By: John Molori
August 29, 2006

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THIS WEEK:

- Tanguay's time
- Felger's folly
- Baiting Belichick
- Seven saga
- Ice castles

Tanguay sees "opportunity" to top WEEI; Mike mashes Manny; Bill banter; Seven search; Hockey radio

Gillette Stadium won't be the only Patriots' battle ground this football season. There is a tug of war brewing for local supremacy in Patriots' pregame and postgame radio. Sportsradio WEEI has revamped its "NFL Sunday" pregame fare.

Mainstays Dale Arnold, Kevin Mannix and Ron Hobson have been replaced by Doug Brown, NBC.com's Tom Curran and Paul Perillo of " Patriots Football Weekly." The new trio brings competence and knowledge, but lacks time-tested chemistry.

Meanwhile 104.1 FM WBCN's flagship broadcast counters with the familiar mix of host Gary Tanguay, Ron Borges, Andy Gresh and Scott Zolak. WBCN's postgame features Tanguay, Zolak and Gresh. Tanguay sees the changes at WEEI as a chance to make some ratings headway.

"It think it's an opportunity. There's no question that Dale, Nelly and the Touchdown Twins (Hobson and Mannix) were together for a long time and had great chemistry. We now have that chemistry on our shows. We've always been aware of what WEEI is doing, but we never wanted to copy them."

WBCN also features a pregame rotation of "Patriots Football Weekly" writers. The WBCN shows have eschewed any pro-Patriots flavor.

Says Tanguay, "You can't be a pom-pom guy. Jonathan Kraft and I email ideas during the week for our "Owner's Box" pregame segment, but he has never said that we could not talk about any subject."

Tanguay also hosts FSN's "Sports Tonight." Despite a budding radio rivalry, Perillo and Curran will continue to be welcomed guests on that program.

Last Saturday, Tanguay, Gresh and Zolak presented a sparkling postgame show, featuring candid analysis and insightful commentary. They also showed a willingness to be critical of the Pats in a critical area, namely, the Deion Branch situation.

Zolak stated that the Patriots would not make it to the Super Bowl without Branch. Gresh agreed and also critiqued the team's running game.

All three hosts downplayed Saturday's 41-0 win over Washington prompting a host of callers to voice their displeasure. The ever-excitable Gresh told one caller that he would not be a Patriots "ball-washer" and that his job is to objectively comment on the game.

Gresh mixes entertainment and football acumen as well as anyone. He is a broadcast veteran and played football at the University of Rhode Island.

"Gresh knows how far to take it," says the 42 year-old Tanguay. "He played the game and knows the game. We'll all be riding his coattails someday. Look, it's the Patriots postgame show, not the Patriots Pro Shop.

"We are about two-sided discussion. Zolak and Gresh watch and dissect every game from the WBCN broadcast booth. With Deion Branch, the Patriots are a slam-dunk Super Bowl team. Without him, they are back with the pack of contenders."

WBCN's Patriots programming is also heard at NFL.com resulting in recent calls from places like Georgia, Calgary and Sweden. Tanguay says that in order to fully serve the fans, the hosts must be objective.

"Even on (Celtics TV network) FSN, we have had good luck with that. FSN tells us that if we are not getting criticism from fans, we are probably not doing our job. It's the same on WBCN. The Krafts want good discussion."

Whether you side with Branch or the Patriots, it was refreshing to hear Tanguay and company go against the corporate line with regard to Branch's holdout.

It's one thing for a team's flagship station talent to question football moves, quite another to doubt contractual philosophy. That constitutes taking on the intimidating and tight-lipped specter of Bill Belichick.

Says Tanguay, "It's not (Belichick's) job to make our job easier. Some media members have a problem with coaches who tell white lies. I don't care about that. It's the reporter's job to seek answers despite the Patriots' controlled flow of information."

Things could not be better for Tanguay who has found stability at FSN and WBCN after banging around the Boston media scene at NECN, WB56, WBZ and other stops. You could say that his love of the business has finally been requited.

"The feedback I get is great, mostly asking me to tell (frequent FSN guest) Mike Felger to shut up," jokes Tanguay. "This is definitely a high point for me.

"I wasn't sure how the FSN show would work out. We have a very loyal niche audience and also have viewers who TiVo us in Los Angeles and watch us on Fox Sports New York.

