Mutton Lou No Longer, Fauria, Benz To Join Merloni Middays

Chad Finn had the story this weekend that WEEI is finally shaking up the midday program, reassigning Mike Mutnansky and bringing in Christian Fauria to join Lou Merloni, and adding 970 ESPN Pittsburgh host Tim Benz to the program as well.

According to Finn:

Benz will join the program — titled “Middays with MFB” — sometime later in the month after the Penguins complete their Stanley Cup playoff series with the Rangers.

Tim Benz

Tim Benz

I had heard the Fauria rumors and refused to believe them, thinking that 1) Fauria wouldn’t want a full-time role like this, and 2) that new management would be smart enough to see that the former Patriots tight end doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table other than his NFL experience.

As for Benz, he has ties here, as Finn notes:

He was born in Boston, and his father is Dr. Edward Benz Jr., the current president and CEO of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

We all know how well things went the last time the station brought in an out-of-town talent who had local ties here. Benz’s challenge will be to avoid being Mike Salk V2,

Benz was involved in a bit of controversy last year when he left his spot as morning host of The X Morning show.

Tim Benz leaves 105.9 The X Morning Show over gun control debate

Tim Benz Leaves X Morning Show – This link shows a Facebook post allegedly by Benz where he suggests that a drone strike targeted at the listener’s home would be “doing all of us a favor”

A change on the program was well overdue, and while it remains to be seen how well the new parts will work together, you can see some of the logic in how it was put together. In Merloni and Fauria you’ve got baseball and football covered with guys who have played locally and know how things operate and the unique environment that is Boston. In Benz you’ve got a guy who has covered the Steelers and Penguins and can be the host of the show, hopefully playing the strengths of Merloni and Fauria.

As for Mutnansky, it appears that he’s been Dale Arnold-ed. He’ll likely get some fill-in spots and weekend duty. I’m glad they didn’t fire him altogether, but it remains to be seen where his radio career goes from here.

  • Cory M

    Interesting hire. Sounds like he and Callahan could have some heated “political debates” during the cross over!

    • bsmfan

      Eagan and Braude meets sportstalk!

  • latetodinner

    Bruce:

    The part of this that surprises me is the bringing of Benz to Boston. If they just needed someone to “manage” the show they could have added Fauria and left Muttansky. Further, like Mike Holley I fail to see what Lou Merloni does that is any good. Keeping him for his baseball knowledge? You have Steve Lyons in town now…if you need a potential third man in/baseball knowledge guy…he is a better option. Instead they dump Muttansky (who I never liked…even when he was in NH and had local fanboys like Bruce enthralled :-), and bring in a potential pot stirrer. In theory bringing Benz to Boston is not a horrid idea…it becomes a questionable decision because it is done at midday. Midday should be for more thoughtful, long form stuff. I would think Benz would be more an afternoon drive type of personality. We will see. Fauria will be the least of the problems that show will have going forward.

    So as I see it they recognized that they need a 365 football voice…check… they wanted some new blood…check and they wanted continuity…check. Decision making lacking conviction or creativity…check.

    Speaking of WEEI and things I find odd. It sounded like D&C had the fake Bob Kraft (The Big’s Resident Comedian and whiner line celeb, Greg Murphy) on for a bit this morning at the Golf Tournament…if so why are they giving free plugs to the Big Show Uncensored? Does management know?

    • JonB

      I don’t hate the Fauria move either, at least he’s somewhat affable and throws in an entertaining anecdote once in a while. I think he bolts at his first sniff of a national gig though – I’ve seen him be pretty good in his TV guest analyst spots on a few different networks over the past year (ESPN, NFL Network, to name a few). Wouldn’t be surprised if one of the newer fledgling networks like FS1, CBS/NBC Sports makes a run at him.

      Merloni, on the other hand, has grown increasingly unlikable over the past few years. It’s too bad because I really thought he showed some promise back when he was a regular guest on the old Big Show.

      • Meter Gerbill

        Jockocracy strikes again. They brought in a dimmer bulb than Lou in Fauria. Who can forget Jason Wolfe’s victory lap in the Herald for winning the Lou Merloni Bidding War with 98.5. Fauria’s dumber and less informed than Lou – what could go wrong?

    • Jason Blake

      I have long had the theory that somehow WEEI and The Big Show Unfiltered have some sort of loose untalked about affiliation. I remember when Chad Finn wrote and interviewed Ordway about it he mentioned a farm system, and now The Big Show has on guys all the time that are also on WEEI and both stations refer to each other. I feel like The Big Show Unfiltered is almost like a AAA team for WEEI, testing people, concepts or something…. it cant be a coincidence.

