2011 Approval Ratings – Rob Bradford

Rob Bradford is the Editor-In-Chief of WEEI.com and writes about the Red Sox for the website.

A native of Essex, Mass, Bradford graduated from Springfield College in 1992.

Bradford broke onto the Boston sports media scene with the Lowell Sun, followed by a stint at the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune  from 2005 to 2007. He then moved to the Boston Herald, and then onto WEEI.com in July of 2008.

He was a regular on WEEI’s Big Show even before joining the company. He is still a presence on the airwaves, whether it is weekend programming or filling in during the week. He has also been seen on Comcast SportsNet’s Mohegan Sun Sports Tonight. You can follow him on Twitter at @Bradfo

Bradford has written two books,  Chasing Steinbrenner as well as Deep Drive: A Long Journey to Finding the Champion Within – a book co-authored with Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell.

Rob Bradford 2011 Approval Ratings
Total Votes: 1053 Started: August 22, 2011 Back to Vote Screen

Mike Adams To Join Big Show, WEEI.com Partners with SB Nation

WEEI announced this afternoon that Mike Adams will be joining “The Big Show with Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley” effective today. He will serve as the flash guy for the program, will be in-studio, ready to weigh in with a thought from Bill Lee or memory of the 1978 Red Sox.

If they’re trying to appeal to a younger audience, this is the exact wrong move.

On the air, it was mentioned that the Planet Mikey show is not being impacted by this move,  but now that the Red Sox season has begun, most evenings are already scheduled with game broadcasts.

In another move, WEEI.com announced a content sharing partnership with the blog network SB Nation.

Some of the details about the deal, as outlined in the release from WEEI.com:

  • WEEI.com will feature headlines and content from SB Nation websites relevant to all the Boston teams, and SB Nation will bring WEEI.com’s highly-regarded reporting and personalities to its readers in Boston and beyond.
  •  A new feature on WEEI.com called “Behind Enemy Lines” will provide news and commentary from SB Nation’s network of team-focused blogs about upcoming Boston opponents. 
  •  A new, co-branded landing page will include links to SB Nation content appearing on WEEI.com as well as outbound links to national stories within the SB Nation network.
  •  WEEI.com and SB Nation will integrate relevant content within each other’s coverage of Boston sports teams, offering a unique diversity of perspectives on all the local teams.
  •  Content from each partner will appear on dedicated team pages & blogs in widget form for easy-to-use functionality.

Of interest from this desk is the fact that I write a weekly media column for SB Nation Boston. As far as I know, this does not impact me in any way. No one has said anything to me, anyway.  We’ll see.

Desperate WEEI Shakes Up Lineup

This afternoon Glenn Ordway was touting a “major announcement” to be made at 5:20. Most of these “major announcements” are little more than announcing a new weekly guest to the program, or something along those lines.

Today’s announcement however, is legitimately big news. After years of having the format of Glenn Ordway and two rotating co-hosts, Ordway announced that starting February 28th, the Big Show will add Michael Holley as a permanent co-host alongside Ordway. The name of the show will remain the same, and there will still be a whiner line. It is unclear whether there will be a third rotating co-host each day, as Ordway simply said that others “will be in and out of here all the time.”

The question was left then – what will become of the Dale and Holley show? This was not announced on the show, but The Inside Track at the Boston Herald reports that the duo will be replaced by former Red Sox infielder Lou Merloni and weekend WEEI (and WGAM AM)  host Mike Mutnansky.

The track reports that Dale Arnold will be relegated to “fill in duty.”

These moves are clearly in reaction to the ratings gains made by 98.5 The SportsHub in the last year. The odd thing is, the Dale and Holley show was the only one that was still consistently beating their 98.5 competition.

WEEI was hamstrung however, by the salaries of their talent. They couldn’t make a move in the morning, with John Dennis and Gerry Callahan making big bucks, and Ordway is a fixture in the afternoons. I believe Holley’s contract was due sometime this year, so this move seems to be a promotion of sorts for him.

These are some big moves. I can’t wait to read all of your reactions to them.

WEEI Announces New Drive-Time ‘Dream Team’ (weei.com)

ESPNBoston.com vs CSNNE.com vs WEEI.com

Boston sports are covered like nowhere else in the country. In addition to the double-digit number of newspapers that cover the New England professional sports teams on a daily basis, we’ve also seen multimedia outlets jump into covering the teams with reporters and columnists.

