It’s officialCBS Radio Steps up to the Plate and Launches FM Sports Stations in Boston and Washington, D.C.

Little did you realize that yesterday when I asked you to program The New Boston Sports Radio Station that there really IS going to be such a station…

There are a couple of stories going around today on the end of the current WBCN (Idolator blog):

Boston-area rock stalwart WBCN is going off the air later this summer, with its Linkin-Park-and-Led-Zep playlist being shoved aside in order for parent company CBS Radio to make room for a new, all-sports yakfest on the area’s radio dial. (WBCN had broadcast New England Patriots football.)

This was followed by the fine Boston Phoenix media reporter Adam Reilly, who says that what is actually happening is that parent company CBS will be moving Mix 98.5 to 104.1 in August, and that a new station, the Sports Hub will emerge at 98.5 will the call letters WBZ-FM. He also says that ‘BCN’s current morning duo Toucher and Rich will do the morning show at the new WBZ-FM.

He then adds this intriguing nugget:

I’m told that’s Michael Felger and Comcast SportsNet’s Gary Tanguay will be doing afternoon shows on the Sports Hub when the station’s up and running. Those are nice gets–and as the Sports Hub competes with powerhouse WEEI-AM, it’ll need all the talent it can get.

Felger on the move again? 98.5 and 104.1 have decent signal, at least up to up here in NH. That’s a leg up on prior WEEI competitors such as 1510 the Zone and ESPN890. Toucher and Rich have an established audience, and Felger and Tanguay are big names in the local sports media. It might just work…especially if the Patriots broadcasts come along as well.

I checked a little  into the Felger/Tanguay thing with some industry sources, and while I can’t say it’s 100% for sure, let’s just say I’m very comfortable echoing what Reilly says about them being on afternoons on the new station.

It is not clear as of yet where the Patriots games will be heard. It would make a ton of sense to have them on the new WBZ-FM, and give them something to anchor their sports lineup around. The Bruins could very well be in play as well.

Update: Multiple posts, plus apparently promos on WBCN itself, are saying at the Patriots and Bruins broadcasts will be heard on the new WBZ-FM.

Patriots and Bruins on WBZ-FM vs Red Sox and Celtics on WEEI.  

What do you think the rest of their lineup should look like?

Related Links:

Say Goodbye to WBCN. Say Hello to WBZ-FM (Ken Fang)

Official ruling on the field: The Rock is dead as FM sports talker comes to the Boston airwaves (Boston Radio Watch)

CBS sacks WBCN for all-sports Boston station – Jessica Heslam

Bruins to debut on new Hub sports radio station – Heslam


92 thoughts on “WBZ-FM Sports Hub Starts up in August

  1. They should do whatever they can to pry Bill Simmons away from the West Coast and give him the Mid-Day show. His pod casts are entertaining and would be a great alternative here. Might be wishful thinking because i highly doubt he would want to do something like that but still, that lineup would put WEEI to shame.

        1. I could handle a Simmons show if he stuck to sports. Once he started delving deeply into the “fascinating” world of pop culture–a subject with which he’s really, really too familiar with for my taste–the he’d lose me. And you know he just couldn’t help himself; he’d have to be talking about “The Hills” or whatever teen/post-teen shows or movies happen to be hot at the moment. And I can’t wait for those 2 hour discussions about the latest “Entourage” episode either.

          1. i could take pop culture over constant plugs for a lame stake house. although i despise the hills so you got me there. holley does talk about random shows though. i think in a situation like this you have to look at the big picture and not just a small aspect. the big show is just a bunch of guys hammering the same point over and over into the ground while yelling over each other. i hope that kind of thing has run its course.

  2. I’m glad by guys Toucher and Rich will be around. Hopefully they get a new contract.

  3. Also Boston radio watch reported yesterday that the Bruins re-upped with ‘BZ AM for one more year.

  4. Just heard the promo on 104.1….Thursday August 18th Sports hub premieres with Bruins and Pats radio rights with T/R in the morning.

