Attempting a Return to Sports and Media

The events of last week will never be forgotten.

As we slowly swing back into our lives, here are a few bits and pieces from the sports media world:

Boston Sports Media Watch comes to Chicago Sports Media Watch – I had a chance last week to speak with a similar type of site to this one based out in Chicago.

As mentioned by Ryan on Thursday, Pete Sheppard takes over the drive time slow at 1510 NBC Sports Radio Boston starting today. While signal remains an issue for 1510 AM, they do have an on-line stream available on their website. It’s another option for those of you who listen on-line while at work in the afternoons.

Meanwhile, at WEEI, it seems that at least some of the weekend shifts that Sheppard had been taking will be taken by Jen Royle, who is on the schedule this Saturday from 1-3 in the afternoon.

The rumors keep flying out of WEEI, but ironically, the bombings last week might’ve been a reprieve for someone like John Dennis. When there is legitimate reason for anger radio, like there was last week, there is no duo better than Dennis and Callahan.

An industry newsletter/blog title Inside Music Media had a post last week  in which an Entercom Boston employee referred to the company CEO as “Kim Jong” Field. The author says “One doesn’t know whether the reference applies to CEO David Field because he is the next in line of family “dictators” or that the son of the boss isn’t quite ready for prime time.

It also had this to say about the “town meeting:”

One who attended said: “Field was not inspiring and uptight. The GM tried to blame others, pointing the finger at staffers..like  a coward. Only pre-submitted and sanitized questions were allowed, the whole charade has made things worse“.

The Entercom Boston cluster has had, according to an employee who attended the town meeting, “a long parade of incompetent management, layoffs, horrendous morale, salaries cut, very high turnover, and failed leadership and finger pointing form (sic) Mr. Field and MS. Kramer“(referring to the recently promoted Weezje Kramer).

To improve morale, GM Jeff Brown bought the staff pizza. Yup.

Maybe they’ll allow them to wear Hawaiian shirts with jeans on Friday, too.

Greg A Bedard signed off in his Sunday NFL Notes yesterday, noting it will be his last edition of the notes. He’ll be with the Globe through the draft this week before he departs to SI and Peter King, but will not have the notes on Sunday.

One name I’ve heard in regards to a possible replacement of Bedard at the Globe has been Ben Volin, who has covered the Dolphins with the Palm Beach Post for the last four seasons. I don’t think he was the first choice for the job, but might be their highest remaining candidate. I’ve attempted to contact Volin, but have not gotten a response from him.

Mike Emrick’s call during Bruins game really hit home – This was Chad Finn’s media column from Friday, where he looked at the call from the veteran announcer at the Bruins game against the Sabres last Wednesday night.

Don’t expect to see Kevin Garnett shaking hands til it’s over – Bill Doyle had Flip Saunders, the former coach of Kevin Garnett with the Timberwolves (and Celtics consultant last spring), and who is now serving as a studio analyst for ABC and ESPN during the NBA playoffs, talking about the competitive fire of KG.

ESPN, NFL Network unveil NFL draft plans – Richard Deitsch looks at how the two networks will battle it out over the draft this week.

The Globe added Baxter Holmes to its roster this season as the new Celtics beat writer. I’ve watched as he’s established himself as a strong company man (lots of retweets/promotion of Globe content) and then on Friday, he came up with a tremendous feature on perimeter defense in the NBA and what makes Avery Bradley so good at it.

If you missed it with everything else going on, be sure to check it out today.

David Ortiz made his feeling about Boston known during his emotional speech on Saturday prior to the first Red Sox game at Fenway since the bombings.

The FCC apparently has no issues at all with Ortiz’s use of an expletive on live TV during the speech. Good for them.

  • latetodinner

    Thanks Bruce for refocusing us…a couple of thoughts:

    - I mentioned this last week, Bruce hit on it above…John Dennis was by far the best voice on either sports talker through all of the bombing coverage. Part of it might be his age/experience, part of it has been his news back ground and I think part of it is not “anger” radio as Bruce called but more ’cause” radio…Dennis seems much better when he can focus on a cause rather then when he has to be an analyst in a vacuum…another example of this was the Sandusky coverage.

    - I am glad the FCC is not fining Ortiz…further I am glad they did not make it into a cause celebé and have his sole cuss word become a much bigger story than the emotion he was trying to let out about the city of Boston.

