In this week’s issue… Beasley flips Boston – WGBY, NEPR join forces – Lilly re-enters radio – Format shuffle in NH
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*It’s an abbreviated NERW this week – as usual, we returned from a week-plus in Las Vegas both excited and thoroughly exhausted, and so a lot of our usual NERW-writing time these last few days has been spent sound asleep regenerating energy for all our projects ahead.
But there were a few big stories that emerged during the week while so many broadcasters were out west, including one that literally broke while we were at the airport about to board the flight home on Thursday morning.
That was at Beasley’s Boston cluster, where our colleague/Vegas suitemate/RadioInsight proprietor Lance Venta had been tracking domain registrations ahead of what looked like a format flip at “Alt 92.9,” WBOS (92.9 Brookline). After days of waiting, it dropped at 10:30 Thursday morning at the end of the Detroit-based “Dave & Chuck the Freak” morning show, as “Alt” transitioned to “Rock 92.9.”
The flip takes WBOS – which had been on a nice upward ratings trend – away from contemporary alternative rock and into a playlist heavy with classic rock sounds from the 1980s and 1990s, a mix they’re billing as “the next generation of classic rock.” It’s aimed at competitors in the two other big clusters, most notably iHeart’s older classic rock mix at WZLX (100.7) and Entercom’s active rock WAAF (107.3), and so far it arrives without any lineup changes at WBOS, which had already been fairly thinly staffed for a Boston FM. (Beyond the morning show from sister station WRIF, afternoons are also tracked from Detroit.)
There’s at least one staffing change: WBOS eliminated its music director position, and with it the job of Joel Weiss. (Monday update: midday jock Amy Brooks is also out as a result of the flip.)
Will Beasley’s move prompt any reaction elsewhere in town? Entercom and iHeart both have their own “Alt” stations in big markets including New York (Entercom’s WNYL 92.3) and Los Angeles (iHeart’s KYSR 98.7), and that’s a format niche and branding that ought to have some place in a market like Boston. So far, though, both companies seem to be doing well enough with even their lesser players that there’s no flip appearing to be imminent at signals such as Entercom’s top-40 “AMP” WODS (103.3) or iHeart’s country “Bull” WBWL (101.7).