The local dailies turn a quick double play today in their coverage of the shakeup at former sportstalk powerhouse WEEI.
Start with the Boston Herald, which goes all Page One over the firing of longtime WEEI VP of programming/operations Jason Wolfe – except it’s really about Gerry Callahan, a WEEL morning drive personality and a sports columnist for the feisty local tabloid in his spare time.
The inside story:
WEEI morning men John Dennis and Gerry Callahan — blindsided by the firing of boss Jason Wolfe yesterday — said they have been assured that station suits want them to be “part of the solution” to the once-dominant sports station’s ratings woes.
Callahan, a Herald sports columnist, said Entercom Boston general manager Jeff Brown told him and Kirk Minihane, who was added to the morning show in February, that “we’re going nowhere.” And Dennis, who is on vacation this week, said Brown called him after Wolfe got the ax to reiterate that the morning show was not in any danger.
“We’re going nowhere,” eh? All depends on how you hold that one up to the light.
The Herald throws some stats into the mix as well, which illustrate the drubbing WEEI has taken from CBS-owned 98.5 The Sports Hub:
In the most recent ratings period, The Sports Hub’s top-rated morning show, Toucher and Rich, dominated with a 13.4 share. Dennis and Callahan finished fifth with a 6.0. The Sports Hub was No. 1 overall with men age 25-54, both stations’ target audience, while WEEI was fifth, according to Arbitron.
For dessert, the Herald serves up some Howiesnark:
Crosstown at the Boston Globe, sports media columnist Chad Finn provides more narrative background.
For all of Wolfe’s success at WEEI, he was also complicit in its recent struggles and the attitude that got it there. The station easily vanquished upstart challengers such as WWZN 1510 and ESPN 890 during the 2000s. Neither station had the signal or the resources of WEEI. But in continuing its dominance, the station’s hubris rose, and it radiated as arrogance through the airwaves.
There was a collective sense that those at WEEI believed their success was much more to do with them than with their comparatively strong signal, their broadcast rights deals (particularly with the Red Sox), and Boston fans’ insatiable desire for any level of sports discourse.
But then came The Sports Hub, and ‘EEI got smoked.
When 98.5 The Sports Hub launched in August 2009 — a station with CBS Radio’s support, broadcast rights deals with the Patriots and Bruins, and a strong FM signal — WEEI was outwardly dismissive of the potential competition despite its vast resources.
And its complacent actions — including dotting its programming with back-slapping D-list personalities — suggested [The Sports Hub] was just one more competitor that would fade to static soon enough.
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Official Campaign Outsider Prediction: Dennis & Callahan are gone in six weeks.