The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

22 December 2005

Severino Press Release Omits Controversies


Hopes To Fool Listeners With "Jay Severin" Show

While radio talk show
hosts facing arrest and criminal charges may be infrequent, ethics flaps continue to plague the medium like a nasty bird flu epidemic.

For full disclosure of my own potential conflict of interest in further discussing this story, please see the comments section below.

With newly syndicated "libertarian/libertine" (read: anti-Bush quasi-liberal) host Jay Severin (real name: Jimmy Severino) still leading the pack, many controversies emanate from just a small number of questionable personalities.

Even after exposes by the Boston-area news media on Sag Harbor, New York-based Severin's wild claims of winning a Pulitzer Prize for "online journalism" and other highly questionable assertions, CBS still went ahead with plans to take him national.

What does that say about how very little has changed at the network since Rathergate?

Teaming up with sister firm Westwood One, a highly misleading press release has been issued, leaving out Severin's credibility-destroying claims:

Westwood One (NYSE: WON) announced today an agreement with CBS Radio to become the exclusive national advertising representative of the new three-hour talk program, the new Jay Severin national radio show. In addition, Westwood One will also exclusively distribute the program to all non-CBS Radio stations nationwide.

Hosted by self-proclaimed Radical Independent Jay Severin, the new show will air weekdays 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM ET, debuting on Tuesday, January 3, 2006. Stations debuting the program upon its launch include: WTKK-FM Boston and CBS Radio's KRLD-AM Dallas; WPHT-AM Philadelphia; WJFK-FM Washington DC; and KMOX-AM St. Louis.

Jay Severin's show is a fast, irreverent, insightful three-hour talk program, which focuses on the issues of the moment; what happened today, what it really means, and what will happen tomorrow. The program will also feature call-ins from listeners nationwide.

"Radio is the premier town meeting of America," said Jay Severin. "More than caring about what you think, I care that you think. One thing I guarantee: we will both learn and laugh. I cannot imagine a more exciting opportunity than performing for the extraordinary Westwood One community."

"Jay is an original who informs and entertains like no other," said Bart Tessler SVP-News and Talk, Westwood One. "We're thrilled to be able to bring his winning program to affiliates across the country and to national advertisers."

"Jay is an incredible talent, with a proven track record," said Peter Kosann, Westwood One Co-COO. "With these core major market stations, Jay will quickly establish himself as a major force in the national talk arena."

For the past six years, Jay Severin served as host of a top-rated talk radio program on WTKK-FM Boston. Since 1978, Jay Severin has been engaged in the business of politics and media: serving as media & political advisor to Republican incumbents and candidates in circa 30 major campaigns nationwide for Governor, U.S. House, U. S. Senate, and President. Severin has served as political analyst for MSNBC, and as a featured columnist for

In 2004, Severin was nominated for the radio industry's highest honor, the Marconi Award. His other extensive media experience includes the BBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, PBS, CNBC, Fox News, and foreign television; his comments have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Newsweek, et. al.; he is the author of Op-Ed articles for the New York Times, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, et. al.; and a frequent guest on Westwood One's Imus in the Morning.

While we certainly didn't expect CBS/Westwood One to come clean about Severin's behavioral and ethical shortcomings, previously covered here, here and here, it also isn't clear why the network continued to show interest in one of radio's biggest ticking time bombs.

Worse, unverified claims made in this press release only further invite unwanted background scrutiny. Funny enough, Severin's now considered a "self-proclaimed radical independent" (read: closet liberal).

Raising a huge red flag should have been the backstage antics that got him canned from a commentator role at MSNBC:

But the suggestion that leaving the Situation was Severin's decision is a "complete absolute lie," an insider tells TVNewser.

In fact, he's been banned from the network: "You won't see him on MSNBC again," the source says. (And based on Severin's actions in Secaucus, "we were shocked to read in Page Six that he has a wife and daughter," the insider adds...)

Adding to the mystery is Westwood One's own inner turmoil, where head honcho Shane Coppola was recently shown the door. Somehow, in the midst of that leadership vacuum, Severin's syndication deal still managed to find itself approved.

That sure doesn't say much for CBS, obviously no more concerned with honesty now than pre-Rathergate.

Say what you want about the Boston Globe, I'm personally no fan, but they nailed Jimmy Severino on his blatant dishonesty. Now, Jimmy's deal harms talk radio's national image.

Will newspapers, based where new stations are signing up for his program, also report the truth?

UPDATE: Radio and Records reports today on Westwood One's financial uncertainty:

Analyst Cuts Westwood One Rating

Goldman Sachs analyst Mark Wienkes on Wednesday lowered his rating on Westwood One shares from "outperform" to "in-line," based on his belief that the company's stock won't demonstrate any major movement while the company's near-term challenges are addressed.

ALSO: there's a false, but lingering sentiment that Severin is at least nominally conservative on the air. My point is that he's increasingly trying to be all things to all people, which comes across as phony, hence his new "radical independent" label.

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  • It's just been announced that Severin's new show will be aired on his previous Boston station, where he worked as a local drivetime host.

