By: John Molori
May 11, 2005

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THIS WEEK:

- Tony's Award
- Rising Stars, Falling Stars: Who's hot and not in Boston sports media?
- Blitz Bits

Palmisano returns to AM 1510 with optimism and realism

He has worked in the financial trenches for some of the largest sports media outlets in the Northeast. He has ridden waves of success and been part of dashed hopes. When it comes to sports media sales, marketing and programming, not much fazes Tony Palmisano.

Palmisano returned to AM 1510 The Zone in October of 2004 as sales manager after a short stint as general sales manager at The FleetCenter. "The Fleet was not going anywhere without hockey," says Palmisano, who has also been an assistant sports director at WFAN in New York and senior account executive at Fox Sports New England (FSN).

"I knew that the long term prospects were bad. The NHL lockout has had a negative effect on a lot of folks in the industry. People have had to move out of the area just to stay employed."

While the Bruins have not won a Stanley Cup in 33 years, their economic impact is vital. Says Palmisano, "There was no light at the end of the tunnel. Hockey moves the needle with marketing, merchandising and signage. Delaware North owns the building and they own the Bruins. The hockey team drives the building in terms of premium seats and club seats."

Palmisano served as director of business development for AM 1510 from 2002 to 2004. His return is characterized by opportunity. "It's a chance to take a media outlet and develop the brand, as well as the Celtics Radio Network. To say that we are lean and mean is an understatement. Jon Anik is a business agent and sports reporter. Anthony Pepe runs marketing and is on-air. I even host a show ("Horse Talk," Saturdays at 11:00 a.m.)."

According to Palmisano, the Celtics recent playoff run and early exit was bittersweet. "We don't sell wins and losses. We sell the fan base relationship with the Celtics. Still, it was a huge letdown when they lost Game 7. It's over. No one is calling for tickets or sales. With the Celtics, we went from an emotional high to nothing."

AM 1510 features a number of shows purchased by hosts bringing in their own sponsors. The station sales force does not sell these shows. Palmisano focuses his efforts on selling WWZN productions, namely, Celtics games, Eddie Andelman, "The Diehards," "The Sportsworld Collectibles Show," and "Nuts about Golf."

On May 22, Andelman will hold his 16th Annual "Hot Dog Safari" to benefit cystic fibrosis research. Says Palmisano, "It's basically Eddie, Anthony Pepe, Jon Anik, (GM) Mike Winn and myself pulling this off. We are expecting over 50,000 people." WWZN will broadcast live from Suffolk Downs throughout the event, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Palmisano is philosophical about AM 1510's place in Boston. "Kudos to WEEI for building a great station," says Palmisano, who was an account executive and ran the Celtics and Boston College radio networks at WEEI from 1994-98.

"There is room for another sports station to exist. We have to feature more Patriots and Red Sox programming. The NHL does not exist right now and the NBA simply is not a focus. If a radio station is not with the Sox or Pats in some capacity, you are fighting for crumbs."

Rising Stars

Peter May, Shira Springer, Boston Globe: May, an underrated and underutilized basketball commentator, and Springer did a great recent stint on NESN's " Sportsplus." Both were informative and engaging. Springer has cut her TV teeth on CN8's "Sports Pulse" and is now a certified on-air commodity.

Joe Amorosino, 7NBC: Solid interview with Terry Francona on last week's " Sports Xtra." Amorosino also moderated a lively back and forth on the Patriots and Celtics with Jackie MacMullan and Michael Holley.

Mike Giardi, NECN: Conducted insightful hoops chat with the ubiquitous Ryen Russillo and eschewed the ignorance of many fellow mainstream hosts by actually interviewing members of the New England Revolution in-studio amidst their torrid start. Giardi is polished, prepared and diligent.

Falling Stars

"New England Sports Tonight," FSN: The show has never been better, but I have had it with the annoying sound effects. The latest sound is for the " Sports Nut Buster" and is similar to a toilet flush. "Sports Nut Buster" sounds painful enough, but not nearly as painful as the glut of needless audio.

Pete Sheppard, WEEI: Sheppard's slow boil into frenzy is his trademark, but he was out of line in brutally attacking WEEI colleague Craig Mustard recently. In response to Mustard's professed Celtics apathy, Sheppard told him to get a real radio job and asked how many times Mustard has been fired. Moreover, he did it without Mustard present to defend himself. The talented and very fortunate Sheppard should be the last to criticize anyone's career or lack thereof.

Wendi Nix, 7NBC: Nix is a gifted reporter and an articulate commentator, so why does she feel the need to lower her game and, seemingly, her IQ when she is on WEEI and FSN? Her 7NBC anchoring and reporting is top-notch, but when playing with the boys, she regularly uses mild profanity and engages in immature banter. Memo to Nix: Don't give in to the dark side. Be yourself.

Blitz Bits

WEEI raised more than $18,000 for the Genesis Fund at their Third Annual " WEEI Bowling Challenge for Kids." Last month, the station received the American Cancer Society's "Sword of Hope" for raising $1.5 million through their Jimmy Fund Radiothon. Clearly, everyone is benefiting from the station's high ratings and revenue "¦ TNT's Charles Barkley on the Celtics: "Boston's offense is to throw the ball to (Paul) Pierce and the other four guys stand around with their thumb up their (butt), or their second option, throw the ball to (Antoine) Walker and the other four guys (stand) with their thumbs up their (butt)." "¦ The premiere of HBO's "Costas Now" with Bob Costas features a story on the late Red Sox slugger Tony Conigliaro, Friday at 9:00 p.m....Pats' WR and high school soccer star Deion Branch will be featured with sideline reporter Brandi Chastain on ESPN2's Revolution vs. DC United match, Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Chastain is on with WEEI's "Dale and Holley," Friday at 1:30 p.m.... The New England Emmy Awards will air on most Comcast, Cox and Adelphia local cable stations, Sunday at 6:30 p.m. "¦ ABC will kick off its college football season with an AFC East coaching reunion. Charlie Weis' Notre Dame squad faces Dave Wannstedt's Pitt team, September 3 at 8:00 p.m.

John Molori's columns are published in The Providence Journal, The Boston Metro, The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, The Salem Evening News, The Newburyport Daily News, The Gloucester Times, The Lowell Sun, Patriots Football Weekly, Boston Sports Review, New England Hockey Journal, The RemyReport.com, PatsFans.com, BostonSportsReview.com, BostonSportsMedia.com and MethuenOnline.com. Email John at JOMOL3@aol.com.


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