Turmoil in the air waves

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Public Radio Rivalry

Public radio not only wants taxpayer dollars to back it up. One local station manager also wants a monopoly….

Any business would be happy if its rivals disappeared. But those wishes run up against an economic reality called capitalism. Competition is its core underpinning. It leads to fierce fights everywhere, especially in the world of Boston media….

Some listeners are apparently gravitating to WBUR’s new rival because WGBH is offering more local programming, including talk shows. That’s not a bad development. It illustrates how starved the Boston area audience is for serious, news-driven conversation about important local issues. Competition only helps their cause.

WGBH changes sting public radio rival

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Public Radio Rivalry

WBUR-FM 90.9 has long been a Boston Goliath, with a news-and-talk schedule that’s been a model for public radio nationwide.

But now it appears that thousands of listeners are leaving WBUR and tuning into WGBH-FM 89.7, which last year replaced music programs with news and talk shows very much like WBUR’s — sometimes running the same National Public Radio shows at the same time. …

Since January 2010, when WGBH changed formats, to this past January, the WGBH audience grew by 16,000 listeners, or 6 percent, to 269,000 people, according to the Arbitron ratings service.

WBUR launches ad campaign to compete with WGBH

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Public Radio Rivalry

“A series of new TV ads … are part of ’s new marketing campaign aimed at differentiating itself at a time when it faces fierce competition from WGBH (89.7 and 99.5), another NPR broadcaster. Analysts say the aggressive advertising campaign, which includes TV ads and billboards along Interstate 93 and the Massachusetts Turnpike, is a rarity for public radio….

“Indeed, the two public broadcasters have been engaged in a battle — for listeners and donors — since last December when WGBH reinvented 89.7 FM to a full-time, news-talk format and began running syndicated NPR programs that WBUR carries. WGBH also launched two news-talk shows: ‘The Emily Rooney Show’ and’The Callie Crossley Show.’ In response, WBUR expanded its weekly local news magazine show, ‘Radio Boston,’ to a daily program last May.

“WBUR still leads in Boston public radio. In November, the station ranked 11th in Boston with a 3.9 percent share of listeners, according to Arbitron. But WGBH is expanding its share of the market: The station ranked 20th last month with a 1.1 percent share of listeners — up from 24th in October.”

To listeners, line blurs between WGBH, WBUR

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Public Radio Rivalry

From the Boston Globe – 4/17/2010

Stations strive to gain distinctions that audiences, sponsors can hear

Both stations, which are independent and design their own programming schedules, also announced recent changes in their lineups. In January, for instance, WGBH launched two local midday shows anchored by the broadcaster’s familiar personalities: “Greater Boston’’ television host Emily Rooney and “Beat the Press’’ TV commentator Callie Crossley.

To continue to grow and retain listeners, WGBH has added five people to its radio division, including former BBC correspondent Phillip Martin as an investigative reporter. The station also recruited former Boston Phoenix media critic Adam Reilly as a producer for its “Greater Boston’’ program.


WGBH bringing TV shows to radio

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Public Radio Rivalry

From the Boston Globe

WGBH said it plans to air more of its popular TV programs on the radio starting Tuesday as part of its effort to reinvent 89.7 FM as Boston’s next full-time news and information radio station – and set it apart from competitors that dominate the market.

WGBH officials said the station will draw from its catalog of TV programs such as “Beat The Press,’’ “Nova,’’ and “The News Hour’’ and adapt them for 89.7 FM. The station also will give WGBH’s “Greater Boston’’ TV host Emily Rooney and “Beat the Press’’ commentator Callie Crossley a midday weekday show to discuss local news. Their untitled show, set to start Jan. 4, will serve as the centerpiece of the new programming lineup that debuts Tuesday.

The moves are part of WGBH’s purchase in September of classical music station WCRB-FM 99.5 for $14 million. That acquisition allowed WGBH to shift its classical music programming to WCRB to preserve that station as Boston’s only full-time classical outlet. It also enabled WGBH to convert 89.7 to an all news and talk station in an attempt to compete with WBZ-AM 1030 and WBUR-FM 90.9. A smaller NPR affiliate, WUMB at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, also offers news and music programming. …

Paul La Camera, WBUR’s general manager, said WGBH’s new programming “sounds quite creative. It’s very ambitious right out of the box. We wish them well.’’