    - I am starting to wonder if WEEI is even going to make it as a sports talker with management as dysfunctional as they seemingly are. I know Entercom makes money off WEEI and the syndication network…but if they lose the Sox rights and if Patriots Monday’s and Friday’s move to 98.5…there is not much holding that station together right now.

    - Seriously free pizza…nice…were they on lockdown at the time? Was Chinese food out because it would have been too expensive or because the Kowloon pulled out when Eddie left? Davio’s would not deliver now that Ordway is gone?

    - I am in the minority here…but I think Greg Bedard is easily replaceable. I don’t think his work was earth shatteringly great. I do think he was thorough which in today’s day and age passes for great because most reporters are sloppy for example John Tomase. Having said that I wish him the best of luck. We traded emails a few times and he was always friendly and appreciative of the feedback.

    - Lastly, I have a personal plea. In the “timing sucks” department Bruce was kind enough to place the advertisement you see in the upper right hand corner for the Calendar Raffle benefiting the GLC (Gymnastics Learning Center’s) JO (Junior Olympic) team on the Friday before the bombing…I did not think it appropriate to discuss or schill for it last week. My daughter is part of that team…she should be a first year level 10 (never make any promises with gymnastics…injuries are a part of the sport) next year and they are already raising money for next year’s competition season. The Calendar Raffle is an excellent way for us to raise money because people donating have 31 chances to win. Each family must sell 5 tickets (which covers all of the raffle winnings) and every ticket we sell beyond that goes to benefit the team directly. I ask that you at least click on the link and read more about how it works and if you are so kind to enter the raffle then I thank you in advance.

    • Guest
    • Mikelobes

      thoughtful post

      re: the events of the past week. It was clear D&C were at there absolute best. News, interviews and emotion provided just the right tone. Compared to the absolute light-weight performance of Felger&Mazz and I’m convinced that anyone willing to talk pucks wins. They were absolutely horrid. Talk to the puckleheads, scream about how bad the Pats draft and ride Felger to ratings.

      re: Bedard. It is a major loss. Here’s to hoping we don’t get fed another reporter turned analyst who doesn’t know if the ball is pumped or stuffed.

      • dan

        I agree…I love F&M for the kind of sports show they do but when it comes to real world topics it is just not in their wheelhouse. That’s ok it’s really not supposed to be but it is for D&C and it just proves that they maybe shouldn’t be fired but moved to a news station as they clearly love politics and world events and not sports. The direct opposite of everyone else on Boston sports radio.

    • bsmfan

      Seems like we’re all in the same boat with D+C. I turned into T+R this morning to see if they were doing something different and they were five minutes deep into some conversation if T+R are “Boston Enough”. Not sure what it was or how long it lasted but I really wanted a break from the Marathon stuff with some sports, so ESPN it was. Whomever scheduled the Police Col and Watertown PD chief has to get some major props.

      If anything, I thought that it showed why they should move D+C over to a politics/sports on RKO in the morning. I only listened to F+M, who are so out of their element with non-sports/news stuff, but assume most were weak compared to D+C.

    • MW

      “I am starting to wonder if WEEI is even going to make it as a sports
      talker with management as dysfunctional as they seemingly are.”
      These are the same folks who ran it successfully for a very long time, they didn’t all of a sudden become stupid. They DID make it as a successful sports talker, arguably the MOST successful sports talker. Did they then make some competitive mistakes? No doubt they did. Did they benefit from a lack of credible competition? Sure, though they took a number of steps to block competitors for as long as they could. Has it become so poisoned over there that more management shakeups may be necessary? Quite possibly. However, make no mistake, David Field, Weezie Kramer and some of the local managers over there did a lot of things right over the years, not the least of which was launching one of radio’s pre-eminent websites, building a station network, building a Red Sox network that at it’s height was outbilling much larger market competition, and delivering some great ratings for a long time, just off the top of my head. They have also done some great charity work both locally and corporately. Lastly, I have worked in the media business for many years, for both public and private companies and I will say that of the public company executives I have worked with, David Field and Weezie Kramer were more human than most. I know it really doesn’t feel that way for some members of the rank and file and it sucks to be laid off or feel like you’ve been mistreated (most of us have been there), but it is really unfair for people who don’t have an intimate knowledge of the financials or for people outside the organization that practice 20/20 hindsight to take potshots at strangers and ascribe motivations that may or may not be true. I don’t mean to be a buzzkill, but I feel like maybe the angry mob should check itself a bit.

