What was once the mighty sports radio monopoly in Boston is now a sinking ship.
Even as the radio home of the Boston Red Sox, WEEI is now a shadow of its former self – and it’s not just because they’re now heard on 93.7 FM after spending many years on the AM dial.
It’s about the money – or the station’s sinking fortunes, as CBS Radio’s WBZ-FM/”98.5 The Sports Hub” has emerged as the premier sports radio outlet in Beantown.
And as a result, one of the premier sports radio voices in Boston, Glenn Ordway, was fired.
Just yesterday, Media Rantz brought you the news about Jon Rish, the Red Sox Radio Network announcer who, rather than take a sizable pay cut, opted to give his two weeks notice and concentrate on a brand new career as a software developer.
Now, even the weekenders are turning on the station.
On Saturday night, with about forty minutes left in his show, Pete Sheppard posted this Tweet:
When all was said and done, Sheppard said his peace, and now… he’s done. Yep, he quit right on the air. It broke his heart to see WEEI fall apart at the seams since last year, and he believed management at WEEI’s parent company, Entercom, is entirely to blame. “I can’t stand working for this company anymore,” he was quoted as saying.
Sheppard actually was the “Sports Flash” anchor for the aforementioned Ordway on the afternoon “Big Show” until he was fired in 2010. Once again, it’s about the money.
This time? “I’m going out on my own terms this time,” he was quoted as saying on his final WEEI broadcast. But he vowed to return to Boston sports radio very soon:
I should mention that Sheppard’s on-air resignation comes 24 hours after the President of Entercom visited the station and engaged in a “town hall-style meeting” with WEEI brass in the wake of their transactions this year.
I guess Sheppard isn’t giving him a very high approval rating.
Meanwhile, no audio of Pete Sheppard quitting on the air is available yet, so in the interim, listen to perhaps the best example of a radio host quitting on the air:Read More
Bob Costas Defends “Gun Culture” Commentary On HBO, But Admits: “I Could Have Done This More Effectively” (Video, Transcript)
It’s been four months since the Jovan Belcher murder/suicide.
But what really drew a lot of buzz was Bob Costas’ commentary at halftime of the “Sunday Night Football” game that weekend.
On Friday, Costas was among the guests on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher.” Costas, who himself was an HBO personality during the previous decade, said that while he would not take back his thoughts about gun control on the night of December 2 on NBC, he would have slightly altered how he said them.
“I could have done this more effectively, in retrospect,” Costas acknowledged. “I had a short period of time, and I tried to shoehorn a single aspect of it in.”
The aspect that he spoke of, of course, was the “gun culture,” whereas even if there was legal gun ownership in circles, “you still have the attitudes that lead to tragedy.”
On the same broadcast, Costas also opined on “the gun absolutists” and the likely possibility of their organizing an “ad hoc militia” against the government.
Video below (language warning; Maher refers to the Second Amendment as “bulls–t”); transcript follows.
BOB COSTAS: “You know, I think a lot of us who are in favor of common sense gun control have to concede that common sense gun control is not the only aspect of it. Obviously, mental health is an aspect of it. You’re going to have to have enforcement. If you have background checks, you’re going to have to have better enforcement. You’re going to have to have mandatory sentences for those who not only commit crimes with guns, but who carry guns illegally.
“There’s a whole array of things. It’s not only about guns. But to hear the NRA tell it, it’s about everything but guns.
“At halftime of a game the day after Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs murdered his fiancee and then committed suicide, um, and I could have done this more effectively, in retrospect, because I had a short period of time, and I tried to shoehorn a single aspect of it in; I didn’t believe it was the only aspect… I talked about a “gun culture” in sports, which, even if you had common sense gun control, and all these guns were legally obtained, you still have the attitudes that lead to tragedy.”
BILL MAHER: “I’m sorry… I’m so sorry, but this is the problem with the gun debate, is that it’s a constant center right debate. There’s no left in this debate. Everyone on the left is so afraid to say what should be said, which is the Second Amendment is bullshit.”
COSTAS: “But all these paranoid types who think that there’s gonna come a day when the government is just gonna go too far for them, and as true patriots, they’re going to have to organize some sort of ad hoc militia, here’s my question: Who is the Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee of this militia? How do they coalesce? Who do they decide who to shoot? Who do we trust?