  • Kay

    Will Christian Fauria get some training on actually expressing an opinion instead of just talking and talking and talking in circles?

    • Andy Dursin

      He’s terrible. Just awful as an “analyst”, never gets to the point and seems overly concerned about every word he’s going to say.

  • JonB

    YAWN… yet another uninspiring move by Entercom management.

    I don’t get why ‘EEI seems so hell-bent on shoving low rent, out-of-town ESPN “talents”down our throats (ditto for marginal ex-jocks), especially when there seems to be a number of viable candidates that are already working in the Boston market and familiar to the audience. This is yet another programming move destined to fail – hard to generate any buzz when no one’s heard of the new guy you’re hiring to host a show whose ratings are already dismal. And sorry, having having a dad who works at Dana Farber doesn’t lend to your credibility as a local talk show host.

    Would have much preferred some combo of a Chris Mannix, Mike Giardi, Andy Hart, et al. Seeing how long Mutt lasted with the midday show’s dismal ratings, I wouldn’t be expecting Entercom to have a quick trigger finger with this new lineup either. Which means WEEI can count on me continuing to tune-out every day from 10 to 2.

    • bsmfan

      I have no clue how the show will do.

      The one thing I hope is that Zachary didn’t pay a focus group $100,000 for the name.

      A homeless guy could have come up with the “Middays with MFP” name for free.

  • Brian

    KPD taking Shawn Thornton to task today for spraying water on Subban towards the end of Game 5, saying how it’s going to fire up the Montreal fans (as if they already need it) as well as the players and could swing the momentum of the series in the Canadiens favor. This sounds like all the unnecessary hand-wringing when Ryan Dempster plunked A-Rod last year, which was supposedly going to launch the Yankees past the Red Sox in the standings according to many of the local media. Dupont also says Thornton should be benched and cites his “anger management issues” as a root cause. How did this guy get elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a writer?

  • bowltr

    Now just get rid of Merloni and that time-slot might have a chance.

  • bsmfan

    On Ordway’s show today, they spent the 3:30-4 segment talking media (still are as I type). They post the podcasts pretty quickly, so its worth a listen. Pete/Ordway don’t think Benz lasts 6 months.

    • JonB

      Guess we have our answer as to why Benz (who apparently has never worked in Boston, or any other major media market for that matter) is getting hired – an old pal of new WEEI program director Kevin Graham:

      https://twitter.com/bostonradio/status/465873091537956864

      https://twitter.com/bostonradio/status/465897377812205568

      https://twitter.com/bostonradio/status/465897377812205568

      • bsmfan

        Yeah, BR nailed the “history”.

        Salk at least had some idea/history here. Benz seems to have absolutely 0; moreover, he’s a “fan” and his “roots” are based in a bitter rival of, arguably, the two biggest sports in this town right now (Bruins/Penguins and Steelers/Patriots). You can’t learn on the job here, and it’s why Glenn/Pete predict that he’s gone in 6 months. We’ll have to see here.

        People with 0 history here, as Salk showed, have virtually no chance. Folks have made it. Glenn/Pete talked about how Felger “matured” over the years, making a great point on how the initial Felger, who started at the Herald covering the Bruins, would have never made it.

        (I really recommend the 3:30-4 of the first hour from Ordway’s show today since they talk about this a ton and touched upon it after but the bulk is then.)

        • latetodinner

          Damon Amendollera had no experience in this market and was a breath of fresh air until the suits tried to make him into Felger lite. He did quite well. Toucher and Rich had no Boston roots…heck they had no sports roots period and have done just fine.

          If Benz fails it will be because they are teaming him with Merloni and Fauria and he is forced to the background as a third wheel. On the other hand if he is funny, engaging, entertaining and able to keep the show moving at a lively pace inspire of Merloni and Fauria…he will succeed.

        • bsmfan

          Ah, I forgot about DA. I knew there would be exceptions. However, do you think, at least in DA’s case, that him being in the evening slot made it easier to succeed? Say you had the same situation, but they paired the 10-2 with DA when Gary was removed? I know it’s hard to play fantasy radio station but I would guess he might have had a harder time?

          T+R is always an odd one as to why it works. I wonder if they went up against different competition, if it would be the same.

