Can Curt Schilling End The Curse (of WEEI)?

The Boston Herald reported last night that the struggling sports station had talked to former Red Sox ace Curt Schilling about a regular role on the afternoon drive show of Salk and Holley.

Could Curt Schilling pitch in at WEEI?

Entercom Boston boss Jeff Brown is quoted as saying that no offer has been made, and that no changes are expected to the show.

While that might be true, it could be that the station is looking to cover its bases so to speak, by gauging the interest of Schilling in taking the job should Michael Holley decide he’s had enough of working with Mike Salk.

It doesn’t seem to be a secret that Holley would love to get out and jump over to ESPN. He appeared last week on his buddy Michael Smith’s show Numbers Never Lie, and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind jumping into the spot opened by the recent firing of Hugh Douglas. Holley could slide in as the replacement. He’s got established chemistry with Smith.

If that were to happen, perhaps Schilling could be a good fit. It might work better for Salk, who worked with a former athlete very successfully in Seattle. Schilling could bring immediate credibility to the baseball talk on the show, and would put that show eons ahead of its competition on that subject in that timeslot.

Perhaps nothing will come of it, but it’s an intriguing idea.

The alternative, according to the Herald article is Joe Haggerty.

CSNNE, WEEI Unveil Patriots Coverage Plans

Both WEEI and CSNNE announced their plans for Patriots coverage this season. Both will have similar programming to years past, with a few minor changes.

Comcast SportsNet Announces 2013 Patriots Coverage

Some of the highlights of the CSNNE coverage are as follows:

  • Logan Mankins will appear in Postgame Live after every game (Wes Welker was the guest last season)
  • Troy Brown and Ty Law return to Patriots Wednesday Live (Brown only) and Pre/Postgame Live
  • Mike Flynn joins the rotation for Pre/Postgame Live

The same format of a two-hour pregame show along with a 90-minute postgame show will be used this season. New England Football Night returns on Thursdays with New England Tailgate at 7:00pm, Patriots Football Weekly at 7:30pm and Quick Slants in its new time at 8:00pm.

WEEI will once again offer Patriots Monday and Patriots Friday, along with NFL Sunday with Dale Arnold, Chris Price and Matt Chatham (and weekly call-ins from Tom E Curran.) and The Real Postgame Show with Butch Stearns, Steve DeOssie and Fred Smerlas.

Entercom Announces Hiring of Kevin Graham as WEEI “Brand Manager”

Here is the release from Entercom:

Entercom Announces Kevin Graham to Lead WEEI as New Brand Manager

Graham Will Direct Entire WEEI Ecosystem from On-air, Online, Mobile, Red Sox Play-by-Play, and the WEEI Regional Sports Network

BOSTON, MA – Entercom Boston announced today that it has hired Kevin Graham to lead WEEI as their new Brand Manager. Graham comes to WEEI from 1320 KFAN in Salt Lake City, where he served as Program Director and afternoon drive co-host. Graham will begin work at WEEI in early September.

One of the original architects of 1320 KFAN, Kevin Graham went on to a successful programming career assembling and building sports stations in Columbus, Pittsburgh, ESPN Radio New York City, Detroit and Salt Lake City. He returned to KFAN again in 2012 to re-launch the station serving as Program Director and host of the Gunther and Graham afternoon show. Graham also has extensive experience in the digital sports arena assisting in building ArizonaSports.com in Phoenix and as the Founder/Editor of SportsMashup.com.

“WEEI is more than a radio station; it is an entire sports ecosystem. From our on-air talent to Red Sox play-by-play to WEEI.com, where we had 1.4 million unique visitors just last month, WEEI is a more complete sports brand than ever before,” said Entercom General Manager Jeff Brown. “We are thrilled to announce today that Kevin Graham will lead WEEI as our new Brand Manager. His background both in front of and behind the mic, along with his years of digital sports experience made him the best choice to lead WEEI. Kevin will bring a fresh perspective to the entire WEEI team and our complete package of digital sports assets.”

“I am honored and excited to join the WEEI team. WEEI is one of the most recognizable and powerful sports radio brands in the country,” said WEEI Brand Manager Kevin Graham. “With great resources, amazing talent, and one of the best digital brands in sports, the sky is the limit. I can’t wait to get started, especially with the Red Sox in the midst of such a great season.”

OK then. We’ll see if Graham can save the WEEI “ecosystem.”

Next WEEI Casualty – The Boston Celtics

As WEEI continues to circle the drain – everyday new rumors are coming fast and furious, (shutting down the FM signal and going back to AM?) today there was officially another casualty:

The Boston Celtics will no longer be airing on WEEI. From Jeff Brown:

WEEI has had an incredible run with the Boston Celtics, from being a part of their 17th Championship Banner to the end of the Big 3 era.

Unfortunately we were unable to come to terms on a new contract moving forward. We thank the entire Celtics organization for our tremendous time together and wish them the best of luck in the future.

It speaks to how bad things are at the station when you would think the Celtics broadcast rights would be trending downward cost-wise as the team rebuilds and the station still can’t come to an agreement. Broadcast rights were one of the few assets the station still had.

How the mighty have fallen.

No word yet on the new radio home for the Celtics. You’d think the 98.5 airwaves would be a bit crowded with the Bruins games airing there, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Celtics end up at that station too.

Source: Kevin Graham To Replace Jason Wolfe as WEEI Program Director

According to an industry  source, the choice to replace Jason Wolfe is likely to be current 1320 KFAN Salt Lake City Program Director Kevin Graham.

