Five Years Of 98.5 The SportsHub – How The Landscape Has Changed.

Five years ago, WEEI was still riding high. They had stomped attempts to challenge them in the forms of 1510 the Zone and ESPN590.

In February of that year, Chad Finn wrote a column for the Boston Globe OT that was eerily prescient in what it had to say about WEEI and its future.

Maybe the average Boston sports fan is less sophisticated than I want to believe. But I’m convinced that provided with an equal signal, some savvy program director could build what WEEI claims to be: the premier sports radio station in the country.

Then in July of 2009, it was announced that the new 98.5 The SportsHub would be starting up. WEEI had no reason to be concerned, and even issued statements saying they were prepared to beat this challenge as well.

Five years ago today, on August 13th, 2009, WBZ-FM, 98.5 The Sportshub came on the air. Everything changed that day. Unlike previous competitors, 98.5 had a strong, FM signal. They also had the Patriots and Bruins radio rights. This wasn’t static-filled AM radio with limited signal reach and lesser known talent.

The new station was competitive right away, and while WEEI tried to keep up their air of superiority (Who can forget Gerry Callahan telling Jessica Heslam when asked about Toucher and Rich that he had never heard of them and that ““I am speaking to you from under my desk right now because I am so scared”) but within two years 98.5 overtook them in the ratings, particularly on morning and afternoon drive, time slots which WEEI had dominated for 15 years.

WEEI then made a series of panic moves, none of which really panned out, including ditching the one show that was still winning its time slot – Dale and Holley – and replacing it with Mut and Merloni, which quickly fell behind Gresh and Zo in the ratings.

The station fired or reduced the roles of  the likes of  Pete Sheppard, Glenn Ordway, Jason Wolfe and Dale Arnold, while going through the disastrous Jeff Brown era. They changed management again, and have somewhat stabilized things finally, with Dennis and Callahan topping Toucher and Rich in this past month of July. (which doesn’t mean they’ll win the ratings period, but it is a start.)

Meanwhile 98.5 rolls on. Interestingly, they’ve enjoyed success, not on smart sports talk (for the most part) but on taking what WEEI did and bringing it to another level. The Felger and Mazz show and nightly Adam Jones show thrive on being incessantly critical of every single local team and player, and coming up with “sky is falling” scenarios on a daily basis. Listeners love it, as the ratings bear out.

What do the next five years bring in terms of sports talk radio in Boston? Does 98.5 fall into the same trap that WEEI did? Does another station give it a try? Does Glenn Ordway’s Big Show Unfiltered get picked up by terrestrial radio?

Five Boston Shows On 2013 Talkers Top 100

Talkers Magazine released it’s annual top 100 sports radio shows this week, and five shows from 98.5 and WEEI made the list.
Mike Francesa is listed as the top show in the country.

Here are the Boston entries:

felger-and-massarottitoucher-and-richdennis-and_callahansalk-and-holleymut-and-louMut and Lou are on here, but Gresh and Zo aren’t?

Be The Next Weekend Co-Host on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

98.5 The Sports Hub has the following announcement on their webpage:

Do you have what it takes to be a weekend co-host on 98.5 The Sports Hub?

You call us with your opinions every day, and to be honest, some are really good, some are just plain dumb. Do you think you can deliver hot sports takes on a regular basis on the radio? Boston’s Home for Sports is searching for a weekend co-host, and it could be you! Do you have what it takes?

We’re holding public auditions at a bar near you! The 98.5 Sports Hub Search is presented by Third Shift – an award winning amber lager. When beer and sports are your calling, you never clock out.

Apply below to be the next weekend co-host! PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.
Online entrants will be invited via email to join us at one of ten audition events, including the locations listed below. 98.5 The Sports Hub will be assigning the locations. See the official contest rules.

