By: John Molori
December 20, 2005

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THIS WEEK:

- Wendi's world
- Rising Stars, Falling Stars: Who's hot and not in Boston sports media?

Nix is calm and collected toward conflict conjecture

She is one of the fastest rising stars in the Boston sports media galaxy. He has just been named the new co-general manager of the most popular team in Boston. 7NBC's Wendi Nix and Red Sox GM Ben Cherington are clearly Boston's newest power couple.

They met in graduate school at UMass Amherst, have been married for eight years and are both 31 years old. Nix and Cherington have weathered the typical storms of any married couple with busy schedules, but with Cherington's latest ascension in the Red Sox organization, they will now face another conflict, the dreaded conflict of interest.

"It is what it is," says Nix. "We laugh about it to be honest. We got married so young (both were 23 years old), that our lives have been a work in progress."

Indeed, a television career and a baseball front office vocation do not make for lots of down time. Nix and Cherington would like to someday have children, but Nix says that their current pace does not lend itself to that.

She states, "We really don't see each other very often. Even when Ben was directing the Red Sox farm system, he was gone about 250 days out of the year. When he was involved in international scouting, he was on the road even more often."

Nix says that she might actually see more of her husband now that he has risen to the co-GM position. She, however, will be heading to Turin on February 3 to cover local athletes in the Winter Olympics.

The conflict of interest implication is simple. Nix is a reporter who covers the Red Sox. Her husband is the general manager of the Red Sox, ergo, Nix, through Cherington, will seemingly have access to inside information pertaining to the team.

In this sports media hotbed where fellow journalists, media commentators and fans are so in tune to sports coverage, Nix could be wrongfully discredited. To wit, if Nix, through her own sources, gets a Red Sox scoop, many will unfairly accuse her of getting the story from her husband.

Says Nix, "I respect Ben to the fullest degree, but some of this stuff is hard to swallow. I understand it, but I hate that I even have to talk about it. Nothing really has changed. As farm director, Ben had access to the same information. I don't foresee any difference from the past four years except that he is in a higher profile position.

"The off-season and during the trading deadline are when a GM really matters. Jason Varitek going 3 for 4 has very little to do with a GM. For most of the off-season, I'll be at the Olympics. I am not the story and neither is Ben. We are not athletes."

The South Carolina native knows that the Boston media landscape is too hip for any conflict to occur. "If I did get inside information from Ben, it would be so obvious that it wouldn't be good for him or me.

"The problem is that I have my own sources. I was at the forefront of Pedro Martinez' decision to go to the Mets. I am close to a person in the Mets' organization. This person handed me a piece of paper with the numbers on the Mets' offer. I actually got a call from someone in the Red Sox organization who told me that they had no idea what was happening with Pedro. I replied, "˜ Well, I do.'"

In this light, Nix and Cherington are in a "can't win" situation. She states, "People are going to think what they want. Both of us have discussed this with our employers and they don't see any problems. Honestly, I am not worried about Ben. He's done fine. I do worry about what people will say about me. This is very tough, but it does not overshadow the fact that we are fortun ate to be doing things that we enjoy.

Nix says she did not see Cherington's move to the co-GM slot coming, joking that she has been more concerned with needing a new water heater and roof at the couple's home.

"I am not minimizing it," she states. "Building relationships is so important in our businesses. The longer I am in the business, the more sources I create. This whole GM thing has been a crazy soap opera, but that's why I love to work in Boston."

In addition to her work on 7NBC, Nix has been a regular guest on Sportsradio WEEI's "Big Show." So, is the co-GM's wife ready to take some ribbing from the boys at WEEI?

"I'll have to take it," Nix states. "If you can't stand the heat, you shouldn't go on Glenn's show. If I can say things about others, then I have to take it too, but believe me, if someone says something that I think is unfair, I'll fight back."

Nix admits that she is not thrilled with all the conflict of interest talk, but she accepts the reality of her business. "I'll tell you that this hasn't been a great week, but I am proud of what Ben and I have done in our careers and just in making our marriage work having gotten married so young.

"I laugh at some of the people who talk about a conflict. I mean, married couples don't tell each other everything. Who says Ben is going to tell me things about the team?"

Nix points to the Nomar Garciaparra trade in 2004 as an example. "I am not proud to say this, but (7NBC) was the last to know about the Nomar trade. As it turns out, Ben knew about it from the start. It can be a disadvantage. I've had people tell me that they won't talk to me because I'm Ben's wife. It's a lot like being a woman in this business. I understand, but what can I do about it?"

Rising Stars

Mike Adams, WEEI: Adams, Jason Wolfe, Glenn Ordway and others at WEEI deserve credit for one of the most amusing stunts in recent memory. Adams' studio " takeover" last week was a hoax, but it was fun and funny. Now, let's see if Adams' "Planet Mikey" evening show is just as entertaining.

Russ Francis, ESPN Boston: Francis has been serenely stellar alongside Kevin Winter on ESPN Radio's Patriots pregame and postgame shows. He also did a nice guest shot on CN8's "Sports Pulse" on Monday. Francis was candid saying that Pats' nose tackle Vince Wilfork is great "when he decides to play."

Donny Marshall, FSN: Marshall has been a welcome addition to FSN's Celtics coverage. His strength is game analysis and he eschews the pro-Celtics hyperbole that too often plagues cohost Gary Tanguay. I'd like to see Marshall provide more opinionated analysis, but overall, he's been a real find.

Falling Stars

Michael Holley, WEEI: Holley is a good listen, but he has a habit of making callers feel awkward. On Monday, a soft-spoken caller commented on the Patriots secondary and Holley asked if he was whispering at work so no one would hear. There was an uneasy pause until Dale Arnold abruptly moved the discussion back to the Pats. Hosts should make callers feel comfortable, not self-conscious.

Jason Whitlock, ESPN: This past Sunday, "The Sports Reporters" panelist stated, "(Colts GM) Bill Polian, in the salary cap era, has built the best team we' ve seen." So, according to Whitlock, thirteen regular season wins in one of football's weakest divisions trumps three Super Bowl titles. Please.

Celtics Commentary, WEEI and FSN: FSN is the TV home of the Celtics. WEEI is a sister station of WRKO, the Celtics flagship station. Both stations are giving head coach Doc Rivers and basketball chief Danny Ainge an undeserved free pass. While Bruins' coach Mike Sullivan and GM Mike O'Connell have been mocked and vilified, Rivers and Ainge have gotten the velvet touch. The fact is that the Celtics are, like the Bruins, an inconsistent sub-.500 team with no clear identity. Business deals aside, FSN and WEEI need to check themselves big time.

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, ColdHardFootballFacts.com, PatsFans.com, BostonSportsReview.com, BostonPressBox.com, BostonSportsMedia.com, BostonSportz.com and DiscoverTheValley.com. Email John at JOMOL3@aol.com.


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