Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dirty Jobs: WEEI Listener

Pink Hat Hell is happy to welcome its second guest blogger, Buzz Byrne, into our happily dysfunctional home. Buzz and Chico are two great writers, which makes me wonder what the hell they're doing writing here but I'm not so dumb as to look a horse's mouth in its gift box. -Tiki

Between the years 1996 and 2000 I had a job I hated and my main interests were the local sports teams and drinking in the late afternoon. If I had erection problems or was losing my hair I would have been the perfect target listener for WEEI AM850, at least according to the ads that were played throughout the day. Despite my full, luxurious and present hair and boners I was a listener anyway.

Thinking back to this era in Boston sports, say ’96-97, let’s remember that the Red Sox were waving goodbye to ace Roger Clemens and replacing him with Steve Avery. Bill Parcells was building a Super Bowl contender that would never finish the job and the Celtics had Michael Leon Carr straightening up the dump for the soon-to-be colossal failure that was the Rick Pitino era.

It was a miserable time to be a fan of the local teams. I don’t think I was very happy in general then either.

So some changes were made by me, your buddy Buzz. One happened to be to listen less and less to WEEI. September 11 and the run up to the Iraq Invasion made that a bit easier. If the show hosts had struck me as narrow-minded, self-involved and particularly venomous to athletes and fans alike- groups they were commenting on and commenting for and that they theoretically were knowledgeable of, why would I stick around for their take on matters of great import? They made it easy to lose me as a listener and fairly soon I became more involved in getting opinions and facts and theories and entertainment from the internet. By the time Aaron Boone crushed another season of hopes for Red Sox fans, turning to WEEI was the furthest thing from my mind. I didn’t want to commiserate with these hosts who would predictably pull the old axes from their closets and use my misery to grind away. Nor a few months later when Adam Automatic booted one through the goal posts to secure New England’s place at the table for a solid “Dynasty” discussion could I imagine turning to celebrate with these folk. Who wants condescending “I Told You Sos” when you’re ecstatic? Not a sports fan.

I guess that was when the habit was easiest break, when I realized they didn’t particularly care for sports anymore.

Something unusual happens to people who perform for audiences or engage crowds. Often times when they encounter a small or even large feel of success or acceptance and they come to believe that they are greater than the group- that they as the entertainer cannot possibly be replaced by something as delicately nuanced as a farting monkey. Success breeds a repetitive cycle of attention that comes in both positive and negative fashions- overblown admiration as well as critical examination. Too often the positive is seen as gospel while the criticism is viewed as jealousy. And because radio hosts have control oven subject matter, volume and callers, filtering and subjectivity cannot help but become a part of the daily routine. And because they are part of the media, albeit the infotainment section, they cannot help but become part of the story. They cannot help but feel equal to the entertainers they opine upon. And when this shift happens irreverence turns to condescension, spin takes the place of analysis, the central subject is supplanted by the cult of personality and wit, jest, eternal wisdom and mental acuity flail about as flaccid self-important smarm.

But where does that leave us today? I thought what Tiki has been doing here at Pink Hat Hell was pretty cool. I also worked as a critic for awhile so I sent Tiki a proposal that I take another listen to WEEI. Especially as they are making some big waves in the local sports media scene with a re-launch of their barely-breathing web site. In press releases, WEEI management had promised the web arm of their network will become a continuation of their quality on-air programming.

Right there I was highly skeptical. Seemed like a fallacy built on an eroding sand bed of spin. But who was I to judge; I don’t listen anymore.

My proposal was to listen to a full day of WEEI’s quality programming from sun up to sun down. I would listen to every minute of Dennis and Callahan from 6 AM to 10 AM, then every minute of The Dale and Holley Show from 10 AM to 2 PM and then every minute of The Big Show with Glenn Ordway from 2 PM to 6 PM. There was no way I could bring myself to include Planet Mikey in this. I like a challenge but one man can only be expected to take so many shots to the nads.

When I was on my way back from the gym at 5:58 AM today, I thought I would switch off the satellite radio and see if John Dennis and Gerry Callahan were back from vacation. Jon Meterparel is doing the first sports flash of the morning, wrapping up the third week of preseason NFL games, the first series win of the Red Sox versus the Blue Jays in Toronto and the closing ceremonies of the Olympics. This will be a good test, I think. Lots of material, lots of local and national and worldwide sports to dive right into. And it seems like a day for the regular hosts so I decide I will listen all day, today, August 25, 2008. Here’s how it went.

