IHeartCuts: Top-40 owner of Boston news station shrinks staff more

Rod Fritz

WBZ Newsradio's owners have cut veteran anchor Rod Fritz, who has been reporting and broadcasting Boston news for some 40 years. In a memo to the staff, the station's assistant news director tersely writes:

Hi-

We want to make you aware of a change here in the newsroom. Rod Fritz is moving on and will no longer anchor here at WBZ.

We thank Rod for his years of service and wish him all the best.

Part-time reporters also had their hours cut back.

Last month, the station ditched anchor Mary Blake.

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Comments

Wow, that's it?

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40 years of service and loyalty to one of Boston's longest-running journalistic institutions and his departure is announced with a three-sentence email? Jeez, it's almost as bad as how unceremoniously Mindich shuttered the Phoenix.

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Voting is closed. 72

WBZ

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Let's face it: iHeartMedia is CLUELESS when it comes to the all-news format; they are in bankruptcy proceedings as we speak. Would be nice if they were forced to sell-off WBZ and let someone who actually knows how all-news radio works run it.

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Voting is closed. 37

Amen to that!

Amen to that!

Except that all the insiders on the radio message boards keep telling us that iHeart will not need to sell off any of its hot properties anytime soon.

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Voting is closed. 28

IHeartless

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a guy who gives 40 years to anything deserves more than a two sentence memo.

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Voting is closed. 88

Not surprised

Since the take-over, a substantial amount of 'BZ airtime consists of pre-recorded promos for the IHeart app and events. Who needs announcers? (Disclaimer: I've been waking up to 'BZ since Carl DeSuze was the morning guy).

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Voting is closed. 59

Prior to the takeover, a substantial amount of WBZ's airtime

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was taken over by needless advertising - both "standard" commercials and promotions by on-air personalities (think Dan Rea's shameless weight loss program dribble, Gary LaPierre's shilling the "nursing homes are truly evil" lawyers, and the "Buy cheap furniture from Bernie and Phyls" mentions that happen several times an hour from whomever is at the anchor desk at the time.

And then there's the silly jingles for WBZ features, like the current one for Traffic on the Threes (which, oddly enough, seems to be ALWAYS broadcast immediately prior to Traffic on the Threes) and those useless promotions for their "news" coverage that regurgitate prior headlines in a "quick replay" format.

The iHeart free app promotions are a minor drop in the bucket compared to all of this.

Disclaimer: I seldom listen to WBZ Radio anymore if I can help it. However, I deal with a co-worker who keeps his radio tuned to it all day. Wouldn't be so bad, except that he keeps his radio on top of books he has on the top of the shelf above his desk and compensates for the far too high position of the radio above the desk by turning up the volume.

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Voting is closed. 41

I don't mind any of the WBZ

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I don't mind any of the WBZ promos or ads. In fact, I truly enjoy the creativity of Michael Coleman's ads for traffic and weather, as well as Mackinnon's Market.

But what I cannot stand are those god-awful freakin' promos for iHeartRadio!

I suspected Mary Blake and, before her, Mina Greene were both gone; but Rod's "moving on" is a total shock. Could've sworn I heard him just this week, too.

Sad.

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Voting is closed. 43

I actually miss the ads 'BZ

I actually miss the ads 'BZ used to run for CBS-TV programming. They were nowhere near as annoying as those for iHeart.

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Voting is closed. 40

I noticed recently that the

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I noticed recently that the non-stop CBS TV ads on the old CBS radio station streams have disappeared- noticed it when I heard repeated ads for the new Zack Braff ABC show on WFAN

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Voting is closed. 46

What?

When is that little idiot Dan Rea gertting his walking papers?

I'm sure Brudnoy is turning over in his tastefully appointed coffin right now over the idiot that is in his time slot now.

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Voting is closed. 98

Changes

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Geez. Long ago and far away was he at RKO? Was wondering about Mary Blake, hadn't heard her in a bit. Definitely get the feel that they are moving towards a rip and read format, two lines on each story, 1010 WINS style.

