Kirk Minihane Suspended For One Week Over Andrews Comments

Entercom and WEEI suspended morning co-host Kirk Minihane for a week, but only after pressure from FOX, which informed Entercom that it was pulling all sports and entertainment advertising off of the company’s airwaves. That includes ALL stations, not just WEEI.

FOX talent will also not be appearing on any WEEI program.

It was only after that move that Entercom suspended Minihane.

To me, this just compounds my frustration with the whole situation.  I certainly disapproved of the comments and of the lack of seriousness with which WEEI appeared to take them (“The Triumphant Return of Kirk Minihane?”).

minihane

Fox noted this as well. In the note to Entercom was this:

To make matters worse, the “apology” was posted under a banner (allegedly approved by your Boston VP and Market Manager, Phil Zachary) hailing “The Triumphant Return of Kirk Minihane.”

On the other hand, I wasn’t sure  a suspension was in order, either. I just would’ve liked a bit more sincerity from Minihane.

But if WEEI was going to suspend him, they should’ve done it when the remarks were first made. Now it’s clear they condoned his comments and only now suspended him because it is costing the company advertising dollars. Maybe they thought this whole thing would just blow over, but it couldn’t because Minihane and his on-air colleagues wouldn’t let it. They talked about it repeatedly on-air, and Minihane wrote his column this morning childishly attacking those who have been critical of him, essentially saying Yeah, I screwed up, but you’re no better! You’re out to get me!

I’m stunned to find that I actually agree with Dan Shaughnessy on this.

Either suspend the guy or stand by him. Now they look spineless. If his comments were so offensive, why didn’t they suspend him when he made them?

(Note: Dan Shaughnessy regularly appears on WEEI competitor 98.5 The Sports Hub and thus has an agenda in this issue.)

Minihane suspended for comments against Fox’s Erin Andrews – Chad Finn

WEEI suspends Kirk Minihane over Erin Andrews flapBoston Herald.

The Herald post has a quote from Entercom CEO David Field:

“Kirk Minihane’s statements regarding Erin Andrews were offensive and deplorable. It is clear by the response from our listeners, advertisers and employees that Kirk’s efforts to apologize and make this right have been insufficient and ambiguous,” Entercom CEO David Field said. “We want to make it unequivocally clear that his comments were unacceptable and do not reflect Entercom’s values and standards. As a result, we have suspended Kirk for the upcoming week.”

It still seems a little late for action.

Finally this post from former WBZ-TV Sports Reporter Alice Cook is worth a read. It’s honest, enlightening and intelligent.

NESN Dump of D&C has nothing NOTHING to do w recent events. TRULY.

Make no mistake. John Dennis, Gerry Callahan and Kirk Minihane are absolutely loving every bit of attention they are getting from Minihane’s Erin Andrews comments. Their bosses are as well. Either that, or management is afraid to take action against their highest-rated show.

They keep adding on to it so that they can keep themselves in the news, and bring attention to themselves. They also get to play the persecuted victims role here, as everyone who dares to criticize them has an agenda.

Fine. I get it. They all DO have an agenda. That doesn’t automatically invalidate what they’re saying though.  But let’s also not pretend that D&C and Minihane don’t have their own agenda here as well.

Such as the fact that the station has every employee that I can see tweeting out the link to Minihane’s column this morning complaining about unfairly he is being treated.

My view on it is this- If Kirk was going to make those comments, and then not retreat from them (as shown by his remarks when he returned to the air) then he needs to own them and forfeits any right to complain about ill-treatment or agenda by others. His apologies have basically consisted of I’m sorry if YOU were offended.

I mean seriously. These guys spend four hours  a day dumping on people, and then one of them says something which causes backlash and they circle the wagons and play the martyr?

(Underneath all that, I’ll admit that Minihane has a valid point about the coziness of the Globe columnists like Shaughnessy and Gasper to 98.5.)

Yesterday, it came out that NESN will no longer be simulcasting the WEEI morning show once the contracts of John Dennis and Gerry Callahan expire in September. While everyone is very carefully noting that this decision is in no way connected with this Minihane incident, the timing of it is just too much.

