A few afternoon notes and nuggets…

NESN earned its highest season opener rating in network history last night with a 19.7 household rating (475,000 households) in the Boston DMA. The rating is the 5th highest rating in NESN’s history and highest game rating since August 28, 2007. NESN’s Red Sox coverage was the top rated program in the Boston DMA in every major demographic category including an 11.3 rating for women 25-54.

The previous best season opener rating was set last year when NESN earned a 17.9 household rating for the Red Sox 5-3 opening day victory over Tampa Bay on April 6, 2009.

NESN also set an opening day record by earning a 7.1 rating for the network’s pre-game show Olympia Sports presents The Boston Globe Red Sox GameDay Live. The previous best opening day pre-game rating was a 4.3, also recorded on April 6, 2009.


98.5 The Sportshub began the post-Gary Tanguay era this morning, as Andy Gresh and Scott Zolak debuted their new show. Zolak had nothing but praise for his former partner, and with Gresh now by his side, spoke about the fact that it was nice to bring another person in that he had a history with. Zolak and Gresh worked together at WSKO in Providence, and have done (along with Tanguay) the Patriots pre and post-game shows for WBCN and 98.5 for a number of years.

I’m a little surprised this move was made so quickly, not even a year into the station’s existence. It doesn’t seem like a good sign for stability there, and really, what is the difference going to be between Gresh and Tanguay, other than the fact that Tanguay had a much better radio voice? They both bring the same style to the table. After a promising start, it appears there are some struggles going on at the new station.

There are a lot of rumors out there about 98.5, including one that has Pete Sheppard hoping on board sometime next month, but at this point, all we know for sure is that Tanguay is out. Will he be part of the Patriots programming this fall? Since those broadcasts are run by the club, you very well might hear Tanguay back on the 98.5 airwaves later this summer for those broadcasts.


Check Patriots Daily today for Chris Warner’s Q&A With Memphis RB Curtis Steele.

Don’t expect much of a Big Show on WEEI today, at least not for the first two hours, as the Tiger Woods press conference and the Josh Beckett press conference from Fenway (also on NESN and CSNNE) figure to fill much of the airtime.

I enjoyed a pair of Mike Reiss posts today, first, he did some film work, and gives some thoughts on new Patriot Damione Lewis, (Some good analysis from Albert Breer as well.) and then questioning himself as regards the Patriots course of action with Asante Samuel.

Kgb (you may have seen their TV ads) will be sponsoring a team trivia question segment during NESN’s Red Sox pre-game show this season. Viewers of Olympia Sports presents The Boston Globe Red Sox Gameday Livewill be encouraged to text in the answer to that day’s kgb Red Sox question as well as submit a baseball question of their own that could be featured during a later telecast. This regular segment will be called the NESN.com Question of the Day powered by kgb.

I can’t express how happy I am to see that Dennis Johnson wil be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and saddened still that he won’t be there to experience it.

As we begin another season, be sure to also check out Jon Couture’s Red Sox Reloaded – Game 1 (@Sox 9, NYY 7) , Jon puts together a great wrapup after each game, including player ratings, and keeps track of those over the course of the season.

31 thoughts on “19.7 Rating for Season Opener on NESN, 98.5 Starts New Era

  1. Please don’t tell me Shepperd will end up on 98.5. The station was showing promise before re-upping T&R.

    How much of the weak ratings were due to Tanguay, and how much were due to the fact that they were up against the most listenable show on WEEI?


    1. Chadd Finnnn wrote on Saturday that T&R and F&M were doing well, but T&Z were weak.

      “While The Sports Hub has held its own in the Arbitron ratings, particularly in the male 18-49 and 25-54 demographics, the “Tanguay and Zo’’ show struggled in comparison with the station’s 6-10 a.m. “Toucher and Rich’’ show and the 2-6 p.m. “Felger and Massarotti’’ show.”