Sports radio powerhouse WEEI was the first to really jump into the written/online side with their revamped WEEI.com website back in 2008, stocking themselves with former newspaper reporters such as Rob Bradford. They quickly established themselves as a go-to destination for sports fans with quality, in-depth articles and breaking news to compliment the on-air side of things.

ESPNBoston.com launched last September, snatching Boston Globe NFL reporter Mike Reiss as their prize, and giving a local presence to ESPN. They feature daily Boston oriented “SportsCenter” video segments on the site, with highlights and news from Boston.

Comcast SportsNet also wanted in on this niche, and put together their own solid stable of print reporters for their all-new CSNNE.com website which debuted last fall. They also reorganized their on-air side of things, adding new sports reporters for new TV shows, and they also have Boston sports video updates on their site, updated several times throughout the day.

NESN also has a web presence, with a bunch of blogs and written material on NESN.com, but it is not nearly on the level – content wise, I mean - of the above three outlets. (Check the comments section below for a link that shows NESN beating WEEI and CSNNE.com handily in terms of traffic.)

So of these three relatively new sites, which is the best online destination for Boston sports fans?

As when comparing most things, each outlet has their strengths. We’ll look at each by team, and then by multimedia capabilities.

Red Sox

WEEI.com has the combo of Rob Bradford and Alex Speier covering the Red Sox. ESPNBoston has Gordon Edes and Joe McDonald on the beat. CSNNE.com uses Sean McAdam and Joe Haggerty over at Fenway.

As the Red Sox are the number one game in town, fittingly this is the deepest area of talent for the three sites. Each site is establishing their own style of Red Sox coverage. WEEI.com tends to come up with longer, analytical pieces, especially when Speier is writing. ESPNBoston seems to focus more on the “people” and their stories. Recently, they’ve been mixing in Boston-slanted stories from Jeremy Lundblad from ESPN Stats & Information to give them some of that new-age statistical analysis which is becoming more popular.  CSNNE.com puts out more of a traditional newspaper-type coverage, with a game story, side story and notebook. They also mix in quite a few video posts from their TV side.

Which one is better? I personally enjoy what Speier and WEEI have been doing. It’s a little outside of what everyone else is doing, and more in-depth. Being on-line, they’re not limited in their word count and space that they can devote to a particular story, and they take full advantage of that.

What I like about ALL these sites is that they typically stay away from the Red Sox soap-opera storylines so popular among their newspaper competitors.

EDGE: WEEI.com

Patriots

WEEI.com has Christopher Price as their main Patriots guy, and DJ Bean has been doing a lot of draft-related stuff for them. ESPNBoston has Mike Reiss, and he has been supported by Chris Forsberg. CSNNE.com uses Tom E. Curran to cover the Patriots. It’s another strong group.

Price brought over his popular “10 Things We Learned” post that he had used when he was at the Boston Metro. To an extent, WEEI.com also uses that format on their other sports (5 things for Red Sox, The Three-Pointer for the Celtics and “The Hat Trick” for the Bruins). Price is also the assistant site editor for WEEI.com. He also is busy on the blogs, and passing along Patriots press releases. The Mike Reiss model is all over ESPNBoston.com. He brought all the things he did at the Globe to this position – the weekly chats, the weekly mailbags, the countless blog entries, the “first impressions” blog posts, and in-game updates as well. ESPNBoston is using these techniques on their other coverage as well, particularly Forsberg when he covers the Celtics. On CSNNE.com Tom E. Curran mixes in humor in his coverage, and uses video more than the other two above. Curran’s national experience with NBC serves him well in calling on contacts for information on national stories. They’ve got Michael Felger in the stable, who also occasionally weighs in with a column on the Patriots.

