Questions on the Pete Sheppard Layoff

Entercom/WEEI is insisting that yesterday’s announcement about the departure of Pete Sheppard is strictly for economic reasons, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the timing and details of this announcement.

Why on a Wednesday? Couldn’t get through until Friday? Couldn’t have done it last Friday before a three-day weekend?

If this move was solely economic, this was the best way they could cut costs? Why not cut the Mike Adams show altogether and just go with ESPN programming at night? How about firing Adams and giving Sheppard that spot?

If it was strictly economic, why is Curt Schilling so ticked off? He said yesterday he wouldn’t be on the WEEI airwaves until Pete was rehired, and has moved his 38Pitches Blog off of WEEI.com and back to its original domain.

The Entercom release wording seems rather final. The standard policy for WEEI is that once you leave, you’re dead. You never get mentioned again. A few who been announced as no longer being employed there, such as Bob Neumeier and Larry Johnson (after the Mustard and Johnson show was cancelled) have been back on the WEEI airwaves. It doesn’t seem like they’re expected to have Sheppard back on.  

He signed his last contract in May of 2007. The article quoted below in 2008 stated that Sheppard had two more years remaining on his contract, which would have it ending in May of this year. Is he getting paid the rest of the contract? If so, why release him now? To allow him to find another job with a few months of pay still coming?

Was he flirting with 98.5 for the role that Andy Gresh was eventually hired for and Entercom got wind of it?

Will he show up in another market? In a column written by Eric Rueb in the summer of 2008 for the Narragansett Times, Sheppard talked about his future -

As each year goes by, Sheppard makes a bigger name for himself without having his own show.

He’s a second banana – a big one at that – on the Big Show, where he fills in for host Glenn Ordway when Ordway is sick or on vacation. He’s in the second year of his contract and has two more years left on it and it wouldn’t be shocking if a bigger market or even satellite looked to give The Meatman his own show.

Whether Sheppard could take that offer is another question. “I could go outside the state or the region and be OK, but it just plays to my strengths. I wouldn’t have the same passion going to Chicago and talking about the Bears and White Sox or Cubs. It just wouldn’t be the same,” Sheppard said. “But like anything else in this business or anything in this business and a lot of other businesses, you’re only as good as your last contract. The ratings have been good at the station, but there’s always a possibility but you have to have leverage. If there’s somebody else that wants me or there’s a bidding war, that’s nice, I don’t expect it.

“Let’s put it this way – I expect myself at ’EEI for a long time.”

So what’s next? Will be end up at 98.5? Chad Finn’s column this morning had WBZ-FM program manager Mike Thomas saying that he had not been in contact with Sheppard, and that they currently had a full staff.

Does he wind up at another Entercom station trying to create their own version of The Big Show? Does he end up in Jacksonville talking NASCAR?

Wow, that’s why too much time spent wondering about Pete Sheppard, but yesterday’s news resulted in the biggest day, traffic-wise for BSMW in months. Apparently people are interested in the fate of an afternoon sports radio flash guy.

  • Josh

    I think they made a huge mistake. While he was a blowhard sometimes, he was usually the best part of the show. I was hoping if they got rid of anyone it would have been Callahan. Anytime someone fills in for him John Dennis gets toned down a notch. That would have been listenable having Pete and John in the morning.

  • James

    I have a more obvious question, and maybe the answer is obvious too and I’m just retarded but: why is Meterparel still on D&C? He was a “Flash Boy”, no? He certainly was at least in part. If D&C are keeping him on while his “position” gets cut, why can’t the Big Show do the same with Pete? Anyone who buys this “financial reasons” excuse is not thinking very hard.

    • Chris

      I agree. ‘Eddie Munster’ is a media lightweight if ever there was one. They let him speak every thirteen minutes or so, not unlike taking a dog out on a walk to ‘do his business.’ If there’s an unnecessary salary at WEEI, it belongs to ‘Meat Puppet.’

