Finn: Ordway gets the boot; Replaced by Salk

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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You forget the part where Callahan's a terrible human being. He completely lacks empathy, like a Blade Runner replicant.
 
You're correct. I wouldn't want to go out to dinner with Gerry Callahan (I had forgotten about his library rant -- he sounded like Homer Simpson at his dumbest), but he has pretty decent takes on the day's sports. That's what I want to hear.
 
Much like athletes, as long as their personal opinions don't bleed into what they do, I couldn't care less what they do in their personal lives. I really don't.
 
Rebranding to 24/7 sports radio was about a year later, and I'm pretty sure Andy Moes was the original morning guy, as the lead guy with a few regulars.
 
I remember the year the Boggs left the Sox they used to have a segment each morning called "Wade Watch" where they would track Boggs' progress. I'm not sure why they had it or why it stuck with me*, but I thought that it was kind of funny.
 
* It had to be the intro to the segment which was some deep throated guy saying Wade Watch with the echo cranked up so it sounded like "Wadeeeeeeee Watchchchchch". I was 19-years-old.
 

rglenmt

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Glenn Ordway, no longer on WEEI after Friday, at least no more "Winerline" and Michael Holley was certainly better with Dale Arnold. Heard it suggested that Glenn brought along a number of other talkshow contributors over the years.
 
To Glenn's credit, IMHO, Glenn was at his best when he was with Legend Johnny Most doing Celtics games.  I often thought Glenn should have replaced Johnny, maybe Glenn did not want to do traveling, or maybe thought more former players would leave less room for pro broadcasters like Mike Breen and Glenn, no slam on Cornbread, even Tommy Heinsohn and the Cous (think Mike Gorman saved them), Walt Frazier being 1 of the best former players, again and, of course, only IMHO. 
 
Best of everything Glenn, in your industry only as good as last rating, and that will continue to be more rapid just as internet, blogging, tweeting etc. change by the day, less room all the time for ethical thorough journalists.   
 
respectfully submitted,
 
rglenmt f/k/a pudgefick
 

JimD

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Hard to believe that Ordway was considered by 'EEI brass to be worth $1 million a year right before TSH came on the scene. 
 

Mystic Merlin

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Best of everything Glenn, in your industry only as good as last rating, and that will continue to be more rapid just as internet, blogging, tweeting etc. change by the day, less room all the time for ethical thorough journalists.
 
What?
 

8slim

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After having grown up in Mass and being an avid listener of The Sports Huddle every Sunday night when I was a kid in the 80s, I moved to the NYC area after college (mid-90s) and got hooked on Mike and the Mad Dog.  Needless to say I hate(d) everything about NY sports, but those guys were just a phenomenal listen.
 
When I went back home, particuiarly in the early 2000s, I'd tune to EEI and find it abysmal.  Maybe I was just spoiled by getting to listen to a historically great radio show every day on WFAN, but I was stunned that EEI, and in particular the Big Show, was so morning-radio-schlocky.
 
Now that technology allows me to stream 98.5 I find most of the content there to be pretty decent.  Seems like EEI made itself irrelevant, Ordway too.
 

Andy Merchant

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I got a good chuckle out of Alan Siegel's take in Boston Magazine:
 

Still, WEEI’s decision to part ways with Ordway seems slightly misguided. Dennis & Callahan, the station’s version of a Statler and Waldorf routine, is poorly rated, too. It’s a hell of a lot more painful to take than Ordway and Holley. “John Dennis,” Bruce Allen said on Twitter today, “must be really, really hard to fire.”
 

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The thing that bothers me about Ordway is his voice. He sounds fat on the radio. Otherwise, I find him neither offensive nor outstanding. On the balance, I think the show is good because I think Michael Holley is good. Could they do away with the whiner line and some of his cronies - yes but I have trouble believing that Ordway is killing the station. Like many people, he may be getting canned because he's 60, makes too much money, and management is looking for younger and cheaper labor. 
 
Merloni's show is also fine.  He can be insightful when talking about baseball or athletes in general. Like many shows, sometimes their interesting and sometimes they're not. 
 