“The gun absolutists try to cloak all of their arguments in high-minded constitutional principle, and there is a constitutional point to be made. But we have to remind ourselves: we’re talking about the gun lobby. Just like there’s a pharmaceutical lobby, there’s a food and beverage lobby, there’s a tobacco lobby. Part of what they’re trying to do is protect the ability of the people they represent, to sell somebody a Bushmaster.
“What I was trying to say with the gun culture thing at halftime of the football game: Even if you had every bit of legislation, you’d still have these attitudes toward guns that lead to bad outcomes.”Read More
Jon Rish is leaving WEEI for CGI.
He’s giving up the booth for a reboot.
He’s trading the Red Sox for Red Hat.
There are many more ways I could go with this.
But in the end, could you really blame him?
Rish has been a part of the Red Sox Radio Network, based at flagship WEEI in Boston, for the last eight years, serving as pregame and postgame host, as well as substitute play-by-play voice on the days where Dave O’Brien is taking care of business for ESPN, where Rish had worked for a half-dozen years – specifically, ESPN Radio – before joining WEEI.
However, it was at some point during the last season – Bobby Valentine’s lone one as Sox skipper - that Rish had an epiphany: He could continue working radio broadcasts for the Red Sox, which some may consider a dream job – and with them holding the most lucrative radio deal for a baseball team, higher even than the archrival New York Yankees, it should be a fine class to be associated with. And you would think that with the highest paying radio deal in MLB, would come a big fat paycheck.
But then he looked at the bigger picture: his family, including four children, ages 2 through 12.
And then, he probably noticed WEEI’s parent company, Entercom, making drastic moves, including the ouster of longtime Boston sports radio voice Glenn Ordway.
“It became clear towards the end of the 2012 season that there was a very real possibility that my future was not with Entercom.”
Why else would Rish officially decide that he would be announcing his plans to leave WEEI and the Red Sox Radio Network - albeit, a mere three hours before the first pitch was thrown on Opening Day at Fenway Park on Monday. Though the fact that Rish has been good friends with WEEI program director Jason Wolfe for the last two decades played a large role in the abrupt fashion of his impending departure.
“I didn’t want to tell Jason by phone,” Rish affirmed. “I wanted to tell him in person. He was speechless.”
I bet Rish was equally speechless when Entercom asked him to take a pay cut of 30% – one that he turned down.
“It wasn’t fair to me and it wasn’t workable for my family,” Rish said. “I will say I could no longer justify working for Entercom.
“But it was not as difficult a decision for me as you might think,” he continued. “It was not a difficult decision to explain to my wife.”
Five years ago, Rish disclosed to a Massachusetts newspaper his hopes for a full-time play-by-play job. “But when you wait for the opportunity for so long, you’re not picky.”
Now with a son entering high school soon, and three daughters that will eventually follow suit, working Red Sox games on an understudy basis just won’t cut it, and he doesn’t hear any other pro sports teams fighting for his talents, so Rish is going to leave sports broadcasting entirely.
He’s saying goodbye to sports media – and hello to software media.
That’s right. Through his alma mater, Boston College – whose athletics are another notch on his play-by-play resume – he consulted with a career coach, who encouraged him to pursue an opportunity in the technology field.
And starting next month, Rish will take a ten-week class on how to become a Ruby software developer.
If successful, two major perks come with the gig: First of all, software programmers are in high demand (you don’t see many sports teams hiring announcers mid-season); and more importantly, they could actually make more money than most sports broadcasters not named Joe Buck or Jim Nantz. But it’s not completely due to programmers’ vast knowledge and skills.
“The state of the radio industry isn’t what it used to be,” Rish admits.
Rish will continue working Red Sox games for just a couple more weeks, and then after a week to recharge the batteries, he’ll start reporting to Launch Academy for Ruby On Rails classes.
Jon Rish. Transitioning from sports programming to computer programming.
This month, RBI’s; next month, RGB.
Out: stats. In: stacks.
I think I’ve made my point.Read More
What do Pierre Garcon and Von Miller have in common? Both of them have been a teammate of Peyton Manning.
Also, both were in-studio guests on Thursday’s edition of “NFL Total Access” on NFL Network.