      • latetodinner

        MW:

        I have been arguing that WEEI makes money hand over fist because of the affiliate network for a while. I am not discounting the things that some of these people did that worked. I am suggesting that as has happened to other ventures…both in the media and outside it…when these things go bad they go bad fast. I know Entercom is a big company with very deep pockets. They could leave WEEI on the air forever and it will always cover its expenses. However, the reports of salary cuts/dumps, a toxic work environment and advertisers feeling they are not getting the bang for their buck may make the situation untenable. I only speculated that if Entercom cannot right the ship, cannot settle the grumbling, and continues to put lousy content on the air…then I would worry about them keeping the station as a Sportstalker. Like I said, if they loose the Sox rights (NBC has deep pockets…CBS has deep pockets and other than a few Sundays in Sept and October there would be no conflict with the Patriots) and if the Patriots move Patriots Monday and Friday to 98.5…then what does WEEI do?

        There are some good people at WEEI but a lot of bad decisions are being made on a regular basis. I don’t think it is wrong to start questioning viability. If you told me 10 years ago CNN would collapse .I never would have believed you. Today it is an afterthought in the news wars. Radio like TV is very fickle.

        • bsmfan

          Does a sports talk station require rights of a pro-team fans care about to work in markets? If this is the case, I’m surprised more stations don’t bid on rights.

          If, in this “lets create a sports network” does wind up expanding to radio that CBS/NBC/FOX are doing to compete with ESPN, then Entercom is in trouble given their size, right?

        • latetodinner

          Require…no…but in Boston college athletics have no value. So the only properties worth anything are the Sox, Pats, Bruins and Celts. Think of it this way. CBS for 3 years lost the NFL and the Network got killed…to the point that they overpaid by millions to get it back in 1999. Then NBC was without football for 7 years and it still has not recovered. Local pro rights would have the same effect in Boston. I think there will be a bidding war this time around as there are more players…each with deep pockets. Not a slam dunk for Entercom. If they lose the Sox…then what do they do?

        • bsmfan

          Yeah, I was wondering if the same “legitimacy” can be applied to the TV side as radio, even with their models being entirely different.

          When I looked at Entercom’s portfolio, sports (non-music/non-talk) is maybe 10% of their portfolio. So, would they spend the money when the rights come up for bid in 2015/2016? What I’m gathering from you, and it seems to be the case, they would have to get into a war with CBS, who has to have 10x the cash, for the rights. And, if they only had the Celtics, would that be viable? I’m assuming that the Celtics rights are similar on the radio as TV side where they’re the worst draw.

          Also, how invested is Entercom in sports? The big boys (FOX/ABC/CBS) are all in the market who have legitimate need to be the same. When I looked at Entercom’s portfolio, sports is maybe 10% of their stations, with a few of the stations being like WEEI was where they have no competition (look at WGR550AM in Buffalo). Would they not only want to continue here but also risk being in sports where it looks like it’s far from their forte? Just speculating here..

          As a parallel, should what goes in in NY with the Yankees/Mets rights between ESPN/CBS bear watching? I assume they’ll set some sort of a barometer for how much the Red Sox rights will average when they’re up in 2015/2016.

        • J.R.

          Don’t mean to sound like a jerk, MW, but when you have a monopoly like ‘EEI did for all those years (the token “competitors” 1510 The Zone and 890 ESPN were both hampered by extraordinarily weak signals) — coupled with the unprecedented success of all four major Boston sports teams during the same time — and it’s kinda easy to be successful, no?

          All ‘EEI management essentially had to do during that era was open the doors, wait for the orders for the commercials to stream in, and send out the invoices. Where else were advertisers and listeners going to go? Life was good. No, they’re not stupid, but they certainly were VERY lucky, which is fine. Good for them. But, when they started to inhale their own exhaust on a regular basis and believe they were infallible, that’s when the beginning of the end started.