Wednesday, June 19 from 8pm – 10pm
Billy’s Sports Bar and Grill
34 Tarrytown Rd Manchester, NH 03103

Friday, June 21 from 8pm – 10pm
Jamie’s
25 High St North Andover, MA 01845

Friday, June 28 from 8pm – 10pm
Angry Ham’s
2 Beacon St Framingham, MA 01701

Tuesday, July 2 from 8pm – 10pm
Dave and Busters
40 Providence Pl Providence, RI 02903

Friday, July 12 from 8pm – 10pm
The Charlie Horse
674 W Center St #1 West Bridgewater, MA 02379

Tuesday, July 16 from 8pm – 10pm
Arena’s Sports Bar and Night Club
53 High St Nashua, NH 03060

Entrants must be 21+. Semi-finalists from the above auditions will be invited to the radio station for an interview. Four people will be chosen to compete in person at the final round event on Saturday, July 27th

I”m not sure the description is quite accurate.

This paragraph:

You call us with your opinions every day, and to be honest, some are really good, some are just plain dumb. Do you think you can deliver hot sports takes on a regular basis on the radio? Boston’s Home for Sports is searching for a weekend co-host, and it could be you! Do you have what it takes?

Should really read like this:

You call us and sit on hold for hours every day to give us your (really dumb) opinions, which plainly shows that you’re desperate for attention. Are you capable of creating faux controversies and causes for panic no matter how well things are going? Do you think you can deliver those same #hotsportztakes over and over on the radio? Do you accept Michael Felger as your Lord and Savior? Can you piss off real fans of the local teams for hour after hour just to draw attention to your show? Boston’s Home for Sportz is searching for a weekend co-host, and it could be you! Do you have what it takes to be part of the next edition of institutional arrogance?

That’s better.

Navy Football Voice Bob Socci Is The New #Patriots Voice

Bob Socci

Bob Socci

98.5 The Sports Hub announced today that Bob Socci  (pronounced SO-See) will be the new radio voice of the New England Patriots, replacing the legendary Gil Santos.

Socci has been the radio voice of Navy football for the last 16 years and also was the lead voice

CBS Sports Network’s Patriot League college basketball telecasts.

The Navy and CBS connections surely could not have hurt Socci’s chances.

The news was first reported by Chad Finn of the Boston Globe.

Somewhere, Gary Tanguay and Jon Meterparel weep bitterly…

BOB SOCCI NAMED PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCER FOR THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS ON 98.5 THE SPORTS HUB

AND THE PATRIOTS RADIO NETWORK

Socci joins color commentator Scott Zolak in the booth for

98.5 The Sports Hub, the official flagship station of the three-time

Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots

Boston, MA – April 24, 2013 –  Veteran sportscaster and play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci has been named the radio play-by-play announcer for the New England Patriots on 98.5 The Sports Hub (WBZ-FM), the official flagship radio station of the three-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.  Socci will join color commentator Scott Zolak in the booth to provide in-depth analysis of every Patriots game.  Socci replaces the renowned Gil Santos, who retired after the 2012 season after 36 seasons of calling Patriots games.  Socci’s appointment is effective immediately, according to an announcement made earlier today by Mike Thomas, Vice President of Programming for CBS RADIO Boston.

“Bob has more than 16 years of play-by-play experience,” said Thomas. “We were impressed with his extensive work and expertise calling various football and baseball games and he’s a local guy with great knowledge of the Patriots.  No doubt, Bob has big shoes to fill, but we are excited about this new era of play-by-play with Bob and Scott.”

“This is the thrill of a lifetime to get the opportunity from 98.5 The Sports Hub and the Patriots organization to continue the tradition established by the legendary Gil Santos to be the play-by-play announcer for the New England Patriots,” said Socci about his new role.  “I look forward to teaming up with Scott in the booth and building on The Sports Hub’s great success.”

For the past 16 years, Socci has called radio play-by-play for the U.S. Naval Academy football team. He is also the lead announcer for CBS Sports Network’s coverage of Patriot League college basketball.  Socci resides in Milton, MA with his wife, Monique Tello, and two children, Gio and Maria.