NESN tuning out WEEI’s ‘Dennis and Callahan’ simulcast – Chad Finn

NESN dump of WEEI show unrelated to flap – Gayle Fee

Even if the move was in the works for weeks as is noted in the columns above, the fact that this information came out right now (last night, actually) could be a message in itself, as NESN is not pleased with recent events as evidenced by a statement from NESN in Finn’s column:

“NESN has absolutely no editorial control of WEEI’s ‘Dennis and Callahan Morning Show,’ and completely disapproves of Mr. Minihane’s disparaging statements. Furthermore, we feel it’s unfortunate that his comments aired on our network.”

A statement like that along with the move being made public now sure seems too much to be a coincidence despite claims to the contrary. NESN may not have wished to make this public at this time, but someone did. Appearances can be everything.

I want to be clear about one last thing. I don’t think anyone is out there lauding Erin Andrews for her journalistic ability or her talent as an interviewer. The strawman has been created that people are upset because Minihane was critical of her as a professional.

No. That’s not the case. Criticism of Andrew’s work is fair game. Minihane went beyond that, and got personal. Calling her a “gutless bitch” and joking that she “drop dead” was bad enough, but then to make the weight and waitress remark while “apologizing” took it to another level.

He deserves any criticism he gets, and in my opinion should just sit there and take it. I don’t think he and his colleagues have always been “fair” when attacking others, and have done so with glee at times. Now when it is turned around and aimed at him, he’s whining?

Turnabout is fair play, Kirk.

 

Addendum

It is worth noting what Minihane wrote about Joe Haggerty when the later had a bizarre incident during the Bruins playoffs against Montreal. (emphasis mine)

“There you go. Follow-ups asking about potential discipline were not answered. I respect and like many of the people at Comcast — they have been great to me and are smart, hard-working and sincere in their desire to do terrific work. But if they let Haggerty skate on this they absolutely deserve whatever happens the next time he screws up (and Haggerty was filing stories from Montreal on Wednesday afternoon). The enabler is every bit as responsible as the enabled. A suspension seems the minimum discipline; this is a serious breach of ethics at best. If no punishment is handed out it’s an endorsement, a look the other way, and an insult to the superb writers at CSNNE.com (Tom E. Curran, Sean McAdam, A. Sherrod Blakely and others, plus the on- and off-camera staff). That’s the road to disaster.

Kirk (and WEEI) would do well to consider applying all the bolden sections above to themselves.

Embattled Kirk Minihane Vows Not To Change

Kirk Minihane made his triumphant return from vacation to the WEEI airwaves this morning, and while he acknowledged his apology to Erin Andrews, he and his co-hosts also struck back at “panderers” and others who had been critical of them. He vowed not to change his style.

He also offered this further thought on Andrews.

I used a word to reference Erin Andrews that I shouldn’t have used to reference Erin Andrews. I will completely cop to that, I said it, I admit it. [...] I think she stinks at her job. I don’t think she’s very smart. I think Fox only hired her because she’s good-looking. I think if she weighed 15 pounds more, she’d be a waitress at Perkins.

Deadspin

Whatever you think of Erin Andrews’ intelligence or talent, it’s good to know that Minihane has been sufficiently humbled by his experience of last week.

Dennis and Callahan and Minihane Taking Hate To New Levels

The WEEI morning show has been supplanted atop the ratings books by Toucher and Rich for some time now. With the contracts of John Dennis and Gerry Callahan reported to be expiring soon, there seems to be a bit of desperation creeping in to keep their show relevant, and to attract attention to themselves in an effort to bolster their negotiating positions. I suspect though, that the following incidents are doing them no favors with WEEI management.

Two incidents from this week have made their way into the national spotlight.

Sportswriter Jeff Pearlman, on his blog, recounts a Twitter battle he had with John Dennis which included Dennis saying that the First Lady has “an ass as wide as a double barn door.” Dennis loves to insult people on their weight, which is funny, seeing as how he magically lost 60 lbs in mere weeks after his show was picked up by NESN and he didn’t like people seeing him like this.

