BSMW Awards Recap – Best/Worst Sports Radio Show

Today’s recap is a biggie…the best and worst sports radio shows in Boston.

WEEI is the 800 lb gorilla in this category, but has slipped ever so slightly in the overall ratings over the last six months or so. Their ratings dominance this decade has been extraordinary. To what should their success be attributed to? Their signal strength? The success and popularity of the Red Sox and Patriots? Or the sparkling wit and personality, not to mention matchless sports knowledge of the hosts and callers?

Here are the results for this year’s poll:

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In probably the biggest upset of the balloting, 333 people out of 1488 felt that ESPN Boston’s The Drive with Michael Felger was the best radio show in the region. That’s 22%, quite a percentage for a show that didn’t start until the second half of the year. It beat out two WEEI contenders, The Big Show and Dale & Holley, which each picked up 15% of the vote.

Felger’s show was undoubtedly helped by WEEI’s sometimes 24/7 focus on the Red Sox…even in December and January. ESPN Boston was able to get good football guests to provide an alternative to the Theo talk and the Manny talk and the Johnny Damon talk which was beaten into the ground day after day by the competition. While the Big Show got much higher ratings, (The Drive barely registered on the ratings charts) there’s a segment of their audience who listens because they don’t have other options. ESPN’s signal isn’t strong to begin with, and fades badly after dark. With a stronger signal, I’m confident they would do even better.

The two WEEI programs are stalwarts, and contrast each other quite starkly. Dale &: Holley attempt to do a more intelligent version of sports talk with guests and a more rounded discussion, while the cast of the Big Show go for the storylines, drama and whatever soap opera they can drum up that particular day.

Reader Comments: I couldn't bring myself to vote for a “best” in this category—I would've voted for Felger's show, but it inflicts Bob Halloran on us on a regular basis….I went with Felger for best show. When he's talking Patriots, there’s really never been any better New England Patriots radio coverage. Josh Miller is a lot of fun and he also gets technical, which I enjoy. I'm not sure how the spring is going to go for him, but I'll be listening occasionally in the fall….Went with Felger's show for the best. Good football talk and a nice mix of input from phone-in guests, regular hosts, and the callers. A great alternative to the predictability of the Big Show….I had to go with Felger as the best because at least he's still working on it. They still go to the trouble of getting call-in guests to talk about issues of the day and rely less on nitwit “callahs” (though I noticed an alarming increase in the latter last week).

Now, onto the worst of the category:

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WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan received 427 votes as the worst sports radio show in Boston, 29% of the total. To be fair D&C will admit that their show is not technically a sports show. They’re “guy radio”. They talk news, current events, entertainment such as 24, The Sopranos and The Shield, and mix in sports around that. When sticking to sports, they can be very good. They have some great Patriots discussion on the mornings following Patriots games with Tom Brady and Boomer Esiason being weekly guests during the season. Callahan can be a great interviewer with the guests and Dennis is good at keeping the show moving in and out of breaks. However, listeners wanting more sports talk likely are disappointed in the show and it is reflected in the vote. I’m sure politics has something to do with it as well, though likely not as much as some would think.

Eddie Andelman’s old show on 1510 came in second (243, 17%) and The Big Show came in third (197 13%). Andelman’s show ended in the middle of the year, and he only recently resurfaced on the airwaves at 96.9 FM on Sunday nights. His 1510 show was incredibly bad radio, with weekly appearances by Ron Borges being the only attraction, and that of the car-accident variety.

Reader Comments: I think the D&C show is the worst sports show as they hardly ever talk about sports…Planet Mikey gets the worst vote—insufferable. The Big Show is awful but I admit I like the Whiner Line. Adams has nothing redeeming going for him and has actually subtracted my favorite aspect of Sarandis' show (it was the only local outlet for college hoops talk). He also seems to attract an especially low IQ caller level …. A good sports talk show should be informative, intelligent, and—by definition—about sports. While many of the choices fail on the first two counts, no show comes up short on all three more consistently than Dennis & Callahan. More often than not, the discussion is about their favorite TV shows or current events instead of sports. Throw in generous helpings of anger and intolerance and you've got one crappy "sports" talk show…. Ordway and his cast of social deviants and misfits make my ears bleed….It’s not even a close 2nd for me—D&C are hideous, but the forced screaming and cackling from the big show is cringe-inducing. Ordway= pontificate on the easiest, hot-button issue of the day without actually having a logical understanding of it; allow the worst & the dimmest callers on the air; if you get challenged by common sense, hem and haw and bombard the caller with irrelevant questions/factoids until they slip up—and then, dismiss their whole argument. Wave your hand and have the crew guffaw and ridicule the caller. Wash, rinse, repeat every day. I like the Whiner Line, though….This is the only category I have chosen to comment on, such is my venom for my vote for worst local radio show: The Mustard and Johnson Show. Nowhere else on radio is one subjected to the triple threat of the sports talk horror of dumb hosts, even dumber callers, and boring topics.

Tomorrow: Best/Worst Football Beat Writer

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