In this week’s issue… A deeper look into the end of WAAF – NYC news vet retires – Format swap in Ontario – Morning show swap in Kingston
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*It happened so abruptly: just after the close of business Tuesday, Entercom announced that its WAAF (107.3) in the Boston market was the latest big-market station to be sold to pretty much the only buyer out there spending big money on individual signals. By Friday night at midnight, the hardest-rocking station on the Boston airwaves was heading into the history books alongside former rivals WBCN, WFNX and WCOZ, replaced on the air by EMF’s national “K-Love” contemporary Christian format, checking off one of the last top-20 markets where it was still missing from the airwaves.
While it didn’t have anywhere near the lead time of other recent K-Love conversions – Cumulus’ WPLJ in New York last summer, and before that WBRU in Providence and WCCC in Hartford – WAAF’s staff was still allowed to use the station’s last two days on the air Thursday and Friday to send the station off in style.
(photo: John Lawrence)
On Friday, midday veteran Mistress Carrie and afternoon jock Mike Hsu took the airwaves together at 10 AM and rode WAAF all the way to the end 14 hours later, joined all the way by former WAAF jocks, local musicians and fans of the station who stopped by the Entercom studios to pay their respects.
With just over half an hour to go, PD Joe Calgaro joined Carrie and Hsu to say his own farewells – and to reveal what had become a poorly-kept secret over the previous 48 hours: before corporate management abruptly pulled the plug, WAAF had been planning a major overhaul of its music and airstaff scheduled to take effect March 2. (Hear the last hour on our sister site FormatChange.com)
Mike Brangiforte, who’d worked at WAAF in the 1990s and early 2000s, had been tapped to do mornings, filling a shift that had been empty since last fall when longtime WAAF morning man Greg Hill moved downstairs to sports sister station WEEI-FM (93.7). Calgaro was going to join Hsu in afternoons, while Jim Ryan would have filled out the day with a local morning show to replace the syndicated “Men’s Room.” Mistress Carrie, who would have stayed put in middays, told listeners she’d been working extra hours to put together a new music playlist, which would have “taken more chances” on newer music, including local artists.
It was not to be, though – while that was all happening on the local level, Entercom corporate was quietly working out its $10.75 million deal to unload WAAF to EMF, and while local GM Mark Hannon was at least able to push for the farewell show (which earned him emotional on-air thanks in the final hour), there was no stopping the sale. As the tears flowed, it was Carrie and Hsu who took WAAF out, chanting the call letters as they spun the final song, “Black Sabbath” by Black Sabbath, a nod both to WAAF’s impending 50th anniversary and (in a backhanded way) to the very different format that hit the air a few seconds after midnight.
Over the fold for subscribers (or single-column purchasers!), we answer some of the biggest questions about what happened, what’s next and why.
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