But Denis and Callahan are just terrible. Stations used to pay Howard Stern big money because he'd carry them through the day. People would tune in from 6 to 10 to hear Stern and never change the dial.  EEI has exactly the opposite problem.
 

Gambler7

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The more I listen today it reminds me so much of the WWE buying WCW and taking over. So weird hearing Ordway actually say Toucher and Rich, etc and talking about their past success and ratings books. His competition point is a joke too. They had absolutely no competition in their category.
 

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John Marzano Olympic Hero said:
 
You're correct. I wouldn't want to go out to dinner with Gerry Callahan (I had forgotten about his library rant -- he sounded like Homer Simpson at his dumbest), but he has pretty decent takes on the day's sports. That's what I want to hear.
 
Much like athletes, as long as their personal opinions don't bleed into what they do, I couldn't care less what they do in their personal lives. I really don't..
For the most part, I agree. However, unlike professional athletes, GC's job is to express his opinions. andhe expressed his political opinions for so long, I'm always waiting for that other shoe to drop, and have him drop political commentary into a sports rant. I just don't believe he can keep the muzzle on anymore, and stick to sports.

I could be wrong, but I don't know if I'd be willing to give him a chance.
 

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So the original line up was, I think,
 
Andy Moes
Dale Arnold
Ordway and Presnky
Eddie Andleman
Jimmy Myers
 
The morning show went Moes--> Doyle and Mustard--Imus-->Dennis and Callahan
Ordway--> Big show--Big Show with Ordway and Holley
Dale Arnold solo-->A-Team (Arnold and Andleman)-->Dale and Neumie--Dale and Holley--> Mutt and Merloni
Jimmy Myers-->Ted Sarandis-->Mike Adams  (was there some other shit in here?)
The Fabulous Sports Babe also was on in the 10 AM for a while.
 
I think that's a complete summary of the weekday lineup.  I am upset that I know this.
 

NortheasternPJ

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Gambler7 said:
The more I listen today it reminds me so much of the WWE buying WCW and taking over. So weird hearing Ordway actually say Toucher and Rich, etc and talking about their past success and ratings books. His competition point is a joke too. They had absolutely no competition in their category.
 
I couldn't stomach listening today after yesterday, what was his points about the competition? T&R he openly mocked as a joke early on and yesterday he spent time taking credit for Felger & Mazz.
 

soxfan121

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Andy Merchant said:
I got a good chuckle out of Alan Siegel's take in Boston Magazine:
 
Dennis said this morning that he was impressed by how professional Ordway was after taking the air, intimating that he'd throw an epic hissy fit if he were Ordway. 
 
I think when Dennis is given the boot, security will have been summoned and he won't be allowed near a WEEI microphone after the news is delivered. 
 

weeba

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jose melendez said:
So the original line up was, I think,
 
Andy Moes
Dale Arnold
Ordway and Presnky
Eddie Andleman
Jimmy Myers
 
The morning show went Moes--> Doyle and Mustard--Imus-->Dennis and Callahan
Ordway--> Big show--Big Show with Ordway and Holley
Dale Arnold solo-->A-Team (Arnold and Andleman)-->Dale and Neumie--Dale and Holley--> Mutt and Merloni
Jimmy Myers-->Ted Sarandis-->Mike Adams  (was there some other shit in here?)
The Fabulous Sports Babe also was on in the 10 AM for a while.
 
I think that's a complete summary of the weekday lineup.  I am upset that I know this.
 
From the above BSMW link:

 
It might be surprising to learn that Ordway was not the star of the
station. Eddie Andelman was the drive-time host from 4-7PM. Ordway,
started out as a midday host, paired with Janet Prensky from 1-4PM. Dale
Arnold was on from 10AM-1PM and Craig Mustard from 7-11PM. Andy Moes
was the morning show.

