By: John Molori
December 28, 2005

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THIS WEEK:

- Nathan on NESN?
- Burton's best
- Headline horror
- Bladd company

NESN show on hold due to sagging Bruins

The concept is solid. The hosts are youthful and dynamic. The network is powerful, but the team, that's another story. "Bruins All-Access," a behind the scenes look at Boston's NHL entry has been on the front burner for NESN since hockey season began, but with the team mired in mediocrity, the show has yet to debut.

"We were supposed to begin airing in mid-January," says Jillian Nathan, who hosts the program with erstwhile Red Sox ball girl Kelly Barons. "We are contracted for twelve episodes. NESN could decide to go with the show even if the team is not doing well, but of course, it would be better if the team was winning."

Nathan is no stranger to Boston sports media. She was a former Sports Radio WEEI intern who later served as Mike Adams' sidekick "Candy" on Adams' short-lived AM 1510 morning show. According to Nathan, segments for the program have already been shot in anticipation of its debut.

She states, "We've taken some road trips with the team and taped some segments about how players prepare on game days and things like that. The show will have three main features and two smaller segments."

Nathan and Barons were supposed to travel with the Bruins to Florida this week, but those plans were shelved. According to Nathan, they will resume shooting segments for "Bruins All-Access" in early January.

"Our show will take fans inside the team," says the effervescent Nathan. "It will be fast-paced and combine entertainment with sports. NESN is hesitant to debut a new Bruins show when the team is struggling. We'll see what happens. Hopefully things get better fast."

Steve vs. Steve

During Monday night's "Patriots Fifth Quarter," UPN38 reporter Steve Burton challenged Patriots head coach Bill Belichick regarding the health status of Tedy Bruschi.

After Belichick stated that Bruschi had tightness in his leg, Burton pressed on asking exactly what part of Bruschi's leg was tight. Belichick typically dodged the question. Subsequently, Burton again questioned Belichick, politely asking why a key player like Bruschi is playing special teams in a game that was very much in hand.

A clearly agitated Belichick responded that the Patriots play to win. Burton's questions were extremely valid and refreshing. In a region where the media largely falls at the feet of the three-time Super Bowl winning coach, Burton was direct and fearless.

In short, he did what no one else in the room had the guts to do. He took on one of the most intimidating and indomitable figures in New England sports history.

Later, Burton chased down Bruschi off the air and asked about his condition. According to Burton, Bruschi was walking with a noticeable limp and replied, "I'm fine." Burton asked again and Bruschi reiterated, "Burton, I'm fine." Kudos to Burton for flagging down Bruschi and getting an answer.

On Tuesday's "Big Show" on WEEI, "Fifth Quarter" cohost Steve DeOssie took issue with Burton's line of questioning. DeOssie called Burton's actions "mental masturbation" and stated that he would never ask Belichick such questions because he already knows the answers. He also said that reporters who ask such questions are trying to show that they are tough guys.

DeOssie is, in my view, the best football commentator in the region, but in this case, he is out of line. You don't have to be an ex-player to know that Belichick plays his starters longer than most coaches and that he values special teams as much as offense and defense.

We also know that he is never going to give any specifics on injuries. In fact, ABC's Al Michaels had the line of the night when he said of Belichick' s injury silence, "If you die, (the Patriots) list you as questionable."

Still, it is a good reporter's duty is to at least ask the questions. DeOssie should know better than to trash Burton for simply doing his job.

Horrible headlines

I've written it before and it is worth repeating. WEEI's "Dennis and Callahan" show "Headlines" segment is the worst thing on Boston radio. The segment is trite, uncomfortable, difficult to listen to, and most of all, not funny.

Last week, fill-in hosts Steve Buckley, Larry Johnson and Jon Meterparel mentioned a multiple rape story. This horrific crime was discussed with silly theme music in the background while Buckley drudged up some inane memory of a completely irrelevant past murder case.

The whole segment was embarrassing and totally inappropriate. Worse, moments later, the trio was laughing and joking about an unrelated topic. Yeah, I've always found rape to be a great audience warm-up.

Earlier last week, Johnson, Meterparel and Greg Dickerson read a story about a car accident that might have involved a former WEEI producer. They were not sure if it was the producer in question who was killed, but they irresponsibly spoke as if it were.

They expressed sadness at the loss, yet just minutes later, they were giggling about a plane accident story. Hey, if rape doesn't tickle your funny bone, a near plane crash certainly will, right? This week, flash reporter Bob Leone read the headlines as Dickerson and Johnson were both humorless trying desperately to be humorous.

The point is simple. Comedy is not easy. It takes talent to poke fun at others in a humorous way. The regular and substitute morning hosts at WEEI are a lot of things. Funny is not one of them. Moreover, rape, murder and tragedy are not fodder for humor.

There are quirky stories out there that would fit the "Headlines" segment, case in point, ex-Red Sox pitcher Jeff Reardon's attempted robbery of a Florida jewelry store.

Reardon's botched crime caper could be a valid source of dark comedy. However, if Reardon had actually shot the store clerk, it would not be funny. I seriously doubt that Dickerson, Johnson, Meterparel, Buckley and Leone understand this difference.

Bladd tidings

A new weekly sports show hits the airwaves January 8 at 2:00 p.m. on AM 1060 WBIX. "Back to Sports" is hosted by Bob Bladd, a US Navy veteran and former sports host at AM 830 AM in Worcester. Bladd has also worked radio in Arkansas, Wyoming, Las Vegas and area stations WSRO and WJLT.

"Back to Sports" will be opinionated with engaging conversation and debate," says Bladd who has appeared on the WB56 "Sports Zone." Like many hosts in this day of "˜pay to say' radio, Bladd is buying the airtime from WBIX, a 40,000-watt business talk station out of Framingham, MA.

Information on the promising program is available at BacktoSports.net. Bladd's debut show guest list is impressive including Butch Stearns, Mike Lynch, Michael Gee, Lenny Megliola, Kevin Paul Dupont, Rich Gedman and others.

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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