The Devolution of Sports Talk Radio – Is It Permanent?

Before we get into this, let’s make one thing clear – sports talk radio was never the territory of Mensa candidates. Over the years though, it has somehow devolved into just grabbing onto the lowest hanging fruit.

There is in fact, very little sports talk on this genre. There is practically no analysis, no insight, just reactionary hot takes, which are only intended to stir people up.

Most of what you get on sports talk radio these days falls into one of these categories:


Does player X deserve a new contract? Is the team disrespecting player Y by not giving him a huge extension right now? Why do the Patriots have to squeeze every single player down there? Why are the Red Sox giving out money hand over fist to players? Why are the Patriots disrespecting Vince in the final year of his contract??? Why is David Ortiz being so greedy and wanting an extension beyond this year???? The Patriots screwed up big time with Wes Welker! Why are the Bruins so tight with money spending so much money on their own players?? The Krafts are so cheap! Jon Lester – you’re going to pay HIM like an ace?

You get the idea. It’s an easy topic to put out there as there will be people on both sides of the argument. It’s also incredibly tedious.

Past Personnel Failures (Real or Perceived)

Let’s revisit the Patriots 2006-2009 drafts again! Peter Chiarelli traded away the 3rd and 6th leading scorers in the NHL!!! Danny Ainge cost the Celtics the 2011 championship when he traded Kendrick Perkins! Was Carl Crawford the biggest free agent bust of all time??? Belichick the GM is failing Belichick the coach! Ainge drafted Fab Melo – we’re supposed to feel good about him not screwing up these other first round picks??  The Bruins didn’t do anything at the trade deadline!

No matter what success is happening right now, there is always the “Yeah but…” card to play. Mike, I’m worried that they’ve woken up the Yankees! Mike, I’m worried that Tampa is going to pass them in September – they always play well in September and the Red Sox always play LOUSY in September! Mike, I know we’re in the World Series, but I’m worried about next year – who is going to play centerfield?  THEY CAN’T REPEAT, MIKE!

Dumb, Stupid Arguments That Aren’t About Sports At All

Are you going to boo or cheer player X when they come back to town? It’s better to lose in the first round than get to the Super Bowl and lose. Whose legacy has more to lose/gain this week Peyton Manning or Tom Brady? John Lackey had a Bud Light in the clubhouse after the game! Tyler Seguin parties too much to be an NHL star! If Rajon Rondo is your leader, you’re in trouble. Is player X tough enough to play in Boston? They just need to get some damn players in here and win some damn games! Etc etc etc.

Mundane Stuff About Themselves/Promoting Their Own Deeds

Hey…did you know John Dennis is getting married? YOU could go to his bachelor party! (If Toucher and Rich don’t send a mole to this thing, I don’t know what they’re doing in life.)

Endless Celebrity Callers

These are the worst. The same callers every day, with the same script, same talking points. Most have a grating voice and annoying mannerisms. They bring nothing to the table but misery, yet the hosts eagerly punch up their call when they’re on the line.


This formula apparently works, as sports talk radio continues to dominate the market. I find it intolerable. It’s just not enjoyable to listen to, from where I sit. We know why it is this way – it’s easy. To provide cogent analysis of games/transactions/drafts takes work. To give a #hotsportztake just requires your mouth. Also, there is only so much analysis you can really do before it becomes repetitive, so to fill time, you’ve got to get people stirred up, say something outlandish – and stick to it. It’s entertainment, I get it. But shouldn’t it be entertaining?

Mike Felger can pull it off. He’s intelligent and creative enough that he can play the game while remaining – most of the time – entertaining. His partner can’t do it. Just about everyone else in the market cannot do it. Everyone wants to be like Felger, but they can’t pull it off.

I’m encouraged that Dale and Holley seem determined to go another route. It could be an interesting contrast in the afternoons. Having Glenn Ordway and his cronies back and available to listen to also makes things interesting.

I’m hoping that perhaps we’ve hit bottom in terms of the devolution of the genre, and perhaps there can be some changes for the better coming down the line.

Ordway Joining Sirius XM, Says January Return To Boston Radio Still Happening

Sirius XM radio announced yesterday that former WEEI host Glenn Ordway will be joining its Mad Dog Sports Radio channel for weekend shows beginning tomorrow. The Big Weekend Show with Glenn Ordway will air every Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 to 11:00 am ET.

Ordway is also the lede subject of Chad Finn’s media column this week – Glenn Ordway is serious about his future role on Boston radio – where the host insists that he will be back on the Boston airwaves in January at an unnamed outlet.