6:01 AM-

Sports flash is wrapped and the commercials start. Mortgage brokers, office supplies, car dealerships. All seem to be the official (fill-in the blank) of the New England Patriots. Hmm.

6:05 AM-

Still in commercials.

6:10 AM-

Show bumpers start, finally. Deep-voiced annoying announcer informs me it’s a “Patriots Monday!” This is the same guy who does the announce for all the shows and has since I was listening years ago. Between his stilted reads and Blur’s “Song #2” there are self congratulatory clips of Tom Brady saying, “You guys are the best at what you do.” And Curt Schilling complimenting Meterparel.

6:12 AM-

John Dennis and Gerry Callahan take to the mics. And commence complaining about the shortness of their vacations.

6:13 AM-

I turn off the radio. I accept failure. They have beaten me. I can’t do it. No way am I listening to this all morning.

6:18 AM-

I give it another shot. They are bickering about the Pats three preseason losses. Gerry says it’s no big deal. Actually he shouts, “THESE GAMES DON’T COUNT!” John and Jon are skeptical. Dennis actually concedes that maybe this is all silly pabulum like “When Pedro showed up for Spring Training late because of his father’s birthday and we would spend a day and half complaining about it but later in the season we would ask why were we so concerned?” Yeah, it’s just like that. Guy left four years and they’re still obsessed with him and casting him as a villain. This sucks the salt off my nuts. Radio off. Plus, I’m home. Now this is the kind of moment that should frighten Entercom shareholders- I decide to turn the radio back on but I realize a problem- I don’t have a radio in my house. I have a satellite hook up through my computer. I have mp3 players and one has an FM radio but I don’t have any regular setup to listen to AM radio. I check to see if they stream. They do but you have to register as a “Clubhouse Member!” and somethings I will just not do to get the story. Finally, I find an old walkman that works right next to a replacement coil cord for a phone and pile of stamps that you need to lick to affix.

6:36 AM-

Radio back on. I convince myself that I’m not blowing my assignment, that I actually might be consuming this media like most do, at irregular intervals. I suddenly feel better about myself. Of course it helps that the only thing on the radio at this moment is commercial after commercial after commercial.

6:42 AM-

The featured interview of Patriots Monday starts as D&C welcome Patriot quarterback Tom Brady. It wasn’t exactly scintillating material. Brady manages these two like they were The Buffalo Bills secondary. Its easy picking and they get nothing- NOTHING of substance from him. Maybe it does the fans good to hear last year’s MVP reassert his commitment to football but it seems like a stupid dance. Yeah, Coach is gonna yell at us today…Yeah, I never thought Favre was retiring…Yeah, I mean what? I got a car for sale? A truck? Do I need somebody to look into this? Brady also said he would be ready for the season opener.

Did anyone really expect him to say differently? It isn’t that Brady can’t be interesting; it’s just that he knows the dance steps by rote. And these two, D&C, are the worst regular show interviewers on the whole station.

7:10-7:31 AM-

Did you think they would forget about the Olympics? And when you talk of the Olympics how could you not talk about how The Gasol guys on Team Spain looked mangy like those scumbag delegates in Denver, with stuff in their beards…AND THE COMMIES. Gerry seems almost a bit more bilious towards the ChiCom Symps- Bob Costas and NBC.

Back to Team Spain for a minute- in a stunning moment of the eternal lack of self-awareness, the cornerstone of WEEI broadcasting, Gerry Callahan wonders at the stupidity of the WHOLE BASKETBALL team getting talked into making the racially insensitive gesture of slanty eyes in a Spanish newspaper. “Didn’t they have someone to stop them?”

Maybe they should go to sensitivity training. Did that help you and your partner, Ger, when you compared black kids trying to get a better start in life to an escaped gorilla? What about the next two times you had to go? Or was it three times after that?

Gerry went on to observe that trampoline shouldn’t be an Olympic sport like swimming is. They should award a different tiered medal for the frilly sports. At least this clears up any doubt that D&C have someone writing material for them. This bland, overworked premise had the punch line of Gerry stating, “Who knows, I could be the best trampoliner in the world!”