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Voting is closed. 58

Mina Greene

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Thankfully she is no longer at 'BZ. She was always a hot mess and her diction was abhorrent and beyond a-n-n-o-y-i-n-g.

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Voting is closed. 65

Mina Greene

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Mina can be heard on WATD 95.9 filling in on Sundays for the 12 noon news!!

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Voting is closed. 46

That's too bad that they are

That's too bad that they are dismantling the station like that. BZ is an institution. I loved Rod Fritz and Mary Blake. This is our loss.

Let's go back to independent stations. Enough of this corporate cost-cutting nonsense.

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Voting is closed. 56

Looks like Joe Mathieu knew

Looks like Joe Mathieu knew what he was doing when he left WBZ last year. IIRC, he did so shortly after CBS announced it would spin off its Radio stations to Entercom. We can only speculate on how WBZ would be faring under Entercom - albeit we do have almost all of the other former CBS O&O news and news/talk stations now under Entercom to observe - but we are getting a clearer and uglier picture of how iHeart is (mis?)handling WBZ.

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Voting is closed. 48

IIRC, not only Mary Blake and

IIRC, not only Mary Blake and Rod Fritz, but also Ben Parker came over from WRKO when Entercom decided they didn't need a news operation there.

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Voting is closed. 42

Any one know

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iheartless’ contact info. I tried to find it online unsuccessfully. I would like to tell them that I just cut them out of my line up.

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Voting is closed. 62

Contact info

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Bob Pittman, CEO

iHeartMedia, Inc.
200 East Basse Road
Suite 100
San Antonio, Texas 78209-8328
(210) 822-2828

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Voting is closed. 43

I found it

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Called and told the front desk about my displeasure. The kind lady forwarded me to the managers line who did not answer. I left a voicemail and said how it is such a displeasure to hear of the news and that they are cut from my list. call and let your voices be heard-617-787-7000

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Voting is closed. 50

Corporate world is remarkably cold blooded

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As a child, I remember ruminating about Nazi Germany, Mao, Stalinist Russia, the killing fields, etc. The casual inhumanity. The banality of evil indeed. I no longer question how bad things happen.

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Voting is closed. 58

I haven't listened to 1030-AM

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I haven't listened to 1030-AM a lot in recent years, especially after the Bruins moved on to the Sports Hub, but when I do tune in for traffic and weather while on the road those voices are so familiar and they've done it so smoothly and professionally. It seems like radio in Boston that isn't sports talk or NPR is being eviscerated.

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Voting is closed. 64

College radio is still going strong

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WUMB consistently plays a program of folk/roots/Americana/blues
WMBR has a pretty varied schedule, but has some form of rock in the mornings. I don't often catch Lost and Found from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, but it's a solid show made up of music you rarely hear elsewhere from '60s and '70s
WHRB is consistently jazz in the mornings and classical in the afternoons. Blues Hangover Saturday and Sunday mornings is my favorite radio time of the week when I'm able to catch it.
I don't often listen to WERS, but they seem to have their head on straight with regards to at least playing music.

But I'll agree that commercial radio in Boston is a cesspool.

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Voting is closed. 37

Economics 101 ...

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I've heard Boston Globe Editor Brian McGrory complain, more than once, about cataclysmic changes to the economics of the newspaper industry, Basically, the internet took some of their advertisers. Inevitably, that has an impact.

Seems like a similar phenomena has occurred in commercial radio, especially AM.

Of course, IHeart did not handle the Fritz situation well.

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Voting is closed. 38

iHeart declared bankruptcy last week / doesn't know radio

I never understood why iHeart felt they were in a position to make any major asset transactions last year, like swapping a bunch of stations (hence the recent WBZ acquisition).