      1. I don’t really pay much attention to the midday demographic. Most of us are gainfully employed and not on the road. Therefore, we don’t have the opportunity to listen.

        I never understood how Dale Arnold has held down a spot at WEEI for so long. He’s worse than Tanguay.


        1. You know, Dale and Holley is by far the least insane show on WEEI. I’ve said it before: I don’t mind Mikey for some reason, but Dale and Holley is a better listen than most of what is on WEEI.
          Dale’s problem is that he’ll never live down being Jeremy Jacobs’ lap dog.


  2. Bruce, your comment today about 98.5’s lack of stability almost sounds like you’re believing some of the comments being posted on this page. It’s like Butch said, it’s going to be hard for 98.5 to gain a niche in the midday where D&H are very popular at EEI. Maybe management wanted Tanguay to be more about the radio station and Gary just couldn’t make that commitment with his primary job at CSN.

    I don’t see how the SportsHub would ever consider dumping out of the format after only a few months, especially given that their ratings share is much higher than it was for the final year or two of BCN. The Boston market has clearly shown they can support two 24/7 sports stations.

    What’s become interesting in this sports radio rivalry is that the listeners who post here are clearly taking sides, while with the ever-changing media landscape there is much more of a bleeding of on-air and even perhaps behind-the-scenes talent from the two stations in other mediums like the internet and on CSN’s nightly programming.

    While the radio industry as a whole is taking as big an economical hit as any, I’d be shocked if you saw drastic cost-cutting measures and/or an abrupt format change at 98.5.


    1. An out-of-the-blue move like this just sort of makes you wonder what’s going on over there. Had it been something where Gary was spread too thin between 98.5 and CSN, you’d expect some sort of release to that effect. There’s been nothing. They’ve been silent about it.

      I’m not saying they’re going to dump the format, especially not with the Patriots and Bruins rights involved here, but there seems to me to be some turmoil over there.


      1. out of the blue? the ratings speak for themselves, T&Z got doubled up by dale and holley since its inception. The fact that the morning and afternoon drive shows are close to EEI proves that 98.5 isn’t going away, unlike previous contenders who fizzled after the 1st ratings book(WWZN) or had no chance at all(WAMG).

        I think you’re letting your personal feelings about certain members of that station cloud your judgement. the difference between Gresh and Tanguay is that Gresh knows what he’s talking about, and Tanguay had a column removed for CSNNE because he doesn’t understand the NBA salary cap, a sport that he covers everyday!

        Its clear that you don’t like the programming on 98.5, and its clouding your judgement on whatever they do, much like the sportswriters you proclaim to disdain so much…


        1. That’s not true. I want very badly for 98.5 to succeed. It frustrates me that they seem more intent on copying the WEEI formula on certain shows instead of creating a better style of sports talk radio for Boston.


          1. intent on copying WEEI?

            When I think of WEEI i think of the hosts not knowing what they’re talking about, talking down to their callers and emailers, softballing all of their guests with inane questions, and proproganding the agenda of the Republican party.

            How has 98.5 copied WEEI? The small difference in ratings between the stations already proves that, as of right now, 98.5 is successful.


          2. So Felger/Mazz and Gresh/Zolak don’t talk down to their listeners? Are you serious? Only a masochist would listen to Felger (mr.contrarian) and Mazz (famously told Boston fans he hates them). You sir, are clearly an idiot.


          3. if you like listening to steve and fred, larry johnson, and random updates with scott brown, then more power to you.

            i’m very serious, I don’t like listening to hacks and that’s what D&C and the Big Show has become, lazy, boring radio with overpaid condescending hosts who barely watch the games.

            Felger and Mazz may beat issues to death that aren’t popular with casual fans, but, in my opinion, at least they’re objective and willing to take criticism, and judging by their ratings, I’m not the only one who feels that way, even though the moderator of this site doesn’t want to acknowledge this in his analysis of the local radio scene.


