|Running time||4 hours, weekdays|
|Recording studio||Needham, Massachusetts|
|Air dates||since 1994|
The Howie Carr Show is an American radio talk-show presented by journalist and author Howie Carr. Its flagship station is WRKO 680 in Boston, Massachusetts, on which the show airs every weekday between 3 and 7 PM from Carr's studio in Needham. It is syndicated in six states, and can be accessed worldwide via live streaming, in both audio and video formats, on Carr's own website, HowieCarrShow.com. The video stream, known as the HowieCam, is an embedded Livestream broadcast.
Carr has hosted radio talk shows in Boston, Massachusetts, since the 1980s; briefly at WRKO-AM 680 in late mornings, where he also shared an hour with liberal talk host Victoria Jones; then at WHDH-AM 850; then (when WHDH became WEEI in 1994) back at WRKO. He took over the afternoon drive-time slot from Jerry Williams, on whose show Carr often made appearances, originally during a segment called "The Governors," with Williams and anti-tax advocate Barbara Anderson.
National television networks occasionally record or simulcast the radio show following an event likely to provoke comments from callers. For example, on August 18, 1998, following a speech in which President Clinton admitted to some of the facts in the Lewinsky scandal, C-SPAN simulcast all four hours of the radio program.
In September 1996, the show experimented with local syndication, sending the show out via ISDN connections to a group of stations around New England. The local experiment was such a success that, in January 1998, ABC Radio Today started syndicating the show nationally. The show did not sustain a large nationwide following and syndication was handed over to SupeRadio. In 2005, Entercom Communications, the owner of WRKO, took over syndication and the show was only offered to New England stations.
On July 9, 2007, Carr announced he would leave WRKO when his contract expired that September and would begin hosting a weekday morning drive-time program on FM station WTKK. Greater Media, owner of WTKK, reportedly signed him for a five-year deal, though Entercom denies this happened. On September 19, 2007, the show went on hiatus, as Carr's contract expired and a court barred him from moving to WTKK, whose contract offer WRKO had matched. On November 16, Carr resumed hosting on WRKO, under a contract expiring in 2012. Entercom used its option to extend the contract, announcing that Carr would be a fixture on WRKO for the "foreseeable future."
Carr often disparaged Entercom on the air, sometimes reacting to equipment failures by saying "Entercom happens" (adapting the fatalistic expression "shit happens"). Carr was suspended for the week beginning April 16, 2010 for such remarks, though the penalty was concurrent with a scheduled vacation. Carr also disparaged the sports broadcasts that sometimes preempted the show (e.g. referring to the "very exciting Red Sox pre-game show" followed by a loud yawn sound effect) and WRKO's weak signal to the western suburbs in the evening.
Carr's contract with WRKO expired in September 2014 and he moved to WMEX on November 17, 2014, broadcasting from a studio on Station Street in Needham, Massachusetts. Carr took ownership of the program with Worcester affiliate WCRN handling the distribution. Affiliates other than WRKO retained the show and new affiliates in New Hampshire were added. As of his one-year anniversary as owner of the show, it had 24 affiliates in six states.
Carr operates HowieCarrShow.com. He operated a predecessor "official" website at HowieCarr.us, between 2012 and 2013, as a place where listeners might check "in case anything happens to me," implying a switch of stations on the completion of his contract with WRKO.
Steve Robinson is the show's producer; Grace Curley is the associate producer.
The show is based on a monologue heavy on sarcasm and irony, with occasional interaction with producers, with which to encourage live caller participation. Invited guests are sometimes featured. Prior to the 2011 capture of Whitey Bulger, Carr's most common theme, as at the Boston Herald, was organized crime and elected officials, which he described in similar terms. After Bulger's incarceration, Carr's focus became more political in nature. Carr's language incorporates notorious local malapropisms, such as that of former city councillor Frederick C. Langone in referring to fresh vegetables not as crudités but "CRUD-ites."