So, naturally, the program trotted out the players on the Z-block of the show, for a fake game show: the “Peyton Manning Pop Quiz.”
And for this game, linebacker Miller, about to embark on his third season with the Denver Broncos (second with Manning under center), and Washington Redskins wideout Garcon, who was Manning’s teammate on the Indianapolis Colts for three seasons, had designated “lifelines” in the form of NFLN analysts Darren Sharper and Willie McGinest.
And what do Sharper and McGinest have in common? Both have played for teams that have had their own public scandals of late: the New Orleans Saints’ “Bountygate” and the New England Patriots’ “Spygate.”
True, McGinest was already playing with the Cleveland Browns by the time the “Spygate” scandal broke in 2007 for the Patriots, for whom McGinest had played linebacker for the bulk of his career, earning two Super Bowl rings in the process.
But Sharper had played the final two years of his career as a safety with the Saints, at around the same time the “Bountygate” timeline had allegedly unfolded. So Sharper, who won a Super Bowl with the Saints and appeared in another with the Green Bay Packers, is directly linked to “Bountygate.”
All that being said, when Miller, aided by a whispering Sharper, wins the “Peyton Manning Pop Quiz,” of course, McGinest calls Sharper out for “cheating.”Read More
I bet you’re waiting in anticipation for the release of the 2013 NFL schedule next Tuesday, aren’t you?
You might need to wait until the Tuesday after that.
It seems this is exactly why when ESPN and NFL Network tell you the NFL schedule release is “soon” – no matter how many clues and/or facts that are out there.
There is the possibility of a delay in the release of the 2013 NFL schedule, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who did not cite a reason for a possible delay, other than the Baltimore Ravens’ season opener kerfuffle throwing a monkey wrench in the scheduling process (more on that later).
Whether the league legitimately needs to buy some more time for putting the final touches on the upcoming schedule, or simply throws out bulletins like this to fend off possible NFL schedule “leaks” (like we experienced last year, but it turned out to be a fraud) is anyone’s guess.
Yet a few weeks ago, advanced television listings for ESPN and NFL Network led one to believe that Tuesday, April 16 is the schedule release date, when it could actually be pushed back to no later than April 23 (the NFL Draft is two days later). Even today, the updated schedule listings still provide hints that the networks are ready for a release next week.
As of Wednesday, April 10, here is what’s scheduled on ESPN in primetime for Tuesday, April 16:
First, from 7 to 8 PM, it’s a “SportsCenter Special,” subtitled “Gruden’s QB Camp.” And it features “former NFL coach John Gruden.” Yep, even for a show that isn’t even actually going to air in that time slot, there’s a chyronfail. Brilliant.
There’s another “SportsCenter Special” scheduled at 8 PM: “On The Clock,” an NFL Draft preview.
And finally at 9 PM, it’s “NFL Live” – wait, what? Why on earth would ESPN schedule their hallmark NFL show on a primetime weeknight in the middle of April?
As for NFL Network, regular programming (“NFL Total Access” followed by a “Game Changers” marathon) is scheduled for 7-10 PM on Tuesday, but they’re already promoting a schedule release show of its own – and once again, no date specified, just “coming soon.”
The fact that a report of the possibility of a one-week delay in the NFL schedule release is likely precisely why the league and its broadcast partners refrain from promoting a date weeks in advance.
Regardless of whether or not we will have to wait just a bit longer to find out when the Eagles are playing the Chiefs, and which teams will be in action on Thanksgiving Day, the NFL will likely throw football fans a bone in the days leading up to the complete schedule release date, and that is the identity of the road opponent that the world champion Ravens will play to open the season on September 5; last year, we learned nearly a month before the schedule release date that the Giants would open the season against the Cowboys.
As for the host of this year’s kickoff game, I say it’ll be Denver. Hey, maybe there’s a tug of war between CBS (which owns O&O’s in Denver and Baltimore) and the league over whether or not a possible Ravens/Broncos game can air on NBC? And could that possibly impact the number of appearances Peyton Manning will make on the Peacock Network this year?
These questions and more will be answered soon enough.
Or we could very well be watching a special starring John Gruden on April 16.
UPDATE: The official 2013 schedule release date is Thursday, April 18 at 8 PM ET.Read More
For some viewers of two ESPN networks on Verizon FiOS, your days could be numbered.