Ordway’s show with Prensky (Glenn and Janet)  was largely
forgettable. The show lasted a year, and Prensky’s contract was not
renewed. Ordway then spent time with Dave Shea, among others. By this
time, Ordway was also the fulltime play-by-play voice of the Celtics,
after Most was forced to retire due to health reasons in 1990. In August
of 1994, WEEI moved from 590AM to 850AM.

In early 1995, Ordway agreed to a four-year deal with WEEI to
continue as voice of the Celtics. However, the team, which had the right
of refusal, declined the contract. (If you wondered why Ordway was
so negative about the Celtics for years on WEEI, other than the fact
that they were terrible, there you go.
) Speculation was that they
felt that Ordway and partner Jerry Sichting were too harsh on the team
during their broadcasts. Ordway then accepted the position of program
manager for WEEI, a move that would change the very shape and direction
of sports radio.

Ordway’s Moves Pave Way For Record-Breaking Ratings

In July, Ordway fired Michael Andelman from his weekend show, citing
poor ratings. In August, he announced that the station would be
radically changing up their lineup. Starting on September 11th of 1995,
the WEEI lineup would consist of the Fabulous Sports Babe from 10-12, The A-Team with Eddie Andelman and Dale Arnold from noon to 3PM and The Big Show, featuring Ordway himself, from 3-6PM. Ordway reinvented himself as “The Big O” and thus an 18-year run began.


Among the original co-hosts on The Big Show were Gerry Callahan, Dan Shaughnessy, Steve Nelson, Lyndon Byers, Cedric Maxwell and Fred Smerlas.

WEEI dropped The Fabulous Sports Babe in October 1997, (Jason Wolfe
by then had replaced Ordway as Program Director) replacing her in the
10-12 spot with John Dennis and Gerry Callahan. That duo become the 6-10
morning show in September of 1999, and the A-Team moved from 10-2 and
The Big Show from 2-6.
 

Quiddity

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Of the full-timers on both stations, is Holley the youngest?  He sure seems like it.  I would like to see him get his own show.  Holley and Bertrand would be good
 

Of the regular hosts, it would be Adam Jones who I believe is still in his 20s. If you're counting flash boys then its probably Bertrand.
 
 
I'm sad to see Ordway go. I haven't listened to him much since the Sports Hub took to the air, but Ordway was, back when I was a regular listener to EEI one of my favorites. Incidently my top 3 people from EEI, Sarandis, Sheppard and Ordway have now all been fired by the station (although Sheppard's since come back). Ordway certainly drove me crazy at times, such as his insane stubbornness over "Its all about pitching" and going way too off topic on some of the shows (in particular those with Steve and Fred), but back when I regularly listened to EEI in the pre-Sports Hub days the Big Show was about as much listen to as Felger & Mazz is for me now. Once a decent competitor came into play I jumped ship and haven't really looked back since. 
 
 
Can only hope John Dennis sees this fate sometime soon.
 

Harry Hooper

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It wasn't quite late manager Pete Rose penciling himself into the lineup, but program director Ordway putting Andelman in mid-day and taking the drivetime slot for himself was so Machiavellian. Glenn grabbed the most lucrative slot and ensured he'd have a strong lead-in program in one swoop.
 
I am actually a bit surprised by Allen and others being so kind to Ordway. Sure, he's not without some skills, but inflicting the likes of Jim the Wrestling Goon, Frank from Gloucester, Bill Burt, and Larry Johnson on the public for so long is impossible to overlook. 
 
Until this week, I didn't know that Wolfe had been hired by Ordway. That seems to be a major factor in why he lasted so long, and WEEI's continuing stumbles may come from Wolfe following Ordway's counsel too much.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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It wasn't quite late manager Pete Rose penciling himself into the lineup, but program director Ordway putting Andelman in mid-day and taking the drivetime slot for himself was so Machiavellian. Glenn grabbed the most lucrative slot and ensured he'd have a strong lead-in program in one swoop.
 
 
 
That was completely the right move, Andelman was toast by the mid-90s and the audience was changing. Ordway may be a relic now, but he knew what he was doing in the 80s and 90s. He really did. 
 

