|(Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff)|
Tuned in to a broad radio market
Mark Hannon’s Brighton office reflects the mixed radio worlds he inhabits. Posters of rock bands Led Zeppelin and U2 sit near framed, signed jerseys of New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox players. Hannon is senior vice president and market manager for CBS Radio Boston. The five stations he oversees regularly rank among the most listened to in the local market. The stations are WBZ-AM (1030); WBZ-FM (98.5), also known as The Sports Hub; WZLX-FM (100.70); WODS-FM (103.3); and WBMX-FM (104.1). Hannon recently spoke with Globe reporter Johnny Diaz.
You announced that Comcast SportsNet would begin televising The Sports Hub’s “Felger & Massarotti Show’’ as a daily afternoon simulcast on Nov. 1. What is the strategy behind that? We feel it will expand our brand. Comcast SportsNet penetrates all through New England, 4 million households. For The Sports Hub, it’s introducing our brand outside of the Boston area.
Your biggest competitor, WEEI-AM (850), is now simulcasting on FM. Is Boston big enough to have two sports talk radio stations on FM?
When we launched [two years ago], we fully expected [WEEI] to respond. That they didn’t do it initially and it took them two years to do it was a little surprising to us.
We feel this is a sports-crazy enough town that you certainly have room for both. We fancy ourselves as a younger, hipper execution. We use a lot of current music, a lot of rock and hip-hop.
What is the advantage of FM?
The sound quality of FM versus AM; it’s just a better sound. It’s more accessible. It’s typically a younger audience than the AM band.
WBZ-AM just turned 90. Any plans to change its programming or continue with the current formula?
It’s a formula that works - the news wheel, the elements of delivering full-service news whether it be headlines, traffic, weather, or sports. Like any brand, you have to continue to evolve. What we are 90 years later compared with what we were is entirely different. In the digital era, it’s also about distribution. So WBZ-AM is also available online and on mobile devices.
WODS used to be known as an oldies station, but the station no longer uses that word. How do you define oldies or classic hits?
Oldies, historically in radio, have been connected to doo-wop and Elvis Presley and the ’50s. What WODS is today is entirely different. The format is classic hits, and what defines that right now is the greatest hits of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. The center lane of that radio station is the ’70s.
Is there one station that requires more attention than the others?
WBZ-AM and WBZ-FM require more attention because of their sheer size. The newsroom is gigantic. Creating WBZ-AM is like a blank canvas every day that starts over. It just takes a lot of manpower and effort to do that. WBZ-FM is a close second because it also has a lot of personnel and again, creating sports talk radio from the ground up on a daily basis takes a lot of work.
Do you consider public radio as competition?
More on the content side than the sales side. WBUR-FM (90.9) is a great public radio station with National Public Radio backing. It’s a different execution than WBZ-AM, but it’s certainly a news provider in this marketplace that we have to be mindful of.
What is the biggest challenge of your job?
Staying strategically focused on behalf of all five brands. It’s really important that I divide my time and spend my time thinking about the future of the brands, giving some equal time to all five. They are always at different points in their respective evolutions.
What do you listen to?
I listen to all of it. I definitely love classic rock. When you think of Top 40, pop, that kind of style, I listen to a lot of that, too, and enjoy it. I also listen to WODS because it’s a mesh of classic rock and pop.