Friday, September 8, 2017

98.5 The Sports Hub renews broadcast agreement with New England Patriots

CBS Radio and the five-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots jointly announced a five-year contract extension to keep Patriots games on Boston’s WBZ-FM/”98.5 The Sports Hub’. Team President Jonathan Kraft joined last night’s pre-game show to share the news.

Play-by-play voice Bob Socci(BRW 4/24/13) and game analyst Scott Zolak will continue. CBS Radio has served as the flagship radio partner of the Patriots since 1994 when the games aired on WBZ AM 1030, before transitioning to WBCN-FM in 1995.[Ed Note : WBZ 1030 technically served as NE Patriots flagship from 1991/92 to 1994/95 seasons and during that time period the WBZ became a CBS-owned station thru a couple rounds of corporate mergers among Westinghouse, Infinity Broadcasting and CBS Corp]

“Our continued partnership with the New England Patriots underscores CBS RADIO’s leadership in sports radio,” said Andre Fernandez, President and CEO, CBS RADIO. “We have enjoyed an incredible relationship with this storied franchise for over 20 years and are proud to continue our partnership into the future.”

The Sports Hub will broadcast “Patriots Preview” three hours prior to each game, as well as a three-hour post-game show. Both programs will be hosted by Marc Bertrand, co-host of The Sports Hub’s midday show, “Zolak and Bertrand.” Joining Bertrand on both shows will be Boston Globe and Boston.com columnist Chris Gasper and former NFL player Steve DeOssie. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer will also serve as a contributor to the pregame show.

CBS Radio and Entercom are expected to close on their massive merger later this fall and Enterecom would absorb all the broadcast rights currently licensed to the Sports Hub including Patriots, Bruins, Celtics and Revolution. In addition, Entercom already controls Red Sox radio rights thru 2023 season.

While there are still looming questions as to what Boston local sports radio scene is going to look like post-merger, there are some clues emerging as to what the programming management structure will look like when the ink dries on the closing docs.

Earlier in the week, CBS Radio had also announced it has signed veteran programmer Mike Thomas to a multi-year contract extension. Thomas will continue in his multi-platform role as Vice President of Sports Programming for CBS Radio and Vice President of Programming for CBS Radio Boston.
Thomas was originally hired in February 2006 to serve as program director of classic rocker WZLX 100.7. He briefly took over as PD for WBCN in June 2008 and then became PD for upstart WBZ 98.5 Sports Hub in August 2009. In October 20011(BRW 10/13/11), he was named as VP of Programming for CBS' Boston cluster which includes the Sports Hub, WZLX, WBMX/Mix 104.1, WODS AMP 103.3 and WBZ/News Radio 1030. In August 2014(BRW 9/7/14), CBS Radio promoted him to VP of Sports Programming where he and Mark Chernoff currently oversee company's entire portfolio of all-Sports stations and the CBS Sports Radio network.

Thomas is one of many talented CBS Radio programming execs who will play a key role in integrating CBS and Entercom sports brands in the post-merger world. He'll report to former Red Sox chief operating officer Mike Dee who was brought in May to oversee soon-to-be-massive Entercom Sports empire. One of the first orders of business for Thomas and Dee will clearly be to redefine how Boston's sports radio picture will look like going forward. 

BRW Notebook :

A Boston Shutout : Speaking of sports, both Entercom's WEEI 93.7 and CBS Radio's WBZ 98.5 were nominated for this year's Marconi Radio award in the Sports Station of the Year category at the 28th annual NAB Marconi Radio Awards held in Austin this past week,  WEEI had previously won won three -  2006, 2008 and 2012. The SportsHub took the hardware in 2011 and 2014. This year, Dallas' The Ticket 1310/96.7 took home the trophy.

Marconi awards were founded in 1989 and named after inventor and Nobel Prize winner Guglielmo Marconi. The NAB Marconi Radio Awards are given to radio stations and outstanding on-air personalities to recognize excellence in radio.


Reaching out : Sunday, September 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day, and Entercom will broadcast an on-air special, “I’m Listening,” on all of the company’s platforms at 10 a.m EST. The program will serve as a “campaign for mental health awareness and suicide prevention” and include “personal stories from artists and celebrities while offering help and resources to listeners via a live call-in option,” according to a press release.

“I’m Listening” will be led by Entercom Seattle KISW-FM personality BJ Shea, who will be joined by guests including Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Dr. Ursula Whiteside, clinical psychologist and CEO of nowmattersnow.org.

Subjects to be covered during the broadcast include how individuals can become involved in suicide prevention in their local community, how to talk openly to family and friends about mental health and suicide, and how to help a loved one who is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts.

Locally, “I’m Listening” can be heard on Entercom Boston platforms WAAF 107.3, WEEI/Sports Radio 93.7, WRKO 680/"The Voice of Boston", WKAF/New R&B 97.7 and WEEI/ESPN on 850".

Various artists and celebrities committed to ending the stigma of discussing mental health will also make appearances on the program. Some expected guests include the bands Metallica and Alice in Chains and musicians Jack Antonoff (Bleachers), Michael Angelakos (Passion Pit), and Krist Novoselic (Nirvana).

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