Say Goodbye to WBCN. Say Hello to WBZ-FM

by Ken Fang on July 14, 2009

It’s been long speculated that CBS Radio would flip WBCN-FM to sports talk. With the company flipping well known news/talk station WJFK-FM in Washington, DC to all-sports next week, CBS Radio is apparently making the corporate move to make other FM stations all-sports.

For Boston, it means the loss of long-time rock station WBCN from the FM dial. It was one of the first FM rock stations in the country signing on in 1968. It’s been the home of Charles Laquidera, Howard Stern, Opie & Anthony and so many DJ’s over the years. It was also one of the first FM stations to become a flagship radio station for an NFL team. But in August, that will end.

According to Adam Reilly of the Boston Phoenix, WBCN leaves the airwaves existing only as internet station. Adam writes:

CBS, ‘BCN’s owner, is moving Mix 98.5 to 104.1, WBCN’s frequency, and starting a new, all-sports station–apparently to be dubbed the Sports Hub, and to carry the call letters WBZ-FM–at Mix’s spot on the dial.

According to industry newsletter Radio Insight, this move by CBS Radio is apparently a corporate-wide integration within the company’s stations across the country. And someone has already purchased (ahem, CBS Radio) the domain name.

Word is that Comcast SportsNet’s Gary Tanguay and Michael Felger have already been signed by CBS Radio to join the station. WBCN’s morning team of Toucher and Rich will anchor mornings for WBZ-FM.

Felger’s presence on WEEI’s Baseball Show will most likely end immediately. And so might the alliance between WEEI and CSN.

With CBS Radio behind an FM sports station, we finally may have some decent competition for Entercom’s WEEI. Other challengers have made big splashes at first, but fell by the wayside either through a lack of money, lack of staff, lack of signal strength or lack of imagination (see 1510 AM and ESPN 890).

CBS Radio has the promotion and money, web presence and in the case of 98.5 FM, signal strength into New Hampshire and Rhode Island to make this work. Plus, if it moves the Patriots and Bruins (currently on WBZ-AM) along with Westwood One’s NFL and NCAA Tournament packages to The Sports Hub, the station could be a force to be reckoned with.

Of course, WEEI has the brand name and seniority in the market. It has the established personalities such as Dennis & Callahan, Dale Arnold and Glen Ordway. Entercom also has long term contracts with the Red Sox and Celtics, but the main thing with Entercom is personality-driven radio.

But with having Felger and Tanguay on their station, WBZ-FM will have some name recognition of their own. The interesting thing will be how this all plays out. It all begins in August and we’ll all be watching.

UPDATE, 12:25 p.m.: Here’s the official announcement from CBS Radio. Bruins and Patriots are confirmed to be moving to WBZ-FM. The launch will be August 13 which coincidentally is the day of the Patriots first exhibition game.

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  • http://[email protected] TRH

    Great news WEEI doesn’t come in well in southern NH

  • Jason Coyote

    TRH, have you tried 93.5 FM out of Keene? I assume Portland’s channel would be out of range. Do you get 98.5 pretty well up there?

    Always wondered if there would ever be a day of reckoning for EEI, as they arrogantly laughed in the past at all the little patsy stations that would try to challenge them in the ratings, thinking that a legitmate threat to their supremacy would ever exist.

    Memo to Messrs. Wolfe and Kahn: you might want to circle August 12 on your calendar. It’s likely the last day you’ll be able to take your popularity for granted.

  • TwiztidGoalie

    Cant wait for all the hockey talk with Tanguay and Felger!!!!

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  • Joseph

    Don’t be surprised if Entercom dumps WAAF well before August 13th and simulcasts WEEI on 97.7 and 107.3.

    Such a move would be a “pre-emptive strike” against the new CBS-owned sports-talk FM.

    Boston not so long ago supported three strong rock stations. I doubt now it can support even one, which is why I think WAAF is going to become a WEEI simulcast. And I even think little WFNX could move away from rock over the next year.

  • Jason Coyote

    At the very least Joseph, I can see EEI simulcasting on 97.7 FM, with AAF going back to only broadcasting on the 107.3 frequency. I can’t imagine Entercom would totally sack the rock station, as they’re bound to pick up some of BCN’s audience after the switch.

  • Ken Fang

    The thing is that Entercom put ‘AAF on 97.7 FM so it could improve the station’s signal in Boston. I don’t think Entercom would want to lose that especially with ‘BCN going away.

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