These guys are not good broadcasters. Gerry isn’t a spectacular writer; at least he hasn’t been in over a decade. They are both poor analysts, too wrapped up in some larger argument, some larger yowl against their imagined oppressors, to offer anything but couched, predicated, leading questions and observations that do nothing but score useless style points on never ending debates.

The politics aren’t the issue. Any dummy can grab a platform and scream about COMMIES. Who cares. The issue is really that the whole thing is boringly predictable. The end result of this is zero entertainment. So they are miserable performers as well. What they are really good at, it appears, is keeping their jobs. You guys have a top rated radio show on the only viable sports station in a region that is experiencing an unprecedented time of local sports wealth. I’m sure it all has to do with your stunning brand of no-holds barred, rough and tumble, personality driven guy talk and not Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Adam Vinatieri, Tedy Bruschi, Manny Ramirez, Perdo Martinez, Jason Varitek, David Ortiz, Mike Timlin, Tim Wakefield, Josh Beckett, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and a fan base that has placed sports as the highest form of local entertainment. Those guys have nothing to do with sports talk trouncing a decidedly local and dying media platform.

I tune back in for Headlines! Long enough to hear that Madonna looks like a heroin skank. Say, did she do something to pique their interests? Of course and this is all, again, so pathetically predictable.

At the nine o’clock hour they replay the Tom Brady interview again.

9:52 AM-

Buzzer Beaters-

Jon Meterparel talks about Jason Kidd is giving away his gold medal to the wife of casino owner Steve Winn.

Gerry- “I just want review the Jimmyfund telethon…”Backslapping and self-aggrandizement.

John- “I am calling out my golfing friends to donate to the Jimmyfund. Dino has his own golf tournament!” This mutt just referred to himself in the third person. I wish I was listening to an autopsy.

9:57 AM-

Crossover to Dale and Holley involves more backslapping. Dale informs us that Michael Felger, newly hired away from his writing gig at the Herald and his afternoon show on AM890 to write for the new WEEI web site and fill in on air when needed will be in for Michael Holley.

10:16 AM-

After nearly seventeen minutes of commercials with one sports flash, Dale Arnold and Michael Felger take to the air. Their talk is all about the big Red Sox win the night before.

10:23 AM

Dale Arnold says “ass” on the radio. Is this guy fired up or what??

10:29 AM

It's Manny Ramirez time. Dale tells us it was almost criminal what this guy did on this team this year. We hardly know all the stories. Really? Does Dale tell us any of these extra stories? Nope. We just gotta take his word for it. Good to see Dale’s new part time gig in the Red Sox broadcast booth is paying off with unsubstantiated rumors passed on to the listeners during his radio show.

10:40-10:58 AM

My guess is that before this segment someone in management sent Felger and Dale a little note saying, “Hey, you two numb nuts want to make with a bit of the Patriot talk on Patriot Monday! And maybe mention our new web site, you know, the one that we hired Michael for?” In these 18 minutes Felger’s latest post on WEEI.com four times during their discussion of the Pats and their winless preseason. Felger says there are real questions about this team. Okay. Dale says things will get better when #12 suits up. Okay. These don’t seem to be diametrically opposed ideas so why are these grown men shouting at each other? If this were an actual discussion it might be “interesting,” as opposed to what it is- “barely tolerable.”

11:10 AM

Back with Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi in studio. Harrison can be a compelling interview, he is definitely an athlete that embraces the use of motivation from all comers. Dale steps into this accidentally when approaching the subject of the winless preseason. “Should we be concerned?” Dale asks.

“We who?” Rodney curtly replies.

“We-” I actually think Dale didn’t know which we he was talking about, “The fans.”

Rodney snickers, knowing he got him and then jumps into the athlete answer.

11:28 AM

The interview is basically over. Dale throws one last question to Rodney, asking if he’ll have any special words with David Tyree. I’m sure you know who Tyree is and why Rodney would have a word or two with him. The moment of deadly silence is the first compelling moment of the morning. Felger jumps in and asks if Rodney was going to write the intro to Tyree’s book. Rodney starts barking at him not to believe everything he reads. It dispels the tension. I bet Dale had to stop himself from apologizing to the audience for accidentally entertaining us.

11:37 AM

They take the first phone caller. He wants to talk Pats. He wonders at the team taking a QB with the third round pick in the last draft as opposed to shoring up the O-line or even the secondary. Not a bad question. Then the guy goes on to complain that he doesn’t like seeing the players “yukking it up on the sidelines while getting beat” like they were during the last preseason game.

