Clear Channel cuts hit WTAG (again)

Posted by Jeremy Shulkin

As part of a national round of cuts, media giant Clear Channel Communications has laid off Sherman Whitman, WTAG’s morning news voice. The reports are that the cutbacks only targeted the news operations, so Whitman was the only local employee let go.

This is the second round of layoffs in less than two years for the station, with host and former program director George Brown and news person Tim Cooney both relieved in April of 2009.

While neither Clear Channel, WTAG nor Whitman have returned Worcester Mag requests for comment, there’s plenty of chatter around water coolers in the talk radio business.

One WTAG staff member made it clear that Whitman’s firing had nothing to do with performance, just the casualty of Clear Channel’s tendency to cut news departments. According to Whitman’s Facebook page, he’d been with the company for eleven years.

Michael Harrison, publisher of talk radio trade magazine Talkers, says the paring down of news room voices in radio stations is a “theoretical debate” going on in the business right now.

“One area that has really suffered over the years has been radio news,” he said, adding later, “There are people in radio who feel news is a valuable component of the radio industry.”

Locally, no one really knows what Clear Channel or WTAG will do with their news department now (call us back, Clear Channel), but some guesses are that they’ll use a “hub” station from Springfield or Boston,  or maybe even Rochester or Albany, New York. That, of course, means local coverage will take a hit.



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17 responses to “Clear Channel cuts hit WTAG (again)

  1. Tracy

    I hope someone local hires him. He’s good and he’d be missed.

  2. -Q

    This is a huge loss for the 5-9am WTAG morning show and local news reporting in Worcester.
    With Sherms departure there is absolutely no credibility left whatsoever during the morning hours………..
    Best wishes to my good friend Sherm………….

  3. Reality Check

    Q you really need a reality check

    Go look up the arbitron rating for the wtag morning show
    Then look up the ratings for the wcrn morning show

    The Polito show has amazing ratings, while that show on wcrn is barley above the all Spanish station in Worcester and looks to be in danger of dropping below them. Are they credible? LOL!

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not your own facts.

    And please give us your definition of “Credibility” and how you have come to your conclusions about the morning show, because I don’t believe that it would match what most in the radio industry would use to determine if a show is credible, like maybe the arbitron ratings.

    And from what I have heard, the advertising rates at wtag are double what they are at wcrn. Is that because wtag is not credible and wcrn is, or is it vice-versa?

  4. Liberal

    “Amazing” ratings in central MA is sort of like being the “tallest midget” All right wing hate radio is down these days. Just look at WRKO, WTKK or worse yet Rush Radio, all are way down. Just look at what these stations support did for the Tea Party Republicans in this state during the last elections. They hurt rather than help their own cause. As for WTAG, just listen to the caliber of callers, every day, the same 70 year old shut in Tea Party cranks, and right wing nut cases who haven’t had an original idea in years and just repeat what they hear on Beck or Rush, it’s a dying audience.
    And no one deserves it more than that smarmy, self agrandizing, ignorant hypocrite Jim Polito. Jim,”Yeah, hmmm, I know, I know, how’s that workin out for ya?” Polito. A “T.V. has been” in a dying industry. The station has gone steadly down hill since he arrived. Good luck to Sherman, I don’t know how he ever lasted that long working with that hater Polito.

  5. Reality Check

    Liberal –

    Someone once said that liberals have trouble with a four letter word, that word being FACT.

    Polito’s show has better ratings than a number of the Boston Morning Radio shows. Look at the FACTS, that being the Arbitron Ratings.

    The Arbitron ratings also show that the audience is growing, not dying are you claim.
    All industries are hurting right now thanks to Bush and now Obama’s policies.

    It is sad that the corporate office of Clear Channel decided to centralize the news production in an effort to save money and as a result let Sherman go. We all like Sherman and wish him the best but do not turn his layoff into an opportunity for your lies and vitriol to be spewed because you don’t agree with the conservative stance of the morning show.

    FACT is that they are not haters and they are much more objective then the T&G and their market share in all of Worcester County is growing. I don’t if the T&G can claim grown in sales of the print edition. I would not make claims without FACTS. If I did, I would have to change my name to ‘Liberal’.

    FACTS: WCRN can’t even keep the stream running properly and they have not updated the web site in a very very long time. In the internet industry, where I happen to work, if you don’t update your site you will die. Either they do not know that rule or the lack of revenue at WCRN does not make updating the web site possible. I am going with the latter.

    Stay with FACTS and you will have integrity.

    And finally. WTAG has Jeremy Shulkin as a guest and WCRN has Mike Elfland. That alone proves that WTAG is orders of magnitude more successful.

    Have a great day.

  6. a) In some way there are so many avenues for a person or person to get their opinion out locally: radio, TV (WCCA–the “government owned media), blogs and video blogs

    b) I just discovered WPKZ (FM 105.3 and AM 1280). Wow, their website is terrific. One of the problems that radio stations have is , more or less, having to have a web presence nowadays. And of course a web presnce requires news flashes, weather reports, the radio schedule, etc. Spare me the “personality” blogs though, OK though, guys?

    c) WCRN has too many infomercials. There is a lot of competition in the morning, and I like a “team” presence. That’s why “Matty in the Morning” and Stern do so well. You kindaa feel you know them.

    d) WTAG– I don’t do Polito. I like Hank. He’s cheery and neutral. That’s actually a tougher job than you realize.
    WTAG’s website uses the outside help of Clear Channel

    e) I am amazed that these larger entities don’t make more use of regular web cams and local people for daily or semiweekly reports

    f) KUDOS to WCRN for having a downtown location. That says al ot about their belief in Worcester, as opposed to WTAG with is more of an adjunct to WSRS, the FM “beautiful music station”. But who doesn’t love Jordan ‘tell it like it is” Levy?

