By: John Molori
September 08, 2005

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Today, ESPN Radio AM 890 and AM 1400 signed its first big name Boston talent. Michael Felger, the popular writer for The Boston Herald and regular guest and co-host on WEEI's "Big Show" and Fox Sports Net's "New England Sports Tonight," has joined ESPN Radio as host of "The Drive," a 4:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. talk show. Beginning September 12, Felger will be joined by co-host and reporter Kevin Winter. Media Blitz has this interview with Felger in the wake of his groundbreaking signing.

John Molori: How do you feel about going up against WEEI's "Big Show," a program that you helped to make so popular?

Michael Felger: How do I feel about going up against "The Big Show?" Scared. If anyone thinks I'm ``taking on'' Glenn Ordway and/or WEEI, they should have their heads examined. Have you seen those ratings? They aren't a fluke. That show has some of the most talented people in the business working for it, particularly Glenn, Pete Sheppard, and (producers) Brett and Andy. I'm not looking to challenge them and I'm not looking to provide an ``alternative.'' Ours won't be the same kind of show, but I've seen people in the past turn their nose up at what Glenn does, and I could never figure that out. Why would you want an alternative to something so successful? If anything, you should emulate it. If I can produce just a fraction of their entertainment value and a fraction of their ratings, I'll feel our show is a success.

JM: Why make the move to ESPN Radio now?

MF: I believe in the ESPN brand and the people putting together the venture. I believe they are in it for the long haul. While beating the competition is unrealistic, in the short term at least, carving out a niche and being successful on a certain level is not. To be on the ground floor of something like this is very exciting, and I can say that I've found the work of getting the show up and running as challenging (in a good way) as anything I've done in recent years. As for taking the job now, this is a competitive business and offers don't come along every day. And I don't think I wanted to be the "d-bag" forever.

JM: How do you approach this undertaking in terms of the market and taking on a giant like WEEI. Is there room for another sports voice?

MF: I absolutely believe there is room for another local station. Categorically. People like to flip. Some guests and topics appeal to some people, but not to others. But it has to be done right. It has to be entertaining, lively and passionate. There has to be a solid degree of information. Hopefully, that's what we'll be.

JM: Tell me about your new show as much as you can in terms of a co-host, content, style and tone.

MF: (Program director) Doug Tribou and (GM) Jessamy Tang could also answer these questions. From what I know it's called ``The Drive.'' It will go from 4pm-8pm (maybe 4pm-7pm the first few weeks/months). I'm the host and Kevin Winter is the update guy and second man in the studio. As for style and tone, we won't be raising the bar, that's for sure. Hopefully, it will be a blend of passion, opinion and information. We have ESPN resources behind us, after all, and that should give us access to a wealth of quality guests. I also plan to have a regular rotation of co-hosts (local writers, athletes, etc.). My plan is to have guests from the Herald AND the Boston Globe in studio and by phone.

JM: In the past, a move to a competitor meant that relations and friendships with WEEI were severed. It happened with Sean McDonough and others. Does that worry or bother you?

MF: I believe I left WEEI on very good terms. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Glenn and (VP of programming) Jason Wolfe and everyone else over there. Their success speaks for itself. I certainly hope nothing is ``severed.'' As for on the air, I'm pretty sure they won't even mention me.

JM: Can you give us some insight on your deal with ESPN, specifically, terms, length of contract and salary range?

MF: My contract is for more than one year. It provides flexibility in terms of being able to continue my co-hosting duties at Mohegan Sun's "New England Sports Tonight." I will also continue in my role at the "Boston Herald." I know that's a lot to have on my plate, but the football media schedule is largely during the morning and afternoon on weekdays, and the weekend game schedule has no conflicts.

John Molori's columns are published in The Boston Metro, Patriots Football Weekly, The Providence Journal, Boston Sports Review, New England Hockey Journal, New England Ringside Magazine, TheRemyReport.com, PatsFans.com, BostonSportsReview.com, BostonPressBox.com, BostonSportsMedia.com, ColdHardFootballFacts.com and MethuenOnline.com. Email John at JOMOL3@aol.com.


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