  • TH

    I have to say I’m surprised with all the love for Sheppard I’m seeing in the comments. I’ve always considered him a blowhard and the show less entertaining whenever he speaks. His interviewing skills alone were enough to make me switch stations. I dislike “The Big Show” mostly due to his, Smerlas’, and DeOssie’s pigheadedness. I don’t wish him ill but can’t say I’m sorry to see him go.

    • bhouse

      umm – his complete lack of interviewing skills was the entertaining part. he was a homer, that’s what made him funny.

    • Classless

      Definitely surprising with the love. He’s the poster boy of why WEEI sucks.

  • Paul

    I’m just curious as to why Meterparel still has a job…

    • http://www.jonvssports.blogspot.com Jon

      The Putt Putt Twins need a caddy? He claims to be close friends with a certain ex-governor of Alaska? He’s secretly burning racist comments the two of them made while out of the links that would put the Metco Gorilla debacle to shame?

  • Snuffy Smith

    From Siggy in yesterday’s comments…

    “This is the business we’ve chosen. I didn’t ask who gave the order. When I heard it, I wasn’t angry; I knew Pete, I knew he was head-strong, talking loud, saying stupid things.”

    Sounds like Pete’s mouth had a role in his departure. Maybe there were changes coming he had a problem with.

    What’s up, Siggy???

    • Siggy

      Pete, you’re my brother and I love you but don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.

    • Mike

      Sig’s quoting from 2:

      “There was this kid I grew up with; he was younger than me. Sorta looked up to me, you know. We did our first work together, worked our way out of the street. Things were good, we made the most of it. During Prohibition, we ran molasses into Canada… made a fortune, your father, too. As much as anyone, I loved him and trusted him. Later on he had an idea to build a city out of a desert stop-over for GI’s on the way to the West Coast. That kid’s name was Moe Greene, and the city he invented was Las Vegas. This was a great man, a man of vision and guts. And there isn’t even a plaque, or a signpost or a statue of him in that town! Someone put a bullet through his eye. No one knows who gave the order. When I heard it, I wasn’t angry; I knew Moe, I knew he was head-strong, talking loud, saying stupid things. So when he turned up dead, I let it go. And I said to myself, this is the business we’ve chosen; I didn’t ask who gave the order, because it had nothing to do with business!”

  • Guntfather of Sports Radio

    I expect they’ll be downsizing weei.com in short order.

  • mandb97

    Bruce, you maybe right. Shepherd could have been talking to 98.5 as his contract was in his final few months. He might have been worried that things were not going well and secretly could have looking for feelers. My guess is that Wolfe and Kahn were none too pleased when they found out and let him go. But that is just a guess.

    My guess as to why Shepherd is getting so much interest is that we do live in a sports frenzied area and the hosts and guests are very polarizing. It seems like most people completely agree or completely loathe those on the radio. There is very little in between.

  • Mike

    Shepherd is getting interest because, as goofy, stumbling and bombastic as we was, he never seemed to talk down to the listeners. And with his singing, his curling exploits, and such, he was more “one of us” than others on the show.

    • Hieronymous

      Amen.

    • Jim C

      Never talked down to the listeners? Calling them turds, dingleberries, telling them to go flip burgers isn’t talking down? Oh, right… insulting them isn’t talking down, it’s.. what is it again?

      While I certainly didn’t agree with the way he talked to those callers he didn’t like, I will say I did enjoy the show when he filled in for Glenn (him I could do without. he’s willing to let people give their opinion as long as it matches his).

      There is NO way this move was purely financial. If his contract expires in 4 months, how much did they save? Even if he were making 120,000 a year, Entercom couldn’t really need to save the 50,000 of salary and benefits they might have saved by letting him go early. They’ve certainly generated a lot of publicity for the station.

      Just wait a month or so. I’m sure then we’ll find out what the real motive was.