Oy vey. Keep this nonsense to yourself callers. You sound like boobs.

11:57 AM


You’re insane!


12:13 PM

More Backup QB talk. Dale makes a snide remark about Felger’s former radio employer. I see him high-fiving himself after this and promising to reward his lightning wit with a stop at DQ on the ride home. Don’t tell Susan and the kids!

12:43 PM

Felger defends his baseball assertions. I question many poor, poor decisions in my life that have led me to actually making note of this.

1:32 PM

Felger is clearly developing his next article/post for the web site. The phrase, “Flipping a switch” is sure to be featured prominently.

1:56 PM

Dale signs off telling us to stay tuned as Pete Sheppard and the boys will be along on The Big Show- the boys being Fred Smerlas and Steve DeOssie. When my wife was in labor for our second child one contraction hit her particularly hard. She sat up in bed and said she had to go. “To the bathroom?” I asked. “No. It hurts too much. I gotta go, leave, GET OUT OF HERE NOW!”

I finally know what that moment of panic was all about as I just had it.

2:12 PM

After four minutes on the air Fred Smerlas makes a “joke” about Pete in a thong. As this is the same joke Fred made eight years ago, I should feel young again. Instead I feel sad. What place in any broadcast universe does this pass as humor the first time? It lacks any element of originality or surprise…EIGHT YEARS AGO. It hasn’t changed with age. But what was I expecting? Did I think multiple championships would change anything with these people? I mean, I know it changed a lot of my feelings and attitudes towards sports and the local teams. It was truly na├»ve to believe any of that would translate for these “analysts.”

2:32 PM-

Homo-Erotic tomfoolery.

2:34 and 25 seconds PM-

Red Sox talk.

2:35 PM Exactly

Commercial break.

2:48 PM-

They get to their first caller. “I want to talk about the psychology of the Patriot fans.” I want to throw myself into a wood chipper. The hosts have led the way to a startling level of self-involvement and sadly a portion of the fan base has followed suit like dim lemmings. Why talk about the team when you can talk about the people watching the team!

3:29 PM-

Pete blows up a caller.

3:32 PM-

Fred comes within an inch of declaring this year’s Patriot secondary an improvement over last years’. Why would he do such a thing? I don’t really know but more importantly, I don’t really care. Even the biggest home town fan can see through this as nonsense.

3:43 PM-

A quickly turned around recorded bit about Felger being a douche bag with clips from today. What it lacks in creativity in never comes close to making up for with wit.

3:52 PM-

A non-Pat fan caller asks why New England fans are nuts, like callers who wanted Francona fired after the 2007 World Series…THAT HE WON. Pete says that is just one fan in 3,000. Fred agrees and points to the number of anti-Belichick media there are which is a solid point….for a totally different argument.

4:14 PM-

Back from seventeen minutes of commercials and a sports flash. I’ve survived two hours of this show. I’ll never see these two hours again. I’m two hours closer to death but I’m still drawing breath. I can’t tell you how happy this makes my previous WEEI-free years seem.

4:35 PM-

Actual NFL line talk on nose guard play and how he makes his reads off the center guard and fullback. This is interesting and a place where Fred and Steve’s experience could be entertaining. Of course it lasts all of 23 seconds. The notion that Fred and Steve aren’t allowed to break out of the guy talk shtick to relay pro-level insight is nonsense. At this point it is clear they either can’t remember or don’t care to.

4:54 PM-

Some caller tries breaking Pete’s balls over tennis. Steve later says he knows the guy and he was goofing around. It is ponderous and alienating. I am convinced you can do anything in radio, it is an elastic medium but without the fundamentals of context nothing will make sense. How many broadcast hours has this crew of three logged and they still refuse to master the concept that just because it is funny to one other person in the room does not mean it translates to a full third of the listening audience?

And then Fred jokes about beating kids.

5:11 PM

Intro…James Brown howl…same announcer guy…same tired jokes…and no Coach Belichick yet.

5:26 PM

Pete throws it to break with all the dexterity of a moist sock.

5:31 PM

Pete says the coach is running late. I am getting the shakes.

5:36 PM

Belichick checks in and I immediately feel like someone competent is there, just in case a fire breaks out or someone plays too rough with a choking hazard. At least an adult is present.

