Report: WEEI To Begin FM Simulcast on Monday

Earlier this evening, WEEI’s PR firm sent out an e-mail stating, “WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Morning Show will make a major announcement at 8:00am tomorrow morning, September 8th.”

Speculation started churning on what the announcement would be, but it was quickly confirmed through the proverbial “industry sources” that WEEI’s parent company, Entercom will begin simulcasting the sports radio station on Mike FM at 93.7. The simulcast will begin on Monday. Mike FM will effectively be killed and WEEI will broadcast on both 850 AM and 93.7 FM.

Since CBS Radio’s 98.5 The Sports Hub came into fruition, it not only cut into WEEI’s ratings, but took over the top spot this year in key dayparts from morning to afternoon drive. And the numbers continue to lean in CBS Radio’s way as indicated in the Spring Arbitron ratings.

A move to the FM dial was the logical next step for WEEI. The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn says the FM simulcast for WEEI was a natural progression.

Lance Venta of Radio Insight says Entercom applied to move its WEEI-FM call signs from Providence to Boston’s 93.7 FM. Providence will take the WVEI call letters from WEEI’s Springfield station.

Entercom now feels it has a level playing field for WEEI and all of its sports properties, the Red Sox and Celtics as well as Westwood One’s NFL and NCAA Tournament packages, will be heard on the FM side as well.

About Ken Fang

A former award-winning radio reporter, Ken Fang lives in Rhode Island and blogs at Fang's Bites and Fang's Bites at BSMW. You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook. In addition to sports media, he is addicted to The Amazing Race and Mad Men.

  • alex

    I've been able to pick up EEI's FM Providence signal for some time now and their programming still sucks. Turns out bad radio is still bad even when the signal comes in clearly.

  • latetodinner

    They listen…they really do listen. Not to us but to a fall in ratings…its a start. Not really sure how strong the 93.7 signal is but it has to be better than the AM signal. Why it took them a year to make the decision says more about institutional arrogance than anything else. Maybe they will start examining programming and we can get something more intelligent and insightful. A boy can dream!

    • Jason_Coyote

      I think it took Entercom so long to make this move because it's been said that an EEI 850/Mike 93.7 combo is likely more profitable and generates better overall ratings to the parent company than an EEI AM/FM simulcast. However, there comes a day when EEI's ratings hemorrhage is so bad that even all of Mike-FM's profits won't help make it look good. Not so coincidentally, that day happens to fall exactly when the Patriots begin their regular season radio broadcasts on 98.5.

      As far as the intelligent/insightful programming, best bet for that is if 850 flips to ESPN Radio 24/7.

      • latetodinner

        Jason…your sense of sarcasm is very similar to mine…thanks for the laugh. To reiterate what you are saying, to the best of my knowledge there are only 3 AM stations in Boston making significant money….WEEI AM is way in the lead, WBZ AM and WRKO. From Entercom's perspective they were having their cake and eatting it also by not having to dedicate an FM station to sports talk. However now that WEEI's revenues must be falling…they were forced to make the move.I think flipping 850 am to ESPN radio makes a lot of sense…it gives them a double shot at marginalizing 98.5. It is a good strategy. We will see how it works out…if it works out.

        • http://www.facebook.com/anthrocoon Bob Nelson

          WEEI's site says for now the 850 will run the same prog. as the 93.7 but who knows, that may change. You also might see a scenario where the AM does a non-Sox playoff game (say, NY-Det.) on 850 while Mikey airs on 93.7. No more sports conflict problem of shifting something to RKO (Celts, Sox at same time).
          Can put one on each signal…Of course both stations will have ESPN overnights and maybe some weekend slots.

    • alex

      Ryen Russillo has proven himself during his time on SVP's radio show and he is someone I'd love to see return to the Boston airwaves. I wonder if a fulltime afternoon gig on WEEI would be considered a step up from his current position on ESPN radio? If I had my way I'd work out a severance package with Ordway immediately and bring in Russillo as either a cohost with Holley or simply a host of his own show.

      • John L

        ESPN Radio just gave Russillo his own show 7-10PM, no way he's coming back to Boston. It would be great, though, anything to get Ordway et al out of here.

        • tl;dr

          I'd listen every morning to the Dennis and Russillo Morning Show.

        • CBK

          Agreed. People need to stop thinking that Russillo is coming back here. Going from national ESPN radio to local WEEI is a DEMOTION, plus recent developments of him now hosting his own show, as John L mentioned.

        • Rick

          Where are you getting that Russillo is getting the 7-10PM show? I cannot find any news.

