John Dennis In Rehab

A second unplanned absence from WEEI this year left many people wondering what was going on with morning host John Dennis. Some listeners wondered about his health, others speculated there was a suspension going on.

Things were cleared up last night when the Herald’s Steve Buckley broke the news that Dennis was entering rehab for alcohol use:

Rehab for John Dennis; WEEI host to take leave

Dennis tells Buckley that “rock bottom” for him came Monday during the Red Sox home opener. It was enough to convince him that he needed to seek help. He took a leave of absence from WEEI and entered a local inpatient facility where he is expected to stay or four or five weeks.

Statement from John Dennis – Statement from Dennis, which he says will be the last he’ll talk about it.

WEEI Morning Show Co-Host John Dennis to Enter Alcohol Rehabilitation – Chad Finn makes his report on the situation.

It would be easy to pile on and kick Dennis while he’s down. Many will do so. I’ll let others take that route and instead just wish him well, and hope he comes out of rehab a better person. It takes courage to admit you have a problem and to take steps to deal with it.

****

The Celtics finished off their regular season last night with a 105-100 win in Milwaukee. The Celtics finished the regular season with a 40-42 record. They finished the season 24-12.

Two years ago the Celtics went 41-40. That team had Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo (until he was injured) Jeff Green, Jason Terry, Doc Rivers and Courtney Lee.

None of those guys are here now.

Here is their playoff schedule:

Game 1 – Sun, Apr 19
@
Cavaliers
3:00 PM
Game 2 – Tue, Apr 21
@
Cavaliers
7:00 PM
Game 3 – Thu, Apr 23
vs
Cavaliers
7:00 PM
Game 4 – Sun, Apr 26
vs
Cavaliers
1:00 PM
Game 5 – Tue, Apr 28
@
Cavaliers
TBD
Game 6 – Thu, Apr 30
vs
Cavaliers
TBD
Game 7 – Sat, May 2
@
Cavaliers
TBD
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Kirk Minihane Suspended For One Week Over Andrews Comments

Entercom and WEEI suspended morning co-host Kirk Minihane for a week, but only after pressure from FOX, which informed Entercom that it was pulling all sports and entertainment advertising off of the company’s airwaves. That includes ALL stations, not just WEEI.

FOX talent will also not be appearing on any WEEI program.

It was only after that move that Entercom suspended Minihane.

To me, this just compounds my frustration with the whole situation.  I certainly disapproved of the comments and of the lack of seriousness with which WEEI appeared to take them (“The Triumphant Return of Kirk Minihane?”).

minihane

Fox noted this as well. In the note to Entercom was this:

To make matters worse, the “apology” was posted under a banner (allegedly approved by your Boston VP and Market Manager, Phil Zachary) hailing “The Triumphant Return of Kirk Minihane.”

On the other hand, I wasn’t sure  a suspension was in order, either. I just would’ve liked a bit more sincerity from Minihane.

But if WEEI was going to suspend him, they should’ve done it when the remarks were first made. Now it’s clear they condoned his comments and only now suspended him because it is costing the company advertising dollars. Maybe they thought this whole thing would just blow over, but it couldn’t because Minihane and his on-air colleagues wouldn’t let it. They talked about it repeatedly on-air, and Minihane wrote his column this morning childishly attacking those who have been critical of him, essentially saying Yeah, I screwed up, but you’re no better! You’re out to get me!

I’m stunned to find that I actually agree with Dan Shaughnessy on this.

Either suspend the guy or stand by him. Now they look spineless. If his comments were so offensive, why didn’t they suspend him when he made them?

(Note: Dan Shaughnessy regularly appears on WEEI competitor 98.5 The Sports Hub and thus has an agenda in this issue.)

Minihane suspended for comments against Fox’s Erin Andrews – Chad Finn

WEEI suspends Kirk Minihane over Erin Andrews flapBoston Herald.

The Herald post has a quote from Entercom CEO David Field:

“Kirk Minihane’s statements regarding Erin Andrews were offensive and deplorable. It is clear by the response from our listeners, advertisers and employees that Kirk’s efforts to apologize and make this right have been insufficient and ambiguous,” Entercom CEO David Field said. “We want to make it unequivocally clear that his comments were unacceptable and do not reflect Entercom’s values and standards. As a result, we have suspended Kirk for the upcoming week.”

It still seems a little late for action.

Finally this post from former WBZ-TV Sports Reporter Alice Cook is worth a read. It’s honest, enlightening and intelligent.

NESN Dump of D&C has nothing NOTHING to do w recent events. TRULY.

Make no mistake. John Dennis, Gerry Callahan and Kirk Minihane are absolutely loving every bit of attention they are getting from Minihane’s Erin Andrews comments. Their bosses are as well. Either that, or management is afraid to take action against their highest-rated show.

