“WEEI has decided to part ways with Glenn Ordway, co-host of “The Big Show”. Ordway made the announcement on-air Wednesday, February 13 that his last day will be this Friday. Michael Holley will serve as host of “The Big Show” for the foreseeable future and WEEI expects to make an announcement in the coming days about Michael’s new co-host.
“Glenn and I have been together since day one. He is an icon in this business and he helped build WEEI into arguably the most successful sports station in history,” said Jason Wolfe, VP of programming and operations for Entercom Boston. “I am so thankful to have been able to work alongside Glenn for the past 20-plus years and I hope that all Boston sports fans realize how important his contributions have been to this station, to the market and to this industry. He’s a true professional and that was clearer than ever in his comments today.”
The Globe’s Chad Finn, who has been impeccable in his reporting of these things, has sources telling him today that Glenn Ordway, a fixture at WEEI since it went to the all-sports format, will be replaced by former 1510 and 890 host (and current 710 ESPN Seattle host) Mike Salk.
It’s been common knowledge that WEEI needs to make some major changes. But I’ll admit to being floored by this move. Ordway has been a fixture at the station since it went to the all-sports format, and it’s hard to picture Boston radio, let alone WEEI without him on the air.
During the heyday of WEEI, Ordway was tough to listen to, he really encapsulated all that was wrong with the station, talking over callers and co-hosts, not backing down on any opinion, insulting hockey fans, and mocking anything to do with the internet, blogging or the like.
When Entercom management made the move to pair Ordway with Michael Holley, the adjustment was rough. Ordway dominated the show, Holley seemed reluctant to mix it up with Ordway. But in recent months they seemed to have found a nice balance and were providing a decent counter to the daily dramas and hysteria drummed up on the rival Felger and Mazz show on 98.5.
It’s a curious move from that aspect, especially given the continued beatings that the Dennis and Callahan show take in the ratings. It’s apparent that it was much easier to get rid of Ordway (who had already taken a pay cut) than to dump John Dennis and pair Gerry Callahan with someone else.
For some out there, the schadenfreude is flowing. They’ve awaited the day that Ordway fell. The day is here, and I for one, am a bit puzzled by the move, as I have been by many moves made at WEEI since Jeff Brown took over. Behind the scenes, there are unhappy people everywhere at WEEI, and not just the on-air side.
The addition of Salk is an interesting one. He has the local ties, the show he hosts in Seattle is a popular one, but I can’t say I remember a whole lot about him from his time on the airwaves here. I don’t know what style he will bring, though I can guess. (Think: Felger)
You have to think there are other moves coming, though contractual issues with the morning show might force WEEI to hang onto Dennis and Callahan longer than they’d prefer to.
One of the longest tenured members of the Boston sports media is WEEI’s The Big Show co-host Glenn Ordway. Since 1975 Ordway has been working in the Boston media, working for all four major sports teams in the process. In 1987, when Ordway was a Celtics commentator the team moved their radio programming to WEEI where he became executive sports director. He was later named program director in 1996 and started The Big Show, not looking back since, adding numerous television appearances and even his own show, New England Tailgate on Comcast Sportsnet to his resume.
Boston Sports Media Watch had the chance to sit down and catch up with Ordway to discuss his career, including the changes he’s needed to make over time as well as talking about some of the coaches he interviews on a weekly basis.
Over the years what is the biggest thing that has changed in the sports media, especially radio?
A lot has changed. Believe it or not in the old days we didn’t have the internet so you didn’t have the capacity to go and dig out stories else where. You were dealing with the Globe or the Herald and maybe the Worcester Telegram, that’s what you were dealing with years ago. Nowadays everything is instantaneous, the media is immediate. Stories break in 15 seconds on Twitter.
The two things that were key for doing talk shows years ago were the morning newspapers… In other words, you’d wake up at 7 o’clock in the morning and that’s the first time you’d learn about a rumor or trade. There was no at night, there was no SportsCenter, you weren’t getting any other that. The other thing that would happen is every once in awhile, somebody on Ch. 4, 5, or 7 on TV at night would break a story at 11 o’clock and I’d sit there and say, that’s my show tomorrow.
It’s much different. The sound that is out there, every game is either seen, or you record it — you can watch everything. The preperation for one of these shows is so much easier now than it was, and you can absorb and take in so much more.
What was it like transitioning from the two different co-hosts per day to now having one permanent co-host in Michael Holley?
