Q&A with WEEI’s The Big Show co-host Glenn Ordway

One of the longest tenured members of the Boston sports media is WEEI’s The Big Show co-host Glenn Ordway. Since 1975 Ordway has been working in the Boston media, working for all four major sports teams in the process. In 1987, when Ordway was a Celtics commentator the team moved their radio programming to WEEI where he became executive sports director. He was later named program director in 1996 and started The Big Show, not looking back since, adding numerous television appearances and even his own show, New England Tailgate on Comcast Sportsnet to his resume.

Boston Sports Media Watch had the chance to sit down and catch up with Ordway to discuss his career, including the changes he’s needed to make over time as well as talking about some of the coaches he interviews on a weekly basis.

Glenn Ordway has been a member of the Boston media since 1975, working with all four major sports teams in that span. (Photo from the Boston Herald)

Over the years what is the biggest thing that has changed in the sports media, especially radio?

A lot has changed. Believe it or not in the old days we didn’t have the internet so you didn’t have the capacity to go and dig out stories else where. You were dealing with the Globe or the Herald and maybe the Worcester Telegram, that’s what you were dealing with years ago. Nowadays everything is instantaneous, the media is immediate. Stories break in 15 seconds on Twitter.

The two things that were key for doing talk shows years ago were the morning newspapers… In other words, you’d wake up at 7 o’clock in the morning and that’s the first time you’d learn about a rumor or trade. There was no at night, there was no SportsCenter, you weren’t getting any other that. The other thing that would happen is every once in awhile, somebody on Ch. 4, 5, or 7 on TV at night would break a story at 11 o’clock and I’d sit there and say, that’s my show tomorrow.

It’s much different. The sound that is out there, every game is either seen, or you record it — you can watch everything. The preperation for one of these shows is so much easier now than it was, and you can absorb and take in so much more.

What was it like transitioning from the two different co-hosts per day to now having one permanent co-host in Michael Holley?

It is a much different formula with three guys and a flash guy in Pete [Sheppard]. You have a lot of people talking. Yes, I know we were interrupting each other all the time, and it was by design, basically four guys sitting in a bar. That is what you do when you’re with your friends at a bar having a sports debate, you start jumping on top of each other.

On the other hand, for me it was a much different role because I was like the moderator and I had to poke at everybody. I had to jump in with an opinion so I could poke to get opposing views to create some type of entertaining confrontation. Because of that I developed that flip flop reputation and I am guilty as charged, no question about it. That was part of the role that I was in.

The role in this show now, is it is a two man team. So you need player A to have a strong opinion and you need player B to have a strong opinion and it comes out with the both of us challenging each other. I happen to have a partner that I have great respect for, and I think he and I really have found that niche in the show to be able to openly throw our opinions out there and not have to worry about it. It is a much different formula, much different.

How much attention do you pay to the ratings?

You have to. They are not everything because if you have ratings and you’re not driving revenue then you’re not really getting your job done. They go hand and hand. You have to watch ratings, and it’s not just ratings looking at the other sports station, the Sports Hub, you’re looking at what the music stations are doing, you’re watching the trends and trends change throughout the year.

Everybody busts us all the time, why do you take all your vacations in the summer? Because listening habits change dramatically in the summer time. People listen to far more music, people get away from sports, they get into nostalgic music, everything changes. Habits change so much so that’s the book that advertising agencies kind of dismiss. Spring and the fall are the two big books that people really pay attention to. You have to watch everything else that is going on.

Was Bobby Valentine one of the most awkward guys you’ve had on for a weekly interview?

I don’t think awkward would be the way I would say it — I would say the most unpredictable. You’d ask him a question and he was the one guy you never knew what the answer was going to be. I think I can ask a lot of people questions, people I interview on a regular basis, and have a decent idea of how they are going to approach the answer. With Bobby I never had an idea of how he was going to answer. That is why he caught me so off guard so many times.

What about Belichick, sort of the opposite?

With Belichick I kind of know the way he is going to approach it. So, you have to phrase the question in a certain way. You have to be ready to come back sometimes with a follow up. But, Bobby was great with follow ups because once you knew he was going to cross the line with the answer, you knew if you threw him a follow up he wasn’t going to stop. Bobby was not one of those to say, that’s it, I’m not going to talk about that anymore, he always wanted to say more about something. Bill wants to say less about something because he wants to protect his team.