In addition to being the official flagship station for the New England Patriots, 98.5 The Sports Hub is also the official flagship station of the Boston Bruins and the New England Revolution.

Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub is owned by CBS RADIO, a division of CBS Corporation.  CBS RADIO, one of the largest major-market radio operators in the United States, operates 126 radio stations, the majority of which are in the top 50 markets, including Boston’s WBMX-FM (MIX 104.1), WBZ-AM (NewsRadio 1030), WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub), WODS-FM (103.3 AMP Radio) and WZLX-FM (Classic Rock 100.7).

#  #  #

Here is an interview with Socci talking about working the Patriot League telecasts for CBS Sports Network.

You can learn more about Socci at his personal website, and follow him on Twitter @BobSocci

Bob Socci Named Patriots Radio Play-By-Play Announcer On 98.5 The Sports Hub – CBSBoston.

Felger, Mazz Married In Intimate Ceremony?

In a surprising move, sports media personalities Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti were married on Cape Cod yesterday afternoon. The co-hosts of 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Felger and Mazz” got hitched at the Holy Redeemer Church in Chatham, Mass. during a clear, mild spring day.

Both grooms wore white tuxedos.

During the vows – which each groom wrote – Felger announced, “Tony, you march to the beat of your own drummer. You strike out on your own. You carve out your own niche and create your own path. You are not a company man.”

To which Mazz responded, “Yeah, Mike. You’re absolutely right,” and started crying.

In what most onlookers described as another surprise, New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick was invited to the ceremony.

“We never thought he’d be here, frankly,” Felger said afterward. “The invitation we sent to him was clearly a joke. I mean, get a clue, right?”

Belichick made a brief statement after the banquet festivities. “It’s just great to be here, great to be celebrating this moment with the guys. I really don’t have much more to say. I didn’t do much. I didn’t write the vows; I didn’t present the rings; I didn’t pick out the flowers. Beautiful flowers, by the way. But, again, it’s great to be here, to be a part of this event. Nice ceremony, nice music. Loved that cake, too.”

Sal Paolantonio of ESPN asked if Belichick knew what kind of cake it was, who baked it,  and if it had been properly prepared for the wedding.

“I just don’t know anything about that,” Belichick said. “That’s not for me to say. Not my cake. I’m not a baker. I’m sure you’ll get an update around the same time we do.”

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com followed up by asking about some of the better cakes Belichick might remember from past years.

“I’ll tell you, Mike, some great cakes in Cleveland. They know how to bake out there. New York – that New York cheesecake – I mean, that’s not bad. They’re famous for that. But here, in the New England area – Vermont, probably New Hampshire, anywhere with a lot of those dairy farms – some great cakes, too. Can’t discount New England and what they’re able to do with cakes. Put some of that fresh buttercream frosting on there, you’re good to go.”

Belichick continued for five minutes, detailing how the owner of a neighborhood bakery in Annapolis used to add a generous dollop of sour cream to his devil’s food cake batter. “For whatever reason,” he said, “you just don’t see that anymore.”

In some behind-the-scenes action in the press balcony, Christopher Price of WEEI.com said he had planned to write a “Ten Things We Learned Sunday” column about the wedding, but he could only come up with three. “One, the solitude of the Cape feels soothing this time of year,” Price said. “Two, Felger’s got great taste in color palettes. And three, Mazz is a bit of a crier.”

Greg A. Bedard left early because he had another invitation to a bigger, higher-profile wedding.

Tom E. Curran of CSNNE.com said that he believed the wedding was a hoax, a call for attention that shouldn’t be taken seriously. “I tweeted about this three days ago,” he said.

Though Felger wasn’t present for that statement, he seemed to agree.

“We figured there’d be a crowd of media here, because the Boston media is full of sheep. We wanted to make a statement, to get married around April 1st, because if we could accomplish that, we’d show you people where you stand. Like, ‘Hey, geniuses: we put one over on you. It’s all a big April Fool’s Day prank.’”

