A little bit of focus on the media in this post, specifically the sports radio side.

98.5 Afternoon hosts Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti signed a new multi-year contract with the station. As Chad Finn put it, the deal means the duo “will continue their highly rated brand of Boston sports fan antagonism for the foreseeable future.”

Then this morning, Dale Arnold announced that he had signed a new deal with WEEI:

Finn also wrote about this deal, and noted that while Michael Holley’s contract expires next month, the sides are optimistic that something will be worked out.

Now for the uncertainties. There have been quite a bit of hints and whispers going around about a major change coming to one of the shows on the two sports radio stations. Kirk Minihane has mentioned it several times on the air, Finn has alluded to it in his weekly Boston.com chats, and on Twitter:

Finn wrote about Holley above, so it doesn’t appear that the change will happen on that show, and it seems unlikely that Marc Bertrand would leave Felger and Massarotti to go directly head-to-head with them. Bertrand would be a lead host on a show, not a co-host, so he’d be leading the discussion and in and out of commercial breaks.

So what opening could there be, where Bertrand could step in? By process of elimination, Finn has said that Tim Benz is probably not going anywhere, it wouldn’t be on Dennis and Callahan, nor WEEI nights where Mike Adams and Mike Mutnansky are pretty entrenched at this point.

So it’s probably 98.5. I don’t see Bertrand moving over to a morning shift role in place of either Toucher or Rich and not on the evening for Adam Jones either, though he was up for that role when Jones first got it.

That leaves Gresh and Zo.

We know that last winter, Andy Gresh had his contract option picked up. Was it a one-year option? Seems like it. Gresh took over from Gary Tanguay in April of 2010. So did Gresh originally sign a four-year deal with an option for a fifth which is expiring soon? That seems reasonable.

My conclusion from this is that 98.5 will replace Andy Gresh with Marc Bertrand.

Why would they do that? I’m not sure. Ratings have been good. Is there a dispute with Gresh? Or do they just want to give Bertrand his shot or risk losing him?

I don’t like the move. I’ve said many times that Gresh and Zo is the best Patriots/NFL show on the local airwaves. I don’t want it broken up. I hope they work something out with Gresh, but with the amount of rumors and hints out there, it seems like this is going to happen.

That’s how I see things shaking out.

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49 thoughts on “New Deals For Some Sports Radio Hosts, Others In Limbo

  1. The rumors about Gresh, if true, would suck, as Gresh and Zo is currently my favorite show on either station. They have great chemistry together, which results in a highly entertaining and informative show, especially during football season.

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  2. I’m not sure about this. Why would Minihane keep bringing it up if it’s not either on WEEI or in his time slot? How entrenched are Adams and Mutnansky? Are there more parts yet to be moved on WEEI? Is Fauria safe? Is Merloni happy where he is? What about Merloni moving permanently to Red Sox broadcasts in some capacity? Or maybe it is just Beetle replacing Gresh, and Minihane just has some odd fascination with that story.

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  3. Bruce, do you envision NESN working out a simulcast deal with ‘EEI for the Dale and Holley show? To me, this is the most obvious thing to do.

    Also, would EEI consider teaming Bertrand with Merloni?

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    1. If Benz did go back to Pittsburgh, WEEI could hire Bertrand to take his place and not change the MFB name!!

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    2. I’ll make a guess on this:

      F&M have said their simulcast yielded a 0.2-0.3 avg. Many of the sponsors are tied in on the radio side or you already saw them on various CSNNE properties–that’s what makes it work.

      To me, it doesn’t sound like NESN doing a simulcast would work profit wise, but I also lack a ton of numbers.

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  4. Ah, I was not aware of the Gresh/Minihane dynamic. And I agree: I think they’re both good at what they do (though Minihane goes over the top at times). I wonder where Gresh will wind up if this pans out as Bruce expects.

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  5. This would be good news for me if true…..I can’t stand Gresh. He’s an antagonist, he’s rude and he doesn’t bring salient points to the table. He seems to bring out the worst in Zolak. Listening to Zo with Mike Flynn over the summer was a much better experience for me as a listener. I’d welcome a Bertrand/Zolak pairing and would probably change my habits to listen to more of that and less of F&M.

    Meanwhile I don’t know what EEI is thinking. I like Dale but he’s a quintessential 10-2 host, leaving him and Holley at drive feels like Christmas in the Felger and Mazz household.

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    1. I was surprised by Dale’s announcement; I figured both he and Holley were keeping the seats warm. Maybe Dale forced the issue by finally demanding a contract. Or maybe they figured an underwhelming but stable show was better than more upheaval.

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  6. I think my favorite sports moment of the last 10 years (aside from watching teams win championships, of course), was when Sean Thornton told Felger to “suck it” in his post-game TV interview after the B’s won the Cup in Vancouver. That was truly awesome and Felger really had no response. He knew he had been dead wrong about Claude and that Bruins team, and he knew that Thornton’s words were justified.