          It would be like me owning for years the only supermarket in a town of starving people and being “successful.” Then one day a worthy competitor moves in down the street and suddenly I have no idea how to combat them and start making a series of panicked moves as a result. That’s been ‘EEI’s dilemma the last few years.

        • MW

          First, kudos to JR & LTD for thoughtful responses, much appreciated.
          LTD, I hear what you are saying. Based on what I know, the WEEI network when first formed collected some significant rights fees that have declined over time as the economy took it’s toll on the industry. The main value of the network now is the extended reach of the brand and the network spots which reach a larger audience throughout New England. Note however, that this added reach is not appealing to all advertisers and can be a challenging regional sell. Might WEEI get out of sports if they lost some of their signature content? Maybe, but it may or may not happen. 1. TSH is the only station that could come close to replicating the value WEEI wrings from the Sox which is already overpriced. Unless NBC or another competitor acquired significantly better Boston distribution, they would never spend what it would take to pry the Sox from ETM. Could TSH take the Pats Mon/Fri franchise? I suppose, but A) the Krafts like to collect money from as many different people as possible and B) between game, pre and post inventory, how much incremental dollars would more Patriots related commercial time be worth to TSH? I don’t think WEEI or TSH sells out what they have now, so why would one or the other overpay to create a glut?

          JR, you are greatly oversimplifying the sales process. Yes, WEEI at it’s height was an easier sell than WEEI today, but even then, sales is hard. How much time have you spent trying to get strangers to give you money? Not only that, in those days it wasn’t just about selling it was about maximizing value. Advertising is purchased on a cost per ratings point basis (CPP). Because of their cost base, WEEI, needed to get one of the highest CPP’s in the market to be successful. I.e., if station A had a 1 rating and station B had a 1.5 rating and the CPP was $400, the value of the spots, if all was held equal, would be $400 and $600. WEEI consistently priced themselves, and got, more than their fair share because they created tremendous demand and displayed tremendous pricing discipline. If they were station B in the above example, they asked for more like $800 and got it. Ask any media seller, this is not an easy thing to do. It was an easier economy than now, but it just isn’t as easy as you believe. Directionally though, this is what you are right about: they did not react quickly enough when they were challenged. It is really hard for organizations to commit to change before they feel they must and WEEI was guilty of this in spades.

          Apologies for this long-ass post, but the last thing I want to say is that what really sucks about the salary reductions and cuts is that if ETM was not publicly traded the moves might not be as drastic. These guys need to report to the street on a quarterly basis and it forces them to make short term moves without proper regard for the long term consequences. Employees see it and it feeds the toxic culture. My guess is that there is more bleeding to come, but they will eventually right size and operate at a margin of 35-40% (excluding Sox) and be a more healthy business with far less cost, but less revenue too.

        • J.R.

          Thanks, MW. A good, civil and enlightening discourse. The way it should be.

          Not saying sales is easy. Just saying that enticing company XYZ, that is (presumeably) already interested in reaching a sports-minded audience, to advertise on pretty much the only station in town that serves up such an audience isn’t exactly breaking rocks, either.

          Anyway, having worked at a number of publicly traded companies over the years, I know all too well the series of short-term, 13-week mindsets that engulfs the corporate suites and takes over their collective thought process — often at the expense of healthier long-term planning. The results of this knee-jerk behavior, unfortunately, are felt as we all know by the rank-and-file in a number of distressing and demoralizing ways: reductions in salaries and benefits, other cutbacks, layoffs, etc. No industry is immune.

          It just so happens that WEEI’s challenges are even a bit more pronounced and perhaps even stunning in their rapidity, particularly given their lofty and dominant perch not all that long ago. And, I do believe that both senior management and on-air talent hubris played a not-so-insignificant part in this decline. I mean, 98.5 isn’t THAT good!

      • Collis Jones

        “it is really unfair for people who don’t have an intimate knowledge of the financials or for people outside the organization that practice 20/20 hindsight to take potshots at strangers and ascribe motivations that may or may not be true.”

        Take it up with Dennis and Callahan, this is their routine every weekday for 4 hours mine commercial breaks.

        WEEI blows, everyone knows it. a “pre-eminant website” what a laugh, Larry Johnson cartoons and and Mike Adams hawking hair products for men.