      2. Bruce, first of all I like this combination info, opinion post. It was a good read. I actually applaud 98.5 for their quick hook. If you recall, when you showed the weekday lineup, many posters were not all that enthused with Tanguay from the getgo. I think 98.5 figured out pretty quickly that what a lot of us already figured out to begin with and that was Tanguay was just bad at his job. I agree with you that Gresh makes the show only mildly better. My guess is that the big-wigs at 98.5 listened to some old Zo and Gresh tapes and thought they might have a shot at D&H. I personally do not think it will make too much of a difference.

        As far as Pete Sheppard goes, I do think he is a decent host when by himself but I hope it does not come at the expense at Damon Amandolara. If they are possibly looking at a new weekday host. The only two spots I could see Pete being located, either as a replacement for Felger or Mazz, unlikely, or for DA, more likely. He could also be replacing Gresh on the weekends and vacations which would be fine. As much as I like DA I think New England is pretty provincial. When the schedule was released, I remember some of the posters saying that they would not give DA five seconds of their time because he was from NY so he must be a Yankees fan. UGH.

        There is no question that Dennis Johnson belonged in the hall of fame but I believe that his domestic violence charge really hurt him from getting in sooner. I have no idea who votes for the basketball hall of fame but I would have to believe there might have been a few voters who held it against him.


        1. Good points all, thanks.

          How about overnights as a possibility for Sheppard? I don’t know that there is a demand for a local overnight sports talk show, but it might be worth a shot.


          1. Sheppard – The Big Sexy After Dark Show?

            I still don’t get the Toucher and Rich show. They’re a poor man’s Opie and Anthony, and it’s not like O and A was a particularly good show.

            I guess the thinking at WCBS is if they went with a straight up sports show vs. D&C (who I enjoy), they wouldn’t have a shot.


          2. That would be a good idea. In this day and age people work all kinds of different hours and I always wondered why Boston had not had an overnight show. Right now you have to deal with the likes of JT the Brick and David Stein. The FAN in NY has had Tony Paige on for years overnight and it is a good show. I know Boston has a few less people but it’s not like Presque Isle, Maine either. Pete would do fine on the overnight.


  3. Well, at least Zolak will fill those long dramatic pauses Gresh puts between every two or three sentences…


  4. al – the Tanguay-Zolak show was the only one that I really did not like on 98.5, though Felger and Mazz have their moments where I need to click away.

    They’ve copied ‘EEI by airing shows that seem to be more about creating drama, controversy and storylines instead of informing, entertaining and educating. I guess I just have high hopes for them, and while they’ve been relatively successful, I’d like to see improvements.

    You’re 100% right in your description of WEEI hosts, perfect description…but you don’t see a lot of the same things on 98.5? (except maybe the last part…one thing 98.5 has done that I REALLY appreciate is keeping politics out of the discussions)


    1. T&R is its own show, it’s stern-lite only with sports instead of rock music, so that’s not copying eei

      Tanguay and Zolak was flawed from the start because both guys are extremely weak sports broadcasters. Zolak is good with football and thats it, Tanguay is a TV guy meaning he’s not that intelligent long form and he’s superficial. If you recall he wrote a piece on CSNNE about the celtics salary cap and a max free agent that was HORRIBLY inaccurate that CSNNE had to take it down. And he covers the C’s everyday! Gresh is a improvement, because he’s a radio guy, not enough to challenge D&H, but an improvement.

      I’ve been a Felger guy since 890, so I’ve made my choice, and while I think he takes certain viewpoints so far to ridiculousness, he’s open to debate and, I believe, more objective that his opposition. I know the stuff he says can be unpopular, but I handle it.

      My problem with your analysis is that you’re judging 98.5 by your lofty standards of what sports radio should be than by the numbers, which have been good since its inception. You speculate in your post about the long term viability of the station because they changed midday hosts, the one show that can’t compete with WEEI. For a guy who had covered the sports media scene for 8 years and has seen what previous competitors has put up, (WWZN and WAMG), its ridiculous to perpetuate any notion that 98.5 isn’t anything but successful. If you don’t like their programming, say so, but don’t let it get in the way of the facts, which in my opinion, you have.


