Jason Wolfe Has Been Fired by Entercom/WEEI

Entercom Boston announced this morning that Vice President of Programming for WEEI and WRKO,  Jason Wolfe, is “‘leaving the company.” They also said an announcement on a replacement would come shortly.

“Jason Wolfe has defined sports talk radio, not only in Boston, but around the country as well. There are very few people who have influenced an industry like Jason has,” said Jeff Brown, VP/Market Manager at Entercom Boston. “From his work with the Jimmy Fund and the Red Sox’s historic championship run to WRKO’s engagement with politics, Jason’s behind-the-scenes work has made an impact few people will ever understand. We thank Jason for all his hard work, dedication to Entercom, and his commitment to the Boston community.”

However, in a separate letter, Wolfe stated that “Entercom has chosen to replace me because they feel it is time for a change with my position.”  (They fired me.)

In some eyes, the move has been expected for quite a while, not only because of the declining ratings of the station, but also because of the perception that Wolfe had already been deposed and that Jeff Brown was personally making all of the recent moves at the station.

Wolfe was with WEEI for 22 years, having been brought in by Glenn Ordway and then replacing him as programming chief.

  • bsmfan

    I guess “leaving the company” is better than the rubber stamp line of “leaving to spend more time with his family”.

  • APNDaveR

    And the free-fall continues.

    Hopefully the new PD will have the sense (and the authority from Entercom) to just eat the money and get John Dennis’ mouth the hell away from any WEEI-owned microphone ASAP.

  • smack_libs_around

    Dear Jason Schadenfreude: We’re so sorry your tenure has come to an end. But ‘We wish you the best in your future endeavors.’

  • nufced

    I just hope Mut and Merloni are the next to go…

  • Kamandi

    “Jeff Brown was personally making all of the recent moves at the station.”

    So that’s one dead bird the public can’t hang around Wolfie’s neck: Salk.

    • bsmfan

      Bruce/Chad Finn have reported and commented on this for a bit. You’ll usually see it when someone asks about Salk being too vanilla/ESPN-y and the response being, “He was a Jeff Brown hire so he’s going nowhere”.

  • bsmfan

    Pete Sheppard on 1510 spent at least the first segment (3:25 right now) talking about the Wolfe/WEEI thing. They post up the podcast if you missed it.

  • Edward

    how about John Dennis replacing Planet Mikey after Mike Adams’ contract is up?

  • JonB

    At least Jeff Brown can no longer hide behind Jason Wolfe anymore when it comes to being the public face WEEI’s demise. , It was pretty clear–and ex-employees like Sheppard & Ordway have basically corroborated this–that Jason Wolfe had any real decision-making power stripped from him long ago. He was basically kept around as a scapegoat to absorb the mounting public and internal criticism directed at Entercom brass and keep the heat off Brown as the station cut staff and threatened surviving employees with 30%+ salary cuts. His fate as the fall guy was sealed as soon as Ordway, his only remaining ally at the station, was fired and I’m guessing he’s seen the writing on the wall for a while,

    It’s been amazing to me how unscathed Jeff Brown has remained through all this, so his plan apparently. Bu by all accounts of people in the know, it was Brown who has been the mastermind behind the complete programming revamp and repackaging WEEI’s personalities over the past two years. Looking at the guy’s background, there’s nothing that gives me any confidence that he can successfully direct a sports station in a major market like Boston. His gimmicky, contrived ESPN-like programming, of which Mike Salk is a major practitioner, may fly in apathetic far-flung markets like Seattle and Salt Lake City, but it sure as hell isn’t going to be embraced around here. And you’d be hard pressed to find a WEEI staffer–whether current or former–that has a nice thing, even in general, to say about Jeff Brown (just listen to Pete Sheppard’s rant a few months back, which includes several shoutouts to BSMW: https://soundcloud.com/joe-m-9/pete-sheppard-rant-against). Guy couldn’t even bother to call Glenn Ordway–who love or hate him, built WEEI–when he was fired and made Wolfe do all the dirty work.

    Excerpt from industry website Inside Music Media citing an Entercom source regarding the infamous WEEI “town meeting” held in April:

    “‘The GM [Brown] tried to blame others, pointing the finger at staffers like a coward’… 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’… To improve morale, GM Jeff Brown bought the staff pizza.”

    Say what you will about Jason Wolfe, but at least the station was somewhat competitive with The Sports Hub when he was still calling the shots and ex-employees have gone out of their way to say he isn’t to blame for the stations recent run of pitiful ratings. WEEI has plunged deeper in the tank every month since Brown took the reins. A fire sale to ESPN Radio is only a matter of time.