Then this morning Kirk Minihane called Erin Andrews a ‘Gutless Bitch’.  His colleagues agreed, adding that Andrews is a “bubblehead” and a “bimbo.”

WEEI Host on Erin Andrews: “What a gutless bitch … Drop dead”The Big Lead.

WEEI Boston Morning Radio Show Absolutely Trashes Erin Andrews, Calls Her ‘Gutless Bitch’Sports Grid.

Shitty Sports Radio Dude Calls Erin Andrews A “Gutless Bitch” - Deadspin

I’m sure though, if Kirk met Andrews, he’d be just like when he met Jenny Dell after writing and saying things about her.

I’ve always liked Minihane, but he’s turning me off with stuff like this. Maybe this is who he has always been and being on the radio every day is just showing it to all, but his radio act is wearing thin on me.

If Kirk and John and Gerry are just looking for attention, then Mission Accomplished!

“Most Listened To” vs “Highest Rated”

The summer ratings are out, and once again, 98.5 defeated WEEI pretty soundly.

The morning show battle is interesting. Toucher and Rich (10.8) again came out on top, but Dennis and Callahan got a nice bump finishing second with a 7.2.

(Let’s get this out of the way – when I listen in the mornings, I find that I listen to D&C more often simply because, even though I find their personalities incredibly unlikable, their sports content is generally better than what is on Toucher and Rich. I do go back and forth though, as I suspect many do.)

John Dennis however, wants all to know that his program is the most listened to morning sports show in New England.

And on and on…

What Dennis is claiming here, of course, is that if you take all the WEEI affiliates across New England, plus their television audience on NESN, then more people in New England are listening/watching Dennis and Callahan than are Toucher and Rich.

I don’t have specific numbers on this claim, but I suspect that it is true. If you add them all up, they’re probably more than what Toucher and Rich get only in Boston.

The problem is, this is the argument that D&C used to bash Imus (or Stern) with back in the day. Imus had more outlets, and was thus getting a larger audience. D&C would attack that claim. Now, when it suits their argument, they’re using it for themselves.

The funny thing to me is, all those years when D&C were winning the morning ratings handily, we never heard about these other affiliates. They started to lose, and then all of a sudden there was an emphasis to include Providence in with the Boston numbers, and now, apparently they want to include Providence, NESN and all of their other affiliates across New England.

Seems like moving the goalposts to me. They can’t beat Toucher and Rich in Boston, so let’s make it all of New England, where we have stations, and they don’t. It becomes more about reach than about how they’re actually doing.

A few points on this argument:

  • If 98.5 were going against WEEI in all the areas that the latter has affiliates, does anyone think they’d lose there? 98.5 is not losing to WEEI anyplace they are competing.
  • It seems logical then, that since 98.5 is beating WEEI handily in places where they go head-to-head that they would beat them elsewhere, too.
  • Advertisers don’t care. Boston advertisers do not care that there is a WEEI affiliate in Keene NH, or Portland Me. They care about what the numbers are in Boston, and that is largely why the ratings numbers exist in the first place.

D&C were celebrating their new boss this morning, and that the handcuffs have been taken off, which presumably means a return to politics and current events (read: sex scandals) and less sports talk.

Whether it turns into ratings success remains to be seen. Otherwise, they will just have to remain happy with being the lower-rated-but-most-listened-to morning radio show in New England.

Did Kevin Winter Step Down, Or Was He Fired?

Early this afternoon, Chad Finn reported that Kevin Winter had been called into Jason Wolfe’s office this morning and then fired from his position as morning flash guy for The Dennis and Callahan Show.

Kevin Winter out at WEEI

Around the same time, I had heard the same thing – Winter had been fired.

Shortly after Finn published his post, WEEI released a statement on the matter:

WEEI today announced that effective immediately, Kevin Winter has stepped down from his position on the Dennis and Callahan Morning Show. Winter, who was working exclusively for ESPN Radio before being hired in early December, said “I appreciated the opportunity to join WEEI, but my time commitments at ESPN Radio were just too consuming for me to continue in both roles. I wish John and Gerry and the entire team the best going forward.”

Jason Wolfe, Vice-President of Programming and Operations for Entercom Boston, said, “I respect Kevin’s decision and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

There will be no further comment or follow up as it relates to a replacement at this time.

