Now that the Mike Salk shoe has dropped, the WEEI reshuffling really can’t be far behind.
Besides Dennis and Callahan, nothing really remains from the glory days of the station when they were a ratings powerhouse. D&C (and Minihane) still trail Toucher and Rich in the ratings, but have posted strong numbers and continue with their claim of being “the most listened to morning show” locally. There probably don’t need to be any changes here, unless you’d consider moving Minihane out to another role on the station.
We’re left with the midday show and the afternoon show to try and improve. (Mikey Adams at night does well competitively with 98.5 – with help from the Red Sox broadcasts – and he has his own unique audience that is going to tune in to him.)
On midday, the Mut and Lou show has been dismal, ratings wise. Prior to their taking over this slot, this had been the only daytime period that WEEI was winning, when Dale Arnold and Michael Holley had the show. Since then, Gresh and Zo on 98.5 have wiped the floor with them in the ratings.
The afternoon show has seen a similar decline since the changes a year ago. During February 2013, Glenn Ordway’s last month with the station, they posted a 5.8. This February the Salk and Holley show only rated a 3.7.
So what, if anything, can WEEI do to not just stop the bleeding, but to begin to reverse fortunes? They’ve certainly cleaned house in the last year, with Ordway, Jason Wolfe, Jeff Brown and Julie Kahn all exiting. In their places are Entercom VP/Market Manager Phil Zachary and WEEI Brand Manager Kevin Graham. They’ve had some time now to evaluate the station and it seems that some moves need to be made soon. But what?
Some have suggested putting the own team of Arnold and Holley back together on middays. That teaming would likely be successful ratings-wise, but Holley now makes too much to be a midday host.
I like Michael Holley, I really do, but what a track record he is building up. Think of the places/shows he’s worked on in the last decade. Boston Globe – sinking. 1510 the Zone – gone, I, Max – cancelled, Dale and Holley – Dale gets demoted, Big Show – Ordway gets fired, Salk and Holley, Salk leaves before he’s fired.
Yes, bringing Dale back would be recycling a host, not exactly a fresh voice, but they tried to bring in a young, fresh voice with Mike Mutnansky. It hasn’t worked. I feel bad for Mutnansky, I really do. He’s worked his way up in the business, paid his dues at small stations, and got this break. Now he’s trying to hang on and doing what he thinks he needs to go to stay in the business with the “worried” storylines, and the other tactics common today. He’s also a new dad, and he likely doesn’t have the resources to fall back on if he loses his job as someone like Merloni would have.
Can they find another young voice around? Matt Perrault has the same job that Mutnansky used to have up here in NH. Do you try him? How about trying to get someone like Marc Bertrand for this show – I don’t think he’s fulltime drive-time host material, but middays could work for him.
It’s been rumored more than once that they could remove the local show altogether from that time slot and just go with ESPN Radio there. That would be raising a serious white flag. They might as well just change the format of 93.7 FM and go back to 850 AM.
How about trying out the crew from Playaction Sports Boston? They know their sports. They’re passionate. They’re entertaining. They currently do shows on Tuesday and Friday evenings. It would definitely be something fresh and something the market hasn’t seen on either one of these sports radio stations. It probably won’t happen, but I’d be in favor of giving it a try. Give them some weekend shows or something, at least.
So we’re back putting Dale Arnold back on the midday show. It might work. He’ll need a co-host. Do you keep Lou Merloni on there? Merloni has tried very hard on his Felger impression. He works in the YOU as often as possible, he still has his DAMN storylines. OK. WEEI won a bidding war with 98.5 for him, so he’s probably making enough money to keep his job safe for now. I’m also not sure Merloni is long for the station. He might leave or take another job on his own. Then what? Brand Manager Kevin Graham hosted his own show at his last job. Does the Jets fan try himself out in the midday role? Maybe? I’ve never heard him, so I have no idea what his show would be like.
I’m not thrilled with it, but an Arnold/Merloni midday show might be the best WEEI can hope for at this point.
What about the afternoons? I think Holley still stays. He needs the right partner though. I don’t think Michael Smith is walking through that door. They’d be interesting. So does Minihane come over? Would his removal from the now-stable morning show be detrimental there? What other options are there? Tom E Curran would be great, but I don’t want to take him off the Patriots beat, and I suspect he would not want to do radio full-time either.
Does Arnold join Holley in drive time with a rotating third guest, as we’ve had this week? Again, we’re recycling, and while that could stem the tide, I don’t see it reversing things. They need to to go big.
But then again, maybe they’re not interested in competing with 98.5, just putting together a solid show that gets decent, not record, ratings.
Which ever way they want to go, Entercom has some major decisions coming up.
What do YOU think they should do?
Note: I’ve gotten some comments, tweets, etc accusing me of now saying I love Glenn Ordway and the Big Show after years of HATING them. That would be inaccurate. I always admired and respected Ordway. Their old show did drive me nuts at times, and was getting old with some of the same personalities showing up all the time. I never hated, never quit listening altogether. I was excited at the launch of 98.5 to see if some competition would force WEEI to improve their product. It really didn’t. They went in the tank. Over time, 98.5 became what WEEI used to be, both in ratings and in the attitude of the hosts. In fact, they exceeded what WEEI had ever done, especially in terms of finding the negative storylines to pound, day after day. In retrospect, I can look back and appreciate the Big Show more now than when it was on, and can be glad that there is a new form of it available for when the other stations start driving me nuts.