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?

Painful Night In Landover for Patriots, Viewers

The Patriots looked bad last night against the Redskins, and none worse than Ryan Mallett who struggled his way to a 5-12, 55 yard performance.

I think that only in New England does the media use the backup quarterback as a way to make snide remarks about the coach. The last few days have been filled with snark about Mallett, ever since Belichick pal Mike Mayock made the remark that he was impressed with Mallett and sees an NFL starting QB right now in him, a comment that has provoked endless chuckles around the Patriots beat.

The remark also led to plenty of snark around the Patriots beat where writers started making comments that Mayock was essentially paid off to make the comment, doing so only in exchange for access to Belichick. Utter nonsense. Belichick coached Mayock with the Giants, and likes and respects him. Perhaps Mayock did make the comments as a favor to Belichick, though I find that fairly unlikely as well.

Chris Gasper this morning writes

There are lobbyists in Washington who wish they could spin as favorably as the Patriots and their national media supplicants are on Mallett’s ability.


But if Mallett were so good, don’t you think that Bill Belichick would be fighting to keep him as Brady’s successor, and not pumping Mallett’s trade value the way it was getting pumped up around May’s NFL Draft?

How about naming some names, Gasper? Beyond Mayock, who are the supplicants of whom your refer to? How exactly is Belichick “pumping Mallett’s trade value.”

Specifics, please.

I don’t doubt that the Patriots are putting Mallett out there for people to see, including themselves. Does he have a giant FOR SALE sign around his neck?

Maybe that’s why he struggled so much last night. Tough to throw and elude pressure with a giant sign around your neck.


Meanwhile, after telling us over and over how bad rookie QB Jimmy Garoppolo has looked in practice, the first year signal caller came out and impressed in the second half last night, showing poise, accuracy – even on the deep ball – and ability to move around.

The swing towards Jimmy G should be fun to watch this weeek.


The game broadcast last night on WBZ-TV was, well, uneven. Chad Finn enjoyed it:

Patriots TV broadcast had familiar feel

The broadcast location in the stadium was less than ideal for Dan Roche and Christian Fauria, and it definitely showed at times. Roche had difficulty identifying players, determining whether a field goal was good, and what call the officials were making.

During one particularly painful call, a Patriots backup made a tackle, Roche clearly wasn’t sure who it was, and said “making the tackle for the Patriots….(pause) by the Patriots…” then nothing. They went to commercial break and came back, at which point Roche finally identified the player who had made that tackle.

This isn’t as much a criticism of Roche as it is to highlight the poor location they had, and the difficulties in broadcasting from there. Fauria, as he is prone to do, ran off at the mouth on a number of occasions, including a comment on Roy Finch which referenced his struggles to hang onto the ball, but added “you can also see the explosithness in that guys feets…


Down on the field, Matt Chatham had a better view, and provided better analysis. His explanation of how linebackers read the route combinations at the goal line was informative and interesting.



Why you should stop watching football

At least the Globe is being honest about their bias now.

Patriots Preseason TV Broadcast Information

The Patriots begin the 2014 preseason tonight as they take on the Redskins in Washington. The broadcast begins at 7:30pm ET.

Here are the outlets on which the game will be shown:


Boston – WBZ-TV Ch. 4
Springfield – WWLP-TV Ch. 22

New Hampshire

Manchester – WMUR-TV Ch.9


Portland – WMTW-TV Ch. 8
Bangor – WVII-TV Ch. 7

Rhode Island

Providence – WPRI-TV Ch. 12


Hartford – WTNH-TV Ch. 8


Burlington – WCAX-TV Ch. 3


Honolulu – KFVE-TV Ch. 5

If you are not in range of one of these stations, the game will be rebroadcast on the NFL Network four times in the coming week:

Friday, August 8th – 4:00pm
Sunday, August 10th – 3:00pm
Monday, August 11th – 8:00pm
Thursday, August 14th – 10:00am

The game will also be on the radio on the Patriots Radio Network.


