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Insult to Injury: Did CBS botch WBCN's format flip?

When we broke the story this morning that WBCN was being killed by its corporate overlords, the response in Boston was a collective"WTF?" Now that the shock has begun to wear off, it's time to start counting bodies. 

Gone immediately are the weekend DJs who also happened to have been the people at WBCN who cared most about music -- albeit about music that WBCN rarely played anymore. Among those who got the axe are Mark Hamilton, Janet Egan (aka Juanita the Scene Queen), Bradley Jay, and PD (and former WFNX staffer) Adam 12. The station's long-running local-music show, "Boston Emissions," currently helmed by Anngelle Wood, will move to CBS's WZLX, leaving open the possibility that if the Rumble survives, Boston's highest-profile new-local-music battle royal will be sponsored by . . . a classic-rock station.

Insiders tell us that CBS added insult to injury by botching the WBCN format flip. In most of these hatchet jobs, the axe comes mercifully swift: the suits walk in, announce a format change, fire the staff, and escort them from the building -- case closed. In the case of WBCN, the flip had been rumored for months, if not years -- the station's ratings had taken a dive off the deep end -- but the station was unprepared to cut to its new format . . . yet. By some accounts, CBS's corporate HQ decided, at more or less the last minute, to flip WBCN at the same time it was flipping Washington, DC's WJFK, which went all-sports early this morning in a move that had also been rumored for weeks. As one longtime 'BCN watcher put it, announcing the death of BCN a month in advance (and then letting it dangle) is a form of cruel and unusual punishment: like firing a bullet and making the victim watch the bullet headed for his head in slow-motion. While CBS is promising a drawn-out farewell featuring "unique programming and stories celebrating the history and heritage of the station," the reality is that dead men are walking the halls. One staffer who survived the WBCN purge described the atmosphere at the station today as akin to walking through a funeral, adding, "You might not want to let some of these guys near a microphone."

 

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