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  7. Wouldn’t it make more sense if Zolak were being replaced? I don’t like his frat boy shtick, but even if you enjoy him you still have to admit: Anything beyond football talk and the guy is useless. Gresh and Bertrand seems like a classic fat guys pairing of sports radio. Bertrand brings the Felger style and Gresh brings logic.

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    1. I would like to see Zolak replaced, but I don’t think a Gresh/Bertrand combination makes sense. I’d also be surprised to see TSH remove the Patriots radio announcer from their air: I think that show is his until he decides he doesn’t want to do it anymore.

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      1. On the contrary, I’d say Zolak’s radio show and color man gigs are his until TSH decides that THEY don’t want HIM to do it anymore. The guy isn’t a legend; he’s a clown. No one would bat an eyelash if he lost his radio show or his color man position.

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        1. I think he’s very popular with a large part of the fanbase, and I get the sense (though I don’t know this for certain) that the Krafts like him.

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  8. So Dale Arnold is told by ‘EEI that he isn’t good enough for a sleepy 10-2 shift and they move him to weekends to wait for his contract to die. Then almost 4 years to the day, they give him an extension to remain as the full-time co-host of the afternoon drive show. HUH?!? While I like the counterprogramming, Dale blows. I guarantee he wears a t-shirt while swimming.

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  9. The Dakich stuff continued today. It’s entertaining if you read his mentions or timeline:

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  10. I originally was a Bertrand fan roughly 2 years ago when he was the lone wolf on F&M who would challenge Felger’s viewpoints and bring some rationality; but as others here have mentioned, he has now adopted the Felger company line and fabricates ridiculous takes such as “Patriots’ window is closed”. This is not a formula for longevity.

    Not sure why ‘EEI would stretch to keep Holley. He has gotten progressively lazy and doesn’t really do his homework anymore. Also, his personal diatribes and attempts to be “hip” are brutal and unlistenable. Not sure what the fascination is with him.

    Due to the Minihane-Gresh feud, Bruce’s take makes sense, unfortunately. While Zo could certainly stand to reel it in a little bit, Gresh is good, and he works hard to be informed on sports other than football.

    #bringbackthebigO

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  11. I wouldn’t be surprised if they added another shift. Something like this…
    5-9 Toucher and Rich
    9-11 Bertrand
    11-3 Gresh and Zo
    3-7 Felger and Mazz
    7-12 Adam Jones (with Rich Keefe)

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  12. So the speculation is Gresh is out to be replaced by Bertrand. That leads me to speculate that one of three things happened.

    1) Gresh and his agent priced him out of a midday show…They would have to be tone deaf to do something like that.

    2) Someone at CBS has a spur in their saddle about Gresh and wanted him out. I have not heard any rumors like this but anything is possible.

    3) Gresh is looking at some sort of national Satellite gig. He did one before he came back to TSH. He does do some college football work. I could only see him not upping at TSH if he had something lined up.

    I guess my real point is I can’t believe that TSH is so enamored with Betrand that they would move Gresh out of a time slot he is a) winning and b) where they are making money. Stranger things have happened but I doubt it. In which case, I wish everyone the best of luck.

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    1. On #2, I’ve heard Ordway and others on his show say, multiple times, that people at CBS were never happy he’d constantly yell at callers because of his “football career” — yeah, being a lineman at a Division II school. It’s why you haven’t heard it used in a bit, but that’s a long way from disliking someone who has a successful show.

      If it is true, it sounds like a hedge to keep Bertrand because he must have offers elsewhere, and they don’t want to lose him.

      Likewise, if this happens, as our friend @WWIIFelger points out, Zo is now only one back in the scoreboard vs. Holley for “co-hosts killed”.

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  13. I’d be sorry to see Gresh go. He’s not perfect, but in a market so infected with the Felger and other trolls he is a breath of fresh air.

    Nothing would make me happier to see Adam Jones go. He is so negative that even F&M taunt him over it.

    And Bertrand doesn’t deserve the promotion. F&M have completely ruined him.

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  14. Gresh is the only thing that holds Zolak from going off the rails. That show is good for football, obviously, and not much else, but these days it’s enough to rank it as one of the best in town (for what that’s worth). That makes this move incredibly surprising — along with the fact that Gresh and Zolak have been working together (even with a hiatus inbetween) for years. When it comes to football talk, as Bruce has often said, there’s nobody better.

    Bertrand’s appeal eludes me to the point where I can’t imagine anyone finds his opinions or personality interesting…obviously someone at Sports Hub does. That said, it’s now going to be a tough race between MFB and the “Beetle & Zo Show” for what’s worse between 10-2.

    And where does Gresh go? Is there an opening at EEI? Does Holley get re-upped? Interesting times ahead….