Finn also discusses the contract extensions for Toucher and Rich and mentions the Bob Costas interview with Bobby Orr, which will air next Tuesday on NBC Sports Network following the Rangers/Bruins game.

Ordway’s former employer, WEEI has been mixing things up a little bit, having hosts work different shifts, as John Dennis worked the afternoon show with Michael Holley yesterday, Mike Mutnansky working the morning show with Gerry Callahan and Kirk Minihane this morning, and Holley is also scheduled to work the morning show next for a day.

This may or may not mean changes are coming under new management, it could simply be that they want the various hosts to work with each other as a way of getting to know one another, and perhaps ease tensions that may exist. With Mike Salk off on vacation riding camels, it is as good a time as any to see what might work.

One combination that needs to be made is Salk with Minihane. Dennis with Salk would be interesting as well.

Some might equate this with rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, but I’m willing to give new management a shot here to see if they can actually turn this thing around. Boston sports radio would be a much better place if the stations were more competitive.

Bringing Out Friday Megalinks

The last few Fridays, I haven’t been able to provide you with the megalinks. I have to do some today otherwise you’ll stop visiting me.

We begin as always with the Weekend Viewing Picks and there are quite a few for this snowy weekend in Southern New England.

Now to your links.


Michael Hiestand of USA Today talks with Fox Sports’ Terry Bradshaw about Tim Tebow and the upcoming NFC Championship.

Jason Fry, part of the ESPN Poynter Review Project hears sideline reporter Holly Rowe’s side of the story regarding about her now-infamous incident where she shoved a Sugar Bowl staffer away to get an interview with Michigan coach Brady Hoke.

Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter looks at HBO’s new unscripted series on boxing trainer Freddie Roach.

The Tampa Bay Times’ Eric Deggans has a review of the Freddie Roach series in the Indiana University National Sports Journalism Center.

John Eggerton at Broadcasting & Cable says Massachusetts Senator John Kerry has written a letter to the FCC asking the agency to get involved in the Sunbeam-DirecTV dispute which could affect how viewers in Boston see the Super Bowl.

John says Comcast is seeking a reversal of a Federal decision that ruled in favor of Tennis Channel in their dispute.

Mike Reynolds from Multichannel News says DirecTV has signed a rights deal to distribute Big Sky football and basketball games.

Anthony Crupi of Adweek says History Channel has purchased a longer ad to promote its series, “Swamp People” during Super Bowl XLVI.

Brian Steinberg from Advertising Age tells us who’s buying what in Super Bowl XLVI.

AdAge looks at the 12 ads that changed Super Bowl marketing forever. Three guesses on number one and the first two don’t count.

Brian says marketers are going longer with their Super Bowl ads this year in an attempt to stand out.

Finally, Brian writes that even though we’re not thinking about next year’s Super Bowl XLVII, CBS already is and has been working on getting an early start on ad sales for that Big Game.

Inside Radio says all of Cumulus’ Bay Area radio stations will simulcast Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.

From across the pond, Amy Lawrence of The Guardian in the UK says Fox airing an English Premier League game live over the air is a big deal.

Kevin Iole of Yahoo looks into NBC Sports Network’s first foray into boxing.

Dan Levy at the Bleacher Report wonders which network can muster enough former NFL talent to drum up a flag football game.

Mac Nwulu of ESPN’s Front Row PR blog has an inside look at the preparation of Sunday NFL Countdown.

Matt Yoder at Awful Announcing chronicles this week’s Twitter feud between Sports Illusrated’s Richard Deitsch and CNBC’s Darren Rovell.

Speaking of feuds, The Big Lead looks at an internal ESPN squabble between college basketball analyst Jay Bilas and insider Andy Katz.

Sports Media Watch notes that ESPN is making a major scheduling change for the WNBA this year.

SMW has a look at some local NBA and NHL ratings.

Tennis Channel laments not being picked up by Cablevision.

Ken Kerschbaumer of Sports Video Group takes a look at CBS’ and Fox’s preparation for the NFL Conference Championship Games.

Sports TV Jobs has an interesting graphic of sample camera positions at various stadia and arenas.

East and Mid-Atlantic

Chad Finn from the Boston Globe talks with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Mike Flynn.

Bill Doyle at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette interviews legendary Patriots radio voice Gil Santos.

Newsday’s Neil Best says local TV is gearing up for the NFC Championship.

Neil talks with former New York Giants running back and NBC analyst Tiki Barber who makes his return to TV this weekend.

George Vescey at the New York Times looks forward to seeing Sunday’s English Premier League game live on Fox.

The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick is not a fan of the NFL replay review process.