They keep adding on to it so that they can keep themselves in the news, and bring attention to themselves. They also get to play the persecuted victims role here, as everyone who dares to criticize them has an agenda.

Fine. I get it. They all DO have an agenda. That doesn’t automatically invalidate what they’re saying though.  But let’s also not pretend that D&C and Minihane don’t have their own agenda here as well.

Such as the fact that the station has every employee that I can see tweeting out the link to Minihane’s column this morning complaining about unfairly he is being treated.

My view on it is this- If Kirk was going to make those comments, and then not retreat from them (as shown by his remarks when he returned to the air) then he needs to own them and forfeits any right to complain about ill-treatment or agenda by others. His apologies have basically consisted of I’m sorry if YOU were offended.

I mean seriously. These guys spend four hours  a day dumping on people, and then one of them says something which causes backlash and they circle the wagons and play the martyr?

(Underneath all that, I’ll admit that Minihane has a valid point about the coziness of the Globe columnists like Shaughnessy and Gasper to 98.5.)

Yesterday, it came out that NESN will no longer be simulcasting the WEEI morning show once the contracts of John Dennis and Gerry Callahan expire in September. While everyone is very carefully noting that this decision is in no way connected with this Minihane incident, the timing of it is just too much.

NESN tuning out WEEI’s ‘Dennis and Callahan’ simulcast – Chad Finn

NESN dump of WEEI show unrelated to flap – Gayle Fee

Even if the move was in the works for weeks as is noted in the columns above, the fact that this information came out right now (last night, actually) could be a message in itself, as NESN is not pleased with recent events as evidenced by a statement from NESN in Finn’s column:

“NESN has absolutely no editorial control of WEEI’s ‘Dennis and Callahan Morning Show,’ and completely disapproves of Mr. Minihane’s disparaging statements. Furthermore, we feel it’s unfortunate that his comments aired on our network.”

A statement like that along with the move being made public now sure seems too much to be a coincidence despite claims to the contrary. NESN may not have wished to make this public at this time, but someone did. Appearances can be everything.

I want to be clear about one last thing. I don’t think anyone is out there lauding Erin Andrews for her journalistic ability or her talent as an interviewer. The strawman has been created that people are upset because Minihane was critical of her as a professional.

No. That’s not the case. Criticism of Andrew’s work is fair game. Minihane went beyond that, and got personal. Calling her a “gutless bitch” and joking that she “drop dead” was bad enough, but then to make the weight and waitress remark while “apologizing” took it to another level.

He deserves any criticism he gets, and in my opinion should just sit there and take it. I don’t think he and his colleagues have always been “fair” when attacking others, and have done so with glee at times. Now when it is turned around and aimed at him, he’s whining?

Turnabout is fair play, Kirk.

 

Addendum

It is worth noting what Minihane wrote about Joe Haggerty when the later had a bizarre incident during the Bruins playoffs against Montreal. (emphasis mine)

“There you go. Follow-ups asking about potential discipline were not answered. I respect and like many of the people at Comcast — they have been great to me and are smart, hard-working and sincere in their desire to do terrific work. But if they let Haggerty skate on this they absolutely deserve whatever happens the next time he screws up (and Haggerty was filing stories from Montreal on Wednesday afternoon). The enabler is every bit as responsible as the enabled. A suspension seems the minimum discipline; this is a serious breach of ethics at best. If no punishment is handed out it’s an endorsement, a look the other way, and an insult to the superb writers at CSNNE.com (Tom E. Curran, Sean McAdam, A. Sherrod Blakely and others, plus the on- and off-camera staff). That’s the road to disaster.

Kirk (and WEEI) would do well to consider applying all the bolden sections above to themselves.

Embattled Kirk Minihane Vows Not To Change

Kirk Minihane made his triumphant return from vacation to the WEEI airwaves this morning, and while he acknowledged his apology to Erin Andrews, he and his co-hosts also struck back at “panderers” and others who had been critical of them. He vowed not to change his style.

He also offered this further thought on Andrews.

I used a word to reference Erin Andrews that I shouldn’t have used to reference Erin Andrews. I will completely cop to that, I said it, I admit it. […] I think she stinks at her job. I don’t think she’s very smart. I think Fox only hired her because she’s good-looking. I think if she weighed 15 pounds more, she’d be a waitress at Perkins.

Deadspin

Whatever you think of Erin Andrews’ intelligence or talent, it’s good to know that Minihane has been sufficiently humbled by his experience of last week.

Dennis and Callahan and Minihane Taking Hate To New Levels

The WEEI morning show has been supplanted atop the ratings books by Toucher and Rich for some time now. With the contracts of John Dennis and Gerry Callahan reported to be expiring soon, there seems to be a bit of desperation creeping in to keep their show relevant, and to attract attention to themselves in an effort to bolster their negotiating positions. I suspect though, that the following incidents are doing them no favors with WEEI management.

Two incidents from this week have made their way into the national spotlight.