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John Marzano Olympic Hero said:
 
 
That was completely the right move, Andelman was toast by the mid-90s and the audience was changing. Ordway may be a relic now, but he knew what he was doing in the 80s and 90s. He really did. 
 
Not to mention pairing Eddie with Dale.  It didn't have a long shelf-life but it played to their strengths brilliantly.
 
It's good to remember those days-- having been put off for years by the rancid past-its-prime stink of the Big Show, now I find myself remembering how I had to tune in on the day the news of the Pedro deal broke. Unless my memory's playing tricks on me, he had Gammons on that afternoon along with plenty of others who knew what they were talking about, and the whole atmosphere was giddy excitement.  Damn, now I'm feeling old.
 

Harry Hooper

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John Marzano Olympic Hero said:
 
 
That was completely the right move, Andelman was toast by the mid-90s and the audience was changing. Ordway may be a relic now, but he knew what he was doing in the 80s and 90s. He really did. 
 
Unfortunately, we can't run an alternate universe experiment to find out.
 
 
Edit: Janet Prensky's name was mentioned above. Just before her departure from WEEI, she did a commercial for a strip club that was one of the great moments in radio.
 

mt8thsw9th

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Kenny F'ing Powers said:
I'm going to listen just to help with the ratings. Hopefully this works out for WEEI, and they realize that the station needs new talent.
For what it's worth, unless you're a Nielsen listener it won't matter.
 

soxfan121

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Harry Hooper said:
I am actually a bit surprised by Allen and others being so kind to Ordway. Sure, he's not without some skills, but inflicting the likes of Jim the Wrestling Goon, Frank from Gloucester, Bill Burt, and Larry Johnson on the public for so long is impossible to overlook. 
 
I have, for the last ten years, had a strict no-Frank from Gloucester policy. No matter what the topic, the co-hosts, the scheduled guest...the moment the name Frank was uttered, I was changing the station. Everything that was wrong with the Ordway Era can be boiled down to Frank from Gloucester. Everything about WEEI's downfall can be summed up by their fascination with Frank from Gloucester and allowing it to slither onto other shows. 
 

Harry Hooper

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the1andonly3003 said:
any predictions for tomorrow's final show?
 
 
It would be most fitting if Glenn took a vacation day with Burt and Johnson serving as the fill-in hosts.
 

Marbleheader

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From Finn this morning:
 
http://bostonglobe.com/sports/2013/02/15/some-parting-words-for-glenn-ordway-weei-friday/tRRPqQxzAaJCzAoqOwZSXM/story.html

 
The mistake Ordway and the station made — beyond turning the beloved
Bruins into an unfunny punch line — was believing the success was about
them, and not fans’ insatiable desire for sports in this market. I wrote
the following in February 2009:

“We listen because we love sports, our beloved teams are enjoying a
remarkable run of success, and WEEI happens to have both access and
broadcast rights. Most of all, we listen because there is no other
decent local alternative with a signal stronger than that of a ham
radio. But I’m convinced that provided with an equal signal, some savvy
program director could build what WEEI claims to be: the premier sports
radio station in the country.”

That was written one month after Ordway signed a five-year, $5
million contract. The day it was published, it was greeted with a
patronizing four-hour Ordway filibuster on how the radio business really
works. Six months later, CBS Radio-owned 98.5 The Sports Hub launched
on a strong FM signal. The effect on ratings was almost immediate.
Three-plus years later, Ordway is a cautionary tale to Sports Hub hosts
to not take their current outstanding ratings for granted.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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MyDaughterLovesTomGordon said:
Bit of a victory lap there, but I'm sure Chad enjoyed it. Can't blame him.
 