          Seems a step down from midday that a lot of stations carry to a 7-10 that would be bumped at a lot of local stations.

        • bostonradiofan

          On the comment about Russillo, remember that Brian Kenney (who had the 6-8) on ESPN Radio unless they had games is now @ MLBNetwork. I recall that M+M is their leader, SVP show behind it and then it was (not sure how this is possible) the Cowturd show. (If someone has better numbers, do post)

  • Corner Blitz

    WEEI was cutting edge 10 years ago. They have not changed since, and are now paying for it. I'm sure they and their consultants feel that the acquisition of a FM signal will change their fortunes, but they are sadly mistaken. Their hosts, attitudes, and format are the same or worse than their salad days. Unless they drastically change their lineups(again!) they have no shot to overtake 98.5 and stop the bleeding. Fact, not opinion.

    • APimpNamedDaveR

      I agree. To paraphrase James Carville, "It's the content, stupid!"

  • mandb97

    It is all fine and dandy that WEEI will now have an FM signal but unless they change their on air personalities, WEEI will still get taken to the woodshed by 98.5. By the way, how happy is WEEI that they got scooped by Chad Finn who D&C can't stand.

  • Winning_

    Yay, not I have the opportunity to NOT listen to Mutt and Merloni on a better signal along with the Big Show and D&C. They have given me a station to hear Ordway more clearly, when that is the last thing I want. But in all seriousness, I agree with LTD. This shows they are making changes and we can only hope this pushes in the direction of their programming.

    Random side note: I listened to Big Show for 2 minutes on my way home today and I heard Ordway say the following. This is paraphrased:
    "Did so and so really talk about Fantasy football on the air today? No1 wants to hear that. That might be fine to talk about with buddies, but shouldn't be an on air topic."
    Now I love fantasy football and I love Nick Cattles 1 hour show during f-ball season. I don't think there should ever be 4 hours of a show like this, as content would run thin. However, the larger point is that Ordway clearly has no clue what people want, desire. If he was in touch with reality, he would see fantasy football is a booming industry for men 18-55. The market is there. Ordway is just so out of touch to see it, which is why he should be replaced.

    • Winning_

      Look at the recent growth, explosion of Fantasy type shows. Matthew Berry is a full-time employee at the four letter network due to the demand. Shows like T&R get this by having Dave Richard for small segments, and Nick Cattles show. Now I do not ever want this information from Meter. My point is that if Ordway cannot see this successful avenue, what other potential avenues has he passed or not explored. <Sigh>

    • latetodinner

      Winning you make an excellent point. I can see where Ordway is coming from…an hour of "Hey Gresh should I start Dan Gronkowski or Lee Smith as my 4th flex TE" gets real boring real fast (and drove me nuts when Gresh and Cordishi did it on the old Score in Providence) as it does not lead to conversation. But the fact is the NFL on both the NFL network and NFL.com have embraced fantasy football because they know it is $2 bill a year business. So for Ordway to mock it, its practitioners and its players (better known as his listeners) because he doesn't understand it shows that he not only is out of touch but that he and his team are not creative enough to figure out how to make a fantasy segment interesting. Maybe that is the truly damning fact.

  • mandb97

    Speaking of WEEI, I was watching the Dan Patrick Show today. Dan is going to be in Green Bay for Opening Night on NBC on Thursday. Guess who is going to be filling in for Patrick? If you guessed Glen Ordway, you are correct and are as baffled as I am. My guess is that Dan and the Danettes have not seen the ratings for Ordway's show. I feel there could be a chance that Patrick and Ordway are good friends and maybe Dan knows Ordway is on his last legs at WEEI. The guest role would give Ordway some exposure for a possible job. It is the only reason I can possibly come up with because like I said, I am completely baffled.

    • just sayin'

      Wow, that is interesting. Definitely going to tune in for the awkwardness between Ordway & the Danettes.

    • Rick

      This definitely smells like Ordway dipping his toe in the water for when his next contract comes up. My guess is that the station low balls him big time or doesn't even make him an offer. Either way, he's out the door and this fill in gig is an audition.

      • bostonsportsfan

        He promoted the HELL out of his show every single break. I’ve never heard another fill-in but basically after every single break, he announced who he is, using the “I work in Boston Media” only once and later going to WEEI and even using WEEI.Com — really? I have 0 clue what their agreement was or compensation but I would think that the _last_ thing DP show viewers want is WEEI.

