Shattuck: Entercom, CBS merger sends WRKO, WBZ to new owners

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Our new radio reality was revealed yesterday, and it’s a big deal, especially for news and talk stations and their listeners.

The mega-merger of Entercom and CBS Radio meant that some stations would have to be sold or traded off to third parties. Let’s take a look at what has happened:

Sports radio fans are sitting pretty as WBZ-FM has landed safely at Beasley Broadcast Group. It’s a solid operation on Morrissey Boulevard, and “The Sports Hub” will be jumping into a positive and resourceful radio culture. All good.

WBZ-AM and WRKO go to iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel). This is where it gets interesting. As of right now, iHeartMedia’s Boston radio operation consists of modest digs in Medford. It’s hard to imagine the full staff of WRKO and WBZ setting up shop over there, so unless iHeart is planning a real estate acquisition as well, something is going to have to give.

Howie Carr goes nowhere. Of course he’s local, but he’s got something of a broadcasting empire going, with a bunch of New England affiliates, diversified content over several platforms and a robust retail operation going.

He is still the king of talk in this town and seems ready to roll, telling me, “I’ve had a good long-term working relationship with iHeart. It’s great to know that WRKO will have an owner that truly embraces the talk radio format.”

Notwithstanding Howie’s knock on Entercom, he’s absolutely right. iHeartRadio already has a slew of strong national talkers in its stable, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck and Buck Sexton. They’ll likely fold them right into WRKO, and so it’s reasonable to expect that they’d blow out Washington, D.C., transplant Jeff Kuhner in order to take Rush live daily from 12 p.m.-3 p.m.

What does this mean for Kim Carrigan and Doug “VB” Goudie who handle morning drive? iHeart could opt to save a few bucks and pipe in syndicated programming instead of the duo, but Kim and VB are known to locals, liked in the industry and instrumental in selling the daypart to advertisers.

WBZ-AM is a moneymaker and has a huge signal that covers many states. That said, iHeart does have some of its own news/traffic/weather resources in the form of its Total Traffic Network in Medford. Do they slash their news staff?

And what about Dan Rea at night and Bradley Jay overnight? Potentially iHeart could keep these talkers or move them over to their other new acquisition, WRKO, and make WBZ straight news around the clock. But with so many of its own national resources, iHeart may simply cut down the local operation.

Not known yet, but in 2017 it’s good to be prepared for the worst.

We do know that iHeart will be conducting interviews with staff to decide who gets cut and who continues with the company. I would describe folks at WRKO as nervous. Safe to say the same for WBZ-AM 1030.

It is my belief that good, local talk can win in Boston — with the right leadership. We’ll see what happens.

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