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March 28, 2006
John Molori's Media Blitz
BY: John Molori

THIS WEEK:

- Tang’s take
- Eddie’s ready
- Rodgers and out
- Comcast cavalcade

Tang is mum on change at 890 ESPN Boston Andelman in, Rodgers out at WTKK; CN8 changes

On March 21, Media Blitz broke the story of the dismissal of 890 ESPN Radio Boston director Doug Tribou despite no comment from station CEO Jessamy Tang or Tribou himself. Tang issued a press release on March 23 announcing the hiring of Len Weiner as program director. On March 25, Tribou sent an email detailing his departure from the station.

He stated, “I'm very pleased to be able to say the station is already outpacing the early ratings expectations the ownership had laid out for us. There are a lot of great people involved with the project and there's more room for growth. I wish 890 ESPN Boston the best of luck."

Media Blitz followed up with Tribou who responded, “The statement I sent over to you is really my only comment for right now. Thanks for checking. As always, I appreciate the interest and coverage.”

Media Blitz also followed up with Tang who said that she would prefer to answer questions via email. I emailed Tang and asked, among other things, why Tribou was fired, why Weiner is a better choice to lead the station, whether ESPN Radio would go after Red Sox broadcast rights, how she plans to cut in to WEEI’s ratings domination and what is next in local programming for the station.

Tang responded, “All of us at 890 ESPN Boston and 1400 ESPN Lowell appreciate your interest in the growth of our stations. At this time, the press release (announcing Weiner’s hiring) is the most up to date information I have for you.

“We have a great opportunity to bring Len Weiner, a nationally recognized, highly experienced, major market sports program director, to our stations and I am confident that he will have a tremendous impact.

“We are pleased with our growth and expect it to continue. As always, we are working on a daily basis to provide compelling and interesting sports talk radio programming to the Greater Boston area.”

Nicely written, but hardly an answer to any of my questions. I respect Tang’s right to not comment, but I don’t see the reason for all the mystery. If you are going to fire someone and hire, I assume, someone better suited for the position, stand behind your decision. Don’t hide behind a vague response.

Huddle Up

ESPN’s Chris Berman and HBO’s Frank Deford are among the guests for the debut of Eddie Andelman’s “New Sports Huddle,” Sunday 7-10:00 p.m. on 96.9 FM Talk WTKK. Andelman will be joined weekly by Bill Fairweather and comedian Mike Donovan.

“I want to bring the fun back to sports radio,” says Andelman who has hired producer Ron Schuller to work on comedic bits for the weekly show. “We will have fun callers and at least one guest every hour.”

Andelman says that many of his guests will be from outside the sports world, including Boston Mayor Tom Menino. Andelman’s show will also serve as a vehicle for promoting his 17th Annual Hot Dog Safari. This year’s event will again raise money for cystic fibrosis research and take place at Suffolk Downs on June 4.

Says Andelman, “On May 27 at 8:00 p.m., WB56 will air “Alex: The Life of a Child.” Instead of commercials, we will show families who have dealt with the disease.” “Alex: The Life of a Child” is a 1986 TV movie detailing the life of Frank Deford’s daughter Alex, who succumbed to cystic fibrosis at age 8.

Andelman says he has no plans to reunite with his former “Sports Huddle” cohosts Mark Witkin and Jim McCarthy. Regarding the current state of sports radio, including WEEI, Andelman states, “I’ve been planning this show at WTKK for almost two years. Radio should be a theater of the mind, not screaming and stupidity.

“WEEI has too many people who are not trained and not educated. They pay players and coaches to be on their shows. Then, they have to watch what questions they ask. I won’t pay guests. Sports radio has become public relations. Everyone kisses ass.”

Andelman also laments the fact that mainstream sports have become “for the elite” with rising ticket costs. He states, “People spend thousands of dollars every year on sports tickets. Most teams can write off up to $25 million dollars a year.

“How can any fan believe what any owner or player says. I mean, Adam Vinatieri is the greatest clutch kicker in history. It bothers me that he’s gone. Look at Terrell Owens. He is an (expletive deleted), and he’ll end up getting a standing ovation in Dallas. Why would Bill Parcells take on a guy who is mentally disturbed?”

Andelman says that he may periodically invite callers to join him at area restaurants after his show goes off the air at 10:00 p.m. One of the reasons he decided to join WTKK is parent company Greater Media, rumored to be in the hunt for Red Sox broadcast rights.

Says Andelman, “WEEI makes many millions of dollars off of the Red Sox. Why should the Red Sox let them make that money? It would make sense if the Sox, Patriots and the Celtics joined forces on a radio deal.

“The Patriots and Celtics want good objective sports programming, but the Red Sox react negatively to almost everything. They are shrewd businessmen, but I don’t think they’ll be here too long. The reason they want Fenway Park declared a historic site is to get a 20% tax break and prevent anyone from building within 100-200 yards of the park.”

Mr. Rodgers

Andelman’s arrival at WTKK hastened the departure of “Calling All Sports,” a Sunday afternoon staple at the station hosted by Bob Rodgers for the past two years. Rodgers took over for the late Norm Resha.

“In February, (WTKK GM) Paula O’Connor called me and said that the station no longer wanted the show,” says Rodgers, who split advertising revenue with the station.

“She told me that with the arrival of Eddie Andelman, management didn’ t want WTKK to turn into a sports station. I thought our show followed by Eddie would have made a nice sports block.”

Rodgers, a former host and play-by-play announcer for NESN, says he respects the station for allowing him and cohost Jimmy Young to stay on the air through March. “We had quality guests and tried to reach out to people who didn’ t have a voice in Boston. I hope we can find a new home for the show.”

Rodgers, whose final WTKK show aired this past Sunday, says he had great discussions with 890 ESPN Boston program director Doug Tribou about airing the program. The pair had scheduled a meeting, but Tribou was dismissed this past week and replaced by Len Weiner.

Says Rodgers, “I will speak with ESPN Radio again and have spoken to WBZ as well. I want to have a partnership similar to what I had with WTKK. I don’ t think a station like AM 1510 is in a position to do that. I also think the show would be great on TV. I asked Jimmy Young ( a NECN sales exec and personality) to see if NECN is interested.”

Pulse point

Media Blitz has learned details of changes to CN8’s “Sports Pulse” beginning in April. The program will now air Monday-Thursday at 10:00 p.m. According to public relations manager Robin Moleux, Friday evenings will be reserved for “World Championship Sports” including Olympic-type sports such as skiing, track, cycling, and more.

Says Moleux, “This change empowers our New England sports unit to secure additional interviews and features that will air on "Out of Bounds with Lou Tilley" as well as in CN8's exclusive weekend sports programming.”

According to Moleux, the “Sports Pulse” sports update segment will be replaced with more in-depth storytelling pieces. There will be no changes to the "Sports Pulse" team of host Ed Berliner and reporters John Carchedi and Phil Burton.

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, Boston Baseball Magazine, TheRemyReport.com, PatsFans.com, BostonSportsReview.com, BostonPressBox.com, BostonSportsMedia.com and BostonSportz.com. Email John at MoloriMedia@aol.com.


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