    Meanwhile, I'm temporarily working for one of its competitors in the region.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 21 December, 2005 22:27  

  • read: anti-Bush quasi-liberal
    Brian obviously didn't listen much to Severin during the 2004 election, when he was a strong and vocal supporter of Bush's election over Kerry. I've got my own issues with Severin, but Brian seems to equate any criticism of the president with being liberal. Severin is clearly more conservative than he is liberal. Any other characterization is inaccurate.

    By Blogger Justin, at 22 December, 2005 07:22  

  • What Justin said. Being against the war doesn't automatically make someone a quasi-liberal.

    What I find interesting is that the 7-10 slot is currently filled by Laura Ingraham. I highly doubt they're going to bounce Sean Hannity out of the 10p tape delay slot, so I wonder if this makes her the odd woman out.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 22 December, 2005 07:34  

  • To Jeff: WTKK's lineup as of 1/3/06 will be Severin 7-10 pm, Ingraham
    10-midnight, and Hannity Mid.-2 am.
    I'll bet WTKK would rather keep Sean
    on (which is good, I like him) even at a very late hour because...if they let him go, he could wind up at WRKO who would no doubt put him on at 7 pm
    right opposite Severin!

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 22 December, 2005 13:32  

  • I agree with Justin. I listened to Jay for four years in Boston and he is not a closet liberal or anything close to it. He called Hilary Clinton a "pig" and a "b*tch" so many times I lost count. He had an ongoing feud with the Globe and routinely trashed Demoractic candidate Shannon O'Brien during the 2002 election. On Bush he was hot and cold, at one point calling for his impeachment for support McCain-Feingold and then supporting him fully on national security issues.
    He can be a little disingenious like when he talked about how much he hated Hannity until Hannity was being broadcasr on WTKK and he changed his tune.
    I thought he was entertaining and I enjoyed the rants despite his numerous ethical shortcomings.

    By Blogger BCB, at 22 December, 2005 13:42  

  • wow - Brian, can't wait for you to go after O'reilly just as strongly as you do severin...

    let's see - o'reilly claimed he won awards he did not - fact

    - o'reilly was embroiled, albeit briefly (due to a buy-off) in a sexual harrassment scandal - fact

    based on those two items alone, coupled with his constantly flagging/failing radio ratings, you should be all over him like hair on a gorilla!

    Oh, but wait, you don't disagree with him politically. Sorry, my bad, nothing to see here...

    You frickin' hypocrite.

    By Blogger TJ, at 22 December, 2005 14:53  

  • Baloney, this POS sure isn't a radio show - it isn't even a blog.

    It's a SPLOG! A spew of nonsense barely holding up a column of junky merchandise click-through.

    Every time I come here you've sunk to a new low.

    You're pathetic.

    By Blogger Dovish, at 22 December, 2005 19:44  

  • So Dovish, if you hate Brian's blog so much, why do you keep coming back and posting here?

    I thought you libs were all about tolerance and choice. So why is it difficult for you to either tolerate a blog you don't happen to like ... or choose to go somewhere else?

    By Blogger The4thEstate, at 23 December, 2005 10:59  

  • Because they assign themselves to one blog or another to spam them with the liberal talking-points. They could start a blog of their own, but spamming conservative sites is the only way their garbage gets *read*.

    By Blogger Darin, at 23 December, 2005 11:55  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 23 December, 2005 15:00  

  • Boston Radio Watch says that the new Severin show will be called Extreme
    Games (just like his old WTKK show) and not Jay Severin Has Issues (as it is, WTKK is using "we've got issues"
    as a slogan).

    The News/Talk board said people like us shouldn't be making a big deal about Severin using a fake name. Well, maybe we just like pulling Jay's chain about that, but what about the fake Pulitzers? Shouldn't Jay have
    somehow come clean about that on
    Sep. 16? Sure, he was off air then
    but he could have had a presser
    or something about all that.

    Instead, he ignored it. Imagine if
    Kerry had come out (either with a strong attack or an apology) after the Swift Boat ads started running.
    He would have seemed decisive
    and fast-acting. If he had, he'd probably be living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. these days and not at one of his 5 mansions.

    Just comparing...He's Jay Severin and he's...reporting for duty!

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 23 December, 2005 15:01  

  • Well with this line up WTTK just lost a listener. I like to listen to Laura from 8-10 as part of bedtime. I listened to Severin for a couple of months, he is sorta conservative, but I did not like his program and stopped listening. I don't plan on listening to him when he comes back, like Justin I have my own issues with Severin. I guess I need to do some research to find times for Laura on some AM station nearby at a good time for me.

    By Blogger David, at 24 December, 2005 14:22  

  • to David: If you can pick up WABC AM 770 out of New York City, Laura is on 8-10 pm. Some stations run her in the late morning. Go to and then "The Show"/ "Station Guide" from drop down menu.

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 24 December, 2005 15:32  

  • As a native of the Boston suburbs, I can assure you, that Jay has a ton of fans in this area, even with non-politicos.

    As an "Alan Keyes" Republican, I vouch that Jay is no liberal.

    By Blogger The VIP, at 27 December, 2005 14:42  

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