March 08, 2006
John Molori's Media Blitz
BY: John Molori
- WILD about Myers
Loud, proud and unbowed, Myers is back on the air
For more than three decades, his voice has echoed through the Boston sports media scene, and many people have not liked what they’ve heard.
Jimmy Myers, one of Boston’s first African-American sports personalities, says he’s been blacklisted in the business due to his history of controversial stands against racism, injustice and the media business.
In February, Myers was hired as morning host (weekdays, 6-10:00 a.m.) at AM 1090 WILD in Boston. The former anchor and host at WBZ, Fox 25, WEEI, ESPN and WWOR in New York has shown great versatility tackling issues ranging from race relations to breast cancer to Olympic drug controversies to affordable housing and much more.
Ask him what he thinks about almost any issue, then sit back and listen.
On his upbringing in Philadelphia: “There were 10 kids in my family and my dad worked twenty hours a day. All of us went to college. I lost two younger brothers to violent crimes. My parents taught me about decency, integrity and honor, that all you have is your name.”
On his job interview with ESPN Radio Boston: “I met with (program director) Doug Tribou for two and a half hours. He said that I was one of the greatest talents he ever interviewed, but they hired Michael Felger because they thought Michael had a bigger name. Michael Felger is no Jimmy Myers. I have been blacklisted.”
On being an African-American in media: “They want me to be a nice Negro, to do what they say like (CBS’) Greg Gumbel and (Fox’s) James Brown. What are they? I worked with Greg at ESPN. Afterward, he called his brother Bryant and told him that he just worked with the best sportscaster he ever saw.”
On WEEI: “Jason Wolfe was my producer at WEEI and I came within an eyelash of firing his ass. He’s a nasty little person. When John Dennis was at Channel 7 in 1978, I killed him in the ratings. I have forgotten more than he and Gerry Callahan know. I don’t think anything of either one of them. Michael Holley can’t stand up to Dale Arnold. Dale runs that show. What has Holley done?”
Myers resume is filled with accomplishment and acrimony. He worked at WBZ Radio and TV from 1974-79 and states, “I insulted Howard Cosell and was taken off the radio side.
“The program director was Jewish and so was Cosell so that didn’t sit well with him. The fact is that I have helped more Jewish people than either of them ever did. I quit on the air in 1979 because WBZ lied to me in a contractual situation.”
In 1981, Myers joined ESPN, and then moved to WWOR-TV in New York in 1983. He states, “I won three Emmys in three years at WWOR, but once again, they lied to me about contracts.”
A technical workers’ strike also led to Myers departure. “My dad was a union guy,” he states. “Jimmy Hoffa used to come to my house. At WBZ, I gave my paycheck to striking workers. The same thing happened at WWOR and I sympathized with the union.
“My news director didn’t like that. One night, I had the scoop on Rubin “Hurricane” Carter’s release from prison. The news director wouldn’t let me run with it, but wanted to keep the copy saying it was station property. He shoved me three times.
“This was my dream job. I had a chance to anchor the morning news at CBS and I turned it down because I was loyal to WWOR, and this is how he treated me.”
Myers, a 1971 Boston University grad, returned to the Hub and called BU and Northeastern games for Cablevision from 1985-89 before joining Fox 25 in 1990 as a Celtics host. At the time, Fox 25 had ownership in the Celtics and broadcast rights.
He also joined Sportsradio WEEI in 1991, eventually settling into the evening time slot. While at Cablevision, he renewed a friendship with Northeastern and future Celtics’ star Reggie Lewis. The two had first met while Lewis was starring at Dunbar High School in Baltimore.
This closeness with Lewis would lead to Myers ultimate falling out with the mainstream Boston sports scene. Myers relates, “The night Reggie Lewis passed out on the court in Game 1 of the 1993 playoffs, I went on the air and said that when Larry Bird merely stretched his arms out, he got a standing ovation.
“Reggie Lewis passed out and got nothing. He might never play again. Does he have to die to get a standing O?”
Myers relates a call from Lewis’ wife Donna. “She said that the team was trying to kill her husband with pills, medication and by wanting him to play again. I said on the air that if Reggie plays and anything happens to him, I’ ll hold the Celtics responsible.”
