By: John Molori
August 22, 2006

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THIS WEEK:

- Maz appeal
- Weiner's world
- WEEI double talk
- Lucky 7

Sources: Massarotti to join Felger at ESPN Radio; Weiner's ESPN progress report; 7NBC's search; Big Bad Wolfe

Two Boston radio sources have indicated to Media Blitz that Boston Herald writer and Sportsradio WEEI regular Tony Massarotti is a frontrunner to join Michael Felger as cohost of Felger's afternoon drive program on ESPN Boston AM 890 and AM 1400.

In response to the emails, Media Blitz spoke to ESPN Boston program director Len Weiner who stated, "We are always looking to make our shows better and it's cool to add unique viewpoints. The possibility of adding a cohost always exists and Massarotti and other names are in play."

Weiner would not comment specifically on any upcoming changes at ESPN Radio Boston. "It's been four months since I was hired. At six months, I'll have a better idea of where we are and what we can do better. We are working on possible hosts and shows, but until I am comfortable, I cannot talk about it."

"We absolutely want to add more local hosts and shows, but doing it tomorrow is unrealistic. It takes a while to make a local show work. Mike (Felger) is light years ahead of the curve."

Massarotti told Media Blitz that ESPN radio has periodically approached him about joining them. "They have not made any real offer, but they have called me every once in a while," he relates. "They have poked around a bit."

As a regular on WEEI, the talented and interesting Massarotti has certainly earned consideration for a full time radio position. In 2002, after losing out to Bob Neumeier for WEEI's midday cohost slot, Massarotti left the station for AM 1510.

At that time, Massarotti told Media Blitz, "I'm disappointed with the midday show outcome. WEEI has given me tremendous opportunities. I have nothing bad to say about them. It just didn't work out."

Of the ESPN possibility, he states, "If something were right, of course I'd take it. Mike (Felger) and I get along fine. We have a perfectly normal relationship. They are definitely looking for someone to be with Mike.

"I have spoken to Len (Weiner), but I can't say I'm the guy. There has been nothing concrete. Hey, if someone knocks on my door and makes a crazy offer, how could I say no?"

According to Weiner, advertising, promotions and ratings, not necessarily one local show, will dictate the success or failure of the station.

He states, "I cannot speak for the advertising end of things, but we' ve tried a lot of different things promotionally, some cool on-air promos, fun things that traditionally are more tied to FM radio than AM.

"As for ratings, it's hard for me to say it's going great or not. I'd be more willing to chat at the six month point."

Weiner looks at the station as a work in progress and is not obsessed with beating WEEI. "The blueprint is good. Now, we have to figure out if we want to add porcelain, chrome or Formica.

"I am aware of WEEI because I've been in sports radio for so long, but I don't think about them when I am doing my job. I can't worry about them at this point."

Media Blitz has heard from several current and former employees who have said that station CEO Jessamy Tang has created a negative work environment keeping staff from doing their jobs well.

Says Weiner, "I've been in sports radio for twenty years, twelve of them at ESPN. I would not have come here if I thought it would be a bad situation."

Where's Wolfe?

On July 17, AM 680 WRKO host John DePetro called deposed Big Dig chief Matt Amorello "Fag Matt." DePetro explained that he was not calling Amorello a homosexual, but was saying that Amorello's wife calls the shots in the household.

Because he used this derogatory, anti-gay language, DePetro was justifiably suspended by WRKO programming chief Jason Wolfe for two days. Wolfe told the Boston Globe, "This corporation has zero tolerance for racial intolerance."

Interesting. Just ten days later, WEEI morning host Gerry Callahan, in an exchange with two callers regarding singer Lance Bass's revelation that he is gay, muttered words that, in my view, were just as insulting to homosexuals as those uttered by DePetro.

When a caller said that discussing homosexuality on the radio might be inappropriate, Callahan inferred that the caller should be more upset that some schools systems are teaching kids that "Heather has two mommies."

Callahan is implying that educating students about homosexuality is somehow wrong. Is it more wrong to have kids grow up ignorant to its existence and therefore have silly fears about it?

Cohost John Dennis told the caller that "the whole country is telling us (homosexuality) is OK. It's in vogue." Callahan responded, "We've got a couple of weeks off. I'm thinking of giving it a shot."

A second caller said that Callahan makes homosexuality seem like a disease and that Callahan "has a severe bias against alternative lifestyles." When the caller said that Callahan feels that homosexuality is unnatural, Callahan responded, "Of course, it's unnatural."

I am almost bored with pointing out Callahan's consistent prejudice and WEEI always seems to deflect any criticism with semantic sidestepping. I am not a homosexual, so maybe my opinion is irrelevant, but it seems to me that calling someone's lifestyle unnatural is just as bad as using some tired old slur as DePetro did. Who is Callahan to say what is natural? Isn't that up to each individual?

WEEI and Wolfe are angling for a Marconi Award which takes into account a station's community service. WEEI deserves credit for its recent Jimmy Fund Radiothon, but is this type of on-air social prejudice community service? I hope the Marconi voters take note.

Moreover, I wonder why king moralist Jason Wolfe took no action against Callahan's anti-gay comments as he did against DePetro's? Come on Jason, is it really zero tolerance, or is it just zero tolerance for a less popular host like DePetro as opposed to the highly rated Callahan? Just wondering.

Seven heaven

ESPN Radio is clearly looking to increase their on-air sports roster. The same can be said at 7NBC. As reported in Media Blitz in June, sports anchor and reporter Wendi Nix has left the station for ESPN, but her position has yet to be filled permanently.

"The search is ongoing," says 7NBC executive sports producer John Zannis. "Duke Castiglione is our permanent fill-in person for the time being. We have taken in many tapes and resumes. It is a big job and very hard to fill Wendi's shoes. We want to make sure we get someone who can really handle Wendi's responsibilities."

While Zannis will have a say in the hiring process, the ultimate choice sits above his head at the desk of 7NBC news director Linda Miele who has not returned a call from Media Blitz.

Conventional wisdom says that the station will look to fill Nix's slot with another female broadcaster to join current staffers Joe Amorosino and David Briggs. Says Zannis, "We are looking at all candidates. Being a woman is not a factor. If our news director had a timetable to hire someone, I'd have it.

"Duke is our primary fill-in save for a few dates when he has ESPN reporting assignments. For the permanent job, lots of people are possibilities."

John Molori's columns are published in The Boston Metro, Patriots Football Weekly, ColdHardFootballFacts.com, Boston Sports Review, 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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