In this week’s issue… What next for Boston’s Kiss? – WBAI renewal challenged – College stations may lose licenses without renewals – Toucher and Rich expand westward – Remembering Gloria Langston
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*We haven’t had many NERW Extra installments lately, but last Tuesday’s abrupt exit of veteran Boston morning man Matt Siegel from iHeart’s WXKS (Kiss 108) certainly merited one.
Almost a week later, we still have more questions than answers about what happened that took Siegel off the air in mid-April, why his on-air farewell seemed so rushed, and especially what’s going to happen next in that high-profile daypart.
We know, of course, that Siegel’s relationship with his co-hosts and the station had been strained in recent years, going back to June 2021 when he walked off the show for a day after getting into an on-air spat with former co-host Bex Maroun and then facing management criticism over a bit in which he criticized a pop star’s announcement that they were identifying as non-binary. Maroun soon left for a new job in Philadelphia, but something seemed to change after that for Siegel.
When we listened while in town last fall, Siegel, then 71, sounded old, complaining about health issues in ways that didn’t seem like they’d resonate with 20- or 30-something Kiss listeners. In his last full day on the air in April, the show proceeded along similar lines – much of his first hour was consumed with a lengthy and graphic recounting of a recent visit to the doctor.
In one bit of the show, which appeared to have been temporarily removed from the show’s podcast, Siegel joked about Milton Academy, which we hear may have struck a nerve with his co-host Lisa Donovan. Neither host was on the air after that April 19 show, leaving co-host Billy Costa and the show’s producers to carry on without any on-air acknowledgement of the hosts’ absence until last Tuesday, when they played Siegel’s brief recorded announcement that he was hanging it up after 41 years with Kiss (and several years before that at WBCN and WCVB.)
Siegel explained that his family had talked to him about retiring, especially after recent health issues that included brain surgery and a broken foot.
“I started getting a little grumpy on the radio, which I hate,” Siegel said. “All I want to do is make people laugh… and I got off-target.”
While the show has continued to celebrate Siegel’s legacy in the days since his exit, it’s certainly not the farewell the station or Siegel probably wanted, and it’s still not clear why his “retirement” is being celebrated largely without his actual presence, even if remotely from his home studio in Florida where he’s spent the winter.
As for Donovan, Costa and the remaining cast explained that she’s had her own personal issues, dealing with a serious health problem affecting her mother that’s forced her to stay down in South Carolina, entirely unrelated to Siegel’s issues.
There’s no word on when or if she’ll be back – and in the meantime, that leaves a big question mark in what’s still being billed as “Matty in the Morning,” though now being led by the veteran Costa and producers Justin Aguirre and Winnie Akoury.
Once the Matty celebration ends, what’s next for mornings at Kiss? In recent months, iHeart has been more aggressive about keeping things local at its bigger top-40 stations in the morning, so we don’t expect to see New York’s Elvis Duran, for instance, getting imported to Boston. That leaves a potential opening for afternoon jock Mikey V, a Framingham native, to migrate to mornings, though nothing official has been announced yet and there are certainly iHeart talents in other markets who’d love a shot at Boston, too.
*Down the hall at the iHeart complex in Medford, there’s another personnel change: Colton Bradford came to WBWL (101.7 the Bull) in 2015 from Mobile, Alabama, starting on the night shift and then moving to afternoons a year later. In 2017, he started doing TV as well over at NBC Boston, where he’s been co-hosting “The Hub Today.” Friday was Bradford’s last day with the Bull, and he hasn’t said yet where he’s heading next, nor has iHeart named a replacement.
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