On the other hand, if I were to ask a question to Bill about a play they had on Sunday and compare it to a similar play they ran in 2004, Bill would go back to that play in 2004 with tremendous clearity and he would detail every little thing that happened in that play, why it happened, and every player that was involved. When it comes to history and going into the past tense, because Bill doesn’t want to bring up the present or future, he gives you unbelievable stuff.

There are times when you really listen to Bill on Monday, that if you read behind the lines, there is stuff there, but you have to read between the lines. If he is not answering a question a certain way, or if he does, like the way he answered the question this past week on [Aqib] Talib and how much playing time he was going to get, he gave me the answer, but it was reading in between the lines.

What about the future for you personally, you’ve been doing The Dan Patrick Show nationally lately, do you like that?

I love it. Those guys are great — the Danette’s and Dan is a great friend. I like those guys an awful lot, I like doing the show. I love doing what I am doing right now. I’ve got to tell you, this is fun every single day. It’s fun waking up preparing for the show, doing the show, I have no regrets. I could actually have to work someday, this is fun. I have done an awful lot of things in the business, dealing with pre and post with the Red Sox, people forget I worked with the Bruins for two years, and the Celtics for 14. I am having fun right now.

But, there are challenges down the road. There are a couple of projects that I am working on right now that will hopefully come to fruition. So there are a bunch of other things I want to do, you always want to try and find new challenges and things to do. But, this is a blast and working with Michael has been a whole new level of enjoyment for me.

 

Bobby V Goes Off On Ordway, How Much Longer Can He Last?

While his team continues to nosedive and rumors circulate about his future, Bobby Valentine remains combative, as evidenced this afternoon in a defiant, semi-crazed sounding segment on The Big Show.

Here’s the transcript from WEEI.com, but you need to hear it to get the full effect. (You can also download it as an MP3.)

This is the part that will get the most attention:

Ordway: Let’s get it on the table. People back here are talking an awful lot about you, ummm, I understand they make a huge deal, they change the personnel on your team dramatically, a team that is much more challenged to score runs, but you do get the impression that maybe you’ve kind of checked out. Have you checked out of this?

Valentine: What an embarrassing thing to say. You know if I was there, I’d punch you right in the mouth. Haha. How’s that sound? Sound like I checked out? What an embarrassing thing to…why would someone even, I mean, that’s something that a comic strip person would write.

The desire to punch a WEEI host isn’t necessarily an unreasonable nor unnatural one, but expressing it on the air is  not the wisest course of action. A PR-conscious ownership isn’t likely to react charitably to this interview.

Later, Ordway rats out Nick Cafardo as a reporter that wrote that Valentine was “late” for a game (arriving at 4:00 for a 7:00 game.)

Did he really? That’s really embarrassing, Nick. I’ll see him when I get out there. He could have asked me very easily.

Poor Nick. He’s been carrying Bobby V’s water the entire season, and this is how he is rewarded in the end? (He wasn’t even being judgmental in bringing up the “late” incident.)

The media sessions in Seattle tonight should be interesting, to say the least.

I’m no Bobby V guy, to be sure, but the glee with which this meltdown and the meltdown of his team is being met with is slightly nauseating to me. I may have hated the decision to hire him in the first place, but this is a man’s life we’re talking about here, and his career, and we’re seeing it end with a fiery crash. There’s nothing enjoyable about that.

Will The Red Sox Surge or Melt In the Second Half? WEEI Responds To Ratings Claims

The Red Sox get back to work tonight as they begin a series in Tampa with the Rays. What will the second half of the season bring for the Red Sox? Can they pull it together and grab a playoff spot, or is a complete meltdown right around the corner?

Mismatched Sox wearing on Bobby? – Gordon Edes has today’s must-read column, with plenty of griping and back-biting going around the Red Sox clubhouse, most of it centered around manager Bobby Valentine.

Sox need to make a statement – Jon Couture tries to be optimistic about this team, but finds it increasingly hard to do so.

Adrian Gonzalez continues his quest to find the old Adrian Gonzalez – Rob Bradford has the first baseman trying hard to regain his power stroke.

