Which Sports Radio Mid-Day Show Do You Prefer?

This week’s poll wants to know which mid-day sports radio show you’re listening to more these days.

{democracy:91}

Add more thoughts in the comment section below.

Toucher & Rich was the winner of the morning show poll, getting 50% of the vote to this point.

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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.

Free Advice for WBZ-FM

I’ll admit, I’m a little obsessed with the idea of a viable second sports radio station in Boston. Other cities have several, (Dallas has four) so why can’t it work here?

I have to say, while I’m excited for the premiere of the new 98.5FM The SportsHub on August 13th, the early feeling I’m getting is that it is just going to be more of the same. Speaking right now, on July 28, WEEI doesn’t have much to worry about.

Let’s look at what we know thus far:

Toucher and Rich will be the morning show. I’ve listened to them a little bit since the announcement was made, to try and get a feel for what they have to offer. When I listened yesterday, the segment was about what to do when you accidentally pee on yourself. While they no doubt will talk more sports on the new station, it’s still not going to be an all-sports program. There’s some “rule” out there that says all sports in the morning can’t work. OK, say that’s true. T&R will hopefully stay away from the nasty, biting political talk that dominates D&C, and will ideally keep things pretty light in the mornings. How do the sports fit in? Will they do regular “sports flashes” or whatever they’re going to call them? What type of guests will they have? That’s going to be a big factor in whether the show can compete.

My formula for the show would be to talk at a minimum 50% sports, with guests each hour, and keep the rest of the show light. Do some humor, some pop culture, whatever. Don’t try to become the moral compass of the Commonwealth. Stay away from the nastiness.

I can see myself still listening to D&C a fair amount of the time, especially when they have guests, and on Patriots Mondays and Fridays.

——-

Gary Tanguay is going to do the mid-day show. Which Gary Tanguay are we going to get? I generally like Tanguay, except when he goes into his patented “panic” mode. It happens way too much for my taste.  He just sounds fake, contrived and generally ridiculous. Some of the Patriots pregame shows that he has done are examples of the worst radio I have ever heard in my entire life. At times during the Patriots 2007 season you’d have thought they doing a pregame show for the 2008 Detroit Lions.

(By the way, Tanguay will still be hosting the Patriots pre and post game shows on 98.5 along with Scott Zolak and Andy Gresh.)

My free advice for this program is for Tanguay to aim for more of a “Dan Patrick Show” type of feel. I think Tanguay could pull it off if he was setup correctly. He needs to talk, to inform, to entertain, not just stir things up with the aim of getting reaction. From what I’ve heard there will be rotating co-hosts on this show. I’d actually rather see the show setup so that Tanguay is the main figure, with a sidekick, to toss things off of, and a series of call-in guests. These can be local, but I might actually prefer outsiders, especially writers or radio hosts from cities that have a team playing the Boston team that day. Also reach out the local beat writers, especially for the Bruins and Patriots, to give us the latest on those teams.

Depending on how it goes, I think I’m still going to have heavy doses of Dale & Holley, which for pure sports talk, is the best show WEEI has to offer.

——–

Now we come to Mike Felger. When Felger started his show on 890ESPN, he vowed that his show wouldn’t follow the WEEI model and spend “four hours talking about Manny peeing in the wall.”  The show got off to a promising start, but when the ratings didn’t follow, he changed course and jumped back to the WEEI style, and eventually back to WEEI itself. The mistake made here was concluding that the poor ratings were due more to a horrific signal rather than to a rejection of the early content of the show.

It was reported this week, first by Ken Fang, and then by Jessica Heslam,  that WBZ-FM made a hard run at WEEI regular Lou Merloni, who after auditioning for a spot with Felger, decided to sign a deal to remain with WEEI. (Interestingly, Fang reports that CBS rejected Merloni after hearing his audition…spin?)

That’s not encouraging to me. Not that Merloni remained at WEEI, but that WBZ-FM thought that he was the guy to target. This just tells me that they’re looking to rob WEEI of “talent” and perhaps copy the model. Merloni was their top target? Why? When he first came on the air, he was a breath of fresh air, but time spent at the knee of Glenn Ordway has turned him into just another voice, especially when talking sports other than baseball. He’s good as a baseball analyst, but I don’t really want to hear his take on the Patriots defense.

After failing to get Merloni, who is Felger/WBZ-FM going to go after next? Fred Smerlas? Steve DeOssie? Bill Burt? Ron Borges?