        • latetodinner

          I think DA would have succeeded wherever he was. If you lead a good show, get in and out of breaks easily, filter callers so that they can’t stay on and suck too long, have good guests, and most importantly talk about things people want to discuss…you will do fine. It is when you can’t do one of these things (or multiples) that there are problems. Don’t have intelligent opinions (Mike Salk), can’t manage transitions (Mutt and Merloni), don’t impart any reasonable information (Mike Holley, Eddie Andleman, Amy Lawrence, Andy Gresh in non football situations), don’t know how to filter callers (Ted Sarndis). that is when your show struggles.

          T&R seem to be appealing to a demo that really is only cursorily interested in sports. They are more interested in mocking people who take sports too seriously (Drunken Pink Hat bits, the Song Parodies etc), than talking serious sports. It is their schtick and it is working for them. It does not appeal to me but I am older. For years WABC programmed music after Howard Stern conceding that his show had no real fit with the rest of the day…but it was so popular they were not going to change a thing. I look at T&R the same way. I doubt a true sports show competitor would affect their ratings…the people who would listen to a true sports show are not listening to T&R now. And T&R audience leaves by 10:00am.

        • bsmfan

          Listening to DA now, I think he would have done well because of the points you listed. I just wondered if it would have been different if he had been thrown into a different timeslot at the time. Hard to say either way, no?

        • latetodinner

          You never know…but every time he filled in for a day time show I thought the show was better than his night time ones…probably because he had better callers giving him better material to work off. In any event, I think Benz issues will not be he is not from here (Gresh and Zo are central PA guys through and through and it does not effect their show), instead I think his issue will be trying to do a drive show midday with two rather bland guys one of which really should not be on the air in a regular role.

        • Homer Greenz

          Gresh is a loudmouth idiot no matter where he grew up.

        • Andy Dursin

          I agree with Ordway — T+R generates ratings because it’s not a sports show. It’s a typical morning zoo/jock type of program with bits that are funny, followed by lame sports segments that expose the hosts’ lack of knowledge. They could do it in any city in the country and it would have the same type of appeal to the audience who listens to it.

        • Trip McNeely

          Agreed, you’d be better off comparing the ratings of Hillman to T&R rather than D&C. The only thing the two shows have in common is that they are on a sports talk format.

  • RobDX

    Much would have rather seen Matt Chatham on. Guy is great making lamens terms out of football knowledge, a really funny personality AND is great at calling out BS artist and people that flap their gums about football and are wrong. Does he still do that column on the Herald?

    • bsmfan

      Yeah, most of his columns shred the “sports talk” talking points, but I think we’ll have to accept the fact that sports talk is entertainment and not “journalism”.

      I’ll push for Chatham anyday. But, I think I might have to admit that his “personality” is not what the execs of the market want or think will work. He’s too logical and makes great points, not offers the personality out there.

      Sadly, it reminds me of why guys like Greg Cosell get virtually 0 “hype” around draft time, when the guy is about as good as it gets when it comes to breaking down draft prospects and watching tape. (I find it funny that one regular national spot he does is with Cowherd, though)

      A month back, he announced that he’ll be one of the ~25 former players who will partake in a bootcamp the NFL puts on to help train former players for media roles. I can only hope he winds up with a good gig out of that.

      • RobDX

        I agree with everything but the personality. HE has a great personality. You’ve seen him on NESN right?

        • bsmfan

          Seen many times. I also make sure to listen anytime he’s filling in, usually during the Holidays around Christmas, which means 4 hours of NFL talk, I tune in.

          What I mean is in reference to something Chad Finn either wrote in a column or mentioned during a Friday chat. Basically, he said that media execs don’t view him as viable (I think this was meant as a TV question). He was never a “big star” around here (could say that many of the “jocks” around here in media weren’t, as well) and he’s been out too long. I understand why they said it and get the reasoning behind it.

          That’s why I said about ‘personality’.

          From a “would I enjoy 4 hours of mainly NFL talk” ? I’d take it anyday. I don’t know how he is outside the NFL but him and @cpricenfl have the best “football talk” on radio each week when they do the Sunday 9-12 during NFL season.

  • Andy Dursin

    Fauria is a total bore. He talks a mile a minute and says absolutely nothing of significance. He’s been horrible on Sports Final even as a fill-in for Deossie, and while he seems to be a good natured guy, he’s not the least bit interesting even as a football analyst. I can’t believe this is EEI’s solution to their midday woes, but it seems in total concert with their idiotic decision making since their decline began. And retaining Mutt and dumping Ryder? Another masterstroke.

  • Homer Greenz

    By the way, “Mutton Lou”, is this a joke that I’ve missed before? Either way well done.