Felger continued. “This,” he said, holding up his hand to display a 1.5-carat, round brilliant cut diamond ring in tasteful white gold bezel, “is for show. It means nothing. You all got fooled, because you all rushed to make some story out of the only guys who speak truth to power in this town. This marriage is a hoax. Right, Mazz?”

Mazz nodded in agreement and looked down at his matching ring, tears welling up in his eyes.

WBZ-FM Special – “Gil and Gino Behind The Mic”

Sometime in the next few weeks, Gil Santos will call his last New England Patriots game. In recognition of his career, WBZ-FM had Gary Tanguay sit down with Santos and his long-time announcing partner Gino Cappelletti for a remembrance of their most memorable moments together in the booth.

Gil And Gino Behind The Mic

It debuted on Christmas Eve and was replayed on Christmas day. It will also be played on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. You can also listen to it via the link above.

The duo will also be featured on the Patriots pregame show on Sunday, as they will be on the show live and will take calls from listeners, and they will be honored by the Patriots at the game.

In addition, Cappelletti will also join Santos in the booth and the pair will call the opening drive together.

In Patriots Football Weekly this week, my column is a look at Santos’ career – he did a whole lot more than just the Patriots and the WBZ morning news – including his stint as radio voice of Penn State Football in the 1980′s.

Damon Amendolara Taking “The D.A. Show” National

Damon Amendolara’s nighttime program “The D.A. Show” will be moving to overnights on CBS Sports Radio beginning on Wednesday, January 2, 2013, where it will be heard from 2:00 to 6:00am.

The program will still be heard locally on 98.5 The Sports Hub, but will now be a national show.

Here is part of the release from CBS Sports Radio:

CBS Sports Radio today announced Damon Amendolara as host of the network’s weekday overnight show.  His new program, “The D.A. Show,” which will debut Wednesday, January 2, 2013, upon the launch of the network, will be heard on select stations from 2:00-6:00 AM, ET on-air, streaming online and through the Radio.com application for mobile devices.  Amendolara, known by his fans as D.A., joins the network from CBS RADIO Boston’s WBZ-FM “98.5 The Sports Hub,” where he has served as evening host since the station’s launch in August 2009.  As he makes the transition to CBS Sports Radio, Amendolara promises a program which will be a mix of the latest sports news, discussions and controversy, in addition to interviews with tastemakers from the sports world and calls from night-owls across the country.  He joins the previously announced schedule which includes powerhouse talent such as Jim Rome, Doug Gottlieb, John Feinstein and Scott Ferrall.

The following stations will be among those broadcasting Amendolara’s “The D.A. Show”:

KRLD-FM Dallas

KILT-AM Houston

WIP-AM Philadelphia

WJFK-FM Washington, D.C.

WCNN-AM/WFOM-AM Atlanta

WBZ-FM Boston

WXYT-FM Detroit

WJZ-FM Baltimore

WFNZ-AM Charlotte

WKRK-FM Cleveland

KFNZ-AM/KJQS-AM Salt Lake City

WSJZ-FM Orlando/Melbourne

No WFAN in New York, which will apparently keep it’s own overnight programming. This obviously opens up a spot on 98.5 The Sports Hub for evenings. Amendolara has been with the station since it debuted, and the opening will be a sought-after position.

Toucher and Rich seemed to be hinting at something this morning when they referred to Amendolara being very popular with the big wigs at CBS Radio, and then devoted a segment to mocking him and engaging in a mock(?) feud with him and his show.

Toucher and Rich Have The Right Idea, But Wrong Methods

By this point you’re probably aware of the incident at Bobby Valentine’s press conference yesterday involving Rich Shertenlieb of 98.5 The Sports Hub.

For some background, yesterday Toucher and Rich talked about how the media does not ask the questions that the fans would like asked at these sort of press conferences. Rich announced his intention of taking a listener question – a legitimate one, and getting a credential from the Red Sox and sitting in the front row and asking that question to Bobby Valentine.