As Chad Finn reported yesterday, DISH Network has dropped CSNNE from its offerings.

Dish Network drops Comcast SportsNet New England

I wish I could say it was because they were disgusted with the likes of Gary Tanguay, Tony Massarotti and company, but that’s the not the case. As you would expect, it’s about money.

Celtics fans on DISH probably shouldn’t panic just yet, these things usually work themselves out once the negotiations go public.

If you missed it earlier this week (how could you?) Brian Scalabrine announced his return to the network in a post parodying  LeBron James return to Cleveland.


In the July ratings book (June 19 – July 16th) Dennis and Callahan and Minihane overtook Toucher and Rich, finishing 2nd in their time slot, which T&R finished 3rd. It’s only a month, but it is still a significant milestone.


The Triumphant Return of Kirk Minihane, Take 2.

Kirk Minihane returned to the WEEI airwaves this morning off of his one-week suspension. His return was considerably more low-key than his previous return. Probably a prudent move.

With Gerry Callahan out this morning, Minihane was sitting in the number two seat, and John Dennis joked that when he is out, Minihane will likely sit in his, number one seat, which prompted Minihane to quip – “my stock is rising here at the station.”


Monday means MMQB from Peter King, who manages to set new standards in self-importance on a weekly basis.

Today leads off with Cam Newton, who apparently is now “mature” after having pulled King aside and contritely spoken to him, probably after getting sick of being regularly villainized by King ever since the Carolina QB stopped talking to him following an incident in which Newton felt King quoted him out of context.

King’s vendetta against Newton has been noticed by others. But now, after Newton talked to King, all is forgiven and forgotten.

But in the end, I feel bad that he was branded with those comments because his three years as a player has proven him to be, after some missteps at post-game podiums following losses, a good person and leader.


I’ve given up trying to figure out the appeal of Peter King. He doesn’t report, he doesn’t cover games. He is essentially the gossip columnist of the NFL. People give him information to get into his column. The 900 calorie Starbucks drinks and fruity beers combined with the accounts of the disgusting person sitting next to him on his plane/train from Manhattan (did you know he lives in Manhattan????) and uninformed Red Sox hottakes are bad enough, the moral high ground fingerwags coupled with the humblebrags really push things over the top.


I’m still shaking my head over this Tweet:

Yes, by all means, let’s shut these players up who have been elected to this Hall of Fame. We don’t want to hear about their influences or stories from their playing career. We’d much rather hear introductions from unbiased journalists like Jay Glazer or Mike Florio!


Last night’s Red Sox game was about as frustrating and annoying as a television experience could be. Clay Buchholz has definitely reached Dice-K levels of infuriation with both his performance and the time he takes to work. Add John Kruk to that mix, and you’ve got a formula that could be used to break hardened criminals.

I don’t remember Kruk being this bad, but man. Did you know that Red Sox fans boo players who used to play for Boston, but who now play for the Yankees?



Did the Globe really send Dan Shaughnessy to Oakland for Jon Lester’s first start? Why, on God’s earth?

Did John Henry give Jon Lester a break on the price of the full page ad the former Sox pitcher took out in yesterday’s Globe?

I managed to make it to the third quarter of last night’s Hall of Fame game before Cris Collinsworth made me change the channel for good. Yeah, Mario Manningham “gave us all quite a thrill” with that Super Bowl catch a few years ago.

Speaking of preseason football, can’t wait for the first mention of the Patriots polo shirts on the broadcast crew for the preseason games.

Nice of D&C and Jon Meterparel to suggest last week that Don Orsillo had anything to do with NESN deciding to drop the simulcast of their show when the contract ends next month. Even worse to pretend like it had something to do with Orsillo feeling insecure about a perceived threat to his job from rising star Meterparel.

Gresh and Zo is the best football show on the local airwaves. It’s not even close.