It is a much different formula with three guys and a flash guy in Pete [Sheppard]. You have a lot of people talking. Yes, I know we were interrupting each other all the time, and it was by design, basically four guys sitting in a bar. That is what you do when you’re with your friends at a bar having a sports debate, you start jumping on top of each other.
On the other hand, for me it was a much different role because I was like the moderator and I had to poke at everybody. I had to jump in with an opinion so I could poke to get opposing views to create some type of entertaining confrontation. Because of that I developed that flip flop reputation and I am guilty as charged, no question about it. That was part of the role that I was in.
The role in this show now, is it is a two man team. So you need player A to have a strong opinion and you need player B to have a strong opinion and it comes out with the both of us challenging each other. I happen to have a partner that I have great respect for, and I think he and I really have found that niche in the show to be able to openly throw our opinions out there and not have to worry about it. It is a much different formula, much different.
How much attention do you pay to the ratings?
You have to. They are not everything because if you have ratings and you’re not driving revenue then you’re not really getting your job done. They go hand and hand. You have to watch ratings, and it’s not just ratings looking at the other sports station, the Sports Hub, you’re looking at what the music stations are doing, you’re watching the trends and trends change throughout the year.
Everybody busts us all the time, why do you take all your vacations in the summer? Because listening habits change dramatically in the summer time. People listen to far more music, people get away from sports, they get into nostalgic music, everything changes. Habits change so much so that’s the book that advertising agencies kind of dismiss. Spring and the fall are the two big books that people really pay attention to. You have to watch everything else that is going on.
Was Bobby Valentine one of the most awkward guys you’ve had on for a weekly interview?
I don’t think awkward would be the way I would say it — I would say the most unpredictable. You’d ask him a question and he was the one guy you never knew what the answer was going to be. I think I can ask a lot of people questions, people I interview on a regular basis, and have a decent idea of how they are going to approach the answer. With Bobby I never had an idea of how he was going to answer. That is why he caught me so off guard so many times.
What about Belichick, sort of the opposite?
With Belichick I kind of know the way he is going to approach it. So, you have to phrase the question in a certain way. You have to be ready to come back sometimes with a follow up. But, Bobby was great with follow ups because once you knew he was going to cross the line with the answer, you knew if you threw him a follow up he wasn’t going to stop. Bobby was not one of those to say, that’s it, I’m not going to talk about that anymore, he always wanted to say more about something. Bill wants to say less about something because he wants to protect his team.
On the other hand, if I were to ask a question to Bill about a play they had on Sunday and compare it to a similar play they ran in 2004, Bill would go back to that play in 2004 with tremendous clearity and he would detail every little thing that happened in that play, why it happened, and every player that was involved. When it comes to history and going into the past tense, because Bill doesn’t want to bring up the present or future, he gives you unbelievable stuff.
There are times when you really listen to Bill on Monday, that if you read behind the lines, there is stuff there, but you have to read between the lines. If he is not answering a question a certain way, or if he does, like the way he answered the question this past week on [Aqib] Talib and how much playing time he was going to get, he gave me the answer, but it was reading in between the lines.
What about the future for you personally, you’ve been doing The Dan Patrick Show nationally lately, do you like that?
I love it. Those guys are great — the Danette’s and Dan is a great friend. I like those guys an awful lot, I like doing the show. I love doing what I am doing right now. I’ve got to tell you, this is fun every single day. It’s fun waking up preparing for the show, doing the show, I have no regrets. I could actually have to work someday, this is fun. I have done an awful lot of things in the business, dealing with pre and post with the Red Sox, people forget I worked with the Bruins for two years, and the Celtics for 14. I am having fun right now.
But, there are challenges down the road. There are a couple of projects that I am working on right now that will hopefully come to fruition. So there are a bunch of other things I want to do, you always want to try and find new challenges and things to do. But, this is a blast and working with Michael has been a whole new level of enjoyment for me.
This is the part that will get the most attention:
Ordway: Let’s get it on the table. People back here are talking an awful lot about you, ummm, I understand they make a huge deal, they change the personnel on your team dramatically, a team that is much more challenged to score runs, but you do get the impression that maybe you’ve kind of checked out. Have you checked out of this?
Valentine: What an embarrassing thing to say. You know if I was there, I’d punch you right in the mouth. Haha. How’s that sound? Sound like I checked out? What an embarrassing thing to…why would someone even, I mean, that’s something that a comic strip person would write.