5:55 PM

I turn off the radio.

So after all that, what does it mean? Can they continue their high level of on air content to the digital world?

One thing that is certain when it comes to radio and the management that runs the station groups- they are cheap and not usually very forward thinking. The move by WEEI to further solidify its place in the sports media distribution marketplace of New England by re-launching its website with a full staff and some local journalist personalities is half a decade too late. So while they may seem flashy- and they are putting on quite the self-congratulatory show hiring Michael Felger, Rob Bradford and the disgraced Ron Borges, they are going to fail with their aim to be THE sports information distribution center of New England. The problem is they don’t do “journalism,” they yell at callers and make snide comments that someone, somewhere seems to be fooled into thinking is humor. They feast on the star athletes that don’t play with them. Facts, the theoretical cornerstone of journalism, aren’t a part of the WEEI vocabulary. They happily sneer at the idea of fact-based radio. Jason Wolfe has said it just doesn’t work. But apparently he thinks Jon Meterparel does.

There is no return for the money pit that is the new website. It cannot generate enough new revenue to survive. I would fully expect this whole thing to end with less original content and more fill-in spots for Felger and Borges on air. They don’t have the drive to push through the undiscovered country of the new media. They are lazy and they are dinosaurs. So when the management and talent chuckle at the downward spiral of the Globe and pick at the corpse of the Herald, they should instead be shaking in their boots. If the digital age can wipe out the recording industry and newspapers what chance does commercial radio stand? The film industry is fighting hard but that is a multi-billion dollar business. They have the money to fight for their market share of the entertainment dollar.

Consider the issue this way- the last major move this brand made was a fake radio stunt hiring Mike Adams. That’s the forward thinking leadership they have. Fake radio stunts? They may as well have hired a phalanx of diarrhea sufferers to roam the streets of the Boston area, taking smelly, messy dumps on all the cars that have Red Sox and Patriots bumper stickers on them. That’s basically the same thing as hiring Mike Adams and doing it with a fake I’m-locking-myself-in-the-studio stunt. Can you imagine anything more insulting to the sports fan’s intelligence? Maybe it would be this proclamation that Ron Borges is on board and ready to kick butt. Is he? He certainly is rested after being disgraced by a plagiarizing scandal. And whose butt is he going to kick? Could it be the head coach of the local football team? The guy who won three championships here? Yeah, he didn’t deliver the perfect season and Ron is filled with bile so Belichick needs a butt kicking.

What nonsense.

These people hate the people they cover. The hate the people who call into their shows. The hate the people who listen. They hate you. Now, hate can get you places in this world but navigating the rocking shoals of an industry in turmoil is not the place for the shiftless masses leading the way in the New Balance building. They are not long for the new shift in media and their fall will be as inglorious as a fading superstar shooting his way out of town and getting kicked in the ass by everyone who grew to loathe him.


Miz said...

Remember Kids: Subjecting yourself to 12 hours of WEEI programming has been shown to cause bloating, nausea, lower intestinal tract pain, impotence, and diarrhea. Do not try this at home. Do not use WEEI if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, or any sense of self esteem. Please consult your doctor before engaging in a regular diet of WEEI programming.

Dan said...

Great piece Buzz. The point about EEI being half a decade late with the website push is spot on. I expect Ordway will soon be lecturing his audience on the finer points of e-commerce strategy and the importance of sticky eyeballs.

Perseus said...

Mike Adams looks more and more like Robert Goulet's coked up, burned out, mildly retarded younger brother every year.

The addition of Borges lowers the bar. Who knew that was possible. A bitter, bitter hack, bought and paid for by Don King. That's the bigger crime of his Globe tenure. He was reporting on a promoter he was working for on fight telecasts.

The rest of them are just run of the mill excement. **** you Dale. :)

rrsafety said...


My favorite line: "If this were an actual discussion it might be “interesting,” as opposed to what it is- “barely tolerable.”"

LOL!!! So true...

ozzy said...

I heard Gerry Callahan for the first time in a while recently. He sounds like Rita Cosby's life partner.

I would like to have someone explain how they find Mike Adams in any way entertaining. Do they think he's funny? He's insipid. He's the "funny' guy in your office that you pray isnt sitting at your table at the Christmas party.

Anonymous said...