He's 100% right too. I wish I could find that article that ran about WEEI and Jason Wolfe and Ordway a couple of years ago, where Wolfe was cock-strutting around about his genius with the station and how awesome they all were. It was laughable at the time and in the fullness of time it's been proven that Wolfe and Ordway were in fact quite peripheral to the success of their station. It's always been about the sports, not the jackasses behind the mic.
 

joe dokes

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Sports Radio in Boston predates Ordway by decades. DECADES. Eddie Andelman on WHDH The Sports Huddle, long before the 850 AM frequency became WEEI (which used to be assigned to 590). Upton Bell & Bob Lobel hosted "Calling All Sports" on WBZ 1030. 
In the early 80s, when WEEI was still at 590, I was regularly driving home from work between 11 and midnight. Ted Sarandis and a guy named Bob Melvin took turns solo-hosting something called (I think) "Sports Final" every weeknight from 11-12.  There were no callers, just the guy reading scores (lots of them!) and providing the weird intro to packaged interview clips. ("In Calgary, the Flames beat the Kings 4-2 with Lanny McDonald netting a pair. After the game, McDonald gave credit to his temmates. [interview snippet]", In addition to the lack of callers, there were no sound effects, or intro-outro music. Just commercials every 15 minutes or so. It sounded like they were the only people in the building.
 
It was boring as hell. But it was thorough. And if you only had an AM radio in the car . . . .
 

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Harry Hooper said:
It would be most fitting if Glenn took a vacation day with Burt and Johnson serving as the fill-in hosts.
 
Now that is hilarious.  Well done sir.  
 

dcmissle

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Can anyone shed light on the WEEI focus group that Chad describes? It's not surprising that it occurred; it's a bit surprising that the results leaked.

One thing that Chad and Ordway probably agree on is that sports talk radio flourishes most when the local teams are wildly successful -- not, as a lot of people would have it, when they are bitterly disappointing. Negativity is amusing but not sufficient.
 

JimD

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Interesting to read in Finn's column about 'EEI convening a focus group and the unsurprising revelation that D&C was a heated topic.  I know Gerry Callahan is a polarizing figure, but I think dismissing Dennis and matching Callahan up with Mary Paoletti could actually work. 
 

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joe dokes

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Chad Finn said:
Wrote about the focus group two weeks ago. Got the info from several people who were a part of it. If you missed it, here's the link:
 
http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2013/02/08/weei-convenes-focus-group-sport-hub-listeners/bLw5p7w3wPsrpCzzkYveLJ/story.html
 
Got more details after I wrote this. Turned into a gleeful collective rip job on Dennis, Callahan, and Ordway. Struck me as WEEI gathering ammo to justify some pending decisions.
There's a science to selecting an "appropriate" focus group. I wonder if the group's coordinator's mission was to assemble a "loaded" group.  Just because D&C are no longer the most popular game in town, I dont think a truly representative group would result in a "gleeful, collective rip job."
 

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joe dokes said:
In the early 80s, when WEEI was still at 590, I was regularly driving home from work between 11 and midnight. Ted Sarandis and a guy named Bob Melvin took turns solo-hosting something called (I think) "Sports Final" every weeknight from 11-12.  There were no callers, just the guy reading scores (lots of them!) and providing the weird intro to packaged interview clips. ("In Calgary, the Flames beat the Kings 4-2 with Lanny McDonald netting a pair. After the game, McDonald gave credit to his temmates. [interview snippet]", In addition to the lack of callers, there were no sound effects, or intro-outro music. Just commercials every 15 minutes or so. It sounded like they were the only people in the building.
 
It was boring as hell. But it was thorough. And if you only had an AM radio in the car . . . .
 

They also would cut to live score updates from around the country -- I remember lots of west coast scores from broadcasters probably doing the same thing they were doing at other stations
 

Chad Finn

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They signed 5-year deals in Sept. 2007, then had what I understand to be two years tacked on when the NESN simulcast began in November 2010. So that takes them into fall 2014 if my math is right. It would be harder to get rid of them, and people have told me that when Ordway's contract was halved, Dennis said he was foolish to have language in the deal allowing that to happen. So they'd have to eat some significant money if they got rid of either of them. But if you replace them for a fraction of the cost, in a year and a half it'll look a lot better financially. My educated opinion is that Ordway is only the beginning.
 

