Talk radio, as we all know, is not what it used to be. But if WTKK is taken out of play, I wonder if Entercom might decide to reinvigorate WRKO (AM 680), which has all but disappeared except for Howie Carr’s afternoon-drive show. If Jim Braude and Margery Eagan are out at ‘TKK, then they deserve a slot somewhere.
Meanwhile, Dan Rea continues to do well evenings at WBZ (AM 1030) with a talk show that is as conservative as any on the air — but that is also intelligent and respectful of its listeners. Is there a lesson in that?
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 969bostonsbeat.com and 969thebeat.com 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.
Argh. I see Politico beat me to it. But I do want to take note of a rather remarkable statement that U.S. Sen. Scott Brown made Friday on WTKK Radio (96.9 FM) — that he had not touched alcohol since Jan. 1, and wouldn’t until the polls close on Election Day. According to the Associated Press, “Brown called the decision ‘one of those New Year’s things’ that he did ‘on a stupid bet.'”
Well, as Politico puts it, “It depends on what the definition of ‘drinking’ is for Brown.” Because just a week earlier, he allowed Boston Herald reporter Hillary Chabot to accompany him on a day of campaigning. And one of his stops was the Blue Hills Brewery in Canton. “He likes the Red IPA, by the way,” Chabot says in the John Wilcox video that accompanies her story.
In the video, Brown can be seen sampling the brewery’s wares, but if he took more than a sip, the camera didn’t capture it. Chabot’s story resulted in a brief flurry on Twitter among those who thought Brown was setting a bad example by drinking and driving (his truck, of course).
That criticism struck me as overwrought, and it still does. Chabot wrote only that Brown “tasted one of the lighter brews,” although she quoted him as saying of the Red IPA: “You can pound those pretty good.” Sounds like he may need a designated driver in the wee hours of Nov. 7.
But I guess he needs to revise his New Year’s resolution to “No Drinking until Election Day Except with Hillary Chabot.”
I’ve seen several bloggers list their most-viewed posts of 2011, which made me curious as to which Media Nation posts were accessed most frequently.
I’m not sure exactly what it says — most Media Nation readers simply look at the home page or read it via RSS or email. By contrast, those who click on a specific entry are led there via another blog or social media, which means they comprise a different sort of audience. For instance, according to Google Analytics, the Media Nation home page received 199,143 page views between Jan. 1 and yesterday, whereas the number-one individual item (on radio talk-show host Jay Severin’s return) was accessed just 6,257 times.
In any event, here is my top 10 for 2011.
1. Jay Severin returns to Boston’s airwaves (Aug. 16). This is one of three Severin-related posts in my top 10, which I find puzzling. I didn’t give him a lot of space, and certainly no support. Yet not only did this item rise to the top, but it attracted 28 comments, many from Severin fans who don’t normally post their thoughts here.
2. A rant for the ages against corporate media (Nov. 18). James Craven of GateHouse Media’s Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin wrote a blog post ripping management for deciding “to cannibalize the paper” after he got word that he’d been laid off. The blog post was removed almost immediately — but not before I posted it.
3. Globe outsources online comment screening (April 12). An item on the Boston Globe’s decision to hire a Winnipeg-based company, ICUC, to screen and remove offensive online comments. The post includes several internal documents, including the paper’s complete online-comments policy.
4. Way out of bounds in New Haven (Jan. 26). The New Haven Register’s website posted an online poll asking readers “Who’s the hottest local female television personality?”, complete with photos available for purchase. The Register, under the direction of a progressive new editor since August, is now trying to reinvent its online presence.
7. Indies fight back against Patch(May 13). A number of independent local-news-site operators launched a campaign called Authentically Local. The project included a few of my favorites: the New Haven Independent, the Batavian and Baristanet, whose co-founder and editor, Debbie Galant, was the leader of the effort.
8. Clif Garboden, 1948-2011(Feb. 12). A tribute to the late, great managing editor, photographer and conscience of the Boston Phoenix. Clif was simultaneously a caustic, profane social critic and an unabashed idealist — two qualities that I think are often found together.
9. WTKK fires Severin(April 6). Go figure. Yes, I understand that Severin has a lot of fans and detractors who are interested in reading about him. I’m just surprised at how many of them flocked to Media Nation.
10. Dialing up outrage in New Haven (Feb. 7). The nonprofit New Haven Independent found itself in the midst of a controversy after a custodian it quoted on turmoil within the police department was fired. The Independent crusaded on her behalf, and she was rehired. Commenters, though, were divided on how the Independent handled the issue.
Earlier this week the Boston Globe asked me to write an op-ed piece on Michael Graham’s demeaning shtick about dwarfism. It’s up this morning, and you will find it here. Barring any unexpected developments, I intend it to be my final word on the subject.
Well, now. A little after 3 p.m., Michael Graham addressed the matter of the dwarfism segment on last Friday’s show on WTKK Radio (96.9 FM) and apologized — not for anything he said, but for Karl Zahn’s so-called joke. The full transcript of Graham’s remarks:
If you listen to the show, you know that when I screw up, if I get a fact here wrong or whatever, I like to correct myself personally, and I like to do it right up front in the show. During Friday’s we had a conversation about Starbucks and a decision to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. We were discussing the legitimate topic of a dwarf who had a job at Starbucks for which I feel she was clearly unqualified.
Well, during a roundtable some comments went too far. They weren’t funny. They were hurtful. Doesn’t matter who said them. It doesn’t matter that it was a wide-open conversation. This is my show, and I’m responsible. So I’d like to apologize for those comments. I’m sorry it happened. I wish that I could say nothing stupid will ever be said on this show again, but that is obviously impossible. People make mistakes. What I can promise is that I will take responsibility for mine.
I’m beginning to feel sorry for Karl.
Meanwhile, Heidi Raphael, a spokeswoman for Greater Media, which owns WTKK, told me in an emailed statement that the station will not be posting the audio. She added:
Please know we have spoken with Michael about his remarks, and made it clear this is not the type of commentary we expect on our airwaves. Michael’s comments do not, in any way, represent the views, opinions or company culture of Greater Media.
Please note the phrase his remarks in Raphael’s statement, which clearly refers to Graham, not Zahn.
Pending any new developments, I’ll be wrapping this up tomorrow. If you’ve been hanging in there to this point, please stay tuned.
I just got word that Michael Graham is expected to address the offensive remarks he and his guests made about people with dwarfism shortly after 3 p.m. today on his WTKK Radio (96.9 FM) program. I’ll be listening.