The desire to punch a WEEI host isn’t necessarily an unreasonable nor unnatural one, but expressing it on the air is not the wisest course of action. A PR-conscious ownership isn’t likely to react charitably to this interview.
Later, Ordway rats out Nick Cafardo as a reporter that wrote that Valentine was “late” for a game (arriving at 4:00 for a 7:00 game.)
Did he really? That’s really embarrassing, Nick. I’ll see him when I get out there. He could have asked me very easily.
The media sessions in Seattle tonight should be interesting, to say the least.
I’m no Bobby V guy, to be sure, but the glee with which this meltdown and the meltdown of his team is being met with is slightly nauseating to me. I may have hated the decision to hire him in the first place, but this is a man’s life we’re talking about here, and his career, and we’re seeing it end with a fiery crash. There’s nothing enjoyable about that.
The Red Sox get back to work tonight as they begin a series in Tampa with the Rays. What will the second half of the season bring for the Red Sox? Can they pull it together and grab a playoff spot, or is a complete meltdown right around the corner?
Mismatched Sox wearing on Bobby? – Gordon Edes has today’s must-read column, with plenty of griping and back-biting going around the Red Sox clubhouse, most of it centered around manager Bobby Valentine.
In an email to BSMW, Entercom’s Jason Wolfe disputed the numbers from yesterday’s post, (A sure sign WEEI is doing better, Wolfe has emerged from his bunker.) discarding the standard Arbitron numbers that run from 3-7pm and sending over what he claims are the 2-6pm numbers for the month of June.
He also zinged me with this line:
I know you’re a 98.5 fan and not an EEI fan, that’s fine, you’re entitled to your opinion, but you’re numbers are wrong.
OK. Has he paid attention at all to what I’ve said about Felger and Mazz, either here or on Twitter? A 98.5 fan? Someone over at CBS Boston is getting a good chuckle out of that.
Someone from 98.5 emailed me recently and said:
Maybe we suck. Maybe we’re too negative. Or too loud. Or too whatever. You are entitled to whatever opinion you have.
I sure am glad all the radio people are allowing me to be entitled to my own opinion on things.
Anyway, here is what Wolfe sent me regarding the afternoon drive numbers:
Men 25-54, Mon-Fri 2-6 pm.
Week One Week Two Week Three Week Four
6.9 8.4 7.0 6.3 WEEI
5.7 7.6 6.4 5.7 98.5
Men 18-34, Mon-Fri, 2-6 pm.
Week One Week Two Week Three Week Four
3.3 2.7 3.1 2.6 WEEI
7.7 9.8 9.6 9.6 98.5
Men 18-49, Mon-Fri, 2-6 pm.
Week One Week Two Week Three Week Four
6.1 6.6 5.8 5.0 WEEI
6.0 8.8 7.5 7.0 98.5
He also included the 35-54 age bracket, which really solidifies that older listeners prefer the Big Show, while the younger ones prefer Felger and Mazz.
Men 35-54, Mon-Fri, 2-6pm Week One Week Two Week Three Week Four
7.5 9.0 7.5 7.4 WEEI
4.6 6.9 5.5 4.7 98.5
The numbers from yesterday were taken directly off sheets with the Arbitron copyright on them. These numbers provided by Wolfe may well be accurate, but he’s also had a history of being, um, creative with how he comes up with ratings figures.
Yesterday, WEEI also sent over these figures, interestingly, the release contained the line “WEEI saw benefits of carrying both the Celtics and Red Sox game broadcasts.” Um, yeah. :
WEEI 93.7 Arbitron Ratings (rival station The Sport Hub compared in red):
The incident over the weekend in which an ESPN.com editor was fired for using the headline “Chink in the Armor” on a story about the New York Knicks and sensation Jeremy Lin losing their first game since Lin became a starter has been a hot topic everywhere this week.
Naturally the topic has been discussed on WEEI, and while the hosts discussing the issues do manage some thoughtful commentary, it is completely invalidated by the embarrassing lack of self-awareness or just plain willful ignorance the station has shown in ignoring their own history in the same area.
Yesterday, Glenn Ordway was talking about the subject, and how he believes that Anthony Federico should not have been fired, and that media outlets and society in general are too quick to just fire or suspend people when mistakes are made. (I tend to agree.)
Ordway argued that instead of firing or suspending that the time should be taken for the topic to be discussed, and thus educate people on why such things are offensive, and perhaps all could benefit and heal from the lessons learned. Sounds good.