  5. They have to extend Toucher & Rich then. They have a big male 18-44 audience and a cult-liek following and actually talk about sports during the sports segments as opposed to what goes on over at WEEI. I think being interrupted 5 times an hour for whatever crumby Linkin Park song everyone has heard 100 times already was holding them back. Theyd be much better for straight up talk. They also have a close relationship with the Bruins so bringing hte B’s pover would make a lot of sense.

    1. I don’t know how their show will go over with the slightly older sports talk segment, though. Even with all the right wing talking points spewing from ‘EEI in the morning, D&C do talk sports Manny mostly and people seem to listen and call in. I fear that the overall format will pressure T&R to talk more sports, which is not what they are about. As Fred said this morning, there are very few sportwriters or talk show hosts who can do sports coverage in a clever or interesting way.

      1. You’ve got a good point, but I think they’re the most creative show in Boston right now, and they’ve already found a few ways to cover sports differently, what with the twitter game, the drunken recaps, and the spots with Daulerio. I don’t know that a morning show needs to be 100% sports. Didn’t Imus host the morning show on WFAN? I also feel liek I rmemeber a time before Dennis and Callahan when Imus was carried on EEI? Maybe Im imagining that.

        1. You are right on both counts about Imus. I agree that morning shows don’t have to talk as much sports, but remember that D&C were switched into morning drive and were promptly kicking Imus’ ass. I think also that dropping Imus and going all sports was the start of WEEI’s most success.

          I like T&R and I hope they succeed, but they shouldn’t be doing any more typical sports talk stuff than they are now. Fred knows the most about sports, especially hockey, but it is nowhere near enough to a D&C type show.

          I am afraid that T&R and a the sports radio demographic are not going to mesh. People will be tuning in for scores and talk about last night’s Sox game and the guys will be doing something funny, yet not as immediately accessible. T&R have about 10 months on their contract, so they have some time.

  6. Wow, here’s a chance to get some real talent on air to discuss sports. Bring back Nuemie definitely.

    Can leave all the ‘EEI hosts with exception of Holley and Adams to go down with the ship.

    Hope they have a moron free zone to keep the LJs and DeOssies at ‘EEI. What am I saying? Who else besides Ordway would give nitwits air time?

    1. as long as they find hosts that keep the shows moving along i’ll be happy. the six most satisfying words in the english language are ‘right back after this quick break’.

    2. That would be my main fear. That they would try to hire away some ‘EEI dreck because they’ve been “so successful”. They should remember that such ‘EEI bottom of the bowel dwellers as Burton, Stearns, DeOssie and Adams were a big part of the highly UNsuccessful 1510 operation.

  7. This is great news and hey two of the time slots are pretty much how I programmed it.

    Picking up the B’s is a great get until more attractive properties come up for renewel. BC, Celts and most of all Redsox must be licking their chops for the bidding wars.

  8. somewhat sad that BCN is going off the air. amazing that no one can grasp that a sustainable business model for rock radio might end up being that which doesn’t cater to the lowest common denominator and rely on narrow minded public opinion surveys that result in focus group tested rotations of crappy music spit out by corporate central planning who’s sole goal is that the numbers each quarter/week/day and making sure every crappy taste is accounted for. the race to the bottom has reached the home stretch.

    as for another sports talk station, just one more thing to avoid on the radio dial. i’m sure they’ll be able to sell plenty of ad time to hair products for men, honey dew donuts, bankruptcy and divorce lawyers, and mattress discounters.

    btw/ if anyone is interested; air supply is playing at twin rivers, my wife and i went on our first date to see air supply at the hampton casino in 1982 and we can’t wait to see them again. it’ll be a great night, dinner at fred and steve’s followed by a few hours amazing music.

    1. I think ‘BCN started to go south when they caved in to the “alternative music” trend in the early 1990s. By contrast, in the early 1980s when WCOZ went to their “kick-ass” rock format and started pulling ratings away from WBCN, the management at ‘BCN stuck to their guns, realized that it was just a fad, and kept their programming format musically diverse. Not so after the grunge “revolution” which begat the alt-rock explosion, which begat more interest in WFNX. After that, ‘BCN’s management seemed to cave and became WFNX-lite.

