New Marc Bertrand/Scott Zolak Show Starts Tuesday

98.5 The Sportshub made it official this afternoon, announcing the latest worst-kept secret in Boston sports media, that Andy Gresh is being replaced on the midday show by Marc Bertrand.

Gresh will be staying on at 98.5, in “a variety of roles.”

Bertrand will also take over co-host duties of Patriots pre and post game programming.

From the release:

“I’m beyond thrilled to be moving to middays to work with Scott Zolak,” said Bertrand. “Being able to say I’ve been at The Sports Hub since day one is an incredibly proud moment for me. As someone who was born and raised in Boston, I know it is the best sports town in America with the very best fans. The loyalty of our listeners has driven the success of our station, and I can’t wait to interact with them on a daily basis.”




New Deals For Some Sports Radio Hosts, Others In Limbo

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 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.

Five Years Of 98.5 The SportsHub – How The Landscape Has Changed.

Five years ago, WEEI was still riding high. They had stomped attempts to challenge them in the forms of 1510 the Zone and ESPN590.

In February of that year, Chad Finn wrote a column for the Boston Globe OT that was eerily prescient in what it had to say about WEEI and its future.

Maybe the average Boston sports fan is less sophisticated than I want to believe. But I’m convinced that provided with an equal signal, some savvy program director could build what WEEI claims to be: the premier sports radio station in the country.

Then in July of 2009, it was announced that the new 98.5 The SportsHub would be starting up. WEEI had no reason to be concerned, and even issued statements saying they were prepared to beat this challenge as well.

Five years ago today, on August 13th, 2009, WBZ-FM, 98.5 The Sportshub came on the air. Everything changed that day. Unlike previous competitors, 98.5 had a strong, FM signal. They also had the Patriots and Bruins radio rights. This wasn’t static-filled AM radio with limited signal reach and lesser known talent.

The new station was competitive right away, and while WEEI tried to keep up their air of superiority (Who can forget Gerry Callahan telling Jessica Heslam when asked about Toucher and Rich that he had never heard of them and that ““I am speaking to you from under my desk right now because I am so scared”) but within two years 98.5 overtook them in the ratings, particularly on morning and afternoon drive, time slots which WEEI had dominated for 15 years.

WEEI then made a series of panic moves, none of which really panned out, including ditching the one show that was still winning its time slot – Dale and Holley – and replacing it with Mut and Merloni, which quickly fell behind Gresh and Zo in the ratings.

The station fired or reduced the roles of  the likes of  Pete Sheppard, Glenn Ordway, Jason Wolfe and Dale Arnold, while going through the disastrous Jeff Brown era. They changed management again, and have somewhat stabilized things finally, with Dennis and Callahan topping Toucher and Rich in this past month of July. (which doesn’t mean they’ll win the ratings period, but it is a start.)

Meanwhile 98.5 rolls on. Interestingly, they’ve enjoyed success, not on smart sports talk (for the most part) but on taking what WEEI did and bringing it to another level. The Felger and Mazz show and nightly Adam Jones show thrive on being incessantly critical of every single local team and player, and coming up with “sky is falling” scenarios on a daily basis. Listeners love it, as the ratings bear out.

What do the next five years bring in terms of sports talk radio in Boston? Does 98.5 fall into the same trap that WEEI did? Does another station give it a try? Does Glenn Ordway’s Big Show Unfiltered get picked up by terrestrial radio?

Be The Next Weekend Co-Host on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

98.5 The Sports Hub has the following announcement on their webpage:

Do you have what it takes to be a weekend co-host on 98.5 The Sports Hub?

You call us with your opinions every day, and to be honest, some are really good, some are just plain dumb. Do you think you can deliver hot sports takes on a regular basis on the radio? Boston’s Home for Sports is searching for a weekend co-host, and it could be you! Do you have what it takes?

We’re holding public auditions at a bar near you! The 98.5 Sports Hub Search is presented by Third Shift – an award winning amber lager. When beer and sports are your calling, you never clock out.