Then Ordway presented his example. He cited when Bob Ryan was suspended from the Boston Globe for a month in 2003 for saying in a discussion about the self-promoting ways of Joumana Kidd, (which included using her son as a TV prop) that someone needed to “smack her.” Ordway opined Ryan was not advocating domestic violence (again, I agree) and that instead of being suspended and silenced on the matter, that Ryan should have been given the opportunity to explain himself, perhaps in a column, and that dialogue should’ve been opened on the topic, and that discussing the matter would help in healing.
All sounds perfectly reasonable. But why choose to criticize the Globe for its handling of the matter, and ignore his own employer’s handling of a matter that much more closely resembles the Lin matter because it was tied to race? I’m speaking of course, about the Metco incident in which John Dennis and Gerry Callahan were each suspended for two weeks later in 2003, (so after the Ryan incident) for a racially insensitive comment.
At the time of the incident, Ordway and WEEI would not discuss the matter at all. It became a running joke that Ordway would always decline to talk about it because he claimed he hadn’t heard the tapes of the incident, and in fact that the tapes had been “lost.”
So apparently the Globe should’ve allowed the Ryan incident to be discussed and dialogue opened on the matter, but not when WEEI hosts made insensitive comments?In the time that I listened yesterday, Metco was not brought up at all. Perhaps it was, and I didn’t hear it, but in the time I listened, it was not brought up, so it certainly was not a significant part of the discussion.
It says a couple of things about Ordway, either he’s protecting his WEEI colleagues (likely) or he doesn’t put it in the same category as the Federico and Ryan incidents. That too can go two ways; does Ordway believe that what D&C said was not intentionally insensitive? Or does he believe it WAS intentional, but not insensitive?
Either way, to completely ignore an incident that occurred on your own airwaves and instead mention something from another media outlet, is completely disingenuous.
I listened to some of Dennis and Callahan this morning, and their commentary on the matter. They referenced the ESPN Ombudsman column from Poynter, and some of the comments from Stephen A. Smith on the matter (who was actually very good) and generally went with the view that Federico as well as Max Bretos and Spero Dedes, who also used the term, all did so without any malicious racial intentions whatsoever. Their conclusion seems to be basically that this is another example of the politically correct world gone mad. (So those who used the term are the persecuted victims here.)
Even when a caller who claimed to be Asian-American attempted to explain that the term, no matter how it was used was offensive to him, even though he believed it not to be used in an intentionally malicious manner by any of them. He added though, that the people involved should not have been fired, but reprimanded.
Dennis and Callahan basically both invalidated the feelings of the caller and anyone who could claim to be offended by the matter. They insist that no one would ever intentionally use that phrase referencing someone with an Asian background in a racist manner. That it would just be stupid to do so. Which is true. However, what the caller, and other callers tried to explain, (unsuccessfully to D&C) is that even if it the phrase was not racially motivated, it was, at the very least, being used as a double entendre, which means race entered into it, perhaps without actually realizing that it was as offensive as it was.
Intentional or not, using the phrase in the manner in which it was, to reference Jeremy Lin, is not acceptable.
Once again, I did not hear the Metco incident brought up at all, except indirectly by a caller, who stated that he felt that D&C’s stance on this matter was not surprising at all, he then attempted to bring up Metco, and Callahan loudly shouted over him to obfuscate the caller so that he wasn’t heard at all, and then called it a “cheap shot.”
How in the world was it a “cheap shot” to bring up an incident which was exactly relevant to the discussion they were having at that moment, and involved the very hosts of the show?
When you think about Dennis’ comments after the Metco incident (quoted in the article linked above), you can see why the incident is especially relevant. He called it “the single stupidest thing I’ve ever said in 26 years of broadcasting in Boston.”
“I’ve heard people who know nothing about me evaluate my character, analyze my heart, dissect my brain, and pronounce me a lost and despicable soul,” Dennis wrote. “I understand their anger, and, frankly, I deserve much of what I’m getting.”
So why is it so hard for them to understand why Asian people would be angry over the comments made about Lin? D&C would’ve been better served trying to explain how “the single stupidest thing” can slip out at the worst time, but that the anger generated is still understandable and deserved.
Instead, they did their best to hide from the incident and shout over a caller who attempted to introduce it into the discussion.
This gives them, and the entire station, zero credibility when discussing how the Jeremy Lin incident was handled by ESPN.