      It’s probably time for them to pull the plug, but it’s kind of sad nonetheless–it was a pioneering station in the early days of “FM” music radio.

      1. to be fair, stern splitting is what was the death knell. deciding to play nirvana, pearl jam, the beastie boys et. al. instead of meatloaf and baba oreilly every 4 hours was probably a good decision. but besides stern they didn’t help themselves at the beginning of this decade when they went for the meth addict audience which aaf already had a stranghold over.

        in the end i believe it was conglomeration, and the rotation dictated by central planning/corporate headquarters were the ruin.

        how hard is it to play good music?

        1. I agree in principle, but I remember back in the early-to-mid 80s that if you listened to WBCN for a solid hour straight, not including commercials, you would hear a wide range of music, from Judas Priest (metal) to the Stones (classic rock) to Michael Jackson (R&B/dance).

          It seemed to me that when grunge/alt. rock became all the rage, WBCN ditched the “diverse” musical catalogue and just followed the WFNX trend.

          However, you’re right about Stern leaving. He’s a ratings bonanza and when he took his show to satellite radio, it hurt all of the “over air” stations that carried him.

  9. So this would explain all the Felger bashing on EEI the past couple of days?

    And please tell me DeAwful and Smerlas stay at WEEI rather than follow the Pats to the new station.

    1. They ain’t going anywhere. The deflated blob is their meal ticket with his promos for their tent and restaurant.

  10. Nice that we will have some kind of competition with WEEI. What happens to the Baseball Show now, and will people like Buckley and McAdam run to the new station?

    1. Got to believe McAdam would love to get away from screaming and yelling over one another on the Big Show.

  11. I was still contemplating my ‘fantasy sportsradio’ lineup when I read this breaking news…this is huge! CBS Radio has the deep financial pockets that can easily match Entercom. Combine that with the FM signal (in Boston), Patriots & Bruins broadcast rights, a solid morning drive show and the defection of the better EEI talent and you’ve got the makings of a very legitimate threat to the ‘#1 sportsradio station in the country’. August 18 can’t get here soon enough!

  12. If CBS is serious and puts an effort into the station EEI will have some real compitition for once. The Zone and ESPN 890 tried but the chicken bleep was hard to turn to salad with no signal.

    When does the Godfather come back to go head to head with Dale?

    1. Eddie? LOL this is a station that’s trying to skew younger if you look at the demos of their morning show.

  13. Does anyone have any idea if this will mean an end to Patriots Monday during the season on WEEI? I really hope this works. WEEI is becoming worse and worse every day.

    1. You’re right Bruce, but the new SportsHub station could always interview other players not already committed to EEI. Even call it ‘New England Football Monday’ or something like that.

  14. I think this is a great thing for listeners of EEI and people looking for an alternate choice. I, for one, like EEI on most days and when I don’t, I turn them off. The competition from a legit contender should be enough to hold EEI to a higher standard and give people other options. I think they’ll need to do better than Tanguay and Felger to keep people tuned in…They need big personalities to keep listeners during the slow times. Tanguay is a bore. Plain and simple. He’s a more polished Butch Stearns.

  15. I love it. It will definitely keep EEI honest. There will actually be a station that can compete with them. Maybe EEI will see how bad people like Stearns and DeOssie are. Dennis and Callahan may not be so arrogant if the ratings go down. When Ordway almost left I wonder if he knew this new format at BCN was immanent and tried to leverage EEI? Maybe BCN did not want him.

    As an aside, have you noticed how sensitive DeOssie gets when you tell him how bogus “diet chocolate” is?

    1. Couldn’t have said it any better, mandb97. Legitimate competition can only mean good things for our ears. You would hope this causes EEI to significantly reduce the airtime of their headset-wearing flotsam and jetsam.

  16. WEEI is about to find out that their prior success had very little to do with talent…and very much to do with monopoly.

    With the notable exception of John Dennis and Gerry Callahan, their regular, on-air personalities are entirely forgettable.

    1. In my opinion, Dennis and Callahan are two of the biggest reasons not to tune in to WEEI.

  17. What about 890? Is this the final nail?
    I don’t think much of Kevin Winter or Mike Valle, so I don’t see them making the jump. I would be sad to lose ESPN’s national games, the weekend/evening programming and Rusillo. Maybe WBZ-FM will buy the rights to ESPN’s overnight and weekend stuff.

