Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sports Hub, WEEI position themselves for the battle ahead

The times they keep on changing in the local sports radio world. Just when you thought the game of musical chairs may slow down or stop, a domino falls and more moves result.

CBS Radio’s 98.5 The Sports Hub which hasn't had any major line-up changes since D.A. left the new national sports radio network in early 2013 and was replaced by Adam Jones in the evenings. That streak is about to be snapped after the Super Bowl next month. Boston Globe's sports media writer Chad Finn reports that the Sports Hub will juggle a couple of heavyweights - Andy Gresh who has been with the station since January 2010 and a midday co-host since April 2010 will be departing the station and Marc "Beetle" Bertrand, the sports flasher and the third wheel on "Felger and Massarorotti will take Gresh's seat next to Scott Zolak from 10am-2pm("Beetle and Zo"?). Moreover, the Sports Hub will also have a brand new crew on the Patriots Radio Network pre and postgame shows next season, Finn reports. Gresh who has been on the game broadcasts since 2005 and longtime local TV/radio sports personality Gary Tanguay who has been the host since 2004 season will not return for 2015-2016 campaign. 

As for Sports Hub's most popular show, the afternoon duo of Michael Felger and Tony Massoratti just signed up for a few more years to stay at the station, it was announced on Tuesday. 

Meanwhile, WEEI is also solidifying its afternoon line-up by making an official announcement that after 11 months back on the air, the station has inked Dale Arnold as the permanent afternoon host alongside Michael Holley and Jerry Thornton. It's widely expected that WEEI will also re-up Holley after two hosts happily re-united last spring(BRW 4/2/14). The two were midday co-hosts for six years(March 2005 to February 2011) before being replaced by "Mutt and Merloni"(BRW 2/25/11). After the 2011 break-up, Arnold was shifted to weekends and fill-in duty while Holley was paired up with Glenn Ordway and subsequently with Mike Salk.

BRW Notebook :

RIP, Bob Wilson :
Boston Herald's columnist Joe Fitzgerald reported today that earlier this week one of the greatest sports play by play voices of all time and true Boston sports radio icon, Bob Wilson, has passed away after a long battle with lung cancer.

If you were a Bruins fan back in the 1970's, that booming voice that filled the airways on a winter's night was the Bruins. Driving anywhere in New England or up and down the East Coast most nights, searching for the game on the car radio meant tuning until Wilson's voice filled the car. Then you knew you had the Bruins.

Wilson, who was associated with  NHL's Boston Bruins for 28 seasons(25 as the play-by-play voice and 3 as the color analyst) was honored by the club in March 2011 when the home radio broadcast booth at TD Garden was named "Bob Wilson Radio Booth." The Bruins also installed a silver microphone encased in a black and gold frame on the TD Garden’s level 9 facade beneath the home radio broadcast booth.

Wilson quietly retired on January 5, 1995 as the NHL was in a midst of a labor dispute between club owners and players' union. Wilson's contract with rights holder American Radio Systems was suspended without pay which was one of the factors in his decision to call it quits. When the 1995 season finally got underway 15 days later, Wilson was replaced on the play-by-play call by Dale Arnold.

Wilson began his career with the Bruins in 1964 on the old WHDH 850, first handling team's color commentary chores and then moving onto broadcast play-by-play 3 years later. After 5 years with WHDH he left Boston for a two-year stint in St. Louis. He returned as the Bruins' play-by-play announcer on WBZ 1030 in 1971 and held the post for the next 23 seasons as the team went thru four different radio flagships(WBZ 1030, WITS 1510, WPLM 99.1 and WEEI 590),

Wilson, who was inducted into NHL's Hall of Fam in 1987, was 85.

Spinning in and out : Speaking of reunions, a couple of veteran Boston radio personalities seem to be reuniting every five years or so. Karen Blake and Ralphie Marino were co-hosts of a popular morning show on Star 93.7 from 2001 to 2005 before the station changed formats(to Mike-FM) in April 2005. They reunited again at Oldies 103.3 back in October 2010 for a brief 4-month stint as Marino was between radio gigs(BRW 3/4/11). The station eventually flipped from Oldies to current Top 40 sound in June 2012. Hopefully,the third time's a charm as the pair will be back together on Cape Cod's 99.9 The Q starting Monday(1/19)....As for Blake and Marino's former home in Boston, AMP 103.3's night-time jock Dustin "Slater" Carlson will soon be exiting the Top 40 station after two years(BRW 2/5/13). He will stay on until his replacement is found....

New year, new line-up : The new home of Howie Carr on the dial, WMEX 1510 started a year with a line-up change. The station debuted "Boston Herald Drive" from 7am-9am hosted by Boston Herald's commentator/analyst Adriana Cohen and Boston Herald Radio's program director Tom Shattuck. The Dr.K Show moved to an expanded 12-3pm slot displacing syndicated Dennis Miller. The rest of the line-up stays the same for now with the exception of 10pm-Midnight slot where NYC-based comedian Bob Levy has done his last show on the station last night.

Meanwhile at Carr's old house, WRKO 680, the station took a bit of a hit, if you can even call it that, in December(technically November) ratings but it remains to be seen what kind of impact, if any, he makes on WMEX 1510's numbers in the winter months. At WRKO, station's management seems to be content on running Mike Savage-clone, Seattle-based Mike Siegel as Carr's replacement for now. And, Siegel seems to be connecting just fine with Boston listeners.

Programming Reminder : With the Patriots back in the AFC Championship game for the 4th straight year, WEEI 93.7 will once again be able to air the game(via Westwood One) this Sunday night at 6:40pm. The local play-by-play with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak will be on WBZ 98.5, of course. Both stations will also run its local post-game shows late into the night.

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