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    1. When Beetle was passed over for the nighttime show in favor of Adam Jones, there was talk that he was given a raise; I’d also be curious to know if he was promised a show within a certain timeframe.
      As for Gresh, I could see him heading home t Pennsylvania or some other market. I don’t think he’ll play musical chairs around here.

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      1. He’ll probably go right back to Mad Dog Radio on XM. I hope so. XM radio is now the only place to go to find pure sports talk.

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  15. how about radios version of NECN? Choose from Gresh, Ordway, Sarandis, Meter Perel, Salk, Tanguay, Sheppard, Ryder, Sports Babe, Prensky, Mustard, Lutsk,Mutnansky, or the ahhh,godfather Andelman! The all-star line-up.

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  16. Gresh came off as a blowhard too often. Zolak is spastic, but people like him.
    Good for Rich Keefe. I think he’s got a great deadpan sense of humor. He’s up on NCAA football and basketball and the nba. I think it’s great for him and a good fit.
    When football season rolls back around, Mike Flynn should be a regular fixture with Bertrand and Zolak. Maybe call the show Middays with ZFB?

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    1. Can’t stand Flynn, monotone voice ill suited for radio. Keefe has a “deadpan sense of humor”? This show might put EEI back on top from 10-2.

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      1. Flynn is terrible. Gresh was mostly terrible. Maybe Bertrand will regain some of his old, non-terribleness by getting out from under DB & YARM. On the other hand, with his own show, he might double down on the Hot Takez.

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    2. Keefe has had many good moments on 98.5, but they’ve all occurred when he wasn’t paired with The Sky Is Falling Jones. Around stronger personalities, Keefe is a follower, not a leader. I fear that being paired with Mr. Baseball and Squeaky YARM will bring out the worst in Keefe.

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  17. I think it’s a bad decision to let Gresh walk. I feel that with Bertrand taking over for him is going to “Felgerize” that show. What I like about the Gresh and Zo show is that it’s the ONLY nuts and bolts sports show between both stations. And they’re kicking MFB’s ass in that time slot. Must purely be financial. But I’m worried that Bertrand is going to bring more story lines and less sports talk to that show. If this were a few years ago I wouldn’t be as worried but he’s been in the Cult of Felger long enough now that his hottakez like the Patriots window being shut forever is going to infect that show and Zo. Too bad. I know Gresh isn’t for everyone. I get it because of his ornery personality but he’s the only guy who sticks to TALKING SPORTS. This will be sorely missed around here. I will miss listening to his well informed opinions on the game of football where other hosts like Felger make fun of that because he’s too stupid to do it himslef so he mocks it.
    I’ve been listening to Gresh since he came to the Score in Providence back in 1997. He’s improved so much from where he started as a Steelers honk who got into with Patriots fans all the time. It’s too bad. Him and Zo are a good team.

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  18. Also on Tanguay…I guessed right. When he went on a Kraft is cheap rant a few weeks ago I suspected he had been given the boot. It came off as bitter and out of nowhere. The problem with Tanguay is that he’s a phony and he was bad at it because he would never stick to a personailty or look and stay with it. He could never find his own voice. He was always trying to immitate someone else. This last year was obviously the rock bottom year when he was trying to be Felger.

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    1. Not only that, but earlier this season I heard Tanguay on one of the postgame shows ripping the Pats (granted they were playing poorly at the time) and Gresh said he was only saying that because he didn’t get the Pats play-by-play gig, to which Gary replied ‘YARG’.

      That pregame show has grown stale and has needed an overhaul for some time. Hope Mike Flynn gets an extended role – have to imagine that Bertrand could wind up hosting Pats pre/post as part of his soon-to-be expanded role.

      Tanguay needs to be relegated to one single channel and time slot so we can all learn when it is and ignore it.

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  19. I suspect that Zo won’t be around to much longer either. My gut tells me they love Flynn a lot and he’ll be moved into Zo’s role. And then MFB will start crushing them.

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      1. Flynn is always that go to guy when someone isn’t there. So I suspect that he’s next in line for a big gig. But while he’s very informative and i respect that he doesn’t do hottakez,the guy is just sleeping pills for the ears.

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  20. I’ve been mostly listening to Dale and Holley lately. Especially this week. Sometimes as a fan of a team you want to bask in the glow of Championship week and not get bogged down with doom and gloom from F&M. Sports is supposed to be fun and I don’t need to reminded all the time of what could go wrong or “it’s not gonna be this way forever” talk. I know this already. Just talk about the games going on NOW.
    D&H are much more balanced. Good interviews with guys like Michael Irving and some laughs and some nuts and bolts talk and no contrived doom and gloom of the what if they don’t win talk. Just my opinion.

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  21. Holley is horrible to listen to with his banter and tons of examples. How about Beetle replacing him. Felger did it to Ordway why not! I hope Gresh stays but I not like Zo he is hard to listen too. Maybe Ordway to the Sports HUB?

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