Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The gloves come off tomorrow as Sports Hub launches

As of 1pm tomorrow Boston will have a good, old-fashioned radio war brewing.

WEEI AM 850 faces the first serious threat to its 18-year dominance of Boston's sports radio scene, but execs from CBS Radio vow they're going for a win.

For starters, The Sports Hub 98-5/WBZ-FM plans to tackle WEEI by putting all local shows up against ratings heavy-hitters like "Dennis and Callahan" and the "Big Show". Moreover, the upstart FM sports talker will make a run at WEEI with the play-by-play broadcasts of Patriots and Bruins.

On Thursday(8/13), The Sports Hub will have a 3am soft-launch with a replay of New England Patriots' three Super Bowl wins. According to a CBS Radio's press release, Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti will kick off the station's official debut at 1:00 pm. They will serve as a lead-in for the Patriots pregame show at 4 pm which airs before tomorrow's preseason opener in Philadelphia. The game broadcast starts at 7:30 p.m with Gil Santos and Gino Capelletti returning behind the mic on the Patriots Radio Network.

But, starting on Friday(8/14), Sports Hub's full line-up will do battle against WEEI. Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb, better known as "Toucher and Rich", who moved from the defunct WBCN 104.1FM, will host the morning drive show on the new sports station from 6 am to 10 am. They'll go up against "Dennis and Callahan" on WEEI AM 850. In the midday shift(10am-2pm), Sports Hub will team up Patriots Radio Network's personalities - Gary Tanguay and Scott Zolak - who will face against "Dale and Holley" over on WEEI. The most key battle, without a question, will be take place in the afternoon drive - Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti from 2 pm to 6 pm. Felgie and Mazz, both WEEI defectors, will line up against the "Big Show". And that's where the radio war will be won or lost, folks. At night, a newcomer Damon "D.A." Amendolara will be on from 6 pm to 11 pm He'll challenge "Planet Mikey" with Mike Adams on AM 850. On the overnights, it will be a battle of national LA-based sports networks - SportsHub will run Sporting News Radio, previously heard on the defunct Zone 1510, countering Fox Sports Radio heard on WEEI AM 850.

More talent notes. Sports Hub managed to lure away one of WEEI's A-list staffers. Jon Wallach who delivered his last sports flash on "Dale and Holley" last Friday will now do the same for "Toucher and Rich" on the SportsHub.

Mike Thomas who is the program director for classic rocker WZLX 100.7FM, and up until yesterday oversaw programming at WBCN 104.1FM, now adds programming chores for the new Sports Hub.

Some of WBCN's personalities and shows have also moved to the Sports Hub. Former WBCN afternoon driver Rob "Hardy" Poole will team up with former Red Sox play-by-play Jerry Truppiano to host a talk show on Saturday mornings at 8am. WBCN's long-running public affairs program "Boston Sunday Review" hosted by Matt Schaffer will be heard in the same 6am-8am time slot on the Sports Hub.

While WEEI is a heritage sports radio station, there are countless sports fans in the Boston market. CBS Radio beleives there's a major opportunity for the SportsHub 98-5 to grab a share of them, especially on FM with its younger male demographics. WEEI currently airs the full schedules of NBA's Celtics, Boston College football and a weekly Red Sox game. The station also has content deals with the Patriots("Patriots Monday" and "Patriots Friday") and the Celtics. The station also runs Westwood One's NFL package.
Here's the official Sports Hub 98-5 release :

On-Air Line-Up Announced Patriots Flagship station kicks-off with first preseason game

Boston—98.5 THE SPORTS HUB, WBZ-FM, Boston will debut with a full talent and programming schedule this Thursday, August 13th.

The complete weekday on-air schedule includes:
-Toucher and Rich (6:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.)
-Gary Tanguay and Scott Zolak (10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.)
-Mike Felger and Tony Massarotti (2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.)
-Damon Amendolara, “D.A.” (6:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m.)

Toucher & Rich move from mornings at WBCN to anchor the same position on The Sports Hub. Comcast SportsNet New England’s Gary Tanguay is teamed with former New England Patriots’ quarterback Scott Zolak in middays. Comcast SportsNet New England’s Michael Felger joins long-time Boston sportswriter Tony Massarotti in afternoon drive. Massarotti will continue to write for the Boston Globe, in addition to his radio show. Damon Amendolara (“DA”), most recently from WQAM in Miami, will hold down nights. 98.5 The Sports Hub will also become Sporting News Radio’s affiliate in Boston and will feature some of Sporting News’ talk shows and play-by-play programming. Additional talk show talent and contributors will be announced in the coming days and weeks 98.5 The Sports Hub is proud to serve as home of the three-time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots and the NHL’s Boston Bruins.

The Patriots games will continue to be called by the legendary team of Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti. Gil and Gino kick off their 26th season together in the broadcast booth. Dave Goucher and Bob Beers will continue to call the Bruins games. They have been calling the games together since 2000.

On Thursday, August 13, 98.5 The Sports Hub will debut at 6:00 a.m. and the day will culminate with the broadcast of The New England Patriots’ first pre-season game of the year against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Safety Insurance Patriots Radio Network Pre-Game Show will begin at 4:00 p.m. on 98.5 The Sports Hub hosted by Gary Tanguay, Scott Zolak and Andy Gresh, live from the CBS Scene Restaurant and Bar at Gillette Stadium.

A destination for any Boston sports fan, will be the place to go for everything related to Boston sports featuring an array of local and national content including live streaming, fantasy sports, video, scores, polls, podcasts, message boards, team schedules and the most up-to-date sports news.

“Boston is the greatest sports town in America and we are very excited to bring Boston sports fans a new content experience, both on-air and on-line with 98.5 The Sports Hub,” said Mark Hannon, Senior Vice President and Market Manager for CBS Radio Boston.

“98.5 The Sports Hub is going to be a fun, fast-paced FM Sports radio station with a rock edge to it,” added Mike Thomas, 98.5 The Sports Hub Program Director.

“The talent lineup and the support staff are some of the best in the business and ready to give Boston sports fans a great alternative to the same old same old.”

98.5 The Sports Hub is owned and operated by CBS RADIO, one of the largest major-market radio operators in the United States. A division of CBS Corporation, CBS RADIO operates 134 radio stations, the majority of which are in the nation’s top 50 markets. CBS RADIO also owns and operates WZLX-FM, WODS-FM, WBMX-FM, and WBZ-AM in Boston.

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