  7. -Q

    credibility and arbitron ratings…………thats the best you can do?
    WCRN does not subscribe to Arbitron ratings so your argument is specious at best.
    My only point was that with Sherman Whitmans departure – all credibility goes out the door in the AM at WTAG……….period!
    The only credible show left on WTAG is The Jordan Levy Show 3pm-6pm.
    Other than that have a great day!

  8. Liberal

    I agree with -Q, no credibility period! During the last election, I tuned in to WTAG one morning to hear Jim Polito who thinks he’s playing a commercial, but unbeknownst to him he’s left his microphone open and he’s conspiring with cousin Karyn as to when he’ll put her on and rehearsing what he’ll ask her so that it has the biggest impact. What a right wing phoney! I also fear that Jordan Levy is not long for Clear Channel. Because he does tell the truth, he must have their execs cringing whenever he praises Obama or criticizes Bush, recognizes a good liberal idea, or bashes Sarah Palin. Look at what Clear Channel has done with sister station “Rush Radio”, they will soon replace Jordan with a syndicated show like Savage or Hannity. Jordan always brags about their local programming, like what? Don Bosse? or Paul Rodgers? sure they’re local but they’re not political. Look at how they canned Mike Messina’s show, supposedly for the betterment of his carreer. Yeah, like doing school closings and sleeping at the station is a carreer, Mike did the most for local events and local sports and what did it get him? Sherman was local news, where is he now? Like I said before, steadly downhill since Polito arrived.

  9. Liberal

    And Reality Czech, have you ever listened to Jeremy Shulkin’s appearances on the Polito show? He sounds like he’s about as happy to be talking with Jim as someone who’s about to be “waterboarded” is talking to their interrogator. I swear you can hear him rolling his eyes with every slanted question .

  10. TeaBagger

    Q – Isn’t it time for you to clean some toilets

    Liberal – You are behind the times buddy… You are supposed to call your self “Progressive” or “Liberal Progressive”

  11. Reality Check

    Q – You are lost buddy.

    Subscribing to Arbitron simply means that you can use the ratings to set the pricing of your advertising. Arbitron still rates your station even if you don’t subscribe.

    Are you claiming that WTAG does not charge double what WCRN does for adverts? That alone says that WRCN is only half the station (if that) that WTAG is.

    Liberal – I don’t know when you listen to Jordan, but I have yet to hear him praise Odummer or any of his Obots.

  12. Reality Check

    Liberal – I went and double checked the historical Arbitron data to be sure.
    You are so so so wrong. The station has been on a steady climb since Jim Polito joined the year after Hank Stolz jumped ship. If memory serves me correctly, Hank left Sherman high and dry when he jumped ship. I have heard that they might be reunited at WCRN. How long before Hank splits on him again.

    If you want to be mad at anyone on Sherman’s behalf, maybe you should look no further than that liberal sycophant Hank Stolz that split from WTAG and left Sherman high and dry.

    According to the ratings data, when Hank left he did the station a favor. Of course he kind of screwed over Sherman, but that is another discussion all together.

    Have a great day.

  13. DuddieBuddie

    I know for a fact that WCRN charges about $3 per :60 ad
    Most spots are done at TRADE (meaning you clean the office, give me product, etc. we’ll run spots for you)

    WTAG’s morning show ratings were much higher that WCRN’s. Polito burried Blute and Stoltz into the ground in the latest ratings. Polito is several times more popular. I like Sherman – but even if WCRN was to put Hank and Sherman up against WTAG it would not pull in the same huge numbers they did at WTAG – simply because no one knows about WCRN. WTAG has been around for 80 years — WCRN is a newbie.

  14. Liberal

    Yup they’re making so much $$$$ up there on “bump your ass” hill. That’s why ther’re laying everyone off, cutting programs, playing infomercials, no producers. Oh yeah rollin in the dough. Whatever ratings Jim Polito has probably come from the fact that he follows coasttocoastam, which has HUGE national ratings, I’m sure more radios are switched off at 5:00 A.M. then are left on. As for Hank Stolz, you’ll be hard pressed to find Liberal defending Hank Stolz, a somewhat lesser weasel than Jim Polito.

  15. Keep It Real

    I agree with Reality Check Liberals don’t like FACTS

    Which is why in this whole debate we have heard nothing but opinion from Liberal and all of his arguments contain ZERO FACTS.

    Obama called for more civility but I guess rules never apply to Liberals.


  16. Mike

    “Stay with FACTS and you will have integrity.”- Reality Check

    “The facts can be made up– if you know how.” – Lily Tomlin

    Translation: your positivism is naive.

  17. Reality Check

    Mike – Never take advice from a comedian.

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