Here is a quick bio on Graham from when he returned to KFAN last summer:

Kevin Graham is no stranger to Utah Sports Radio. One of the original architects of 1320 KFAN in 1996, Kevin returns to rebuild the heritage sports talker into the dominant sports radio station in the market. After leaving KFAN Kevin went on to a successful programming career assembling and building sports stations in Columbus, ESPN Radio Pittsburgh and New York City, as well as Detroit before returning to Salt Lake to host the highly popular Monson and Graham afternoon show for five years on the old 1280 The Zone. In 2010 Kevin moved to Phoenix to program Sports Radio 620 KTAR and then left to start his own sports digital and sports radio consulting company. He is married to his wife of 18 years Amy and has 12 year old twin daughters Madie and Josie.

Graham also cohosts the Gunther & Graham radio show each day on afternoon drive.

Graham is on twitter at @KevinGrahamKFAN

I haven’t received confirmation on this, so we’ll see how things play out, but  I thought I would pass it along.

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.

WEEI Announces New Saturday Show Focused on the Celtics

From Entercom Boston:

“Celtics Summer Cooler” to Tip Off June 8

Grande & Max team up this offseason as the C’s prepare for 2013-14 

BOSTON, MA (June 5, 2013) –WEEI 93.7 FM today announced the addition of “Celtics Summer Cooler,” a new program hosted by Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell. Starting June 8, “Celtics Summer Cooler” will air Saturday afternoons from 1-3 p.m., running through Sept. 28. Grande and Max comprise one of the longest-running broadcast teams in NBA history, having called over 1,200 games between them, and have been the voices of the Celtics since 2001.

This new show will provide Celtics fans with the most comprehensive news and analysis of the team, from the draft to the summer league and right up to training camp. Listeners can expect to hear from Celtics front office personnel, players, beat writers and columnists, and national media members from around the league.

“This is going to be the most interesting offseason for the Celtics since 2007 when Danny pulled off the big trades for KG and Ray Allen. Celtic fans deserve a show that will be devoted to the team’s efforts this summer, and no one knows the strategy better than Grande and Max,” said Jason Wolfe, VP of Programming and Operations.

As new shows go, this one is very promising and fills a gap in the local radio airwaves. It will be great to have a show that is pretty much dedicated to the Celtics.

 

Entercom Looking To Survey “employee engagement and workplace satisfaction” Today

You may have heard John Dennis and Gerry Callahan talking this morning about the survey the company is having them take today.

Here is the email sent to employees earlier this week:

Sent: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 10:52 PM
To: BOSTON USERS
Cc: Jeff Brown; Carmela M***; Mike K****

Subject: Employee Opinion Survey

Entercom Boston Employees,  As you are aware, we have conducted employee opinion surveys in our markets in the past. Weezie Kramer, who was recently promoted to Station Group President, has requested that we do a company-wide survey.

The survey consists of questions that measure employee engagement and workplace satisfaction, that you will score on a scale between 1-7. We also have a few questions about what you like best/least about your job, along with what is going well overall and suggestions for improvement.

To expedite the process, I’ve asked Carmela M*** to facilitate the survey. You will be receiving an email from Jeff about the meeting schedule. The meetings will begin with a video message from Weezie, followed by a video message from me. Carmela will then hand out the survey and we ask that you complete it at the meeting and place it in a Fed Ex box that will be in the front of the room. The surveys will be sent overnight directly to my office.

I want to assure you that your feedback will be protected. Carmela has promised that no one will read your survey locally. She will make sure that the completed surveys stay in the Fed Ex box until I receive them. All of the feedback will be compiled into a report and therefore your feedback will be anonymous.

Thanks in advance for taking the survey and we look forward to receiving your feedback.

Corporate surveys are not all that uncommon. Companies do them all the time to gauge the morale of employees. My buddy Andy at WEEI says they’ve done them at WEEI before. The email above says so too. That’s not what Dennis and Callahan said this morning, as they said it was the first time they have ever done something like this in their 15/16 years at the station.

They also questioned why the company felt the need to do it at this point in time. Given the amount of recent departures from the station, both voluntary and involuntary, it seems obvious, which was the very point they were making. Interesting that the company is calling everyone to these meetings and having them take the survey under supervision. While this is a company-wide survey, you don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to guess that it is aimed specifically at the Boston market.

Another email set the times for these meetings, as management went in at 9:00 am today, and there are all-employee sessions scheduled for 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.

Celtics Voice Sean Grande ( @SeanGrandePBP ) To Fill In On Red Sox Radio Broadcasts

WEEI announced this morning that John Ryder has been named as the pre and post game host of the station’s Red Sox radio broadcasts, replacing Jon Rish, who left to pursue a career as a computer programmer. Ryder will also continue his duties of hosting Red Sox Review and Celtics Rewind.

In addition, the station announced that mid-day co-host and former Red Sox utility player Lou Merloni and Celtics radio play-by-play voice Sean Grande will fill in for Dave O’Brien on the game broadcasts when the latter is away for ESPN duties.

Merloni has already appeared on several broadcasts and acquitted himself quite well in a format that requires him to draw on his baseball knowledge and experience.

Grande has been the Celtics voice since 2001.

BREAKING – Pete Sheppard Quits WEEI – On The Air

There is certainly no shortage of news coming out of WEEI these days.

At about 5:45 this afternoon, Pete Sheppard posted the following Tweet:

At the end of his shift, Sheppard then announced he was quitting the station, saying that he couldn’t do it anymore, he couldn’t stand working for the company anymore. He said that he was upset at how things had been going at the station over the last 18 months, and that it wasn’t Jason Wolfe’s fault, but those above him. (Jeff Brown in particular) He said they would not even take his calls, and that he is going out on his own terms – unlike the last time he left the station.

Sheppard assured listeners they would be hearing him again elsewhere in the near future.

Unlike past WEEI incidents (Mike Adams “locking” himself in the studio to get the job) this one was quite real.

I suspect Sheppard will not be the only person departing (of their own volition or not ) the station in the near future.