    1. While it’s not out of the question, I don’t think we’ll see CBS Radio purchasing content from ABC — or from Fox, for that matter.

      1. I agree. Also worth noting that CBS is partners with Westwood One, with a ton of available sports programming there, including Monday Night Football…

        1. Westwood One does a terrific job with the NFL. I believe they do a better job then FOX or CBS TV. I only have two issues though.

          1) I will miss Harry Kalas. I hope they find someone good enough to replace him

          2) Tommy Tighe can be a little annoying but certainly a lot better then Shepherd and the two boobs.

  18. I think it’s great that EEI gets some competition. When Frelger was on 1510 I listened to him as much as I could (signal was sad)as opposed to the studipity they try to pawn off on people from 2-6 (and other times depending on personalities that are on)@’s gotten worse over the years and I don’t see it getting any better without real competition.

    Been a long time sports radio listener started in 93/94. The last 5-6 years everytime a new station comes on I always give them a try because EEI can get very stale, sophmoric, REPETITIVE and silly-stupid (think Eddie talking about good chop suey….theres a reason he is gone for good)

    Felger does a great job, Merloni would be good, others? Need to think more about it. Simmons yeah that would be good but I agree with Tony.

    Have never listened to Toucher and Rich…they any good?

    1. I’ve been a Toucher and Rich listener since they first came to Boston three years ago and they are by far my favorite radio show.

      However, they are not everyone’s cup of tea. They target my demographic (18-35) so I’m probably biased.

      1. Same here. I’ve been listening everyday for 2+ years. Sometimes its almost a parody of a radio show. They used to make fun of call-in lines and instead of paying to have someone from the Red Sox come on to talk about the games they ask drunks leaving Fenway Park. It’s definitely the most creative show in Boston right now.

  19. As a person who listened to Felger’s show on 890 and was disappointed when he left, I am ecstatic about this development!

    Tanguay and Felger are going to end up killing each other though, well, Tanguay is going to kill Felger. I love Felger, but no sane person can tolerate him for that much time before one’s heads explodes.

    Neumeier unfortunately works for NBC, but I have hope that CBS will reach into their deep pockets and bring him back. Despite his inflated ego, he was the best Boston sports host bar none. Butch Sterns and Bill Burt are incredibly awful, so, I hope CBS can bring on some good talent.

    Despite calls for McAdam to be a regular, I doubt he does that unless he is willing to leave the baseball beat. Than again he may do that seeing how the Globe isn’t exactly in good shape. Finally, Bob Ryan will finally be heard from again!

    1. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Neumie, E. Despite the fact it makes some sense, this new station has already filled their two most important time slots and will pay those guys accordingly. That would leave Neumeier with a midday or evening shift, which isn’t going to command as high an annual salary. And between his Sunday Night Football, Olympics and horse racing work for NBC, he has a pretty good schedule for himself.

      It’ll be interesting to see the new media alliances forming. Where does a CSN-SportsHub radio marriage leave NESN and the Globe? Those two outlets certainly won’t align with EEI, which now leaves the Entercom station with only the increasingly irrelevant Herald and their own website.

  20. You could drag five guys out of the pine street inn that would be more interesting and knowledgable thank Mike Adams, Larry Johnson, Steve DeOssie, Fred Smerlas, Bill Burt, Joe “F’n” Haggerty, Glen Ordway, Dale Arnold, or Dennis & Callahan. I wouldn’t worry about having to rape WEEI for any “talent.”

    1. I would love to be listening to Ordway today to see if there’s even the slightest quiver in his voice with regards to all this news. Have to think he’d want to avoid this subject (if he can). Would love it if everyone called in and only wanted to discuss this instead of actual sports. The whiner line could be entertaining tonight.

      Bottom line is, the Day of Reckoning arrives for the Sportsradio MonopolEEI in 30 days. It’s almost feels like their smug arrogance is getting an eviction notice.