Which is exactly what he did. He had no trouble obtaining a credential from the Red Sox, and he attended the press conference, and asked the very first question – “If you had to make your case to the fans as to why you should be the manager of the Red Sox next year, what would you say to them?’’

OK, so maybe it’s not the question that is on the tip of the tongue for the majority of Red Sox nation, but it’s a question that the beat reporters and people that cover the team on a regular basis are not going to ask.

Valentine seemed surprised by the question, and it apparently also didn’t sit too well with some of those on the beat, who viewed it as nothing more than a stunt.

Gordon Edes wrote about it in the Red Sox blog on ESPNBoston.com – Valentine: ‘I’m the best man for the job’

He added the following commentary:

Radio talk-show hosts don’t typically show up for pregame sessions, but Valentine presented WEEI’s Glenn Ordway with a gift sound bite last week, so perhaps ‘EEI’s rivals were looking for the same. If so, they probably went away disappointed.

Tyler Kepner of The New York Times also mentioned the incident in his column on Valentine today – For Valentine, a Ruined Season and Spoiler’s Role.

Kepner wrote:

The pregame news conference Tuesday began not with the standard talk about injuries and the lineup, but with a breathless demand from a radio reporter that Valentine tell fans why he should still be manager.

Both Edes and Kepner’s commentary seemed fairly benign from here, but it led to an epic, screaming rant from Fred Toucher on this morning’s show.

Toucher insisted at least twice that this was “not a wacky bit” just done to get attention. The pair insisted that this was an effort to get the “voice of the disenfranchised fan” out there and heard by Valentine. Toucher was insulted that Dan Shaughnessy after bring apprised of Shertenlieb’s intentions asked that they just not get the nice girl who gave him the press pass fired.

Toucher, who from the rant you would think was the one who went down and asked the question yelled that the pair is “in our mid-30′s” and that “we know what we’re doing.” It was stated again that this was “not a wacky bit” for the radio.

You might recall that a couple of years ago, Shertenlieb, on a somewhat similar mission, attended Celtics media day in order to quiz then-Celtics guard Delonte West about his alleged relationship with LeBron James’ mother. That was a stunt, and an incredibly awkward one as well. It would be easy to understand why some might have concerns that the intentions might be similar here.

Toucher went on, calling the sports media a “self-important righteous bunch of jerks” and wondered what the problem was with questioning an “a-hole manager who’s never won anything.”

He chided Edes for having an “overinflated sense of what you’re doing – what a jerk!” He then went on this hysterical, screaming rant after they read the quote from Edes above suggesting that this whole thing was just to get their own Bobby Valentine “moment.”

That’s right, Gordon! That’s what Rich wanted, was for Valentine to just BLOW UP on him, you hit the nail on the head! Better give your guys at EEI a nice pat on the back because they cover ESPN programming and ESPN guests can’t come our station. Better give your boys a little pat on the back you prick, you condescending prick, that’s just great.

This is where he lost me. Maybe I’ve missed it, but I don’t hear Gordon Edes a whole lot on the WEEI airwaves. I don’t think he has any reason to plug WEEI in the least. ESPN talent cannot appear on any other radio networks, that’s their policy, it’s not particular to 98.5 just because WEEI is in town.

I can get on board with an outsider coming in every once in a while to ask a different sort of question. The reporters who are there everyday aren’t necessarily going to be big into asking confrontational questions every day, since it can make for an unpleasant work environment for themselves. The idea of someone like Shertenlieb coming in and getting questions from fans and asking them at a press conference is in theory, an interesting one.

The media can be a bit self-important. That’s not a secret. Calling them out is appropriate from time to time.

But when you do it in the manner that Toucher did this morning, any good points you have made quickly lose credibility. I can’t tell if he’s pissed that he and Shertenlieb aren’t being taken seriously as sports “journalists” or if he’s more mad that Gordon Edes had the temerity to suggest that this might’ve just been another attempt at publicity by a pair of wacky morning zookeepers. When you’re calling a pro like Gordon Edes a jerk and a condescending prick, (knowing he’s unlikely to respond) it tends to distract from your main objective, which is a shame.

