All News 106.7 continues to whittle away the “news” part of its operation, becoming more like a news/talk/sports hybrid with the addition of former New England talk show host Michael Graham from 9 to noon.
Graham posted the news on his website today. His final day on New England Talk Network and Boston Herald Radio will be April 25.
According to the GoLocalWorcester website, “Graham has been a mainstay on conservative talk radio since 1998. Prior to his most recent gig on WCRN, Graham hosted the daily talk show, The Natural Truth on the Boston station WTKK. Graham is also the author of several books and is a columnist for the Boston Herald.”
John Dickey, head of programming at Cumulus provided me this glib quote via text: “The real truth will set you free,” which is close to Graham’s catchphrase “The Natural Truth.” He said a start date has not been finalized.
The Atlanta-based Cumulus radio station debuted in May, 2012 as an all-news station. Ratings have been modest but growing steadily. In March, the station drew a 1.7 share, ranking 19th, which is a tie for its best to date.
Last fall, the station plucked Kim “The Kimmer” Peterson out of retirement to host a talk show from noon to 3 p.m. and began airing Atlanta Braves games this season (The Kimmer said he wasn’t familiar with Graham, though he lived for a time in Boston after he left WGST in 2006.)
So far, the Kimmer’s ratings have been comparable, if not slightly better, than that of the rest of the station.
Graham will be coming to Atlanta with little to no name recognition, unlike the Kimmer, who had an existing fan base from his WGST days.
I’m not sure what this means for John Lisk and Cheryl Castro, the news hosts from 9 to noon on All News.
Here is most of Graham’s message on his website, mostly about why he’s leaving the liberal land of New England for the more conservative world of Georgia:
I have very mixed feelings about leaving Boston. I’m not moving to Georgia because it was snowing here in Massachusetts yesterday. And it has nothing to do with the taxes or the crappy roads or the one-party Politburo-politics of Beacon Hill.
I can honestly say I love living here, so much so that when 96.9 made the switch to hip-hop, I started my own network rather than simply take a gig in another market. And the success of the New England Talk Network shows that there’s a market in Massachusetts for a media conversation slightly to the right of WGBH and the Boston Globe-Democrat’s daily menu of party talking points.
What doesn’t exist is a company willing to ignore the political pressure, step up and meet that demand. WTKK wasn’t killed by the marketplace. Conservative political talk was smothered to death by political and social pressure to silence the one meaningful voice of dissent on the airwaves.
Talk radio is a format sitting on death’s door in New England. Much of that damage is self-inflicted. Angry, paranoid and unpleasant is no way to go through life, son.
But the culture of liberal intolerance here is far stronger than I would ever have believed. The banishing of a feminist activist at Brandeis is just the latest data point in a broad trend. Does anyone remember, for example, Gov. Patrick responding to the 2010 elections by announcing he was going to end his personal boycott of conservative media and start appearing on talk radio?
He made exactly one appearance—with my Herald colleague Howie Carr. Realizing he would face actual questions from actual voters who had actual arguments and facts, he never came back.
I’ve done talk radio in markets large (Washington, DC) and small (Charleston, SC) for 15 years. But Boston is the only place where I’ve had people actually walk out of a room when I entered, simply because I’m a conservative. It’s the only place I’ve ever had potential advertisers tell me “I’d like to be on your show, but I’m afraid.”
They’re not afraid of intolerant, right-wing haters, my liberal friends. They’re afraid of you.
Part of me wants to stay and fight. To be part of the trailblazing Boston Herald Radio is doing in the world of internet media. And I hate abandoning the listeners who’ve hunted me down on the AM dial just to have one conversational oasis. Their support has been amazing.
But I’ve got another mission now, and that’s to help (in my small way) save the talk radio format from itself. My plan is to use the lessons that smart, funny people of Massachusetts—Left and Right—have taught me: Have more fun. Learn more stuff. Good debates are better than belligerent yelling.
And most important, that people are far more important than politics.
Massachusetts, despite your politics, you’re really good people.