Like the Tanguay show, this program is also supposed to have rotating co-hosts. I’d prefer a “Mike and the Mad Dog” approach to the afternoon drive. Have two permanent hosts, who can talk knowledgeably on any sports topic, and attract intelligent callers who bring something other than a tired shtick to the airwaves. This is probably a total pipe dream on my part, because the “rule” of Boston sports radio seems to be that you can only talk Boston sports. Besides, who currently in the Boston media is going to be able to do this? If they’re not willing to bring someone in from the outside, maybe the rule needs to be rewritten.

I would settle for a smart, informative show, with again, many guests. Bring in some of the beat writers from the smaller papers as call-in guests. (Much better than four hours of Fred and Steve) Get some national voices to talk about big events elsewhere. Whatever you do, don’t pound the same topic into the ground for three straight weeks. Or even three straight hours. Keep it moving.

Do that, and I might never listen to the Big Show again, which despite the ratings, is the weakest show in the daytime WEEI lineup.

———

We don’t know yet about the overnights or weekends. I don’t have as strong of opinions on these timeslots, so I’d be welcome to suggestions. Ben Maller is looking for work. He’s a national guy with a pretty big following, who was let go from FoxSports Radio after doing the overnights for quite a while. Does Ted Sarandis want to get back into the radio game?

On the weekends, would you just go national and carry as many college and pro sports events as you could get your hands on, or would you do more local programming? A show devoted to the Bruins? A Sunday morning NFL show leading into the Patriots (in addition to the three-hour pregame show)?

——–

Overall, the new station has a lot of work to do if they hope to compete with powerhouse WEEI. Some of the early moves leave me thinking that rather than competing with, they’re trying to copy WEEI. That’s simply not going to work. If someone wants to listen to WEEI, they’ll listen to WEEI, who already has their formula perfected, not to a startup that is merely trying to imitate them.

For all the criticism I aim at WEEI, I have to tip my cap to them for what they’re able to accomplish in terms of ratings. They’re very good at what they do, which as Chad Finn famously put it, is catering to the lowest common denominator.

If WBZ-FM hopes to succeed, they need to target and cater to the reasonably intelligent and informed fan base, not the just the casual fan. Bringing in Tanguay and Felger (and chasing Merloni) aren’t a promising start to that end.  Prove me wrong, guys. If you’ve got any further questions on programming, my fee is quite reasonable.

Related Links:

WBZ-FM Sports Hub Starts up in August

More On The New WBZ-FM

Boston Radio Watch on the New WBZ-FM

Will WEEI Add FM Simulcast In Boston?

You Program The New Boston Sports Radio Station

Will WEEI Add FM Simulcast In Boston?

Will the new WBZ-FM The SportsHub force Entercom to get themselves a WEEI presence on the FM airwaves in Boston?

To this point, there has really been no reason for Entercom/WEEI to make the move to FM in Boston, (They’ve already gone to FM in Providence) the AM signal is strong, and there hasn’t been competition on the FM airwaves to compel them to make this move.

With WBZ-FM starting up at 98.5FM next month, is now the time for WEEI to get simulcast on FM radio in the Boston area? Might they even try to beat the new station to the FM dial?

If they decided to make this move, they have a few options available.

Entercom has three FM frequencies currently in Boston, plus the 103.7 WEEI-FM in Rhode Island.

They have “Active” rock station WAAF, which is broadcast on 97.7 and 107.3 and there is WMKK “MikeFM” variety hits which is on 93.7

Here are the signal coverage maps for the three frequencies:

Coverage area for WAAF 107.3 FM

Coverage area for WKAF 97.7 FM

Coverage area for WMKK 93.7 FM

And here is WEEI – Daytime and Nighttime.

(Read their Frequently Asked Questions about these coverage maps)

Since WAAF is already broadcasting on two frequencies, if they wanted to, Entercom could simulcast WEEI on FM without taking another station off the air. They could just take either 107.3 or 97.7 and make that a WEEI simulcast.

Putting them on 97.7 would place them near to 98.5 as well as to the other FM talker on the dial, WTKK 96.9. Or do they move WMKK to one of the current WAAF frequencies and put WEEI on 93.7?

Would they take the WEEI-FM call letters away from Providence (maybe make it WWEI-FM or something) and give them to the new Boston FM station?

There’s an interesting thread on this topic at the radio-info.com website: Entercom waited too long…