"We stand alone in Boston. NESN and the Red Sox are a juggernaut in the summer. If the Celtics can have some success, we'll keep our current viewers and gain those people sticking around after the games."

Manny and Mike

The next time a Boston media type tries to sell you on the theory that Manny Ramirez has not been treated unfairly by area reporters, use this little nugget as ammunition.

Last week on FSN's "Sports Tonight," Mike Felger said of Ramirez, "I don't think he's injured. He's probably in some pain. I don't think he's truly injured to the point where he should miss games."

Felger referred to Ramirez' injury as a "Quote, unquote meniscus tear, because I don't believe it's really that torn."

Talk show hosts love to wallow in the gray area of opinion, but if Felger has conflicting factual information on Ramirez' medical condition, he should bring it forward.

If not, he is a merely tossing a trite, worthless and irresponsible shot at Ramirez, one that should not be shielded under the umbrella of opinion.

Fellow FSN panelist Michael Silverman responded to Felger's theory saying, "(Ramirez) brings it upon himself unfortunately because he doesn't discuss these things." Same old stuff. Ramirez doesn't talk to the media, so idiotic doubts and insulting judgments reign.

Felger also discussed Tim Wakefield's injury, but did not question its validity. Why the double standard for Ramirez? Is it because Wakefield is one of the more media-accessible members of the team?

"Sports Tonight" itself played into the anti-Ramirez theme with its poll question: "Do you think Manny's sore right knee is a legitimate injury?"

Let's see if FSN features such a loaded question when a Celtics' player pulls up lame this fall. If not, the network has no credibility. The same can be said of Felger and any Ramirez basher who fails to back up his fury with some fact.

Bill's bidding

After last Saturday's Patriots-Redskins game, head coach Bill Belichick began his press conference by stating that he would answer questions about the game and the players who played in the game, an obvious attempt to avoid queries about holdout Deion Branch.

One by one, reporters followed Belichick's orders, until John Tomase of the Boston Herald bravely asked about Branch. Belichick, in his best Drew Rosenhaus impression, replied, "Next question."

I don't fault Belichick's tight-lipped style. It's his prerogative. I do, however, fault the other lapdog reporters who failed to ask about the issue. Belichick is the personnel chief for the team and should at least be asked about Branch.

On Monday's WEEI interview with Belichick, the always-diligent Steve DeOssie asked about Branch and got a similar no comment from the head coach. Belichick's predictable non-answers are irrelevant. Tomase and DeOssie did what other reporters failed to do. They did their jobs.

Seven seas

Last week, 7NBC executive sports producer John Zannis told Media Blitz that the decision on Wendi Nix's replacement rests with news director Linda Miele.

In response, a Boston television insider, very familiar with 7NBC, told Media Blitz, "I think (the final choice) will definitely be a woman but good ones are scarce, especially good ones who will work for no money.

"The decision on hiring the new sports person will be handled in Miami (home of 7NBC parent company Sunbeam Television) by Alice Jacobs, Bob Leiter and Ed Ansin, with perhaps a pinch of (7NBC Boston general manager) Mike Carson.

"Linda Miele isn't making any decisions, let alone personnel, at least not without getting the Miami seal of approval." Miele has yet to answer a call from Media Blitz."

Puck patter

Kevin Greenstein and James Murphy's "Inside Hockey" radio show has been signed by XM Satellite Radio and will air in pre-recorded format every Saturday from 2-4:00 p.m.

"Inside Hockey" will continue to air live on AM 1510, Saturdays from 4-6:00 p.m. Ex-NHL and BC star Kevin Stevens joins the host team on both channels this season.

Both shows premiere on September 16 with the AM 1510 show airing live from Bruins' Fan Fest at Ristuccia Arena. For more about the shows, check out Greenstein's superior website, InsideHockey.com.

Another excellent hockey radio show is back on the air in September. The "New England Hockey Journal Radio Show" moves to 890 ESPN Radio Boston for 39 Saturdays beginning September 30 and ending June 23, the day of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

The program airs from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. and is hosted by the dynamic duo of Kevin Paul Dupont and Mick Colageo as well as NE Hockey Journal editor Matt Kalman. For more information, check out HockeyJournal.com.

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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