Red Sox Keep Media Busy on Trade Deadline Day

For the second time in three seasons Ben Cherington gutted his Red Sox squad in the middle of the season. The Sox GM made four trades yesterday, sending out Jon Lester, Johnny Gomes, John Lackey, Andrew Miller and Stephen Drew off of the major league roster.

The trades started fairly early with the Lester deal going down around 9:50am -Alex Speier was the first with the particulars on that deal – and ending just before the 4:00pm deadline with the trade of Drew to the Yankees.

The trades kept the Boston media busy all day, as they hustled to keep up and to provide analysis of what the Red Sox were doing and to what end. All in all, I have to say they did pretty well with it.

What the heck just happened? Red Sox trade deadline day first thoughts – Speier has a look at the events of the day and what they mean.

Cherington begins second roster overhaul – Sean McAdam looks at the process which began yesterday.

Pain of losing Lester cuts deep – Gordon Edes says that Lester is a huge loss, one that can’t be overcome with the extra hitting the Sox acquired.

Jon Lester deserved better from Red Sox – Steve Buckley isn’t happy.

How the Red Sox’ trade frenzy came about – Peter Abraham has a good look at how the day unfolded.

With the Red Sox making a trade with the Yankees, I expected a 1970’s baseball reference from Dan Shaughnessy today, but I was expecting Sparky Lyle, not Charles Finley and the A’s fire sale in 1976.

ESPN to broadcast Sunday game from Green Monster – Chad Finn’s media column has Sunday night’s game against Stephen Drew’s Yankees being broadcast from a unique perspective.

There’s plenty happening at Patriots camp, as the defense has been the story early on. Check all the coverage at

It’s Wall to Wall Jon Lester as Trade Deadline Approaches

As tomorrow’s MLB trade deadline approaches, most people seem convinced that the Red Sox will trade lefty Jon Lester, rather than sign him to an extension.

It’s hard to believe that it has come to this, but here we are.

Tim Britton of the Providence Journal has a post with all the coverage his paper has done on the Lester situation since January, showing us the winding road this drama has taken.

How did we get here? The path that’s led the Red Sox to the verge of a Jon Lester trade

The always excellent Alex Speier also looks at the Lester situation, and how 2014 has been about coming of age for the pitcher.

Eye of the storm: Amidst chaos, Jon Lester comes of age

In many ways, the focus on where Lester ends up obscures a more significant story. How did Lester arrive at this point? How did he, over the course of 12 years, transform himself many times over into a pitcher who now is at the absolute zenith of his career, who looks like someone at the height of his powers and knows it?

The 2014 season marks a coming of age. It has been a year littered with potentially uncomfortable questions — about his contract talks with the Sox, about the possibility of being traded. Yet Lester has seemed more secure than ever in fielding those inquiries about what is happening around him off the field, and it is precisely because of his newfound comfort in who he is on the mound.

As always, it amazes me how Speier is just at another level with things like this and his analysis.

Lester has been in the consciousness of Red Sox fans since the Winter of 2003-04 when he, as a then a  prospect, was being mentioned as part of a possible trade to Texas for Alex Rodriguez. In that case, it shows that sometimes it’s better not to give up the prospects for a player you think is the missing piece to your team.

Now, he’s on the A-Rod side of things, possibly being traded himself for younger, tantalizing prospects. But Lester is more than just another guy, we’ve seen him grow, we’ve seen him beat cancer, and come back to be the best pitcher on a World Series winning team.

It’s hard to know what is going on behind the scenes at Fenway. Who is calling this? Larry Lucchino? John Henry? Probably not Ben Cherington or John Farrell. I’d love to know what Cherington’s thoughts on this really are. Has Lucchino gone back to how he was when Theo Epstein finally had enough and walked out?

This really is more about the Red Sox and where they are than it is about Lester. Jon Lester is going to be fine, wherever he goes. But what about the Red Sox? If Lester is gone, the Red Sox are still here, and we have to deal with that. Are they in turmoil again?

Will the Globe smear Lester if the team trades him? While it doesn’t always happen, (it just seems that way) you have to believe they’d have a hard time coming up with material on him.