Justin Terranova of the Post has five questions for CBS Sports’ and WFAN’s Boomer Esiason.

The Albany Times Union’s Pete Dougherty has some NFL TV analysts break down the four quarterbacks still playing for a shot in the Super Bowl.

Ken McMillan from the Middletown (NY) Times Herald-Record has Fox’s Troy Aikman talking about the NFC Championship.

Ken has more from Troy in his blog.

Dave Hughes from notes in Press Box that last week’s Texans-Ravens game set a local ratings record.

David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun attempts to get answers from CBS on having Subway endorser Ndamukong Suh on last week’s NFL Today postgame show.

And David has former Ravens QB and current ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer opining on Ed Reed’s comments on current QB Joe Flacco.

Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post says the Nationals are hoping to get more money from MASN as the sides negotiate a new contract.

Jim Williams from the Washington Examiner talks with the radio voice of the Wizards about his busy schedule.


Keith Jarrett at the Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times says the Big South may have to move its Conference Championship Game venue which could effect ESPN’s scheduling.

Jon Solomon of the Birmingham (AL) News says SEC partners CBS and ESPN want better scheduling for next football season.

Jerry Tipton of the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader writes that the SEC’s basketball coaches aren’t happy over the scheduling-for-TV moves this season.

David Barron of the Houston Chronicle says the Texans’ flagship radio station hopes to build on the team’s momentum when their new contract kicks in next season.

David has some news and notes that didn’t make his column.

Nancy Sarnoff of the Chronicle says NBC Sports Group is looking for a new facility to house the Comcast SportsNet Houston regional sports network which launches later this year.

Mel Bracht from the Daily Oklahoman notes that the Texas Rangers will have multiple appearances on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.


Michael Zuidema of the Grand Rapids (MI) Press says HBO continues its string of acclaimed sports documentaries.

Bob Wolfley from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says don’t expect NFL Conference Championship Sunday to change its format for the foreseeable future.

Ed Sherman in Crain’s Chicago Business has his winners and losers in sports business and media.

Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune feels Fox Sports North just cheerleads for Minnesota teams and won’t criticize them.

Paul Christian from the Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin looks at Fox Sports North’s Hockey Day in Minnesota schedule.

Dan Caesar at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has CBS Sports President Sean McManus wanting to keep the status quo for NFL Conference Championship Sunday.


John Maffei of the North County Times looks at MLB Network’s first-ever game show which premieres next week.

Jim Carlisle from the Ventura County Star says CBS was hoping to get Tim Tebow for its NFL Today pregame show on Sunday, but he declined.

At the Los Angeles Daily News, Tom Hoffarth profiles Fox Sports West host Patrick O’Neal and has his list of best and worst local sports anchors.

Tom has a bit more on O’Neal.


Bob Weeks in the Toronto Globe and Mail notes that CBC has gotten out of the curling business, a sport it has televised since 1962.

Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe and Mail says the Raptors may be suffering on the court, but not on TV.

The Canadian Sports Media Blog looks at the International Olympic Committee throwing out CTV/CBC’s joint bid to air the 2014/2016 Games.

And that is it. Glad to be able to provide the Megalinkage for you.

Where Are They Now – 1510 The Zone Personalities

With WEEI and 98.5 The SportsHub are battling out on a monthly basis in the ratings, I thought it would be interesting to look back at the first effort at competition for WEEI, the ill-fated 1510 The Zone (Now Revolution Boston) and where some of the personalities from that station are now.

1510 GM Mike Kellogg took heat for bringing in many unknown names, but as you can see below, several of these have gone onto national gigs at bigger outlets. There was no place for them at WEEI (with the competition from 98.5, they’ve got to be kicking themselves that they didn’t find a role for at least Russillo on their airwaves), but they managed to do pretty well for themselves elsewhere.

Here’s a look at some former 1510 personalities, followed by the show(s) they hosted on the station and what they’re doing now:

Ryen Russillo (Co-host The Morning Press Box, The Diehards)  – Co-host of The Scott Van Pelt Show on ESPN Radio and he also appears on a number of other ESPN programs and platforms.

Jon Anik  (Co-host of The Diehards) – Hired recently by the UFC to host and do play-by-play duties for upcoming UFC® events to air on FX and FUEL TV. Anik had been working for ESPN on its MMA coverage and hosted MMA Live.

Kevin Winter (Co-host of The Morning Press Box, The Diehards) – Working for ESPN Radio in a number of roles – SportsCenter Anchor/ MLB, NBA, CFB Studio Host.

Holden Kushner (Co-host of The Morning Press Box)- Now co-host of The Mike Wise Show with Holden Kushner on  sports radio 106.7 FM The Fan in Washington D.C. (A CBS sister station to 98.5 The SportsHub.)