“(Celtics’ GM) Dave Gavitt told Donna not to talk to me anymore. When Reggie died, everyone wanted to interview me and Glenn Ordway went on WEEI and said that I would use this to advance my career. I turned down every interview. WEEI said they’d allow me to resign. I told them they’d have to fire me.”
Myers continues, “Reggie flunked treadmill tests and passed out numerous times. In the aftermath, Red Auerbach threatened me through Dave Gavitt. Joe Fitzgerald wrote in the Herald that I was right regarding Lewis.
“I’ve never been suspended or gotten a station sued. I’ve never violated or broken a contract, but ever since Reggie Lewis’ death, I have been blacklisted.”
I questioned Myers’ assertion until a few months ago when this space included a small item noting that the articulate and smart Myers should have a regular gig in Boston.
In response, I heard from no less than seven very well known area media personalities who said that Myers was too controversial and should never be hired. Myers has certainly contributed to his past woes, but something does not sit right.
WEEI’s Gerry Callahan can spew his borderline racist claptrap, WRKO’s Howie Carr can toss out nearly libelous insults and FM shock jocks can swear like Tony Soprano, but the 57 year-old Myers is too controversial?
Since 1993, Myers worked for numerous charities and social agencies. Other than periodic gigs on NECN and CN8’s “Sports Pulse,” he had been on the outside looking in at the Boston media scene, not because of his ability, but because of his inability to sit quietly in the face of bigotry and deceit.
He states, “Everyday, I prayed to God and asked why he would give me such talent and no stage to perform.” Myers credits his agent and college classmate Robert A. Faneuil for getting him back on the air.
Says Faneuil, “Last year, I told Jimmy to give me a year and I would get him a job. I got lip service from stations in Philadelphia, Providence, WFAN in New York and some stations on the west coast. I kept calling (AM 1090 WILD GM) Frank Kelly until he called me back.”
After two and a half weeks of negotiations, Faneuil, Myers and Kelly agreed on a one-year deal. “My show is not a black show or a white show,” says Myers. “There are so many topics that no one will cover. How come no one has spoken to Terry Glenn since he left?
“Glenn Ordway interviews Bill Belichick. Belichick is welcome on my show anytime, but I won’t kiss his ass like Ordway does. I won’t back up or relent. Every time I go on the air, I carry the burden of being Jimmy Myers, but I don’t want to be careful. I want to be me.”
Here are my top 10 quotes from WEEI’s Whiney Awards held last week at the TD Banknorth Garden.
10. “(The Whineys) are all about poor untalented guys trying to (defecate) on rich talented guys.”- Master of Ceremonies Tony V
9. “Today I feel like the biggest loser on the face of the earth.”- Whiney winner Musical Mark paraphrasing Lou Gehrig
8. “Jew on Jew crime.”- WEEI’s Jon Meterparel on his feud with Red Sox GM Theo Epstein
7. “The woman most likely to have her picture held up with one hand.”- Tony V on Fox 25’s Maria Stephanos
6. “I thought you were much bigger than that.”- NESN’s Hazel Mae after WEEI’ s Mike Adams surprised her with a hug
5. “You make two really fine points.”- Mike Adams to Mae who was wearing a rather low cut dress
4. “At least we didn’t buy tickets for this.”- Celtics owner Steve Pagliuca responding to a heckler
3. “This is the most exciting thing I do, which tells you my career sucks.”- Tony V
2. “Up there, you can see Johnny Most’s microphone, and over here is Glenn Ordway’s knife.”- Fox 25’s Butch Stearns
1. “There was supposed to be a Bruins game here tonight, but they figured we’ d get a better crowd.”- Tony V
John Molori's columns are published in The Boston Metro, Patriots Football Weekly, ColdHardFootballFacts.com, Boston Sports Review, New England Hockey Journal, New England Ringside Magazine, TheRemyReport.com, PatsFans.com, BostonSportsReview.com, BostonPressBox.com, BostonSportsMedia.com and BostonSportz.com. Email John at MoloriMedia@aol.com.
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