        • MW

          Brian – management DID have something to do with the miniscule competition, resigning D & C and the Red Sox at different times when competitors tried to sign them and use them to start a stronger FM competitor. Further, the fact of the matter is that CBS reluctantly went into the sports genre after they did it first in another market (Baltimore?) and made it a corporate imperative. They went in at a great time with the right sports properties and the ability to properly price their talent.

          Collis – You won’t find me defending D & C, but two wrongs don’t make a right (I think my Mom told me that). Also, what I said is “one of RADIO’s pre-eminent websites”. If you look at most radio websites they are an amalgam of RSS feeds, ads and station promotion with some social media thrown in. Stations basically give away the ads to advertisers. WEEI invested a couple million bucks and created a revenue generating business that probably gets about a million unique impressions per month.

      • http://twitter.com/Quiddity99 Brian Shea

        You’re giving managment there way too much credit. I won’t deny there was some good talent there, and I also think they did a great job with the WEEI web site when they built it out in the fashion that they did. The three biggest factors in WEEI’s huge success over the years was 1)The fact that Boston is so crazy about sports; 2)The fact that the sports teams had an unprecedented level of success and 3)Essentially having a monopoly over the sports radio market with the only competitors being insignificant entities with miniscule signals. Their management had nothing to do with any of that. Is it any surprise that the second a legitimate competitor arrived on the scene they went into a nosedive? And there are many factors there that can be directly laid at the feet of EEI’s management. They waited far too long to change to an FM signal when the competition had it. They put the Red Sox games on two different stations, confusing the hell out of numerous people. They handed out huge contracts to overrated talent, at a time when that talent didn’t have enough leverage to warrant such deals. And you look at what that talent did, and you know it was going to fail the second a competitor came in. D&C talked way too much politics (I never minded that they talked right wing politics, I minded that they talked politics at all, its a SPORTS station!), and the Big Show went to extreme excesses in laziness, such as 15 minute long commercial breaks and shows filled with Larry Johnson, Bill Burt, Butch Stearns and other horrific talent. Then they don’t lock up Felger, and destroy their best working show in Dale and Holley. And now all the latest disasters. The way things have gone there since legitimate competition showed up shows that their management team was never as good as it appeared during their glory days and if anything, is extremely dysfunctional and mediocre.

  • bsmfan

    For those who wanted to listen to Pete or what’s on 1510, NBC’s sites are less than optimal. The specific 1510 one is even worse and this has to changed as it looks to be Silverlight now. If you can’t or won’t run Silverlight, there’s a way around it. Almost every station has an online MP3 stream you can dig out and plug into a player like VLC, Shoutcast or one of the Apps. Usually, radio-locator.com has the stream but they’re missing it.

    Here it is:
    http://crystalin.surfernetwork.com:8000/WUFC-AM_MP3

    Direct M3U:
    http://crystalin.surfernetwork.com:8000/WUFC-AM_MP3.m3u

    • dan

      Really? Boy NBC as a whole has really lost it’s way. NBC/Comcast can’t do better than that?

  • GRBSPR

    We should focus next on insufferable Bruins’ play-by-play hack Jack Edwards, who (again) stuck BOTH feet in his mouth during the Pittsburgh game. Edwards routinely screws up calls of the game because he’s focusing instead on his next soliloquy, which is really what it’s all about for him. An avid Twitter guy (what media hack isn’t?), Edwards can be ‘reached’ with success through that medium.

  • Rick Mc

    Does Chicago Sports Media Watch have a forum full of mean, angry trolls? If not, they are missing out.

    • tl;138

      Just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t make them a troll. A troll is someone who espouses a offensive position to elicit a response. Like trolling for fish (where the name comes from…not the nasty mythological creatures who live under bridges and terrorize goats).

  • Guest

    Bruce nailed Greg Bedard’s replacement:

    @BenVolinPBP So, I guess the cat’s out of the bag. It’s true — Next month I will be leaving the Post to cover the Patriots and NFL for the @BostonGlobe

    https://twitter.com/BenVolinPBP/status/326780852359020544

  • Danco

    In the past year WEEI put the skids on D&C currents events time. The ratings might of fallen when the leash was put on th
    em . But when the rubber hit the road in the last week. These guys proved they are still the best and came out shining. Having Chief Deveau and Col. Alben on the show with great interviews, was a great service.