Apply below to be the next weekend co-host! PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.
Online entrants will be invited via email to join us at one of ten audition events, including the locations listed below. 98.5 The Sports Hub will be assigning the locations. See the official contest rules.

Wednesday, June 19 from 8pm – 10pm
Billy’s Sports Bar and Grill
34 Tarrytown Rd Manchester, NH 03103

Friday, June 21 from 8pm – 10pm
25 High St North Andover, MA 01845

Friday, June 28 from 8pm – 10pm
Angry Ham’s
2 Beacon St Framingham, MA 01701

Tuesday, July 2 from 8pm – 10pm
Dave and Busters
40 Providence Pl Providence, RI 02903

Friday, July 12 from 8pm – 10pm
The Charlie Horse
674 W Center St #1 West Bridgewater, MA 02379

Tuesday, July 16 from 8pm – 10pm
Arena’s Sports Bar and Night Club
53 High St Nashua, NH 03060

Entrants must be 21+. Semi-finalists from the above auditions will be invited to the radio station for an interview. Four people will be chosen to compete in person at the final round event on Saturday, July 27th

I”m not sure the description is quite accurate.

This paragraph:

You call us with your opinions every day, and to be honest, some are really good, some are just plain dumb. Do you think you can deliver hot sports takes on a regular basis on the radio? Boston’s Home for Sports is searching for a weekend co-host, and it could be you! Do you have what it takes?

Should really read like this:

You call us and sit on hold for hours every day to give us your (really dumb) opinions, which plainly shows that you’re desperate for attention. Are you capable of creating faux controversies and causes for panic no matter how well things are going? Do you think you can deliver those same #hotsportztakes over and over on the radio? Do you accept Michael Felger as your Lord and Savior? Can you piss off real fans of the local teams for hour after hour just to draw attention to your show? Boston’s Home for Sportz is searching for a weekend co-host, and it could be you! Do you have what it takes to be part of the next edition of institutional arrogance?

That’s better.

Navy Football Voice Bob Socci Is The New #Patriots Voice

Bob Socci
Bob Socci

98.5 The Sports Hub announced today that Bob Socci  (pronounced SO-See) will be the new radio voice of the New England Patriots, replacing the legendary Gil Santos.

Socci has been the radio voice of Navy football for the last 16 years and also was the lead voice

CBS Sports Network’s Patriot League college basketball telecasts.

The Navy and CBS connections surely could not have hurt Socci’s chances.

The news was first reported by Chad Finn of the Boston Globe.

Somewhere, Gary Tanguay and Jon Meterparel weep bitterly…



Socci joins color commentator Scott Zolak in the booth for

98.5 The Sports Hub, the official flagship station of the three-time

Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots

Boston, MA – April 24, 2013 –  Veteran sportscaster and play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci has been named the radio play-by-play announcer for the New England Patriots on 98.5 The Sports Hub (WBZ-FM), the official flagship radio station of the three-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.  Socci will join color commentator Scott Zolak in the booth to provide in-depth analysis of every Patriots game.  Socci replaces the renowned Gil Santos, who retired after the 2012 season after 36 seasons of calling Patriots games.  Socci’s appointment is effective immediately, according to an announcement made earlier today by Mike Thomas, Vice President of Programming for CBS RADIO Boston.

“Bob has more than 16 years of play-by-play experience,” said Thomas. “We were impressed with his extensive work and expertise calling various football and baseball games and he’s a local guy with great knowledge of the Patriots.  No doubt, Bob has big shoes to fill, but we are excited about this new era of play-by-play with Bob and Scott.”

“This is the thrill of a lifetime to get the opportunity from 98.5 The Sports Hub and the Patriots organization to continue the tradition established by the legendary Gil Santos to be the play-by-play announcer for the New England Patriots,” said Socci about his new role.  “I look forward to teaming up with Scott in the booth and building on The Sports Hub’s great success.”

For the past 16 years, Socci has called radio play-by-play for the U.S. Naval Academy football team. He is also the lead announcer for CBS Sports Network’s coverage of Patriot League college basketball.  Socci resides in Milton, MA with his wife, Monique Tello, and two children, Gio and Maria.