These are some tumultuous times over at WEEI. Focus groups are being convened, flash guys fired/stepping down, and there are rumors about show changes on a daily basis.

It’s going to be interesting to see how things shake out over these in the coming months.

It’s Time For WEEI to Say Goodbye To Dennis and Callahan

Disclaimer: I fully realize the difficulties of contracts and moving people around, especially in this economy for bottom-line companies. I realize the actions below are highly unlikely to happen. But if talk show hosts can proclaim that it’s time to get player X out of town, why can’t we have the same exercise with media folks?

It’s time.

If WEEI wants to ever have a chance to climb out of the hole they’ve dug themselves into against The SportsHub, they need to make some major changes. It starts in the morning.

For years, John Dennis and Gerry Callahan has represented the very worst in institutional arrogance. They trumpeted their numbers when they were doing well, mocked the competition, said and did what they wanted, and were generally untouchable no matter what they did.

Because there was no real competition against them, they won easily. They faced the ultimate lineup of tomato cans over the years.

Even as recently as last spring, they were stubbornly and arrogantly clinging to the notion that they were number one, even if the facts said otherwise.

But now, they are eons behind Toucher and Rich in the latest ratings book,  (T&R finished first at 9.1, D&C sixth at 5.7) and I cannot foresee a scenario in which they ever overtake T&R again.

They remain a solid show with dedicated, loyal listeners, but winning their timeslot, or even being competitive, doesn’t appear to be in their future. If that’s OK with WEEI, then fine, but I don’t think it is.

The problem WEEI faces, and they face it in both of their drivetime shows, is big contracts. Dennis and Callahan received contract extensions when the simulcast deal with NESN came through. According to Chad Finn’s chat on Friday, these contracts are fairly airtight, at least compared to Glenn Ordway, who reportedly had to take a paycut when his own ratings were impacted by the wildly popular Felger and Mazz.

WEEI has tried a few things to mix things up, such as limiting the political talk on the show, using Jon Meterparel’s departure as an opportunity to give auditions to fill the spot, but they continue to fall.

The hosts are openly resentful at the management edict to not talk politics. While they are polarizing when they do venture into that area, they are passionate, stir debate and have intensely loyal followers.

In the absence of political talk, it seems much of their discussions in the past year have centered around day after day of the Sandusky case, or telling us just how evil the latest criminal is or was. They don’t have passion for sports, they don’t appear to even enjoy them all that much. If they do talk sports, they’re attempting to be contrarians and anger anyone who is a “homer.” Talking sports is something they simply do not enjoy.

If WEEI wants to ever have a chance to compete with T&R, they need to get rid of Dennis and Callahan. As noted several times already, this is easier said than done.

So what can they do? A creative solution, one that makes way too much sense to actually happen, is for Entercom to move The Dennis and Callahan Morning Show over to WRKO.

Yes, it’s a step down. The AM signal is not what they have now, and that station has been floundering even worse than WEEI in recent years. But they would have free rein to discuss the topics they want to talk about, and will have a built-in audience that will transition over with them, and give WRKO an instant shot in the arm.

WEEI can then start from scratch and build a morning show in an attempt to compete with Toucher and Rich.

It’s an incredibly risky move, and they’d probably get worse before they got better, which is not the way you do things in the radio world. But they’re not going to get back on top with how things are right now. The question is, how important is being on top? There’s a difference between its importance business-wise as opposed to ego-wise. Is there that much of a difference to the bottom line?

It won’t happen, but I’d love to see WEEI really shake things up and start over in the mornings. As Finn notes, a shakeup is more likely to happen in the afternoon with Ordway, even though I now listen to that show more than Felger and Mazz.

Based on last week however, one thing is clear. Dan Sileo is not the answer. Hopefully they’re not even thinking that.

WEEI Has Zero Credibility on Jeremy Lin/ESPN Issue

Station Shows Mind-blowing Lack of Self-Awareness

The incident over the weekend in which an ESPN.com editor was fired for using the headline “Chink in the Armor” on a story about the New York Knicks and sensation Jeremy Lin losing their first game since Lin became a starter has been a hot topic everywhere this week.