      • Mike

        He could be a jerk, no doubt. But Peter King talks down. So does Ordway. They have a way of saying something, and letting listeners know they aren’t as “connected”, or don’t know the sports as well as they did.
        When Shephard did that, it was like a beer buddy saying it. You know they’re just being a blowhard.
        And as far as letting DeOssie and Smerlas go, they’re not salary, they’re paid per appearance, much like a contractor.

  • HeavyDuty

    If Weei is looking to cut costs, why not get rid of Smerlas and DeOssie? They are just peripheral players that are football-centric and in my opinion a couple of polarizing buffoons. For that matter, I’d love to see the Mound of Round Glenn Ordball shit-canned. Talk about a blowhard.

  • http://www.passpatterns.blogspot.com KF

    I always liked Pete the Meat. Good sense of humor, a bit of a buffoon, slightly obnoxious, but he’s good. He cares about the teams, speaks knowledgebly, and provided a lot of humorous material over the years. Remember him banging in sick? Great stuff. I hope he catches on somewhere soon. He’s too talented not to land on his feet soon.

  • Kevin

    WEEI has taken some HUGE steps DOWN recently! From becoming a beacon for the Republican party to axing Petesy Pie. Big mistake WEEI! Pete was a bigger part of that show then you all realized! This one’s gonna bite you in the ass!

  • punkinhead

    If EEI wants to cut costs they should get rid of Smerlass and DeOssie – both a couple of obnoxious morons. If they want to make a lot of sports fans happy – they’d can Ordway.

  • kjmp

    he may have been a blowhard but he was also passionate and humorous … he will be missed for sure … what maddens me is that metermouth still has a job in the am … stopped listening to the haters several years ago at the request of my teenage boys … and it would take more than the dismissal of metermouth to get me back … but his still being employed while sheppard is not leaves a very sour taste

  • Steve

    I was suprised to read Pete’s age – 42. Man, he looks much older. Obviously, it’s the extra weight he’s carrying. He should probably take advantage of the spare time he’s going to have in the coming weeks and join a gym, reinvent himself and come back as Skinny Pete. His health is important.

  • http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=253955902561&ref=mf Jamie

    Pete was the voice of many fans. Down to earth, funny, kinda awkward, a tad obnoxious. Just how we like it. If you want to join the movement to bring him back, visit this facebook fan page, and help out: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=253955902561&ref=mf

  • Patriot Pauly

    It really sucks they got rid of Pete,(The Meat), I now won’t be listening to the Big Show or WEEI anymore. I enjoyed Pete’s passion for New England Sports especiailly the Patriots.
    I loved that he was a homer at times, however, when he was serious I respected his sports knowledge and opinions.
    I loved the Patriots Post Game Show and now forget it. But what really pissed me off on Wednesday’s show was Ordway and the rest of those jerks laughing away about Pete being let go, even playing the intro to the whiner line of Pete & Steve DeOssie arguing. I’m not saying to cry or be depressed over it but come on that was so wrong after all those years working with him now he’s just a outsider. I bet Ordway was to blame for this that little fat nazi.
    Glen Ordway you’ve become a total sell out and fake and clearly not a freind to Pete to carry on with laughing at him.
    BOYCOTT WEEI!!!BOYCOTT WEEI!!!BRING PETE THE MEAT BACK!!!!!!

  • bettyd

    Private industry NEVER does layoffs on Fridays. They worry about people going out to bars and not making it home. I’ve been in a large MA company for over 25 years, seen over 25 layoffs, and not one has been on a Friday.

    I tend to believe it was economic. D&C and Glenn all make much more money than the guys on 98.5. Of course no one in my low level has contracts, so that does seem odd.

    Of course entertainment industry is different. See O’Brien, Conan.

  • Funkhouser

    Pete will be all set if he can get lucrative speaking engagements like emceeing the Hull Spelling Bee or deejaying a wedding for the Hull Chief of Police. Butch Stearns is a true trailblazer for the newly unemployed broadcaster.