        And, yes, there were some awkward moments when they were asking him about being a “Boston Sports Fan”, inter alia.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anthrocoon Bob Nelson

    93.7 is actually licensed to Lawrence (remember when it was WCGY. etc.?) so the ID will be "WEEI-FM Lawrence/Boston". The antenna is in Peabody and the signal will reach much of the Boston area (incl. my workplace in N. Reading, one town away!) WEEI has ESPN's coverage of MLB playoffs etc. so some of those (non-Red Sox) may show up (perhaps they could run a non-Sox game on AM and stick with sports talk on FM?) I don't know if 850 would be full time ESPN Radio or not…Mike was a cheap way to make money with variety hits but the sports $$$ and the competition from 98.5 is a big factor. btw it was said WODS was almost going to switch to a "Jack"-like format but 93.7 beat them to the punch with "Mike". Had 103.3 gone to variety hits we could have had the WEEI simulcast a lot earlier.

  • Chris

    A year ago, this move would have been seen as 'smart.' Now it comes across as desperate.

    • Jay

      Agree completely

  • Mike in Southie

    Jason Wolfe fiddles while WEEI burns

  • BMcGill

    Good, now they won't be using their lack of FM signal in Boston as an excuse for their crap ratings.

  • NutCracker

    What excuse will EEI use for poor ratings now that they have an FM signal?

    • Rick

      My guess for their excuse is pent up demand for the Patriots and football after the lockout, combined with Red Sox injuries that weakened fan interest.

      No matter what EEI will have some lame spin on it.

  • Lance_

    Morning Misery in stereo… Can't wait except well it's still not an option to waking up to the soothing voices on WBUR.

  • APimpNamedDaveR

    I liked Mike. I will miss it.

  • Andrew

    If putting EEI on an FM signal is a drastic improvement, I can only imagine how much Gresh would suck if he were broadcast on AM radio.

  • etak

    Pity the NBA's still got the lockout going on. My pessimism says this one won't be solved as easily as the NFL, and the lack of Celtics is really going to munge WEEI, despite this change.

  • Bertolucci

    I could never listen to the Big O and company with a number of guys all yelling at once. Now that I have retired to Florida I really look forward to D & C in the morning which is simulcast on NESN. NESN should run the show for the entire 4 hours. as it stands I do not know from one day to the next if the D & C will end the TV portion at 9 or 10. I do believe WEEI shot itself in the foot when they took Dale Arnold off the daily line-up. Dale was the most intelligent and insightful host on WEEI. They should have gone to 3 hour shifts with Mut & Merloni from 9 to noon and Dale & Holley noon to 3. But for The BIG O I AM loyal to WEEI. Johnny Most said it best to Glenn on a Celtics broadcast: “These Celtic listeners tune in to hear me, not you”.

  • ralh bertolucci

    I am a WEEI loyalist to a fault. But I have never been able to listen to The Big O, a bunch of guys all yelling at once. I switch to Howie Carr. I do feel that ‘eei shot itself in the foot when Dale Arnold was taken off the daily line-up. Dale was the most intellifent and insightful host who never talked down to the callers. WEEI should have gone to 3 hour shifts with Mut & Merloni 9 to noon with Dale and Holley from noon to 3. I do enjoy D & C in the morning. But NESN should simulcast the entire 4 hours. As it stands I don’t know from one day to the next if the program will air till 9 or 10. One more thought on the Big O. Johnny Most said iy best on a live Celtic radio broadcast:, “shut up, these listeners tune in to hear me not you!” Right on Johnny (RIP).

  • KingDaddy

    who cares about WEEI on FM??? Really???…, AM/FM it makes no difference.

    Dropping a music format will drop their rating, big-time. I know four retail stores that played Mike FM and will now go back to 106.7fm. Smart radio business strategy. Just like the others – putting on dolts like Carson and Kennedy. Shut up. Play some music and SHUT UP!

  • http://www.facebook.com/anthrocoon Bob Nelson

    Red Sox games, etc. come in a lot clearer on FM. People had to put up with interference,
    signals being switched (direction) at sunset, etc. At my workplace it now comes in clear as a bell. They were reading all kinds of text messages from people who could finally pick them up clearly.

    They should have done the FM simulcast a few days before Sports Hub began in
    Aug of 09 (the date was announced way in advance) to scoop them. Kind of
    tough to get good ratings when people can't hear your signal.

    Picture "850 The Sports Hub". Pats and B's games and talk on a station that changes
    direction at sunset. Fading, interference, etc. That was what WEEI was dealing with.

  • http://www.submit.edu.pl/ Business Directory

    Extremely well written piece…

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