In addition to being the official flagship station for the New England Patriots, 98.5 The Sports Hub is also the official flagship station of the Boston Bruins and the New England Revolution.

Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub is owned by CBS RADIO, a division of CBS Corporation.  CBS RADIO, one of the largest major-market radio operators in the United States, operates 126 radio stations, the majority of which are in the top 50 markets, including Boston’s WBMX-FM (MIX 104.1), WBZ-AM (NewsRadio 1030), WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub), WODS-FM (103.3 AMP Radio) and WZLX-FM (Classic Rock 100.7).

#  #  #

Here is an interview with Socci talking about working the Patriot League telecasts for CBS Sports Network.

You can learn more about Socci at his personal website, and follow him on Twitter @BobSocci

Bob Socci Named Patriots Radio Play-By-Play Announcer On 98.5 The Sports Hub – CBSBoston.

Felger, Mazz Married In Intimate Ceremony?

In a surprising move, sports media personalities Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti were married on Cape Cod yesterday afternoon. The co-hosts of 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Felger and Mazz” got hitched at the Holy Redeemer Church in Chatham, Mass. during a clear, mild spring day.

Both grooms wore white tuxedos.

During the vows – which each groom wrote – Felger announced, “Tony, you march to the beat of your own drummer. You strike out on your own. You carve out your own niche and create your own path. You are not a company man.”

To which Mazz responded, “Yeah, Mike. You’re absolutely right,” and started crying.

In what most onlookers described as another surprise, New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick was invited to the ceremony.

“We never thought he’d be here, frankly,” Felger said afterward. “The invitation we sent to him was clearly a joke. I mean, get a clue, right?”

Belichick made a brief statement after the banquet festivities. “It’s just great to be here, great to be celebrating this moment with the guys. I really don’t have much more to say. I didn’t do much. I didn’t write the vows; I didn’t present the rings; I didn’t pick out the flowers. Beautiful flowers, by the way. But, again, it’s great to be here, to be a part of this event. Nice ceremony, nice music. Loved that cake, too.”

Sal Paolantonio of ESPN asked if Belichick knew what kind of cake it was, who baked it,  and if it had been properly prepared for the wedding.

“I just don’t know anything about that,” Belichick said. “That’s not for me to say. Not my cake. I’m not a baker. I’m sure you’ll get an update around the same time we do.”

Mike Reiss of followed up by asking about some of the better cakes Belichick might remember from past years.

“I’ll tell you, Mike, some great cakes in Cleveland. They know how to bake out there. New York – that New York cheesecake – I mean, that’s not bad. They’re famous for that. But here, in the New England area – Vermont, probably New Hampshire, anywhere with a lot of those dairy farms – some great cakes, too. Can’t discount New England and what they’re able to do with cakes. Put some of that fresh buttercream frosting on there, you’re good to go.”

Belichick continued for five minutes, detailing how the owner of a neighborhood bakery in Annapolis used to add a generous dollop of sour cream to his devil’s food cake batter. “For whatever reason,” he said, “you just don’t see that anymore.”

In some behind-the-scenes action in the press balcony, Christopher Price of said he had planned to write a “Ten Things We Learned Sunday” column about the wedding, but he could only come up with three. “One, the solitude of the Cape feels soothing this time of year,” Price said. “Two, Felger’s got great taste in color palettes. And three, Mazz is a bit of a crier.”

Greg A. Bedard left early because he had another invitation to a bigger, higher-profile wedding.

Tom E. Curran of said that he believed the wedding was a hoax, a call for attention that shouldn’t be taken seriously. “I tweeted about this three days ago,” he said.

Though Felger wasn’t present for that statement, he seemed to agree.

“We figured there’d be a crowd of media here, because the Boston media is full of sheep. We wanted to make a statement, to get married around April 1st, because if we could accomplish that, we’d show you people where you stand. Like, ‘Hey, geniuses: we put one over on you. It’s all a big April Fool’s Day prank.’”

