After more than three years of tooth-and-nail fighting over Boston's country listeners, the war between Evergreen's WKLB (105.7) and Greater Media's WBCS (96.9) is about to come to an end. Just a few weeks after closing on the purchase of WKLB from Fairbanks Communications, Evergreen is trading the station to Greater Media in exchange for Greater Media's AC WEBR 99.5 Washington DC (the station known for years as WGAY-FM) and talker WWRC 980 Washington. The companies are announcing this as an even trade of the FMs, with an extra $22.5 million being added for WWRC. Greater Media says one of the Boston FMs will drop country after Labor Day, and odds are it will be WKLB, since WBCS still has a standing offer to pay a million dollars to the first listener to call in if they drop country before the end of 1996. WKLB general manager Bennett Zier exits after just a few weeks in town, to run Evergreen's new Washington operations.
Here's where it leaves both groups: Evergreen keeps its prize Boston properties, CHR WXKS-FM ("Kiss 108"), CHurban WJMN ("Jam'n 94-5"), and standards WXKS 1430. In Washington, WEBR and WWRC get added to Evergreen's existing group, all-news WTOP 1500 and AC market leader WASH 97.1. (I'll leave it to Max Cacas and Bob Smith to speculate about whether Evergreen can finally turn around years of decline at WWRC...) Meanwhile, WKLB joins Greater Media's existing Boston stable, which includes WBCS, AC behemoth WMJX ("Magic 106.7"), and WMEX 1150, which is LMA'd to a foreign-language broadcaster. Assuming Greater Media keeps WBCS and drops country on WKLB, they'll have to look hard for a new niche format for 105.7. Unlike the situation a few years ago, when major format holes were a dime a dozen (no urban on FM, no country, no smooth jazz), the format plate is pretty full in Beantown at the moment. And of course, both Evergreen and Greater Media have been rumored repeatedly as targets of takeovers by fatter broadcasting groups like CBS/Westinghouse and Infinity. This ought to be a hot summer; stay tuned.