You really can’t lose with any of these outlets on the Patriots. It’s all good. But…

EDGE: ESPNBoston.com

Celtics

Comcast SportsNet New England is the TV home of the Boston Celtics. They have A. Sherrod Blakely and Rich Levine covering the green for CSNNE.com. Blakely has been solid in his first season in Boston, but I get the sense he is still sort of looking to find what his “voice” should be here, coming from the outside. But overall he was a very good hire by CSNNE. WEEI.com uses Paul Flannery and Jessica Camerato on the beat, and they’re both very good. Interestingly the station doesn’t always send either one to road games, but I’ve come to the conclusion that that isn’t always such a negative. My theory is this…if a reporter is on press row, or in the press box, they’re going to be influenced by those around them. That’s why a lot of what you read when going over the various stories is repeated among reporters. When watching the game remotely, you’re forced to think on your own, to come to your own conclusions, and the coverage is likely to be a bit more original. ESPNBoston doesn’t have an official Celtics beat writer, Chris Forsberg the “roving reporter” has been handling the duties, but again, isn’t on the road with the team. Forsberg does a good job, and tries to incorporate a lot of the “Reiss-style” of coverage to the beat, which certainly isn’t a bad model to imitate.

So who has the edge? I’m going to have give it to the WEEI.com combo of Flannery and Camerato. They’ve always got in-depth coverage, and come up with new angles on stories that make it worth checking out.

EDGE: WEEI.com

Bruins

The fourth team on the Boston totem pole has gotten something of a boost from these outlets, which have provided new, fresh coverage of the franchise. ESPNBoston recently added Joe McDonald to it’s Bruins coverage, which had been anchored by freelancer Matt Kalman, who continues his solid work on the beat. McDonald splits time on the Red Sox beat, and has been a good addition for the outlet. WEEI.com’s Bruins has recently been provided by Dan Rowinski, and he’s been doing good work for them, especially in the three-part “Hat Trick” columns. CSNNE.com stole Joe Haggerty from WEEI’s Bruins beat, and he’s really blossomed with Comcast. His Bruins coverage has been very, very strong for them, with descriptive game stories, insightful commentary, and interesting tidbits. When the Bruins season is over, he’ll be spending his time next to McAdam on the Red Sox beat.

EDGE: CSNNE.com

Multimedia/Miscellaneous

WEEI.com has done a very good job getting their on-air audio loaded up to the website, integrated with their content, and arranged so that it is easy to find. They’ve done some experimentation with original videos, but most of their current videos consist of locker room interviews. They were using Kristine Leahy for a daily video segment called “The Five,” but have discontinued it.

ESPNBoston.com has the daily “Boston Sportscenter” video, and the ability to integrate video from the ESPN networks into their stories and content. I like the Boston Sportscenter segment, and the clips they use usually compliment the material pretty well. I also like that when there is a video, there is usually also a written summary of what it is about, in case the reader doesn’t want to load the entire video and sit through and watch it.

CSNNE.com has a ton of video, and one of the best things they have going is their SportsNet Central updates throughout the day. They record about four per day, as things happen, and post them to the site, giving them a jump on other outlets. They’re well done, and make great use of their expanded staff and facilities. Elsewhere on the site, they make use of video by grabbing segments from their various TV shows and put them into posts. My only complaint on these is that many times, they’re standalone, meaning the entire post is just the video. It would be nice to have a summary of the video, possibly even a partial transcript of the noteworthy stuff.

EDGE: CSNNE.com – they make the most use of their on-air side, and unlike ESPN, their videos are always locally produced.

Overall

Boston fans can’t really go wrong with any of these outlets. They all crank out good content combined with audio and video material, letting fans experience sports coverage in a new, modern way. It’s a tough call, but in the end, I’m giving the nod to:

EDGE: WEEI.com. Perhaps its just because they’ve been around the longest and have had time to work out what is going to be effective and how they want to do things, but they are solid in their coverage of all four major professional sports teams, and their blogs and multimedia elements are very good as well. ESPNBoston falls a little short in its Bruins and Celtics coverage, and CSNNE.com in some ways is too similar to newpaper coverage.

More LJ

http://www.weei.com/images/larry-johnson-cartoons

http://www.weei.com/images/larry-johnson-cartoons

Boston Globe Staff Photo / Matthew J. Lee

Boston Globe Staff Photo / Matthew J. Lee

The angle of the head is a little off, but perhaps LJ just got a photo a few frames off from this one…or maybe he actually drew Ellsbury’s head. In any event, he made sure to include the fan with the outstretched arms in the background…

Schilling Gives First Post-Retirement Interview

At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco today, Curt Schilling gave his first interview since announcing his retirement via his blog yesterday.

