the most recent ratings period, KISS 108, Jamn 94.5 and Magic 106.7 had cumes somewhere in the high 900-thousands and one-million mark in a geographic areas with four million residents or more . Any outlet pumping out mass-marketed recorded product may be just vying for its share of this audience, while talk in all its varieties is closer to being unique.

  6. Steve Rogers

    WTKK is a boring station, with boring hosts, and that is why the ratings are falling. Talk radio is a great format, but there is no one that can do it like Jerry Williams, and Gene Burns did. David Brudnoy was right there with them.

  7. Steve Rogers

    Does anyone realize that Howie Carr took over the Jerry Williams show when Jerry retired? The show continues, even today, although the station has changed call letters, and dial position. Howie is a true investigative journalist, and is at his best when he discusses local politics and politicians.

  8. Saber Walsh

    David Brudnoy will always continue to be the standard against which all talk radio would be measured. I will never forget the night he said that “diversity” was a crock, and that the true goal we should be heading for is “unity” — but special interest groups can’t huddle around the concept of everybody working together and getting the same level of respect, so it’s more popular to work against each other. That was many, many years ago, but it made such an impact that I still remember exactly where on Route 93 South I was when he said it. He was truly a super smart, remarkable man, and I miss him.

    I like to laugh when I see Braude and Eagan described as anything but what they are: uber-liberal anti-Catholic bigots. If WTKK changes format, I will delight in seeing them go.

    Jay Severin was definitely, like many in entertainment, totally engrossed with Jay Severin. But as much as he would say the most inflammatory things, he always made me stop and THINK… I didn’t agree with his Libertarian views (I’m glad never to hear the “if it doesn’t break my leg or pick my pocket” quote again), and I never liked the sexist persona he played on the air, but he made a strong case to all of us Independent voters to STAY that way and not join any party. As a voter, that made sense to me, as the party of my Irish Catholic ancestors died about 20 years ago when it was taken over by Bolsheviks.

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