I agree with much of what you write, but I have a question for you. You are quick to criticize (appropriately so) but what do YOU want from a sports radio station?

I agree that the man-talk format, especially from the Big Show, is tiring, but do we want to hear 12 hours of "the middle relief for the Red Sox are giving up three runs a game over the last week"?

Sports radio is entertainment, and ratings is the bottom line. Until WEEI's number drop, don't expect things to change.

Jon said...

I'm just glad you survived. I can take D and C in 5 second increments and that's about it.

Anonymous said...

WEEI delivers what the audience wants: mindless buffoons.

NESN deliver what their audience wants: hot, scantily clad blonds.

I have not listened to WEEI since the Monday after the Super Bowl and I have not missed it.

buzz said...

Hey anonymous,
First, thanks for reading and responding. As to your central question of what do I want from a sports radio station? I tried to point out the moments of the day that I found engaging. They were when Fred and Steve were discussing nose guard reads, as well as lane coverage on special teams. When Rodney Harrison challenged Dale and then sparred with Felger. I thought the caller that had questions about the Pats use of the third rounder on a QB instead of O-line was worthy of discussion. These were moments that I had little knowledge of or was compelled by or felt that answers would come from objectivity and experience as oppossed to the normal funhouse filter.

I'm not saying radio is easy. But I am absolutely bored and insulted when it sounds like the hosts put as much effort into show prep as I put into filling my morning sports curiousity simply by scanning the papers, the web and ESPN.

Ordway has said that he believes talk radio is compelling when there is conflict. He and Wolfe built the station on this. I would never deny their success. My point is that they are running their course. They know that as well which is why the money is being poured into the web site. My feeling is that they will not be able to translate what they do on the air to a written/web form. Different medium, different choices for the consumer.

Maybe if they had writers for their shows, and I don't mean gag or joke writers, i mean people to research and prep the hosts. Maybe if they had more interviews. Maybe if they put more emphasis on the subject of what they cover rather then themselves.

And whoever told any one of those guys that they were funny...well, there is special place in Hell for that person.

Anonymous said...

Great column.

Best Line: "I wish I was listening to an autopsy."

Anonymous said...

Absolutely the best, most honest article on WEEI I've read. I tune in to listen to Belichick but nothing else. Their listeners appear to be the dregs of society. WEEI is nothing but a pig sty looking for more pigs.

Chris said...

That was MINT! Best line: 'They happily sneer at the idea of fact-based radio. Jason Wolfe has said it just doesn’t work. But apparently he thinks Jon Meterparel does.'

I despise WEEI...the hosts, the phoniness, the unending commercial breaks. I stopped listening to this station when D&C were told to 'take a long walk on a beach' by Wolfe. I don't like Entercomm and I won't subsidize either of their stations. The addition of Felger and Borges--two of the more hated members of the Boston media cabal--will chase away more listeners than they attract. And once the leaves fall from the trees and the sun starts setting earlier and rising later, WEEI can't be heard beyond the Weston toll booths. Thankfully.

TC said...

"Maybe if they put more emphasis on the subject of what they cover rather then themselves."
BINGO! Nothing more really needs to be said.

Anonymous said...

Wait until the website writer/bloggers have to get fresh stuff up there every day, no, a few times a day. It's not as easy as it looks boys. When you see two or three day old bylines you'll know that the web experiment is over.

I too have been off EEI for a while now. What do I want from sportsradio? Something a little younger, for one thing. Not twentysomething, but for god's sake clear out the 53 year old boomers whose cultural frame of reference is Animal House and the Beatles (and I'm a 53 year old boomer.) How about some energy from people like Rusillo, Simmons and even Felger. His show was excellent.

Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion, and bodies at rest tend to stay at rest. You could apply that law to the habit-bound listeners as well as the inert hosts and staff of WEEI.

By the way, I love this site.

Anonymous said...

Excellent piece--Bravo Buzz.

Fred West Lynn said...

Very nice work, Buzz -- even though the task was a lot like being a food-taster for unpopular despots: nauseating and certain to kill you eventually. You are a brave man.