Commercial breaks occur, on average, every fifteen minutes; news reports every thirty minutes in five-minute durations. Commercials and bumper music replace the news in online streams. The medley of bumper music that plays during the on-the-hour news currently comprises:
The feature ends with a message, as might be heard on an answering machine: "Thank you for calling Howie Carr -- you chump!" The voice is that of a former summer intern named Trish; when originally recorded, Carr explained away the fact that she, not being a member of the AFTRA guild, was not permitted to work on-air.
Carr occasionally dedicates segments or entire hours to contests for listeners to win prizes. The prizes are sometimes gift certificates from sponsors, but may be T-shirts or other materials promoting a book Carr has written, or other promotional gifts that WRKO has acquired. Carr sometimes sarcastically overstates the desirability of the prizes.
When someone has won the previous "death pool," Carr dedicates an entire hour to a new pool, in which callers can select a person in the public eye who will be the next to die. The first such death results in the declaration of a winner.
Each Friday, Grace reads police reports that listeners have submitted via fax or e-mail, and the show awards prizes for the two funniest entries.
Carr often reads clips of current news, usually accompanied by his own sarcastic opinion. For example, news of crime involving rap or hip-hop artists, professional athletes, or politicians is often preceded by, "Try not to let the following news destroy your faith in the integrity of" the respective community. Stories about crime involving a vehicle or an unusual weapon elicit the line, "How many more must die, Mr. Speaker? How many more?"—a satire of legislators who stress the need to act before the next casualty.
Untimely deaths are treated with zeal with clichés or recurring newspaper headlines ("standing heads"): The victim "was turning his life around" or his mother said he was on the verge of becoming a rap artist. If a vehicle was involved, Carr may ask whether alcohol was a factor, as though composing a police report. That a person "won't be down for breakfast" is a favorite euphemism for death.
Another frequent topic is the phenomenon of illegal aliens, especially when they receive preferential treatment. Carr's general support for the Republican Party allowed an exception for George W. Bush's guest worker proposal. When Bush explained that aliens "do the jobs that Americans won't do," Carr began mocking Bush by appending to stories about crimes committed by illegal aliens a comment that "they are only here to commit the crimes Americans can't be bothered committing." Carr often comments about proposals to regularize illegal aliens, such as with the DREAM Act, by stating, "I don't want any special favors; just treat me like an illegal alien." Carr sarcastically uses common euphemisms for illegal aliens, such as "temporary guest worker" or "undocumented American."
Carr uses recurring slogans to give a cynical view of life in general:
Carr uses irony, such as the line, "I'm shocked. Shocked!" (from the movie Casablanca) to describe something totally predictable; or that a politically guided personnel appointment was made "after a nationwide search." When persuading someone, as with Honest Howie's Carbon Credits, he often says, "You can trust me: I'm not like the others." When a caller delivers a rhetorical blow, Carr's signature retort is, after Red Buttons, "I didn't come here to be made sport of." When current events induce him to gloat, he always precedes it with, "My heart feels like an alligator," a line from Hunter S. Thompson's book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Callers wishing to report unsavory or embarrassing details about themselves or others can request the "voice-changer." Carr introduces "the Witness Protection Program of The Howie Carr Show," adding, "Now no one will know your identity." The "program" is a cheesy 1950s sci-fi sound effect that actually does nothing to obscure the caller's voice.
WRKO 680 AM – Boston
WXTK 95.1 FM – Hyannis
WCRN 830 AM – Worcester
WHYN 560 AM – Springfield
WBSM 1420 AM – New Bedford
WPKZ 1280AM / 105.3 FM – Fitchburg
WGAN 560 AM / 105.5 FM – Portland
WVOM 103.9 FM – Bangor; 1450 AM – Rockland
WVQM 101.3 FM – Augusta
WGIN 1400 AM – York
WXME 780 AM – Monticello
WNNH 99.1 FM – Concord
WNTK 99.7 FM – New London
WUVR 1490 AM / 98.9 FM – Lebanon
WKBK 1290 AM / 107.5 FM – Keene
WEMJ 1490 AM – Laconia
WFEA 1370 AM – Manchester
WTSN 1270 AM – Dover
WASR 1420AM – Wolfeboro
WVMT 620 AM – Burlington
WSNO 1450 AM – Montpelier
WPOP 1410 AM – Hartford