Howie Carr signs national syndication deal

I know how much WesternMA enjoys Howie, but I don’t see this having a snowball’s chance in Arizona to turn out well.


Howie is a newspaper guy and has a huge following in the Boston area. The problem is – how do you translate that into national listenership? Right off the bat, large swaths of the country will have their brains slam shut the moment they hear Boston. While Howie likes to talk about President Obama, he spends a huge amount of his air time pounding the Whitey Bolger mobster thing into the ground. At least while it was being built, the Big Dig was a frequent topic – nobody in Iowa cares (other than the huge amount of Federal money poured into it). Nobody outside of Boston knows who Mayor Mumbles was.

Even so, he is a veteran radio guy and a nice guy. If he gets past the problem that national radio is not a local show you put onto a satellite, he might have legs. The syndicator’s claim to fame is he manages Bob and Sheri from Charlotte, which after 22 years has several dozen affiliates! He also carries the Dick Clark show [Dick is dead]

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12 Responses to Howie Carr signs national syndication deal

  1. briand75 says:

    I like Howie, but I wonder how many irritating screechy voices the spectrum will tolerate? Bad enough that the liberal talkers all spew venom. The conservative all spew similar ideology and, even though I am a conservative, I get very tired of repetitive moaning about politics.

    • Art Stone says:

      Yesterday, Howie got into a spat with his female co-host [I probably just promoted her]. Howie brought up the subject of soccer and the world cup and how much he hates the whole thing. She got very defensive and tried to defend soccer, but backed down knowing there was no upside to trying to convince Howie that some people do like it.

      The flip side is that if Howie drops all the local stuff, then he alienates his Massachusetts audience. The two AM talk radio stations that still own their markets (that I’m aware of) are WLW-AM in Cincinatti and KMOX-AM in Saint Louis. Both are heavy on local hosts and have strong local news operations because of their positive relationship with the local TV station

      • CC1s121LrBGT says:

        “The flip side is that if Howie drops all the local stuff, then he alienates his Massachusetts audience. ”

        … a bit like Mitt Romney losing his home state in 2012…. or Al Gore losing his in 2000.

  2. fhiggins says:

    I really stopped listening to conservative talk right after the 2012 Obama selection. I imagine I am not alone. I’m from Boston. 15 yrs ago, Howie was my drive time hero. Now, I just don’t think I care anymore.
    Art, what is the trend in talk anymore?

    • Art Stone says:

      I would say your behavior is typical. The Hannity hype about “taking back America” and Rush’s “Fluke is a slut” campaign may have excited the 5% of people who go to night dreaming that Obama will be impeached over his birth certificate, but most normal people – and especially almost everyone under 50 – have no interest in this.

      The election in Mississippi where Republicans paid to recruit black Democrats to vote against the tea party candidate is probably one of the last nails in the conservative talk coffin. It’s a lose lose for the hosts. If they support the TEA party, they lose access to support from Republicans who view them as paid stooges. If they defend the Republican tactics, they lose the loyalty of people drawn to the TEA party.

      One marker of how bad this is was the transfer of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity in New York from WABC to WOR (now owned by Clear Channel). The two stations have roughly comparable AM signals, but WABC had a much better reputation. The audience at WABC plummeted, but the audience did not show up at WOR. That suggests to me that people were listening to them out of habit and it took very little to get people to move on.

      • CC1s121LrBGT says:

        The WABC/WOR switch was interesting. Others have gone back and forth as well- the late Bob Grant, Mark Simone now at WOR, John Gambling now back at WOR, etc. Living in the area, I notice people seem to stick with one station or the other. The stations themselves do have different personalities, different styles for even local news weather and sports… and certainly decadeds of history – WABC has been doing talk radio for 1/3 of a century and WOR probably 2/3 of a century.

        Compare that switch to the one a year or so earlier 100 miles south- Rush and Hannity leave WPHT and then come back again. What happened to their audience there?

      • Enough with the capital letters in Tea Party! Those of us who figuratively threw tea in Boston Harbor after Obama’s socialized medicine plan went into action never held a meeting and decided that “tea” stood for anything other than tea! I wouldn’t know Jenny Beth Martin if I fell over her. This is probably one of the reasons the GOP establishment has such a hard time with us. I don’t carry a card, I’ve never been to a tea party meeting, or given a dime to Jenny Beth Martin or anyone like her, but I am the tea party when I vote and when I talk politics to other folks like I’m doing right now!

        • Art Stone says:

          My understanding is TEA stands for “Taxed Enough Already” 🙂

          One of the issues I have is that a lot of the people in the Taxed Enough Already party are people who pay no income tax and receive a government check every month and believe “I paid into my social security account, so that’s my money!”

          • Some folks who are now making a living off contributions came up with that “taxed enough already” thing. The tax system is just one part of the problem. There’s never been any kind of meeting or national referendum to pick that name. This is probably why PBS stooge Gwen Ifill and the idiot who runs the Daily Kos didn’t seem to have a clue why Sarah Palin exhorted America to “party like it’s 1773.”

            • Art Stone says:

              It’s the spending that’s out of control. Of people were getting an extra $15,000 a year bill to pay for the stuff we aren’t paying for, there would be a revolution

  3. Art Stone says:

    After extracting the complete Bob & Sheri affiliate list from their web site, as is typical – about half of the list no longer carry the show. I found 7 stations that stream and carry the show (and 1 that carries it on delayed broadcast). The upper limit of how many stations carry the show, including those that don’t stream – is probably double that amount – so my couple dozen affiliates was optimistic. In a good month, one person tries to listen to that show from here.

    The show’s flagship station is WLNK-FM in Charlotte. Bob was very popular on WBT-AM back in the 1970s, then transitioned to WBT-TV back when both were owned by the Jefferson-Pilot insurance company. The stations were conveyed to Lincoln Financial when they bought the insurance business, but had very limited interest in running radio stations. They have since been sold to Greater Media, a company based on Boston

  4. WesternMA says:

    I know you’ll find this hard to believe Art, but I completely agree with you about the syndication of Howie’s show. I don’t see a mass market in his future. I’ve met both Howie and Col. Hunt several times, have read all the Bulger books and have been a Howie fan since he wrote newspaper court reports…but the majority of his banter is an inside joke. Unless you’re a Boston resident or longtime listenener, you’ll never get it.
    I know he has a large audience in both Maine and New Hampshire because he closely follows their politics but I doubt his reach will be any further than that.

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