Felger continued. “This,” he said, holding up his hand to display a 1.5-carat, round brilliant cut diamond ring in tasteful white gold bezel, “is for show. It means nothing. You all got fooled, because you all rushed to make some story out of the only guys who speak truth to power in this town. This marriage is a hoax. Right, Mazz?”

Mazz nodded in agreement and looked down at his matching ring, tears welling up in his eyes.

WBZ-FM Special – “Gil and Gino Behind The Mic”

Sometime in the next few weeks, Gil Santos will call his last New England Patriots game. In recognition of his career, WBZ-FM had Gary Tanguay sit down with Santos and his long-time announcing partner Gino Cappelletti for a remembrance of their most memorable moments together in the booth.

Gil And Gino Behind The Mic

It debuted on Christmas Eve and was replayed on Christmas day. It will also be played on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. You can also listen to it via the link above.

The duo will also be featured on the Patriots pregame show on Sunday, as they will be on the show live and will take calls from listeners, and they will be honored by the Patriots at the game.

In addition, Cappelletti will also join Santos in the booth and the pair will call the opening drive together.

In Patriots Football Weekly this week, my column is a look at Santos’ career – he did a whole lot more than just the Patriots and the WBZ morning news – including his stint as radio voice of Penn State Football in the 1980’s.

Damon Amendolara Taking “The D.A. Show” National

Damon Amendolara’s nighttime program “The D.A. Show” will be moving to overnights on CBS Sports Radio beginning on Wednesday, January 2, 2013, where it will be heard from 2:00 to 6:00am.

The program will still be heard locally on 98.5 The Sports Hub, but will now be a national show.

Here is part of the release from CBS Sports Radio:

CBS Sports Radio today announced Damon Amendolara as host of the network’s weekday overnight show.  His new program, “The D.A. Show,” which will debut Wednesday, January 2, 2013, upon the launch of the network, will be heard on select stations from 2:00-6:00 AM, ET on-air, streaming online and through the application for mobile devices.  Amendolara, known by his fans as D.A., joins the network from CBS RADIO Boston’s WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub,” where he has served as evening host since the station’s launch in August 2009.  As he makes the transition to CBS Sports Radio, Amendolara promises a program which will be a mix of the latest sports news, discussions and controversy, in addition to interviews with tastemakers from the sports world and calls from night-owls across the country.  He joins the previously announced schedule which includes powerhouse talent such as Jim Rome, Doug Gottlieb, John Feinstein and Scott Ferrall.

The following stations will be among those broadcasting Amendolara’s “The D.A. Show”:

KRLD-FM Dallas

KILT-AM Houston

WIP-AM Philadelphia

WJFK-FM Washington, D.C.


WBZ-FM Boston

WXYT-FM Detroit

WJZ-FM Baltimore

WFNZ-AM Charlotte

WKRK-FM Cleveland

KFNZ-AM/KJQS-AM Salt Lake City

WSJZ-FM Orlando/Melbourne

No WFAN in New York, which will apparently keep it’s own overnight programming. This obviously opens up a spot on 98.5 The Sports Hub for evenings. Amendolara has been with the station since it debuted, and the opening will be a sought-after position.

Toucher and Rich seemed to be hinting at something this morning when they referred to Amendolara being very popular with the big wigs at CBS Radio, and then devoted a segment to mocking him and engaging in a mock(?) feud with him and his show.

Toucher and Rich Have The Right Idea, But Wrong Methods

By this point you’re probably aware of the incident at Bobby Valentine’s press conference yesterday involving Rich Shertenlieb of 98.5 The Sports Hub.

For some background, yesterday Toucher and Rich talked about how the media does not ask the questions that the fans would like asked at these sort of press conferences. Rich announced his intention of taking a listener question – a legitimate one, and getting a credential from the Red Sox and sitting in the front row and asking that question to Bobby Valentine.