      1. I actually listened for few minutes. So far there has been no mention of the new competition.

        1. There won’t be any mention of it. What they do is deny the very existance of any potential competition, until they’re sure the other station is not a threat. Then they make fun of them.

  21. Can Felger just leave weei? I assume when he came back he had a contract with a non-compete clause? And what about “The Baseball Show” that simulcasts on weei?

    the good news is this should mean the return of Bob Ryan, Tony maz and the rest of the globe sporst team to Boston Sports Radio!

    1. I would doubt he has any kind of clause. He’s a fill in guy on the radio and writes some freelance type columns on their website. I’d guess only their full time staff has non-competes.

    2. This is the best point made yet. The Globe is dying to get its talent out there and Ryan’s 10.0 webcasts aren’t cutting it.

      Felger is good and EEI knows he is. They can’t schedule him enough. And if he can sit with the likes of Ryan, Mazz and Shaughnessy, they’ll bait the EEI guys so much, every listener to WEEI will tune in to WBZ-FM just to hear for themselves how good they are. And then real competition can take place for once in this market.

      1. You are correct. It is true of radio personalities. It was part of the Howie Carr drama from a few years ago.

        I don’t see how, though, Felger could just jump his contract. The non-compete law protects the employee only if he is fired or the contract ends. He must have some out to be able to go to WBZ.

        1. He can quit. That’s his out. Nothing else is needed. If he can’t be subject to a non-compete, the only thing his current employer could do would be (a) offer him more money to stay, or (b) if his contract is a term contract and not an at-will contract, collect any liquidated damages allowed for in the contract or sue for specific performance. But specific performance would be available only if his talents are so unique that money and/or an alternative hire would not make the employer “whole”.

          1. I have a vague memory from studying for the bar exam that you can’t require specific performance from a person – it is a violation of the 13th Amendment.

  22. Don’t think that’ll be an issue, Patrick. Based on Felger’s EEI schedule his first priority is the TV side with CSN. All of his radio (morning and midday fill-ins only) and internet work is secondary.

    I think you’ve heard the last Baseball Show radio simulcast, it’s probably TV-only this week.

  23. The worst of the worst that should never even be considered for the new ‘BCN:

    Larry Johnson
    Butch Stearns

  24. Who’s Linkin Park!Looks like mike adams will have his baseball
    show back.This means eei losing all the nfl games during the season.The BCN died as I know it around the late eighties early
    nineties remember Charles,Ken Shelton,Parenteau,and Tank.This will mean more time for the Globies Ryan, Cafardo,and evil Tony

  25. for me, this is the important question: Will I be able to hear this station in southern Rhode Island?….

    1. AOB, if you currently get the 98.5 FM frequency where you’re at, you’ll be all set when they switch over the format.

        1. 98.5 is indeed a stretch for southern RI from the Wakefield/Narragansett area down to Westerly, etc…like a few Boston FM stations it kind of peters out near Tower Hill (Rte. 1) and also sometimes has conflicts with a NJ station depending on the weather.

          Hopefully if the new WBZ-FM station does well they can look for a simulcast somewhere on the dial for those of us in this region.

    2. Here is the 98.5 coverage map. I think that these maps are a little rosy, so take it for what it’s worth. From the looks of it, the southern half of RI is between distant and fringe, or worse.

      1. Rick, you are 100% correct. The station, as I wrote, is a non factor when you get down to the coast here, and sometimes loses out to a Jersey station if the weather is odd enough.

        WEEI will have a massive edge in this neck of the woods because the 103.7 signal is as dominant as they come in southern NE, from eastern CT through all of RI and parts of Mass.

        Guess I’ll be stuck trying to hear their online feed 🙁

  26. Once the leaves are off the trees and the sun starts setting early, WEEI is a non-player a mere five miles from the city. Same in the early morning. WBZ-FM will easily trump the limp-wristed WEEI in those segments and probably win converts the rest of the day, too. For Entercom-haters, this is good news.

  27. I wonder how many ‘EEI’ers will try to weasel out of their contracts to run to WBZ-FM. I’m sure the fill-ins on the Big Show have been burning up the phone lines and E-mails to be the first to express their availability to the new station. What’s next, Eddie Andleman and the Phantom Gourmet boys? Stay tuned, literally, it’s gonna get interesting!