Mike D’Alonzo says that Schilling “sat down with X-Play host and G4′s Editor-In-Chief Adam Sessler at GDC and talked about his reasons for the timing of the announcement, which he jokingly referred to as a clever business decision to gain some publicity for his gaming company, 38 Studios, but then seriously noted that being away from Boston when he made the announcement made it easier for him to avoid intense media scrutiny.”

Schilling…avoiding the media?

Schilling Uses Blog To Announce Retirement

Curt Schilling made it official today, announcing his retirement from baseball. There will be no late-season signing and stretch run with the Cubs or Rays for Schilling.

What’s interesting is that Schilling has eschewed the traditional press conference (though that may come later) and announced this decision through his 38Pitches blog: Calling It Quits.

The guy was polarizing off the field, but Red Sox fans cannot complain one bit about his performance on the field, and the impact he had in finally bringing the World Series championship back to Boston.

We’ll also miss his sometime contentious relationship with the media, particularly Dan Shaughnessy, though that might just continue as well.

New WEEI.com Debuts

WEEI has quietly (Shockingly so) launched the latest incarnation of WEEI.com.

At first glance, it is a great upgrade over the previous versions.

WEEI.com Declares World Dominance

While I really like the all-new WEEI.com, I sure hope this doesn’t become the quarterly web equivalent of the self-congratulatory ratings talk on the air…

Unique visitors to WEEI.com grow 95% over one year to reach all-time high for the website

Boston (February 11, 2009) – WEEI.com, the web site of the nation’s top rated sports radio station WEEI-AM, saw its total number of unique visitors increase to an all-time high in January 2009, with growth of 95% compared to the same month in 2008, according to Web analytics service OneStat.com.

In January 2009, WEEI.com had 426,879 unique visitors, up from 219,559 in January 2008. In addition to the increasing number of unique visitors, overall site traffic jumped to 3.3 million Page Views during January 2009, an increase of 88% when compared with the same month one year earlier.

According to web analytics service Compete.com, users are extremely engaged at WEEI.com:

  • The average user’s stay on WEEI.com was more than 21 minutes during each visit to the site in the month of December 2008.
  • This engagement number is up an impressive 579% from December 2007.
  • In 2008 more than 10 million hours of live streaming audio in 2008 was consumed over 3.3 million sessions.
  • The average WEEI.com visitor session for Internet Radio was over 3.2 hours per visit.
  • WEEI.com users listened to more than 1.8 million audio OnDemand clips in 2008.

“Our goal for WEEI.com has been to take our unique, authentically local content assets to create the number one online destination for New England sports fans,” said Tim Murphy, Vice President/General Manager of WEEI.com. “We’re pleased with the increase in traffic and engagement. With our imminent plans to add even more rich content, as well as major improvements in the design and functionality of the site, I’m confident that our numbers will continue to trend upward.”

“This is important for our great advertising partners,” Murphy continued. “Digital platforms whose local content reaches deeply engaged consumers create phenomenal opportunities for effective and efficient audio and visual marketing campaigns.”

Visitors are also consuming WEEI.com content in non-traditional means, evidenced by the 4,500 unique visitors to the website’s mobile WAP site. In addition, the WEEI newsletter has 182,000 subscribers and the WEEI.com Facebook page now has over 1,900 members.

In August 2008, WEEI.com made significant upgrades to the website’s design and content by hiring two of the best-known journalists in Boston sports, WEEI.com editor-in-chief Rob Bradford and Patriots reporter Michael Felger. Since then, WEEI.com has hired over 10 contributors to the site, including former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.

WEEI.com plans more major website upgrades in March.

“The way you could look at it is that August was the groundbreaking for the new WEEI.com. March will be the ribbon-cutting,” said Murphy. “Stay tuned.”

Price is Right for WEEI.com

Got a nice note from Christopher Price of the Boston Metro this afternoon, letting me know that starting next month, he’ll be leaving the Metro and joining WEEI.com as the Patriots writer for the site.

Price will also serve as assistant editor for WEEI.com.

Price has covered the Patriots for the Metro since 2001, and his weekly “10 Things We Learned Yesterday” column became a must-read for Patriots fans following each game. Price is also the author of The Blueprint: How the New England Patriots Beat the System to Create the Last Great NFL Superpower.

This is another nice hire for WEEI.com, which continues to collect competent writers and reporters who cover the teams thoroughly and without an axe to grind. (Which made the Ron Borges hire so strange to begin with.) Good luck to Chris!