Sportswriter Jeff Pearlman, on his blog, recounts a Twitter battle he had with John Dennis which included Dennis saying that the First Lady has “an ass as wide as a double barn door.” Dennis loves to insult people on their weight, which is funny, seeing as how he magically lost 60 lbs in mere weeks after his show was picked up by NESN and he didn’t like people seeing him like this.

Then this morning Kirk Minihane called Erin Andrews a ‘Gutless Bitch’.  His colleagues agreed, adding that Andrews is a “bubblehead” and a “bimbo.”

WEEI Host on Erin Andrews: “What a gutless bitch … Drop dead”The Big Lead.

WEEI Boston Morning Radio Show Absolutely Trashes Erin Andrews, Calls Her ‘Gutless Bitch’Sports Grid.

Shitty Sports Radio Dude Calls Erin Andrews A “Gutless Bitch” Deadspin

I’m sure though, if Kirk met Andrews, he’d be just like when he met Jenny Dell after writing and saying things about her.

I’ve always liked Minihane, but he’s turning me off with stuff like this. Maybe this is who he has always been and being on the radio every day is just showing it to all, but his radio act is wearing thin on me.

If Kirk and John and Gerry are just looking for attention, then Mission Accomplished!

“Most Listened To” vs “Highest Rated”

The summer ratings are out, and once again, 98.5 defeated WEEI pretty soundly.

The morning show battle is interesting. Toucher and Rich (10.8) again came out on top, but Dennis and Callahan got a nice bump finishing second with a 7.2.

(Let’s get this out of the way – when I listen in the mornings, I find that I listen to D&C more often simply because, even though I find their personalities incredibly unlikable, their sports content is generally better than what is on Toucher and Rich. I do go back and forth though, as I suspect many do.)

John Dennis however, wants all to know that his program is the most listened to morning sports show in New England.

And on and on…

What Dennis is claiming here, of course, is that if you take all the WEEI affiliates across New England, plus their television audience on NESN, then more people in New England are listening/watching Dennis and Callahan than are Toucher and Rich.

I don’t have specific numbers on this claim, but I suspect that it is true. If you add them all up, they’re probably more than what Toucher and Rich get only in Boston.

The problem is, this is the argument that D&C used to bash Imus (or Stern) with back in the day. Imus had more outlets, and was thus getting a larger audience. D&C would attack that claim. Now, when it suits their argument, they’re using it for themselves.

The funny thing to me is, all those years when D&C were winning the morning ratings handily, we never heard about these other affiliates. They started to lose, and then all of a sudden there was an emphasis to include Providence in with the Boston numbers, and now, apparently they want to include Providence, NESN and all of their other affiliates across New England.

Seems like moving the goalposts to me. They can’t beat Toucher and Rich in Boston, so let’s make it all of New England, where we have stations, and they don’t. It becomes more about reach than about how they’re actually doing.

A few points on this argument:

  • If 98.5 were going against WEEI in all the areas that the latter has affiliates, does anyone think they’d lose there? 98.5 is not losing to WEEI anyplace they are competing.
  • It seems logical then, that since 98.5 is beating WEEI handily in places where they go head-to-head that they would beat them elsewhere, too.
  • Advertisers don’t care. Boston advertisers do not care that there is a WEEI affiliate in Keene NH, or Portland Me. They care about what the numbers are in Boston, and that is largely why the ratings numbers exist in the first place.

D&C were celebrating their new boss this morning, and that the handcuffs have been taken off, which presumably means a return to politics and current events (read: sex scandals) and less sports talk.

Whether it turns into ratings success remains to be seen. Otherwise, they will just have to remain happy with being the lower-rated-but-most-listened-to morning radio show in New England.

Did Kevin Winter Step Down, Or Was He Fired?

Early this afternoon, Chad Finn reported that Kevin Winter had been called into Jason Wolfe’s office this morning and then fired from his position as morning flash guy for The Dennis and Callahan Show.

Kevin Winter out at WEEI

Around the same time, I had heard the same thing – Winter had been fired.

Shortly after Finn published his post, WEEI released a statement on the matter:

WEEI today announced that effective immediately, Kevin Winter has stepped down from his position on the Dennis and Callahan Morning Show. Winter, who was working exclusively for ESPN Radio before being hired in early December, said “I appreciated the opportunity to join WEEI, but my time commitments at ESPN Radio were just too consuming for me to continue in both roles. I wish John and Gerry and the entire team the best going forward.”

Jason Wolfe, Vice-President of Programming and Operations for Entercom Boston, said, “I respect Kevin’s decision and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

There will be no further comment or follow up as it relates to a replacement at this time.

These are some tumultuous times over at WEEI. Focus groups are being convened, flash guys fired/stepping down, and there are rumors about show changes on a daily basis.

It’s going to be interesting to see how things shake out over these in the coming months.