      1. Fair enough.

        I really don’t think we’re that far apart here. Yes, 98.5 is already more successful than those other two stations ever were.

        Maybe my standards are too high, but I don’t think that is a bad thing. I just think they could be even better.

        When Felger is good, he’s very good. When he’s bad, I just can’t listen to him. He does welcome debate, and will poke fun at himself, but as you point out, he at times takes his viewpoints so far so as to be totally ridiculous. I like Felger, he’s been good to me, we’ve debated certain topics privately, but I really think at times he falls back in ‘EEI mode, and he has more to offer than that.


  5. Not only are you right on target Bruce, but I’m surprised at the 98.5 defenders on here. How exactly IS the station different than WEEI?

    Both stations are filled with blowhards. Now we’re going to go from Gresh — loud, obnoxious — to Felger — loud, obnoxious — back to back. Good luck keeping me tuned in, I can’t stand either of them for more than a few minutes at a time. Gresh & Zolak were, to be kind, unremarkable on The Score here in Providence for years — talk about a reteaming that nobody asked for!

    The fact is that 98.5 is scarcely any different than listening to most days of The Big Show. More over, there’s no real fundamental difference in the approach of these stations so far. As much as Mike & The Mad Dog had their moments of hilarity, they weren’t just loud buffoons like Michael Felger screaming for attention like a whining baby every single day (oh the days when Felger first showed up in Boston and seemed like a breath of fresh air compared to Lobel, Borges, Will McDonough, etc.). Often I would tune into WFAN if they were talking about a national subject, because it was far more interesting than anything on the air here locally.

    One other thing I find amazing — as much as I thought I’d miss Pete Sheppard occasionally, I think his absence has impacted The Big Show more than I could’ve thought. With The Big O out, having to listen to the likes of Mike Adams (who isn’t interested in anything except memories of Dwight Evans in ’77), Butch Stearns (nuff said) and even Tom Caron (tries hard, brings little to the table) fill in the hosting chair over the last few weeks has been positively painful. The show is sleepy at times and Ordway seems a bit lost without his former friend on hand.

    Boston deserves an intelligent, lively discussion on sports — but the big letdown with 98.5 is, so far, it’s just been more of the same.


    1. Doc I agree with 99.5% of what you said with the only exception of Tom Caron. I caught a little bit of him and Lou Merloni today on the Big show and what a breath of fresh air it was. It was intelligent, no screaming Red Sox talk in which they talked about Ortiz and Lowell intelligently and what is actually going through their minds this season. It was great. Felger and Mazz were screaming about Neil Diamond, Steven Tyler and everything else that no one cared about. Just dreadful!!!


      1. Agree 100% with you. Caron clearly is a good guy and when I’ve caught him he’s very listenable. And Merloni is a good guy too.

        Sorry Felger fans, this guy is complete crap who clearly is desperate for attention.

        The hope for 98.5 being different and somewhat intelligent is gone. Local sports fans deserve better. I know I do.


        1. Let’s face it, it’s much easier for Felger and all these other hosts to put minimal prep time into their four-hour shows by creating their own contrived arguments than it is for them to actually do research and have reasonable sports discussions. The ratings for both stations bear that out.

          Hey, at least Ted Nation returns this Sunday afternoon on 98.5.


      2. I agree with you there mandb97 — Caron isn’t shrill and when it comes to the Red Sox I do think he’s a superior choice. I just find him a little bit too “mannered” when it comes to other sports, i.e. when he started talking about Tiger Woods yesterday I don’t think he’s really that informed on the subject. Either that or he’s, if anything, too reserved.


  6. If I’m Mike Thomas at 98.5, instead of replacing DA (who I think clearly has more talent than most of the hosts at BOTH stations), my next move is to grab Sheppard and pair him with Felger in the afternoons in place of Mazz.