Late last week, FiOS subscribers (myself included) received an email from Verizon, informing that ESPN Classic (Channel 71) as well as ESPN Buzzer Beater/ESPN Goal Line (Channel 571) “will be removed from your FiOS Extreme HD package.” The moves were being made “to consolidate FiOS TV programming,” read the e-mail.
“We understand these channels may be important to you,” the e-mail continues, encouraging subscribers “to explore other programming options you may enjoy.”
However, if you wish to continue seeing either of these two networks, you just need to pay a little more. A Verizon spokeswoman confirmed that both channels will be relocated to the FiOS Ultimate HD package, which according to its website, costs at least an additional $25 per month. (Ironically, FiOS touts its Extreme HD tier as the one with the “best sports value”, with Ultimate HD bearing the “best movie value.”)
The channels will also be added to a brand new “sports tier” – not to be confused with one currently offered by FiOS, that includes niche networks like Fox College Sports and The Tennis Channel – that the same Verizon spokeswoman says will be introduced “in the coming weeks.”
These moves come just after the fiber-optic cable provider announced a new monthly fee that will be imposed largely on subscribers in markets where there are multiple regional sports networks.
It makes sense for the integrated seasonal Buzzer Beater/Goal Line network to move to the Ultimate HD tier, where it will join channels such as NFL Network’s RedZone (Channel 335/835). Like NFL RZ, Buzzer Beater/Goal Line presents to viewers live look-ins of college basketball and football games, respectively (the Goal Line Channel operates completely like RedZone on Saturdays during college football season).
But the fact that ESPN Classic is also being lumped into the costlier package is somewhat of a head-scratcher. While the channel does actually air the occasional live sports event, it’s mostly known for airing old games, including boxing, as well as rebroadcasts of old ESPN programming like “[Dick] Schaap One-On-One” and “Who’s No. 1?” and current ESPN fare like “30 For 30″ and “E:60.” ESPN Classic has also aired reruns of conventional series like “Friday Night Lights” and “The White Shadow,” and previously, “This Week In Baseball” and “Arli$$.” The channel, founded in 1995 as Classic Sports Network, was acquired by ESPN in the fall of 1997. (New York City viewers actually were able to view portions of the channel for free during the summer of 1997 via the old WBIS-TV, or “S+” as it was known at the time; today, it’s WPXN, an Ion affiliate.)
And what’s really confounding about ESPN Classic being restricted to FiOS’ “Ultimate HD” tier is that many of the channel’s content was originally not presented in HD – hence, why ESPN only has a standard-definition feed of ESPN Classic in the first place.
Perhaps Verizon knows something that we don’t: could ESPN eventually rebrand its “Classic” channel into a brand new network altogether (as if ESPN didn’t have enough to begin with)? I could see why it could be lumped into a new sports-oriented tier, but why include it in an ”ultimate HD” package when its existing HD-era fare like “E:60″ is only going to be retransmitted as SD, anyway?
Or Verizon is just doing what it can to combat the rising costs of sports programming – even sports that were played years ago.
What would Eric Taylor or Coach Reeves think about that?Read More
Hawk Harrelson Assures Viewers Current White Sox Roster Is Devoid Of “Buttholes” (Video, Transcript)
Ken Harrelson, affectionately nicknamed “The Hawk,” a former baseball infielder and one-time Chicago White Sox general manager, has been the team’s color analyst for the better part of the last three decades.
And Chicagoans know just how blunt he can be about the White Sox – in fact, he’s even got his own list of “Hawkisms.”
We can add another one to that list.
On Saturday afternoon, during a game between the Sox and the Seattle Mariners, Harrelson was so ecstatic about the 2013 bunch that it reminds him of the team that advanced to the ALCS in 1983, during his first years as a White Sox broadcaster. And he also proclaimed that there are no dopes on the team (Ozzie Guillen, anyone? Perhaps recent Rangers acquisition A.J. Pierzynski?) that will threaten that chemistry.
Transcript follows. Video here.
“Well, I tell you guys, we got ourselves a nice little ballclub this year. And, and, this is, I think, has got some of the same ingredients that we had back in ’83. We got a terrific guy in (manager) Robin (Ventura) running the team; we got a terrific coaching staff, and all the guys like each other. So… that’s very similar… We don’t have one — we don’t have one butthole in the whole club.”Read More
The CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C. is Gannett-owned WUSA/Channel 9, one of the few non-O&O’s in a top-ten media market. They even have their own sports show called “Game On!”