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Chad,
 
Is NESN's deal to simulcast the morning show one that is specifically with Dennis and Callahan, or is it with Entercom to simulcast whatever they have on in the morning?  I guess the question is how much sway does the NESN simulcast have in the equation, and can it be a more significant roadblock to dumping Dennis and/or Callahan than their respective contracts/salaries?
 

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Good question. The extension was their perk -- probably not the right word, but you know what I mean -- since they didn't get extra cash for it. But I can't imagine NESN would balk if one host is dumped and it becomes New Person and Callahan, for instance.
 

MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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Speaking of simulcasts, WEEI has radio affiliates throughout New England, including 95.5/95.9 up here in Maine. Do their plummeting ratings put any of those relationships in jeopardy? I've always thought it was strange that our local sports-talk station up here would sign a deal to rebroadcast their competition, but I'm sure the money works out for both parties or they wouldn't do it.
 
But if ratings go down the revenue they're sharing would go down as well, right? Might some of the affiliates be looking at other options? Could that have put more impetus behind the shake-up? I wonder what the nature of those contracts are and whether they have automatic out clauses of any kind.
 

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So there's not much talk about Salk.  What do folks think about him?  I seem to recall from the bits I've heard about him that he sounds an awful lot like Adam Jones and is a bit of shit-stirrer and cut from the Felger cloth.
 
While Andleman was a bit of a parody of himself by the end of his run, I still have a soft spot for him and fond memories of the Sports Huddle.  To me, this (along with Calling all sports with Lobel and Bell) was the start of sports radio, not EEI.  I remember coming home from my grandparents house in Eastie almost every Sunday night and listening to the show from the backseat of the car.    
 

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From Chad's linked article:
I’d love to see WEEI’s relationship with ESPN result in Michael Smith making regular appearances. During fill-in stints years ago, he had tremendous chemistry with Holley, their genuine friendship making for engaging radio.
I wonder if its possible that Salk is just a place holder until Dennis' contract is up. Then they move Salk to mornings with Callahan, and bring in Smith with Holley.
 
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JayMags71 said:
From Chad's linked article:
I wonder if its possible that Salk is just a place holder until Dennis' contract is up. Then they move Salk to mornings with Callahan, and bring in Smith with Holley.
 
Geez, that would make Holley see 3 co-hosts go in a turn of 4+ years
 

dcmissle

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Chad Finn said:
Wrote about the focus group two weeks ago. Got the info from several people who were a part of it. If you missed it, here's the link:
http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2013/02/08/weei-convenes-focus-group-sport-hub-listeners/bLw5p7w3wPsrpCzzkYveLJ/story.html
Got more details after I wrote this. Turned into a gleeful collective rip job on Dennis, Callahan, and Ordway. Struck me as WEEI gathering ammo to justify some pending decisions.
Thank you. Prescient, and I think you're correct that Wolfe clipped the wrong guy. Salk may be good, but it's difficult from a distance to see how he can be transformational. The problem with the afternoon drive didn't crop up overnight, and likely won't be solved overnight. I would have built on what Orway and Holley have established; an injection of michael smith might have worked wonders.

To answer another poster's question -- if they stacked that focus group to justify a pre-determined result, then they are bigger idiots than I imagine. These things are very expensive. I've done them. And the whole point is to make the focus group a learning exercise; if anything, I tilt them slightly against the side I want to win, which is my side.

Problems run from the top down. I'd have replaced the GM a good while ago.
 

Joe D Reid

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SemperFidelisSox said:
Ok, Cliff and Claff sounds amazing and it's a crime there aren't old shows available for download. I picture callers with thick Southie accents screaming about Zimmers managing and "colored kids" being bussed to public schools.
To give a sense, in Spaceman Lee's book, he mentions that Cliff and Claff "joked" on-air that the large, Black (think Mo Vaughn) Boomer Scott should be melted down and used for hockey pucks.
 

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Joe D Reid said:
To give a sense, in Spaceman Lee's book, he mentions that Cliff and Claff "joked" on-air that the large, Black (think Mo Vaughn) Boomer Scott should be melted down and used for hockey pucks.
Wow, that is both incredibly offensive and not funny on any level at all.