October 03, 2005
John Molori's Media Blitz 10/4
BY: John Molori
- One Nation
Sarandis quiet for now on departure from WEEI
Entercom Radio announced last Friday that Ted Sarandis would be leaving his 7:00 p.m.-midnight program at Sportsradio 850 WEEI. The classy Sarandis returned a call from Media Blitz and explained that he was currently traveling in Washington, DC and that he would speak publicly about his departure in a week or ten days.
Based on conversations with WEEI staffers and other Boston media sources, it is clear that WEEI made it nearly impossible for Sarandis to continue his highly rated 7:00 p.m.-midnight “Ted Nation” show without continuing to sacrifice some basic dignity.
WEEI is a giant in Boston media and the highest rated sports radio station in the country. The people at the station are very good at what they do and they know what they want. The fact is that they did not want Ted Sarandis, who has hosted his program since 1992.
Sarandis’ old school manner never quite fit with the WEEI’s popular brand of “in your face radio,” most prevalent on “Dennis and Callahan” and “ The Big Show.” In addition, Sarandis engaged in little of the self-promoting banter that fills much of WEEI’s program lineup. Indeed, when a “Ted Nation” caller mentioned another WEEI show or personality, Sarandis bristled at the reference.
The fact is that Sarandis was working without a contract at WEEI and was the lowest paid of WEEI’s regular hosts. In addition, while guests on other WEEI programs are paid $50.00 an hour or more, Sarandis’ guests went home with what have come to be known as “Teddy Twenties,” gift certificates to a variety of area restaurants.
Many of Sarandis’ WEEI colleagues regularly gibed his work and personality on the air. Sarandis sound bites are used as fodder for fellow hosts and he had undeservedly become the butt of jokes, specifically on Glenn Ordway’s afternoon drive time “Big Show.”
Word is that Sarandis expressed his dismay to programming chief Jason Wolfe on numerous occasions, but nothing was ever done. Part of WEEI’s success is its host-to-host repartee, but respect for a co-worker’s feelings should not be lost in the ratings quest.
Wolfe’s deaf ear belies his quote in WEEI’s abrupt press release announcing Sarandis’ exit. He stated, “Ted has been a great contributor to the growth and success of the station during his long tenure with us. We have tremendous respect and appreciation for him and wish him the best in his future endeavors.” I don’t doubt that Wolfe wishes Sarandis well, but pardon me if I scoff at the respect reference. A phone call to Wolfe has gone unanswered.
College sports played a huge role in Sarandis’ niche at WEEI. This also did not fit WEEI’s predominantly Patriots and Red Sox discussions. Sarandis has become synonymous with Boston College sports. He has been the voice of BC basketball since 1995 and says he will continue in that role.
Perhaps WEEI delivered the knockout blow to Sarandis when they tabbed Jon Meterparel to replace John Rooke as the station’s BC football play-by-play man. Sources say that Sarandis would have liked that opportunity.
Sarandis told Media Blitz that he could not comment at length right now, but said in WEEI’s press release, “It has been an absolute privilege for me to reach out to the greatest sports fans on earth for the last fourteen years. It's been a great run and the listeners have rewarded me time and time again by making me the number one show in my demographic. I'm excited about future opportunities.”
Sarandis’ future opportunities include an expanding sports business portfolio. He has been active in local minor league baseball ventures and remains a hot property for college sports television and radio work. Sarandis has a huge interest in the military and could be part of related work and programming. His strength is a strong fan base and a cerebral style that has become the exception rather than the rule in sports radio.
As for resurfacing at ESPN Radio AM 890 in Boston, ESPN program director Doug Tribou states, “We have not spoken to Ted and we have not heard from Ted, but we always keep our options open. I have a lot of respect for Ted Sarandis. He’s had a great run. If he called, I would certainly be willing to chat with him.”
Tribou says he has no plans to contact Sarandis, “We are focusing on “ The Drive” with Mike Felger and Red Sox playoff baseball right now.”
Ted Sarandis’ sudden departure from WEEI opens the door for one of the truly unique voices in Boston sports media. Mike Adams has worked part time at WEEI since 1993 and has been a diligent fill-in host and flash reporter for the past seven years. This week, he is occupying Sarandis’ slot on an interim basis.
“I would definitely be interested in the full-time job and I have been interested in it for years,” says Adams, who is an automobile salesman in addition to his media work. “I haven’t spoken to Jason Wolfe about it yet and he hasn’t spoken to me, but we do have a meeting set to discuss the job.”
The nighttime slot is tailor made for the Adams, the Robin Williams of Boston sports media. Adams made his Boston name as the raucous host of NECN’ s “Sportsworld.” He also hosted an ill-fated morning show at AM 1510, cancelled in February of 2003 after just three and a half months on the air.
“Going to AM 1510 was a mistake much like putting an M-80 in my (rear end),” the colorful Adams jokes. “I could (pass wind) into a megaphone and more people would have heard me. After AM 1510, I told Jason that I was never leaving WEEI again. I’m very hopeful about this job and ready for it.” Indeed, Adams said he chatted with ESPN Radio AM 890, but nothing ever came of it.
Adams has been a model employee at WEEI, often working a late shift and then doing early morning sports reports the next day. “I am 51 years-old,” he states. “My wife is 33 and we are expecting a baby in April. At my age, I told her to save the kid’s diapers so I can use them.”
Certainly, there will be other candidates, chiefly Jon Wallach, an able host with a solid history at WEEI and a longtime friendship with Wolfe. Media Blitz left a message for Wallach, who does not have voicemail at WEEI. Phone calls and emails to Pete Sheppard, another possible candidate for Sarandis’ slot, have gone unanswered.
Wallach, Sheppard and others would be fine choices, but here’s hoping that Adams is the pick. While Adams and Sarandis differ in style, they have one thing in common: originality, a commodity that is sorely lacking at WEEI.
ESPN Radio AM 890 and 1400 will carry every Major League Baseball playoff game including all Red Sox games. On Tuesday, there will be games at 1:00 p.m. (Padres at Cards), 4:00 p.m. (Red Sox at White Sox) and 8:00 p.m. (Yanks at Angel s). Michael Felger’s “The Drive” program will be preempted.
On Wednesday, ESPN Radio will also have three games beginning at 4:00 p.m., including Game 2 of the Red Sox series at 7:00 p.m. “We are planning on having Mike go on earlier beginning Wednesday, starting his show at 2:00 p.m. as opposed to 4:00 p.m.,” says ESPN Radio program director Doug Tribou.
“We will be carrying every MLB Playoff Game, including any and all Red Sox games. There is not a blackout for the playoffs. We’ll carry the ESPN broadcasts. WEEI will continue to carry their own casts.”
Felger continues to impress as a host. Last week, he and guest Hector Longo engaged in a back and forth regarding Longo’s past criticisms of Bill Belichick. It made for enjoyable listening and spurred many calls.
Ex-Patriot Russ Francis joins Felger at 6:00 p.m. every Monday as a lead-in to “Monday Night Blitz,” a 7:00 p.m. football show with Francis and Kevin Winter. Patriots punter Josh Miller is also doing a regular turn with Felger, Tuesdays from 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
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, ColdHardFootballFacts.com, TheRemyReport.com, PatsFans.com, BostonSportsReview.com, BostonPressBox.com, BostonSportsMedia.com and MethuenOnline.com. Email John at JOMOL3@aol.com.
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