Anthony Pepe  (Co-host of The Diehards)-  President and CEO of Mouthpiece Radio.

Mike Winn -(Co-host of The Diehards)  General manager of WGAM sports radio 1250 and 900 in NH, an ESPN Radio affliate.

Dave Jageler (Co-host of The Eddie Andelman Show)- Radio voice of the Washington Nationals, he also makes frequent appearances on the Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN).

Eddie Andelman (Co-host of The Eddie Andelman Show) – Retired.

Sean McDonough – (Host, The McDonough Group) Play by play man for ESPN, McDonough’s star has been on the rise at the network, and this past season he was named announcer for the network’s Monday night package of MLB games.

Report: WEEI To Begin FM Simulcast on Monday

Earlier this evening, WEEI’s PR firm sent out an e-mail stating, “WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Morning Show will make a major announcement at 8:00am tomorrow morning, September 8th.”

Speculation started churning on what the announcement would be, but it was quickly confirmed through the proverbial “industry sources” that WEEI’s parent company, Entercom will begin simulcasting the sports radio station on Mike FM at 93.7. The simulcast will begin on Monday. Mike FM will effectively be killed and WEEI will broadcast on both 850 AM and 93.7 FM.

Since CBS Radio’s 98.5 The Sports Hub came into fruition, it not only cut into WEEI’s ratings, but took over the top spot this year in key dayparts from morning to afternoon drive. And the numbers continue to lean in CBS Radio’s way as indicated in the Spring Arbitron ratings.

A move to the FM dial was the logical next step for WEEI. The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn says the FM simulcast for WEEI was a natural progression.

Lance Venta of Radio Insight says Entercom applied to move its WEEI-FM call signs from Providence to Boston’s 93.7 FM. Providence will take the WVEI call letters from WEEI’s Springfield station.

Entercom now feels it has a level playing field for WEEI and all of its sports properties, the Red Sox and Celtics as well as Westwood One’s NFL and NCAA Tournament packages, will be heard on the FM side as well.

Former Pats LB Tedy Bruschi Joins WEEI’s Patriots Monday

Just announced by WEEI, former Patriots Linebacker Tedy Bruschi, a current ESPN NFL analyst, will join The Big Show with Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley every Monday for “Patriots Monday”. Ordway, Holley and Bruschi will interview Patriots head coach Bill Belichick so this apparently means the end of maddening softball questions by both Fred Smerlas and Steve DeOssie. Then again with Bruschi there, I’m not sure if he’s willing to ask hard questions of the coach either. Anyway, it’s a whole new cast for “Patriots Monday” for the Big Show with Ordway being the lone holdover.

We have the announcement from WEEI:

Former New England Patriot Tedy Bruschi joins the WEEI Sports Radio Network

July 26, 2011 (Boston, MA) – The WEEI Sports Radio Network announced today that former New England Patriots linebacker and current ESPN NFL analyst, Tedy Bruschi, will join the station as part of its Patriots coverage this fall.

Bruschi will join co-hosts Michael Holley and Glenn Ordway during The Big Show on “Patriots Monday,” from 4pm to 6pm, and be part of their interview with Coach Bill Belichick each week beginning August 15th. Bruschi was drafted by the New England Patriots in 1996 out of the University of Arizona and played his entire career with the team before retiring in 2008. He was a member of each of the Patriots three Super Bowl winning teams in 2001, 2003 and 2004.

Additionally, WEEI will support the efforts of “Tedy’s Team,” through a series of fundraising ventures over the course of the season. “Tedy’s Team,” is a group of runners raising money for the American Stroke Association and training to complete the Boston Marathon® and the Falmouth Road Race. Their participation supports Tedy Bruschi’s fight against strokes and honors both the survivors and the loved ones lost to America’s No. 3 leading cause of death.

“Tedy was a terrific player for the Patriots and is an excellent broadcaster for ESPN,” said Jason Wolfe, Vice-President of Programming for WEEI. “He’ll be an outstanding addition to our fall football lineup and I’m excited to be able to work with him. I’m also extremely proud to use the power of our station to support ‘Tedy’s Team, and I hope we can continue to bring awareness to this great cause.”

That’s all.

Product Review – IS9181 WiFi Internet Radio

I recently received a IS9181 WiFi Internet Radio to test out and eventually use as a giveaway here on BSMW. (details upcoming on that.)

vtech-is9181-wi-fi-internet-radioA product from VTech, this unit was promoted to me as something that transplanted sports fans could use to keep up with sports talk back home. Sports radio stations such as WEEI and WBZ-FM do stream their programming on the internet, making it available anywhere in the world. It’s not always convenient however, to sit in front of the computer listening to hours of sports radio. You can listen through some mobile phones, but my experience has been that it is a battery killer to do so for any length of time.