That was somewhat recent...fast forward to last week, and they declare bankruptcy for being $20 BILLION in debt. The shedding of work force will probably go well beyond 'BZ for their Boston stations.

iHeart is nothing more than ClearChannel Communication's band-aid branding to hide the fact that they're still following outdated broadcast practices, and haven't had the balls to come up with truly innovative programming and revenue streams to keep radio a worthwhile commodity beyond teenagers.

The UK's BBC Radio 1 station really has grasped what decent modern-day radio should be. iHeart could heavily learn so much from the BBC.

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Voting is closed. 60

Teenagers

What a worn-out trope. The most successful radio in Boston is decidedly for old people at this point. Note WROR's resistance to most 80s music as most other heritage classic hitters (WCBS, Q105 in Tampa) went all in long ago, the retrograde nonsense sprinkled among the bullpen and Brady talk on WEEI, and the presence of Matty for 28 (EDIT: 38) years now in mornings on Kiss 108.

This is a town where people don't die or move away. But at some point, they will die, then radio will become the province of kids who speak English in public and Spanish in the home with their parents and grandparents.

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Voting is closed. 47

So, what exactly do you

So, what exactly do you suggest we "old people" do regarding radio: just tune in and enjoy all the freakin' hip-hop that pervades the Boston radio dial?

You make longevity seem like a bad thing.

Who needs 80s stuff on 'ROR? Nothing wrong with hits from the 60s and 70s. Scott Shannon embraces this with his True Oldies Channel.

I have lots of late teens / early 20s as students in my classes. Most stare at me blankly when I mention something I heard on the radio or read in the newspaper. This, while they're thumbing away on their little smart-a#$ mobile devices.

I don't know who does research for radio programmers, but the data they're supposedly collecting is over-representing the 18-25 demo. These kids are not listening to radio!

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Voting is closed. 33

The irony

"Just because somebody turns 30 doesn't mean they want to listen to oldies." - Sunny Joe White, Kiss 108

Kiss 108 is for "old people." It's been around forever, as has their morning show host. They do quite well with older listeners.

Hot 96.9 succeeds for the same reason. Stations like them fail in other markets because they play classic hip-hop exclusively. Their program director used to run Kiss 108 and subscribes to that Sunny Joe mantra. I'm 34, and I want to hear Drake and Bruno Mars with my Biggie and Fiddy. No reason not to do that, especially since classic hip-hop isn't nearly as deep as classic rock is. You'll burn the songs to death very quickly if you don't mix in currents.

All that said, your use of "freakin' hip-hop" feels as dated as "teenagers." Hip-hop has not been the dominant style in mainstream Top 40 for almost a decade now. Kendrick Lamar has still never had a solo pop airplay hit (I'm not counting his Taylor Swift and Maroon 5 collaborations in this argument). It would take an act of God to get a Kanye current on Kiss 108 at this point. Even the ones who make hits are flashes in the pan. Who's going to remember G-Eazy in 2022?

The best rapper right now is Lin-Manuel Miranda, and ain't nobody putting show tunes on the air. Current music is thin, and has been for a long time. I look at an entity like Magic 106.7 and wonder just what on Earth they're going to play in 10 years. The stations/formats from which they would draw hits have been eating their seed corn to the tune of 115 spins a week for a long time now.

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Voting is closed. 37

Teenagers

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And do they drive?

BUT, I always wonder, in the midst of the slash and burn capitalism that rules the American economy, are these businesses losing money on operations (NOT including debt.) Are they driven to cut jobs to stem losses, or to increase profit?

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Voting is closed. 38

No.

The get whatever they want on their phones lickety split from Apple Music or Spotify or Amazon Prime or whatever they can come up with to screw the artists with this week.

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Voting is closed. 44

You're right...

...hence my prior comment about outdated broadcast practices being the norm on FM stations. They're still going after the teen demo a lot, despite much better competition from music services.

The oversaturation of "listen on our app" promos is nothing more than a spin to make people think they are keeping up with the times. Ultimately, it's just same old FM, but mobile.

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Voting is closed. 42