Naturally the topic has been discussed on WEEI, and while the hosts discussing the issues do manage some thoughtful commentary, it is completely invalidated by the embarrassing lack of self-awareness or just plain willful ignorance the station has shown in ignoring their own history in the same area.

Yesterday, Glenn Ordway was talking about the subject, and how he believes that Anthony Federico should not have been fired, and that media outlets and society in general are too quick to just fire or suspend people when mistakes are made. (I tend to agree.)

Ordway argued that instead of firing or suspending that the time should be taken for the topic to be discussed, and thus educate people on why such things are offensive, and perhaps all could benefit and heal from the lessons learned. Sounds good.

Then Ordway presented his example. He cited when Bob Ryan was suspended from the Boston Globe for a month in 2003 for saying in a discussion about the self-promoting ways of Joumana Kidd, (which included using her son as a TV prop) that someone needed to “smack her.” Ordway opined Ryan was not advocating domestic violence (again, I agree) and that  instead of being suspended and silenced on the matter, that Ryan should have been given the opportunity to explain himself, perhaps in a column, and that dialogue should’ve been opened on the topic, and that discussing the matter would help in healing.

All sounds perfectly reasonable. But why choose to criticize the Globe for its handling of the matter, and ignore his own employer’s handling of a matter that much more closely resembles the Lin matter because it was tied to race? I’m speaking of course, about the Metco incident in which John Dennis and Gerry Callahan were each suspended for two weeks later in 2003, (so after the Ryan incident) for a racially insensitive comment.

At the time of the incident, Ordway and WEEI would not discuss the matter at all. It became a running joke that Ordway would always decline to talk about it because he claimed he hadn’t heard the tapes of the incident, and in fact that the tapes had been “lost.”

So apparently the Globe should’ve allowed the Ryan incident to be discussed and dialogue opened on the matter, but not when WEEI hosts made insensitive comments?In the time that I listened yesterday, Metco was not brought up at all. Perhaps it was, and I didn’t hear it, but in the time I listened, it was not brought up, so it certainly was not a significant part of the discussion.

It says a couple of things about Ordway, either he’s protecting his WEEI colleagues (likely) or he doesn’t put it in the same category as the Federico and Ryan incidents. That too can go two ways; does Ordway believe that what D&C said was not intentionally insensitive? Or does he believe it WAS intentional, but not insensitive?

Either way, to completely ignore an incident that occurred on your own airwaves and instead mention something from another media outlet, is completely disingenuous.

I listened to some of Dennis and Callahan this morning, and their commentary on the matter. They referenced the ESPN Ombudsman column from Poynter, and some of the comments from Stephen A. Smith on the matter (who was actually very good) and generally went with the view that Federico as well as Max Bretos and Spero Dedes, who also used the term, all did so without any malicious racial intentions whatsoever. Their conclusion seems to be basically that this is another example of the politically correct world gone mad. (So those who used the term are the persecuted victims here.)

Even when a caller who claimed to be Asian-American attempted to explain that the term, no matter how it was used was offensive to him, even though he believed it not to be used in an intentionally malicious manner by any of them. He added though, that the people involved should not have been fired, but reprimanded.

Dennis and Callahan basically both invalidated the feelings of the caller and anyone who could claim to be offended by the matter. They insist that no one would ever intentionally use that phrase referencing someone with an Asian background in a racist manner. That it would just be stupid to do so. Which is true. However, what the caller, and other callers tried to explain, (unsuccessfully to D&C) is that even if it the phrase was not racially motivated, it was, at the very least, being used as a double entendre, which means race entered into it, perhaps without actually realizing that it was as offensive as it was.

Intentional or not, using the phrase in the manner in which it was, to reference Jeremy Lin, is not acceptable.

Once again, I did not hear the Metco incident brought up at all, except indirectly by a caller, who stated that he felt that D&C’s stance on this matter was not surprising at all, he then attempted to bring up Metco, and Callahan loudly shouted over him to obfuscate the caller so that he wasn’t heard at all, and then called it a “cheap shot.”