Ciriaco takes chance and runs with it – Peter Abraham has the well-traveled 27-year-old giving the Red Sox a jolt of energy.

Media

Mediocre Red Sox not hurting NESN’s ratings – Chad Finn looks at NESN’s strong ratings numbers, has more on WEEI, and weighs in on Matt Millen’s torturous ESPN appearance yesterday.

McDonough talks and plays a great game – John Molori talks to Sean McDonough about his work at ESPN and his love of golf.

Examining Gary Tanguay’s New Confrontational Style – What in the world is going on with Gary Tanguay? That’s the subject of my SB Nation Boston column this week.

In an email to BSMW, Entercom’s Jason Wolfe disputed the numbers from yesterday’s post, (A sure sign WEEI is doing better, Wolfe has emerged from his bunker.) discarding the standard Arbitron numbers that run from 3-7pm and sending over what he claims are the 2-6pm numbers for the month of June.

He also zinged me with this line:

I know you’re a 98.5 fan and not an EEI fan, that’s fine, you’re entitled to your opinion, but you’re numbers are wrong.

OK. Has he paid attention at all to what I’ve said about Felger and Mazz, either here or on Twitter? A 98.5 fan? Someone over at CBS Boston is getting a good chuckle out of that.

Someone from 98.5 emailed me recently and said:

Maybe we suck. Maybe we’re too negative. Or too loud. Or too whatever. You are entitled to whatever opinion you have.

I sure am glad all the radio people are allowing me to be entitled to my own opinion on things.

Anyway, here is what Wolfe sent me regarding the afternoon drive numbers:

Men 25-54, Mon-Fri 2-6 pm.

Week One Week Two Week Three Week Four
6.9                8.4                7.0                 6.3                  WEEI
5.7                7.6                6.4                 5.7                  98.5

Men 18-34, Mon-Fri, 2-6 pm.

Week One Week Two Week Three Week Four
3.3               2.7                3.1                 2.6                     WEEI
7.7              9.8                 9.6                 9.6                     98.5

Men 18-49, Mon-Fri, 2-6 pm.

Week One  Week Two Week Three Week Four
6.1               6.6               5.8                  5.0                    WEEI
6.0               8.8              7.5                  7.0                    98.5

He also included the 35-54 age bracket, which really solidifies that older listeners prefer the Big Show, while the younger ones prefer Felger and Mazz.

Men 35-54, Mon-Fri, 2-6pm
Week One  Week Two Week Three Week Four
7.5                9.0             7.5                   7.4                   WEEI
4.6                6.9              5.5                   4.7                    98.5

The numbers from yesterday were taken directly off sheets with the Arbitron copyright on them. These numbers provided by Wolfe may well be accurate, but he’s also had a history of being, um, creative with how he comes up with ratings figures.

Yesterday, WEEI also sent over these figures, interestingly, the release contained the line “WEEI saw benefits of carrying both the Celtics and Red Sox game broadcasts.” Um, yeah. :

WEEI 93.7 Arbitron Ratings (rival station The Sport Hub compared in red):

M25-54                 June                                      Spring 12                              Winter 12

6a-mid                  6.8 #3    (BZ 5.5 #4)           7.1 #2    (BZ 6.0 #4)           5.7 #4 (BZ 8.5 #2)                                                                                           

6a-10a                   6.8 #4    (BZ 7.6 #2)           7.3 #3    (BZ 8.0 #2)           7.6 #3 (BZ 9.8 #2)

10a-2p                  5.5 #3T  (BZ 5.9 #2)           6.7 #3    (BZ 6.8 #2)           5.5 #4 (BZ 10.0 #2)

2p-6p                    7.1 #3    (BZ 6.3 #4)           7.9 #2    (BZ 6.9 #3)           6.2 #3 (BZ 9.8 #1)

6a-7p                     6.5 #3    (BZ 6.6 #2)           7.3 #2    (BZ 7.2 #3)           6.5 #3 (BZ 9.6 #2)

7p-mid                  11.0 #1  (BZ 4.6 #6)           9.5 #1    (BZ 5.5 #5)           4.0 #11 (BZ 6.5 #2)

Wknds                  5.8 #3    (BZ 2.6 #11)        5.6 #4    (BZ 3.2 #10)        3.7 #10 (BZ 5.6 #6)

Is your head spinning yet?