  28. I can see it now. The first day after Aug 18, that ‘EEI has LJ and DeOssie cohosting they pull a 0 share in the rating. Fun times are acoming.

    So long to the bastards that have pushed D level talent on us while bragging how great they are.

  29. I wonder if this new station will allow celebrity callahs? They are what make EEI successful.

  30. Eddie sucks. He was great way back when, but this is 2009. Even with Dale he was terrible and I think Dale sucks too.

  31. What about Lobel? He is dying right now at 890, and he used to work for WBZ. Bill Simmons would be good, but I don’t think he’s going to leave LA. I’m sure the Globe will try to get their writers involved. It would be great to hear Ryan or Reiss on the radio. Another guy that would be a good guy to get if they can would be Russillo. He’s currently the best part of the Scott Van Pelt show, and he is a Boston guy. Felger will generate audience wherever he goes. As for Tanguay, it will be interesting. I could see him becoming a good host of something like a Big Show or something, but I don’t think he would be good if he got his own show. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the EEI flash boys like Wallach or Ryder left for the Sports Hub. The same could be said for EEI weekend guys like Mike Mutansky.

    I am so excited to hear Sports Hub. They have the resources and the recognitiom to challenge EEI.

    1. please no Ryan. i like him, but between his multiple appearances on espn (around the horn, pti & the sports reporters) & globe 10.0 we don’t need more from ryan.

  32. I am looking forward to an alternative to D&C smugness, the bland mid day stuff, and uneven big show. Felger has a brain and is funny and irreverent (Rob Bradford gets my vote for Felger co-host). My favorite Felger moments include his domination of Michael Kay in a head to head debate and his demolition of a pompous Trey Wingo. Hopefully Sports Hub will stream for those of us away from home. Podcasts too. Also would enjoy an alternative to JT the Brick at night.

  33. Pete Kendall is an unsigned free agent, most likely he is hanging them up, he has done some great radio, see if he’s interested in working for the new sports station! Great guy, professional and intellegent and knows the game of football.

  34. I have a feeling we’re going to see Borges as one of the hosts on either Felger’s or Tanguay’s shows. Just my opinion…

  35. Please give Bill Simmons a show! Can’t deal with D&C when they get into politics as Gerry Callahan becomes the insane uncle you see at christmas and slowly back out of the room from. The big show is ok, but the disrespect that Shepard and many of the regulars have for guests is really BS. Hope we can actually get some sports talk in this town instead of bits and pieces.

  36. I have been listening to WEEI mornings for about ten years. The have taken on a WWE persona the last several years. Callahan is the badguy screamer, Dennis is the good guy voice of reason, Meter is or tries to be comic relief. Plus he is the hack guy for any boston player in a slump. I really need something different so I’m going to give T&R a chance this week as a warm up. I would love to see the afternoon blow-hard Big-o take a fall. That show is one big shoutathon.

  37. I can’t say I will listen to this new station all day, but I certainly will during my morning drive to work. I love listening to sports talk but Dennis and Callahan are a couple of morons who should perhaps be on the brainless Fox news station.

  38. The average start time for a job is 8am so the most popular drive time is between 7:30am and 8:00am. If you want to see what happened in sports the night before at that time, do NOT listen to WEEI! You will get the Dennis and Callahan Democrat bashing show. You’d swear that Jerry was on the political debate team back in high school and all the democrats stuffed him in his locker and gave him swirlies. It’s funny that he talks about how fanatical the middle east is and that they are unable to look objectively at what they’re doing while he himself would bash a democrat that had just cured cancer, established world peace and sacrificed his life for another. He has no credibility. The funny thing is, i’m not even a democrat! I jsut vote for the best person, not specific parties. Lastly, they say that their drive time rating is so fantastic and thats why they continue to waste our time with the news. WAKE UP!!!!! your rating is so good at that time because we are loyal and there is no other station to change to where we can hear sports. If the new station has sports during that drive time… WEEI’s ratings during that time PLUMMET!

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