How in the world was it a “cheap shot” to bring up an incident which was exactly relevant to the discussion they were having at that moment, and involved the very hosts of the show?

When you think about Dennis’ comments after the Metco incident (quoted in the article linked above), you can see why the incident is especially relevant. He called it “the single stupidest thing I’ve ever said in 26 years of broadcasting in Boston.”

“I’ve heard people who know nothing about me evaluate my character, analyze my heart, dissect my brain, and pronounce me a lost and despicable soul,” Dennis wrote. “I understand their anger, and, frankly, I deserve much of what I’m getting.”

So why is it so hard for them to understand why Asian people would be angry over the comments made about Lin? D&C would’ve been better served trying to explain how “the single stupidest thing” can slip out at the worst time, but that the anger generated is still understandable and deserved.

Instead, they did their best to hide from the incident and shout over a caller who attempted to introduce it into the discussion.

This gives them, and the entire station, zero credibility when discussing how the Jeremy Lin incident was handled by ESPN.

Ryen Russillo, John Dennis Light Up Super Bowl Weekend With Another War of Words

You likely remember the threatening voicemail John Dennis left for Ryen Russillo back in 2005. It still gets referenced on WEEI from time-to-time, and people bring it up to Dennis occasionally on Twitter. It seemed to been put on the back burner after Russillo gained a national name for himself working alongside Scott Van Pelt on ESPN Radio.

Until today.

Around mid-day today, Russillo tweeted the following (All Russillo’s tweets on this matter have since been removed.)

@ryenarussillo Always know, that when you looked in my eyes, you wanted nothing to do with me,you are a liar, and a fake tough guy @JohnDennisWEEI

That was followed by this: [blackbirdpie id="165918998570082304"]

To which Russillo responded:

@ryenarussillo @JohnDennisWEEI That’s one version, why didn’t you follow through on your promise? You threatened me, had me fired and then backed down.

Russillo is referencing when he was hired to join the Patriots radio network pre and post-game shows, and then was abruptly let go, without explanation.

Dennis responded: [blackbirdpie id="165945895303655424"]

SVP = Scott Van Pelt. Dennis is saying that Russillo’s co-host apologized for him, and said Russillo was out of line.

There was a final response from Russillo:

@ryenarussillo @JohnDennisWEEI You call me again, or we can get in a ring for charity. You in?

And nothing further from Dennis. Probably wise on his part. Why extend this out any further?

As you expect, BarStoolSports, who was involved from the beginning, is all over this: Ryen Russillo Vs. John Dennis Round II….Ding, Ding, Ding! 

A couple of the major sports blogs have latched onto this story:

ESPN’s Ryen Russillo and WEEI’s John Dennis Nearly Got in a Fight at the ESPN Super Bowl Party - From TheBigLead.com.

John Dennis Says ESPN’s Ryen Russillo Is A “Stumbling Drunk Alcoholic” - From Deadspin.com.

Here’s an account from David Scott back in 2005, where he calls the original episode a “transparent attempt to gain attention on the part of Russillo.

However this ends up, it was a nice diversion the night before the Super Bowl.

2011 Approval Ratings – Gerry Callahan

Gerry Callahan is the co-host of the Dennis and Callahan Show on WEEI.

It’s easy to forget that at one time, Callahan was perhaps one of the best sports writers in the country.

Callahan grew up in Massachusetts, graduating from Chelmsford High School and UMass Amherst. He started his career with the Lowell Sun in 1983 and then moved on to the Boston Herald five years later. In 1994, he moved on to Sports Illustrated, where was a senior writer for the publication.

He was a frequent Big Show co-host in the early days of the program, before getting his own show with John Dennis starting in 1997. After leaving SI, he rejoined the Herald as a columnist.

In 2007, Callahan missed several months of work on the show with a throat ailment. By the time he was healthy enough to return, his contract as well as that of co-host Dennis was up for renewal, which resulted in a brief lockout for the pair which had them returning in time for the first “Patriots Monday” of the 2007 season on September 10th.

Gerry Callahan 2011 Approval Ratings
Total Votes: 1919 Started: August 31, 2011 Back to Vote Screen