Scott Zolak Officially Named To Replace Gino Cappelletti

Chad Finn had it last week, but WBZ-FM made it official this morning when they named Scott Zolak to be the Patriots color analyst alongside Gil Santos this season.

Here is the release:

SCOTT ZOLAK NAMED COLOR COMMENTATOR

FOR THE PATRIOTS RADIO NETWORK on

98.5 THE SPORTS HUB!

Zolak Joins Veteran Play-by-Play Announcer Gil Santos in the Booth

98.5 The Sports Hub is the Official Flagship Station of the Three-Time

Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots

Boston, MA – Wednesday, August 8, 2012 –  Longtime sportscaster and expert football analyst Scott Zolak has been named color commentator for the Patriots Radio Network on 98.5 The Sports Hub (WBZ-FM)…the Official Flagship radio station of the three-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.  In his new role as color commentator, which is effective immediately, Zolak joins renowned play-by-play announcer Gil Santos to provide in-depth game analysis and complete play-by-play detail of every Patriots game.  Zolak replaces Gino Cappelletti who retired last month, and Zolak’s announcement was made earlier today by Mike Thomas, Vice President of Programming for CBS RADIO Boston.

“Scott’s vast knowledge of football and his long relationship with the team make him the obvious choice for this position,” said Thomas when making the announcement.  “I’m looking forward to hearing him with Gil this season.”

“It is with great pride and gratitude that I have been given the opportunity by 98.5 The Sports Hub and the Patriots organization to continue the tradition established by the great Gino Cappelletti to be the color commentator for the defending AFC Champion New England Patriots,” said Zolak about his new role.  “I am beyond looking forward to sitting in next to the legend Gil Santos as I make this transition from the sideline to the booth.”

In addition to his expanded role as color commentator on 98.5 The Sports Hub, Zolak currently co-hosts the “Gresh & Zo” show on 98.5 The Sports Hub for three years with Andy Gresh live weekdays from 10AM to 2PM, and he contributes to “Patriots All Access,” “Patriots Game Day, and “Patriots 5th Quarter” on WBZ-TV.  Before being named color commentator joining Gil Santos in the booth, Zolak reported from the field as part of the Patriots Radio Network programming on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Zolak is a former football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) for nine seasons…most of them as quarterback for the New England Patriots.  Over the course of his career, he played in 55 games, completed 124 of 248 passes for 1,314 yards, threw eight touchdowns and seven interceptions, and finished his career with a passer rating of 64.8.

New England Patriots football coverage on 98.5 The Sports Hub begins three hours prior to kickoff with Sylvania Patriots Preview, continues with the GMC Halftime Show, and wraps up with the Kaspersky Lab Patriots Postgame Show for three hours after the game.  Patriots Preview is a fast-paced, energetic and informative prelude to kickoff, featuring in-depth analysis, dueling opinions and the only game-day interviews with Coach Bill Belichick and Vice-Chairman and President Jonathan Kraft.  Our postgame is a high-energy, opinionated breakdown of the game, with the press conferences of Belichick and Tom Brady aired live, and immediate reaction from the fans.

Was It The Celtics, Or The Red Sox, That Killed Felger and Mazz?

Michael Felger trashed the Celtics all spring, and he then lost the ratings book for his entire station.

Fact, not opinion.

Well, it IS a fact, in the same way that Mike Felger states “facts” about the Celtics, Patriots, or whatever team/athlete/coach is in his crosshairs at the moment.

A statement that may be factually true, but actually inaccurate when you look deeper into it.

What about the opening statement of this post? Yes, it’s true that Felger did trash the Celtics all spring, and that yes, his ratings went down during this time period, actually so much so that while the morning and mid-day shows at 98.5 won their time slots, Felger and Massarotti dipped so far as to tip the entire scales in WEEI’s favor for the spring book.

But was it Felger’s trashing of the Celtics that caused this dip, or something else?

Let’s look at the month of June, week by week.

