By: John Molori
April 25, 2006

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THIS WEEK:

- Tang's time
- Felger feels a draft
- Andelman's angle

Source: "Atmosphere at ESPN Boston was unbearable."

Two sources, one current and one former employee at AM 890 ESPN Boston, have told Media Blitz about the negative work environment created by station CEO Jessamy Tang.

The first source, a former station marketing executive, left the fledging station in October of 2005 voluntarily after just five months. He currently holds a similar position at a station in Las Vegas.

He states, "I keep in contact with everyone who worked at ESPN Boston. Almost all of Tang's original hires have left. She's had three business managers and six or seven sales people have come and gone. The guy who replaced me left after one month.

"There are people there right now trying to get out. In fact, three or four people who worked with her have been so negatively affected that they probably won't work in radio again."

Tang is part owner and oversees the daily operation of the station, but answers to parent company Waller-Sutton Media Partners. "She is not a good manager," says the source, a fifteen-year veteran of the radio business. "She's paranoid. With her leadership, the station won't make it.

"You are only as good as you are at the top. Even great stations with bad leadership do not do well. I just can't see ESPN Boston having success with Jessamy at the helm."

The source said that Tang refused to put anyone under contract and did not allow people to do their jobs without interference. "We dreaded going to work every day. I loved Boston and never would have left if not for the situation. The atmosphere at ESPN Boston was unbearable."

According to the source, many of the issues with Tang involved money. He said that she would get angry at employees for dialing directory assistance or using quality paper in the office printer.

"She lowered our marketing budget from $200,000 to $30,000," he relates. "I bought three billboards for the station and that was it. In marketing, you need something to work with. No billboard company or subway board will do a trade. We had some employees who worked one day with Jessamy and never came back."

AM 890 ESPN did make an appearance in the most recent Boston radio ratings book and, judging from reader emails to Media Blitz, Mike Felger's afternoon "The Drive" show is gaining an audience, but the station's signal remains an issue.

Says the source, "I told Jessamy that the signal was an issue that she would face forever and it would be best to address it now, but she does not want to spend the money. I lived in Beacon Hill and couldn't hear the station."

In March, Tang fired program director Doug Tribou and hired ESPN Radio veteran Len Weiner as his replacement. "She has come to the point where she is feeling the pressure of not making money," says the source.

"She has investors to answer to and is trying to save her own position. Doug was a scapegoat. I had to get out of there for my own reputation in the business. I didn't want to be on the Titanic when it was sinking."

In late March, Media Blitz received an email from another source still working at ESPN Boston. The source wrote, "Plain and simple, Jessamy Tang is the reason this station will never make it. She is without question the worst manager I have ever worked for. She has zero people skills."

This source also spoke of Tang's financial actions stating, "She ruined more deals for the sales department by sticking her nose where it didn't belong. As we speak, she is having an intern call printing companies to trade out business cards because she doesn't want to buy them.

"None of the sales reps are able to entertain clients unless it comes out of their pockets, pockets that are already empty because she doesn't pay them. Only two people at ESPN Boston have expense accounts, (Tang) and Mike Winn, the sales manager."

Winn, who left AM 1510 to join ESPN Boston states, "The first year of any business is always challenging with different personalities being brought together. As we make changes to help grow the company you are always going to have people that do not agree with the moves.

"Jessamy put together the funding here, has great relationships with ESPN and has a vision for the possibilities for this place. I would hate to see quotes from disgruntled employees or former employees taint what she has accomplished."

A source at WEEI told Media Blitz that "more than one" ESPN Boston employee has expressed doubt that the station would still be on the air one year from now.

In response to questions about Tang's people skills and the overall working environment at AM 890 ESPN Boston, afternoon drive host Mike Felger states, "Just about the last thing I'm concerned with is someone's "people skills." Either you're good or you're not. Either you do the job or you don't. The niceties are irrelevant.

"If my show doesn't attract listeners, I'll be gone. If it does, I have a shot. That's all I'm worried about. That being said, the "overall working environment'' seems fine to me and I've enjoyed working with Jessamy."

In an email to Media Blitz, Tang responded to the criticism by saying, " It is station policy to not publicly comment on station financial and operating procedures or current and former employees. Thank you for your continued interest in our stations."