Well, when the Washington Nationals/Cincinnati Reds game was in extra innings, no thanks to a Nats blown save, WUSA cut away from the game at the top of the hour to join the beginning of CBS’ Final Four pregame show (the first of tonight’s two games starts at around 6 PM ET).
The remainder of the game was moved to a subchannel of WUSA; additionally, the entire game was already airing on MASN. Yet, that didn’t stop Nationals fans from complaining about WUSA turning the game off on Twitter.
The Mid-Atlantic region has actually been here before last year, when WJZ-TV in Baltimore, a CBS O&O, had dumped out of an Orioles game that was also in extra innings in favor of the network’s popular newsmagazine “60 Minutes.”
With that, here are about sixty tweets from Nats Nation venting their frustration about Washington’s CBS affiliate.
It sounds like something out of an old “Seinfeld” episode.
But it actually happened.
A toll-free telephone number previously used by the New York Yankees for their ticket office now directs you to a phone sex hotline.
The New York Post discovered that if you Google the term “Yankees box office phone number,” the very first number that comes up is 800.913.9793 – and it’s listed as a link to the Yankees’ official website.
Meanwhile, when you click on a link on the Yankees’ website (bottom right) titled “Yankee Stadium Ticket Office,” it directs you to an “A To Z Guide” in the “T” section – yet there’s no information on tickets listed under “T”. There’s “Taxi Stand” and “Television and Radio Broadcasts” but then it goes right to “Tours Presented by MasterCard.”
There was also a previous dustup with that same telephone number back when it was fully functioning. No word on when the line was actually discontinued, but the Yankees currently have two local numbers listed (on the same page) as their “ticket office” numbers: 718.293.6000 and 212-YANKEES.
The Yankees aren’t the first sports team or figure to be unknowingly promoting a phone sex number. A phone number listed on a box of cereal modeled after then-Cincinnati Bengals wideout Chad Ochocinco potentially led some people (even kids) to dial up a sex hotline. And nearly a decade ago, the Charlotte Bobcats, in their expansion season, had a listing in the local yellow pages for basketball tickets that had been mistaken for a sex chat number.
It’s bittersweet that such a snafu was uncovered as the Yankees are mired in a 1-3 slump to start the 2013 campaign. It’s like an old “Seinfeld” episode come to life.Read More
Last year, there was the Penn State scandal, and all its foibles.
This year, a new college controversy has unfolded, and it’s up Interstate 81 at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ.
On Wednesday, ESPN aired a video of Rutgers’ men’s basketball coach Mike Rice hurling an equal share of basketballs and bigoted slurs at his players. That led to Rice’s termination the following day, and the resignation of the university’s athletic director, Tim Pernetti, the day after that.
On that day, Friday, in anticipation of a news conference that would be given by school president Robert Barchi, ESPN reporter John Barr was fielding a question from the “SportsCenter” anchor back at the studio when a startled look begot his face. Then, Barr proceeded to explain what just happened off the air, and drew a parallel between the flak the Worldwide Leader received at Happy Valley in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Nothing like a Jersey wiseguy to muddy the waters a little, eh, John?
Transcript follows. Video here.
“Look, this is live, TV, and weird stuff happens on live TV. I’m just gonna share this with you. We just got hit – our photographer just got hit with a water balloon, okay? Ugh, there’s a student who walked by a few moments ago, and just used the word “vultures.” It’s sort of a, a, a very similar experience to the one we experienced at Penn State, ugh, where a lot of students and members of the community turned their frustrations and their anger on the media. Ugh, I just wanted to share that with our viewers that, ugh, it’s not exactly a terribly welcoming environment here on the Rutgers campus. Ugh, look, this reflects poorly on the school, ugh, and I guess I would just appeal to people to keep their heads about them as, ugh, as this story unfolds. All we did was provide the opportunity for the public to see a videotape that school administrators saw in private and, um, ugh, at the very core of what we do, that’s what we should be doing, showing people what goes on behind closed doors. I just wanted to share that with our viewers right now.”Read More