  • HighWireNickEsasky

    So Wolfe gets credit for the “Red Sox’s historic championship run?” That is the ultimate tail wagging dog statement.

  • latetodinner

    I think it is important to keep some context here…WEEI was falling before Jeff Brown arrived and started making monumentally stupid decisions. My point is Wolfe should have been fired several years ago when he decided to replace Ted Sarandis with Mike Adams. He should have been fired for spending $200 mill on the Sox. He should have been fired for not having a critical eye when it came to the Big Show rotating guests…allowing the likes of Butch Sterns, Larry Johnson and Steve DeOzzie to take up way too much air time in place of higher quality talent.

    Jeff Brown might be evil incarnate (and I have heard that term from past and present WEEI employees I know) but I don’t think Wolfe or Julie Kahn for that matter should be excused for their roles in WEEI’s fall. They were in the right place at the right time when WEEI was on top of the world…when things got rocky, the decisions and actions (or lack there of) that they made caused WEEI to get to the point where Entercom was forced to bring in someone like Jeff Brown to oversee and ideally right the sinking ship.

    Having said that, if the station continues to put annoyingly bland people like Mike Salk and Mike Muttansky on the air, or if they continue to stand by talent that have either no opinion or no coherent opinion …like Mike Holly or John Dennis they will continue to see ratings erode.

    Case in point, the D&C show this morning with Dale Arnold sitting in for John Dennis…even with the Jarod Remy story…was compelling radio. Dale is a pro who knows how to keep a show interesting and moving. In his role today he made Gerry Callahan interesting and Kirk Minnihan sound competent. The three hours I listened as I drove to Hartford (dropped off my daughter at the USAG national congress) and drove back was very good radio. The talent is there…decisions can be made to make the station better…there just has to be a will.

  • https://twitter.com/BostonSportFan1 ChrisinDanvers

    Interesting commentary on Jason Wolfe. As many have said, it probably should come as no surprise given the recent circumstances at WEEI. But in some ways, it is surprising.

    In wake of the slow demise of the old WEEI, a few points should be said.

    1. The fact that WEEI is down in the ratings is not just a factor of the talent…as many are want to say. If you compare WEEI and the Hub, the actual talent at both stations is comparable in their own way. The Hub morning show is quite similar (though vastly more creative) to Mikey Adams. Mutt and Merloni is not quite different than Gresh and Zoo….lively and annoying at the same time. And the afternoon shows are a wash in many ways (sure Felger has a following because of his desire to be contrarian). WEEI has actually suffered from the three-pronged fact that it turned off many of its original followers with the desire to cut people short and limit conversation, the fact that the Patriots and Bruins are headliners on the Hub, and the idea that the Sports Hub had more resources to help launch it than 1510 and 890 did.

    2. There are many people in the media – a certain person at the Globe in particular – who incessantly remind us of the hubris that is at WEEI. This idea continues to be falsely perpetuated in many places. WEEI did not suffer from hubris mainly because they never lost touch with reality due to excessive pride (most people on the air have been self deprecating and generous with their time) or arrogance (even though they can show this at times). The fact that WEEI has evolved over time – and it has many times since coming on air – shows that it in fact is firmly attached to reality.Rather, WEEI has suffered from the one thing you cannot have in the media – complacency.

    3. WEEI reacted oddly to SportHub, which is too bad. It should have embraced the challenge, ran interesting and insightful skits (there are a plethora they could do), and livened things up. After all, the SportsHub itself was cobbled from much of the talent that was at WEEI. After so many years, there was a lot that WEEI could do to counter the move….but did not. This is blame shared by all, not just by Wolfe, the talent, or Entercom. Sadly, Entecom is cleaning up by getting rid of the people who it could have relied upon.

    4. On an interesting sidenote – as an avid listener to both stations – I have recently heard callers to the Hub complain about the treatment of hosts to callers, the opinions of hosts, and about the way hosts react. Sound familiar? Yes, the Hub will eventually go through what WEEI is going through.

    Unfortunately, the decline of WEEI was inevitable. I have mentioned here before that those who live in Boston have seen many of the most popular radio stations evolve and change over time. WEEI was news radio at one point in time. Oldies 103 used to be pop music and has since returned to it. WBZ used to be all talk before it became a news station. And, 105.7 went country for a short period of time before straightening out. WEEI will likely evolve as well.

    WEEI owes a lot to Jason Wolfe. He and Ordway helped build them and deserved more than they got in the end. Hopefully, other stations will learn the lesson that Jason and Glenn learned the hard way.

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