Felger file

As this weekend's NFL Draft approaches, Mike Felger has his fingers firmly on the pulse of the Patriots. He states, "It certainly hasn't been a very interesting offseason so far, but that doesn't mean it's been bad. As it stands now, I don't see how this team has gotten any better, but there's a long way to go with trades and the draft."

Felger analyzes some of New England's personnel losses. "If the Pats wanted (David) Givens and (Willie) McGinest, then you can blame them for not being more proactive and signing those players before they hit the open market.

"You can't blame them for not matching the Browns and Titans. Both players got way more than they were worth at that point. They just didn't want them.

"On Adam (Vinatieri), I just can't find any excuse, and I don't buy the spin that he wanted out. By the end, yes, Adam was angry enough to want to move on and not even give the Pats a chance to match the Colts' offer. But how did it ever get that far?"

Bill Belichick refuses to overpay for players and allow his team to grow old, a philosophy that Felger likes. He states, "It's the way to go, but it only works if you're good. If you have no ability as a talent evaluator (Bobby Grier), then it makes sense to spend for your vets because there's no confidence in your ability to find the replacements.

"Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli are as good as it gets, and everyone trusts them to find the right guys to step in. It works because of their abilities."

Felger believes that fan frustration is a bit premature and subscribes to the "In Bill We Trust" mantra.

"Why wouldn't you trust the guy," he asks. "He's the best. Does that mean you can't look at the individual moves and question them? "˜Belichick has a track record! Three Super Bowls!' That's how I heard a lot of people argue the Vinatieri decision. Well, duh. Based on that logic, you can't have a discussion about any player or any personnel decision.

"It always goes back to the same place: "Belichick knows better than you.'' Again, duh. Here's what I think: Belichick's batting average is the best in the league, but it's still not 1,000. You're not being objective if you don't look at each personnel decision on its own merits."

Keyshawn Johnson recently criticized New England's seemingly penny-pinching ways. Says Felger, "It's ridiculous. The guys who get paid feel they're respected. The ones that don't think the team doesn't have the human touch. Adam said it to me over and over: "Indy showed me a lot of love.'' Baloney. They showed him the most money."

As the draft approaches, Felger points to corner, linebacker, safety, receiver, tackle and kicker as the Pats' areas of need. He says that it would take more than one sub-.500 season for the Patriots to feel any serious media backlash and his thoughts on Belichick and the press are candid.

"He owes the media nothing. I am not one of those reporters who have a problem with the way he handles us. His job is to win games, not give us stories. He doesn't owe us his time or the truth, although he'll still give you plenty of both from time to time if you show up and listen."

Felger, a Boston Herald and FSN staple, is equally frank in describing the state of his ESPN radio show, now nearly 8 months into its run. "I think we have so far to go its not even funny," he states. "Some days I think we're relevant and entertaining, but most of the time I think we're probably lacking.

"I need to be much better. It's incredibly challenging. The one thing I believe more than ever is that there's room for two sports stations. Hopefully we can be it."

Eddie's edge

As rumors of a broadcast deal between the Red Sox and Greater Media continue to swirl, it should be noted that it was sports talk veteran Eddie Andelman who first implied that such a deal was imminent.

In the March 28 edition of Media Blitz, Andelman stated that one of the reasons he took his "Sports Huddle" show to 96.9 FM Talk WTKK (a Greater Media station) was because of the Red Sox possible arrival. Andelman also said that Greater Media was willing to give the Red Sox an ownership stake in one of their stations.

"WEEI makes many millions of dollars off of the Red Sox," said Andelman. "Why should the Red Sox let them make that money? It would make sense if the Sox and Greater Media joined forces on a radio deal."

Wouldn't it be poetic if Andelman and WTKK regular Dan Shaughnessy, the biggest targets of WEEI's barbs and insults, ended up in partnership with the Red Sox, currently WEEI's most precious commodity?

John Molori's columns are published in The Boston Metro, Patriots Football Weekly, ColdHardFootballFacts.com, Boston Sports Review, New England Ringside Magazine, Boston Baseball Magazine, Methuen Life, TheRemyReport.com, PatsFans.com, BostonSportsReview.com, BostonPressBox.com, BostonSportsMedia.com and BostonSportz.com. Email John at MoloriMedia@aol.com.


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