Greater Media flips News Talk 96.9 to “Power 96.9”; then flips again


Greater Media, Inc.On 1/3, Greater Media’s News Talk 96.9 Boston switched over to an Urban format–“Power 96.9.” The move marks a return for the format in that market. So far, the station is just playing music and liners. “Power 96.9, Boston’s Hip Hop and R&B station” is the positioning.

Then, a day later, 96.9 morphed again into an eletronic dance station, Nova. “The transformation of  the new 96.9 FM continued [1/3] at 10 a.m. with the launch of NOVA, Boston’s new electronic dance music (EDM) station,” announced Greater Media Boston in a statement. “Plan on more surprises to be unveiled throughout the week,” the statement said.

Here’s the farewell statement from Greater Media on the Talk format: “Morning Personalities Jim & Margery to Bid Final Farewell to Listeners on News Talk 96.9 WTKK-FM Exciting new chapter begins for radio dial position in Boston Boston, MA (1/1/13): Morning Personalities Jim Braude and Margery Eagan will take calls from listeners and past on-air contributors from 7am-10am during the final day of broadcast for the News/Talk format on 96.9 WTKK-FM in Boston on Wednesday, January 2, 2013.

The station, which launched back in 1999, has served as an FM alternative to the traditional talk radio format for nearly 13 years. Greater Media has always been on the cutting edge of the responding end of marketplace considerations and listener needs. The change comes after much careful consideration of the direction of the station’s format and overall ratings over the past several years.

“We would like to thank Jim Braude, Margery Eagan, Michael Graham and the entire News Talk 96.9 WTKK-FM staff for their many contributions to the station and Talk Radio format over the years in Boston,” said Greater Media Boston Market Manager Rob Williams. “They are true professionals and we are very grateful to them.”

What next for the dial position in Boston? Stay tuned!”

In late December, morning host Doug Meehan left to pursue a television opportunity in Arizona and seven-year afternoon host Michael Graham left when his contract was not renewed. Weekend hosts were also told the last weekend of 2012 that their shows would not continue in the New Year.

The switch will end the city’s only FM talk station, leaving WRKO-AM the only major talker left in the market.

WTKK, on the air since 1999, featured Jay Severin, Herald columnist Margery Eagan and NECN newsman Jim Braude.

According to the the Boston Herald, Jack McCartney, former program director for Clear Channel’s KISS 108 and JAMN’ 94.5, could be returning to Boston to oversee the new station, said the paper. Clear Channel recently announced that McCartney was leaving his gig as head of their New York operations to “continue his life’s journey and pursue some of his passions.”

Clear Channel recently changed the format on their newly acquired former heritage alternative-rocker WFNX-FM Boston to an all electronic dance/club format: “Evolution 101.7.” CC bought WFNX earlier this year from Phoenix Media/Communications Group and changed the calls to Adult Hits WHBA “The Harbor.” The move was seen by the Herald as a response to what Greater Media was doing with its talk signal.

Said Graham on his blog:

“I’ve had seven fantastic years in Boston with some of the most amazing, well-informed and funniest listeners/callers/tweeters in America. I looked forward to coming to work every single day.  And I had this opportunity thanks to Peter Smyth and Greater Media. I may not agree with all the programming decisions they’ve made over the years, but I am truly grateful to Peter and the entire Greater Media family.

I also had the support of terrific sponsors and advertisers who stuck with me when our friends on the Left made things…er, a bit thick, shall we say. It’s greatly appreciated.

And one more thing I know: I’m not going away. I’m still writing for the Boston Herald, I’m still on Fox 25 this week, I’m still doing NewsTalk in Ireland, etc. etc.  And I’ve already had some interesting conversations about the media and my future, with more lined up for the first of the year.”

See the Boston Herald story here.

RBR-TVBR observation: What a trend reversal—a talk format moving to music. Just recently, Clear Channel’s simulcast of its KOGO-AM San Diego flipped to Rhythmic AC. We can’t even say how many stations flipped from music to spoken word over the last few years on FM. So what does this mean? You guessed it: Rush’s comments about Sandra Fluke have hurt talk radio ad sales. As well, WTKK’s most recent ratings put it in 15th place—nothing to write home about.