Keep in mind, that with the ratings periods, week four of June ended on June 20th. Even though the ratings show Mon-Fri, in reality they’re Thursday to Wednesday in this case. The spring book began on Thursday, March 29th.

So the ratings “Month of June” is actually this:

Week 1   May 24 to May 30

Week 2   June May 31 – June 6

Week 3   June 7-13

Week 4   June 14-20

So here is the breakdown:

Men 25-54, Mon-Fri 3-7 pm.

Week One       Week Two      Week Three    Week Four
6.6                    8.4                      6.7                     6.6                        WEEI
5.7                    8.4                      7.4                     5.9                        98.5

Men 18-34, Mon-Fri, 3-7 pm.

Week One       Week Two     Week Three     Week Four
3.1                      3.6                      4.2                      4.4                     WEEI
7.9                     10.5                   10.7                   10.0                     98.5

Men 18-49, Mon-Fri, 3-7 pm.

Week One       Week Two   Week Three      Week Four
5.6                     7.0                     6.0                     5.7                       WEEI
5.9                     9.1                       8.5                    7.0                       98.5

So what do we see from these? It seems pretty clear that the younger audience was listening to Felger and Mazz. It’s not even close in the 18-34 demo.

We’ll concede the younger audience to 98.5 across the month. Let’s focus on 25-54 and why WEEI won this month, and this ratings period for the time slot of 3-7 pm.

WEEI won the month of June in the 25-54 demo 7.1 to 6.8.

You also see that in weeks 2 and 3 of that same demo, 98.5 tied and beat WEEI for the time period of May31st to June 13th. The Celtics/Heat series went on from May 28th to June 9th, and so Celtics discussion was at an all-time high during those two weeks.

But Felger and Mazz beat and tied The Big Show during the biggest two weeks of basketball talk. WEEI won the month by winning weeks one and four. So was Felger’s Celtics-bashing as big a turn-off as it might appear by looking at the entire month?

Did something different happen in weeks one and four?

Yes. Red Sox day games.

On May 28th, which was Memorial day, the Red Sox played a 1:35 game. Felger and Mazz were not on the air that day, but this still counts on their record. On June 15th, during week four, there was another Red Sox day game, against the Cubs, starting at 2:20 pm.

While that is only two days out of the month, it’s a trend that goes through the entire spring ratings book.

Nine times during the springs ratings book, WEEI had a Red Sox game on during the 3-7 pm time slot. Those games included the season opener (April 5th, 1:05pm), the home opener (April 13th, 2:05pm) and the 100th Anniversary of Fenway Park (April 20th, 3:05pm). All big games.

Who is more likely to listen to a baseball game on the radio? Someone 18-34 or someone 25-54? Was the “old bastard” audience of 34-54 who listened to the Red Sox games on the radio enough to swing the ratings into WEEI’s favor?

I don’t have the week-by-weeks for April and May in front of me, but for the two months, the head-to-head ratings broke down like this:

The Big Show:

25-54: April 8.3, May 7.5
18-34: April 5.3, May 3.9
18-49: April 6.9, May 6.4

Felger and Mazz

25-54: April 7.5, May 6.6
18-34: April 10.0, May 7.9
18-49: April 8.0, May 6.9

Once again, 98.5 won with the younger crowd. The “old bastard” crowd saved WEEI. Or more accurately, having Red Sox day games scheduled which would appeal to the “older” crowd is what saved WEEI, and what ultimately, doomed 98.5.

Now, I’m sure that having Felger on the airwaves every afternoon just ripping the Celtics from limb to limb did not sit well with some listeners, and I’m sure a good number switched over to Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley during that time. I know I did.

But can we blame 98.5′s fall solely on Felger’s Celtics-bashing? Considering that his show beat the competition during the most intense period of basketball talk this spring, it seems prudent to at least consider other reasons for WEEI’s triumph.

This is in part, why having the broadcast rights to the Red Sox is such a valuable commodity for WEEI. Do they win this three-month ratings period without them? I have my doubts.