Which is exactly what he did. He had no trouble obtaining a credential from the Red Sox, and he attended the press conference, and asked the very first question – “If you had to make your case to the fans as to why you should be the manager of the Red Sox next year, what would you say to them?’’

OK, so maybe it’s not the question that is on the tip of the tongue for the majority of Red Sox nation, but it’s a question that the beat reporters and people that cover the team on a regular basis are not going to ask.

Valentine seemed surprised by the question, and it apparently also didn’t sit too well with some of those on the beat, who viewed it as nothing more than a stunt.

Gordon Edes wrote about it in the Red Sox blog on – Valentine: ‘I’m the best man for the job’

He added the following commentary:

Radio talk-show hosts don’t typically show up for pregame sessions, but Valentine presented WEEI’s Glenn Ordway with a gift sound bite last week, so perhaps ‘EEI’s rivals were looking for the same. If so, they probably went away disappointed.

Tyler Kepner of The New York Times also mentioned the incident in his column on Valentine today – For Valentine, a Ruined Season and Spoiler’s Role.

Kepner wrote:

The pregame news conference Tuesday began not with the standard talk about injuries and the lineup, but with a breathless demand from a radio reporter that Valentine tell fans why he should still be manager.

Both Edes and Kepner’s commentary seemed fairly benign from here, but it led to an epic, screaming rant from Fred Toucher on this morning’s show.

Toucher insisted at least twice that this was “not a wacky bit” just done to get attention. The pair insisted that this was an effort to get the “voice of the disenfranchised fan” out there and heard by Valentine. Toucher was insulted that Dan Shaughnessy after bring apprised of Shertenlieb’s intentions asked that they just not get the nice girl who gave him the press pass fired.

Toucher, who from the rant you would think was the one who went down and asked the question yelled that the pair is “in our mid-30’s” and that “we know what we’re doing.” It was stated again that this was “not a wacky bit” for the radio.

You might recall that a couple of years ago, Shertenlieb, on a somewhat similar mission, attended Celtics media day in order to quiz then-Celtics guard Delonte West about his alleged relationship with LeBron James’ mother. That was a stunt, and an incredibly awkward one as well. It would be easy to understand why some might have concerns that the intentions might be similar here.

Toucher went on, calling the sports media a “self-important righteous bunch of jerks” and wondered what the problem was with questioning an “a-hole manager who’s never won anything.”

He chided Edes for having an “overinflated sense of what you’re doing – what a jerk!” He then went on this hysterical, screaming rant after they read the quote from Edes above suggesting that this whole thing was just to get their own Bobby Valentine “moment.”

That’s right, Gordon! That’s what Rich wanted, was for Valentine to just BLOW UP on him, you hit the nail on the head! Better give your guys at EEI a nice pat on the back because they cover ESPN programming and ESPN guests can’t come our station. Better give your boys a little pat on the back you prick, you condescending prick, that’s just great.

This is where he lost me. Maybe I’ve missed it, but I don’t hear Gordon Edes a whole lot on the WEEI airwaves. I don’t think he has any reason to plug WEEI in the least. ESPN talent cannot appear on any other radio networks, that’s their policy, it’s not particular to 98.5 just because WEEI is in town.

I can get on board with an outsider coming in every once in a while to ask a different sort of question. The reporters who are there everyday aren’t necessarily going to be big into asking confrontational questions every day, since it can make for an unpleasant work environment for themselves. The idea of someone like Shertenlieb coming in and getting questions from fans and asking them at a press conference is in theory, an interesting one.

The media can be a bit self-important. That’s not a secret. Calling them out is appropriate from time to time.

But when you do it in the manner that Toucher did this morning, any good points you have made quickly lose credibility. I can’t tell if he’s pissed that he and Shertenlieb aren’t being taken seriously as sports “journalists” or if he’s more mad that Gordon Edes had the temerity to suggest that this might’ve just been another attempt at publicity by a pair of wacky morning zookeepers. When you’re calling a pro like Gordon Edes a jerk and a condescending prick, (knowing he’s unlikely to respond) it tends to distract from your main objective, which is a shame.