If you have a wireless router in your home or office, you can plug in this radio, (or put in 6 AA batteries) and it will connect to your WiFi network, and let you choose from about 11,000 streaming radio stations worldwide. The menu allows you to choose by location or by genre. Once you find your favorite stations you can save them as favorites. You can also connect this unit to a home stereo system, or hook up your MP3 player to play through the unit.

It also has a built-in FM tuner, and clock-radio wakeup. The time sets automatically over the internet, and you can get the accuweather 5-day forecast for your local area on the full color display on the front of the unit.

I took it out of the box, plugged it in, and connected without trouble to my wireless network. I then browsed to WEEI and WBZ-FM, and started streaming each. I then went and looked for other sports radio stations around the country, WFAN in NY, KNBR in San Francisco, WIP in Philadelphia. They all came right up. My wife listened to Alice 97.3 FM in San Francisco when she lived out there, and we connected to that and set it as a favorite.

You can control the unit either with the buttons on top of the device or with the provided remote control. The remote is small, and didn’t seem to work from very far away, but was still nice to have.

The unit has a suggested retail of $149.95, but is selling on Amazon for $136.87. It’s not exactly cheap, but when compared to many audio devices out there, or a subscription to Satellite radio, it’s not bad either.

It was easy to set up and easy to use, and does the job. In the time that I’ve listened to it, I’ve never had a station drop out on me, and the sound quality is really good. If you’re a Red Sox fan living in California, or anywhere else in the world, this could be a good way to stay connected to all the Red Sox talk here in Boston. WBZ-FM has streamed several Patriots games on-line this season. If you were somewhere in the country where you couldn’t see the game (didn’t have Sunday Ticket) you could listen to those broadcasts with this.

IS9181 Features and Specifications (VTech)

ESPN Radio Gets a New Affiliate

Before you get all excited, this affiliate is WGAM in New Hampshire, which serves primarily the Manchester and Nashua markets.

WGAM (1250 and 900 AM)  announced the new affiliation (which begins on October 8th) this afternoon, and also announced that they will also be a Boston Bruins radio affiliate as well. The station now carries the Patriots, Red Sox and Bruins games as well as the Manchester Monarchs.

With the change, the new weekday lineup for the station will be:

The new weekday station lineup will be…

6A-10AMike and Mike in the Morning” with Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg

10A-12NThe Dan Patrick Show

12N-2PThe Herd with Colin Cowherd

2P-3PThe Scott Van Pelt Show” with Ryen Russillo

3P-6PThe Home Team”  with Mike Mutnansky and Rich Keefe

6P-7PNew Hampshire Game Night” with Pete Tarrier and George Russell

I listen to the The Home Team on occasion when I’m in the car, and found it a decent alternative to the madness of Boston sports radio. The Dan Patrick Show is not an ESPN Radio program, but is a Fox Sports Radio program, which WGAM is currently an affiliate of. From their announcement, they’re going to keep Patrick in place and only take two hours of Colin Cowherd, which I think is a smart move.

There is no news at the moment on the status of a Boston-based ESPN Radio affiliate. I had thought they might have one in place by this point, but nothing has been announced.

NESN Ratings for Season Opener

NESN earned a 3.9 HH rating in the Boston DMA for Saturday’s Bruins – Hurricanes game, the network’s highest rated Bruins season opening broadcast in 25 years of covering the team. (The actual Bruins season opener on Thursday night against the Capitals was broadcast on VERSUS.) NESN’s 3.9 rating was also the highest average household rating recorded in the Boston DMA during the game’s 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM window, besting all other broadcast and cable networks.

NESN’s Bruins pre-game show WB Mason Bruins Faceoff LIVE also reached a major benchmark on Saturday. The season-opening edition generated a 1.1 HH rating in Boston and was seen in 28,000 homes, more than any Bruins pre-game show during the 2008-2009 season.

The Batter’s Box debuts on NESN October 12th.

NESN is bringing on another trivia game show, as The Batter’s Box presented by Cabot Cheese will air weeknights at 6:00pm starting Monday October 12th. The show will run for three weeks, and be hosted by comedian and radio host Stephen Donovan.

16 players will face off over 4 rounds of trivia action, a mix of sports and pop-culture. The Batter’s Box questions are in a multiple choice format. The contestants are from all over New England, and selected from tryouts earlier this summer.