Let’s put away the notion that the Red Sox could trade him, get talent back and then sign him back here as a free agent come fall. If they can’t sign him now without any competition, how in the world are they going to sign him when teams like the Dodgers, Angels, Yankees or Mets are out there with open checkbooks?

Of course, they might not trade him at all, and end up signing him before he hits free agency which would render all the hand-wringing and anger completely moot.

I don’t know that I would bet on that outcome though.

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?”).


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.



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 (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.


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.

Dan Shaughnessy Forgets That Red Sox Won World Series Last Year

Writing about sports is HARD.

That’s the lesson we can take from Sunday’s Boston Globe.

How else to explain some of the content from the region’s largest newspaper?

First we have Shaughnessy, who rails about how Red Sox fans have all gone soft on the team and we’re not miserable bastards like we were in 1978.

At this hour, your Boston Red Sox enjoy a friendlier environment than almost any of the 30 teams in baseball. The Sox have a chance to finish in last place for the second time in three years, win a playoff game in only one of six seasons, and still be perceived by their fans as “perennial contenders.’’

Well, let’s see, since 2003, we’ve had three World Series victories, two other appearances in the ALCS, and made two other playoff appearances. Since 2003 they’ve averaged 91 wins per season, and that includes the 69-win season of 2012.

But we’re insane for thinking that the Red Sox are generally pretty good.

It amazes me how soft this baseball market has become. In 1978 fans and media crushed the Sox for a 99-win season that concluded with eight consecutive pressure-packed victories. The Boston manager was unmercifully booed on Opening Day the following year. Now everything is awesome because the Boston ballpark is a tourist destination and fans fall in love with the hype of every young player coming through the system. Swell. When did we become St. Louis?

I think Dan is still upset he lost his “Curse” business.

What’s truly amazing is that throughout his rant, he never mentions ONCE that the Red Sox actually, you know, WON THE WORLD SERIES last year.

Chad Finn very nicely took Dan to task yesterday – I Can Think of 3 Good Reasons Why The Red Sox are Getting the Benefit of the Doubt.

Then we had Bob Ryan’s column, the premise of which was promising enough – how much sports coverage has changed since the days that he was on the beat. The main thrust of which is that there really is no offseason for sports coverage any longer.

Ryan then includes quotes from all of the regular Globe sports writers, including Nick Cafardo, Peter Abraham, Amalie Benjamin, Shalise Manza Young, Ben Volin, Gary Washburn, Baxter Holmes and Fluto Shinzawa.

Amalie Benjamin once covered the Red Sox. Now she covers the Bruins. “Hockey is not as crazy as baseball,” she says. “I hated baseball offseason.”

Why? Too busy in the offseason? Most of the rest of us work year-round, too. Some travel just as much as these writers, and put in 60+ hours a week for the entire year. No offseason.

Then there’s Volin:

“It’s an 11-month news cycle,” says Ben Volin, the Globe’s NFL analyst. “For one thing, people just love talking about next year. That’s a big part of it. And the whole football thinking is different. They have OTAs because they don’t want people to get out of shape and because they don’t want them getting into trouble.”

So, it’s not about putting in your offense or defense and building a team, it’s all about keeping the players busy so they don’t all become fat criminals in the offseason? OK, Got it.

Let’s go back to the social media thing for a minute. “It’s really changed dramatically the last three or four years,” says Abraham. “The littlest things can become big things. You’re asking yourself, ‘Is this a story?’ ’’

“There is no way to distinguish what is news and what isn’t,” says Manza Young.

Wait, what? These are reporters for the largest newspaper in New England and they don’t know what is news and what isn’t?

Finally in the Sunday Football Notes from Volin, there was his line in the section outlining how advanced the NFL is:

Equality barriers have been broken. The NFL is now the first among the four major North American pro sports leagues to have an openly gay player (Michael Sam).

Do these columns get edited? Jason Collins was a fairly big story last year, and he played in the NBA after his announcement. How does this get missed?