    As much as I can’t stand The Big Show and hated Sheppard’s role as the village idiot, I could see him and Felger actually having some great, spirited conversations and giving Ordway a run for his money. It helps that Sheppard actually likes sports, and the passion does come through, even if he is at times completely irresponsible with his thoughts. Right now, unfortunately I see Mazz as a Felger Yes Man who doesn’t add value to the show.


    1. I agree with grabbing Sheppard, but I’d replace Felger instead of Mazz. Felger’s act is old and predictable. It would be nice to have an alternative to ‘EEI in the afternoon. When they have Larry Johnson or someone like that on, which isn’t very often anymore, I have to turn it off, so I listen to nothing or music.


  7. I held great hope for 98.5. It was going to be different from ‘EEI.
    I’ll take Felger & Mazz over The Big Show because they actually talk sports and issues. Not food, politics and entertainment, and they don’t have two Chestnut Hill village idiots, Smerlas and DeOssie.
    I like the DA show because he talks sports. Planet Mikey is okay … in small doses … but is it really about sports?
    Both stations could use a shakeup in the morning, starting with ‘EEI’s offensive John Birch Society/D&C show.

    Bringing in Gresh was bad enough. Adding Pete Sheppard will make 98.5 look like ‘EEI’s junior varsity.
    Don’t try and beat them at their own game. They have buffoonery down to a science.
    Be the real sports station and don’t resort to “bringing in the clowns.”


    1. Love your name Guy, referencing a byegone radio era.

      I don’t think 98.5 is trying to beat EEI at their own game, they’re just settling for a piece of the listening pie. CBS is convinced that raising the bar no longer works in 21st century talk radio (and sadly, they’re probably right).

      There will never be a sports radio station in Boston that is going to please everyone. The best case scenario is to have options (and to listen in small doses).


    2. Guy,

      Excellent summary. D&C can’t get me to change the dial quick enough. Gresh is the guy you hope is not sitting next to you on a long flight.

      Felger is usually entertaining and not a cheerleader for the locals.

      Anyone know how to get around CBS Radio’s blocking the streaming to Canada?


  8. How does Gresh have a job? He knows one thing-football. My 5yr old knows more about hockey than he does. He just knows very little about the inner workings of all other sports. I listened to him a little when he was at 790. I also repect radio hosts who can speak to listeners as oppossed to those who try to yell over them.


  9. Bruce and gang, nice to see some intelligent discussion on the Sports Radio scene – very much an oxymoronic experience. I guess I’m in the minority on a couple of things. I didn’t really mind Tanguay at all. And I’m still a Felger fan – for now…

    While I agree he’s not the most knowledgable, there were a few things I liked about Tanguay; he willingly shared insights derived from his “behind the scenes” relationships with the Celtics organization and was not afraid to share his genuine opinions, popular or not. Last but not least, Tanguay’s style runs contrary to the low brow ways of local sports radio. He’s not a screamer, has good radio voice, he seemed willing to engage his callers, and -maybe most important in my mind, he did not cultivate a sctick. How refreshing! Just ask Guy Vanilla.

    Speaking of scticks, the Andy Gresh move and the prospect of Pete Sheppherd on the way tells me any hope for semi-intelligent sports radio is dead. Gresh’s sophmoric act wears very quickly. NO WAY is he an upgrade in my opinion. Would it ever occur to the guy to try using a normal tone of voice – even for a few seconds to break up the yelling? The last couple of his shows I’ve listened to had non-stop Tiger Woods talk and Andy’s adolescent view points. I agree with the guys that say 98.5 is becoming an eei replica.

    Just one last thing. I’m a Felger fan and, aside from the fact that he knows what he’s talking about, the main difference between him and someone like Gresh is that Felger is in on the joke and able to laugh at himself. But that is sctick, and I understand how that sctick = like any other, can wear on people.


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