I realize your focus was on sports information/discussion and WEEI in particular, but I think it's also important to keep in mind the entire environment, one where one team controls the entire broadcast (Sox) and another controls all the "information/backstage" shows (Patriots). All that positivity leaves radio with very little room except into the negative, and the newspaper columnists have paved the way in that regard; Wolfe merely realized that 12 hours a day of "original" programming was a lot to fill every day and that right-wing radio draws in big bucks while other aspects haven't (Hello, Air America!)
So, IMO, it's not surprising that EEI has gone this route (Highway to Hell) but rather that they've kept it the same while the externals continue to shift around them. As you rightly point out, there are far better (and more workplace-acceptable) ways to get information, primarily the Web. And, as you point out, the station's oft-touted ratings "dominance" has materialized just as the Sox, Patriots, and now the Celtics are champions or at least strong contenders. The cycle of pro sports teams -- unfortunately for New England fans -- is that this Golden Era can't and won't last forever, and the underpinning that the fan audience has will leave them with Smerlas griping about Hillary Clinton, Callahan talking up the Curt Schilling congressional campaign, and Dale wondering where his Red Sox Wednesday gig went wrong.
The station had another shot of dumb luck when the parent company replaced the Sox with the Celtics for next year, but I don't foresee Pierce or Garnett or Allen making time to get interviewed at 8:45 am by Dennis & Callahan, and I don't think the Sox players will see much point in WEEI as their appearance contracts expire. That leaves lots more time for pimping golf courses, crackpot political yelling, and Michael Holley's CD collection. Good luck with that, boys!

Kevin said...

Another stupid rant and rave from the mama's basement set. Let's see you do better, punk.

jon said...

The only thing more tired and trite than the material being flushed through the airwaves by that station is the defense mechanism employed by the few remaining faithful.

Mama's basement? Beyond pathetic. Name-calling? Really, isn't this the whole point in a nutshell?

That comment is a microcosm of the entire complaint. Instead of debating you, they debase you, and then they call you names.

Fade away, please. Bitchin' work, buzz.

Anonymous said...

Yes, what a brilliant article What is doesn't mention is that WEEI is the highest rated sports radio station in the COUNTRY. They are obviously doing something right. You are writing a blog for some website that 10 people a day visit and they have the largest sports radio audinece in the nation. Hmmm.

Chuck said...

Kevin's well-thought-out counterpoint is very convincing. But I think I'll stick with my gut on this one and continue to avoid the WEEI cesspool. Whether or not one individual could "do better," it's clear that the WEEI broadcasts are nothing but a pile of worthless crap. Buzz hit a bull's eye with this one. Take that, punk!

Doncabesa (my url is awesome!) said...

Fantastic article Buzz. Finding quality programming on WEEI is like finding the clean socks in my mother's basement, (where I live btw)or a non-sticky picture of Sarah Michelle Gellar in my buddy J-bugs apahtment. APPROVE!

Fred West Lynn said...

Kevin, you poor offended soul...

As far as I can tell, you and Callahan are the two remaining people on this planet who employ "punk" as an insult. For the rest of the world, "punk" means Ramones, Iggy, the Sex Pistols, the Clash and an entire cultural movement from 1977. Thirty years ago.
But if throwing around such well-constructed bon mots as "Pedro the Punk" (a favorite of your hero -- or is Callahan your alter ego?), well who could argue with your superior intellect?

Tim said...


What should you want in sports radio? Listen to WFAN for a day. I love the Sox and the Pats, but I'll listen to that station over WEEI every time.

Between the fact that they actually talk SPORTS, you never have a 10 minute straight stretch of commercials, and the hosts seem to put the effort in to be knowledgable about what they are talking about...it is head and shoulders above the crap on EEI.

In fact, I think buzz should to a followup article listening to WFAN for a whole day.

Tiki said...

Anonymous said...

Yes, what a brilliant article What is doesn't mention is that WEEI is the highest rated sports radio station in the COUNTRY. They are obviously doing something right. You are writing a blog for some website that 10 people a day visit and they have the largest sports radio audinece in the nation. Hmmm.

If only ten people a day visit this site, why is there so much traffic coming from Entercom ISP's today?

Anonymous said...

How many more ways can you say it?

Does it suck? Yes.

Do people listen anyway? Yes.

rrsafety said...

Kevin = Pete

Tim said...

People listen because they have no viable alternative unless they have XM/Sirius or streaming web.

Fred West Lynn said...

RR -
Kevin = Pete would make sense: AWG and monosyllabic. Except that it was posted at 3:17, where Pete was in the Big Chair bemoaning the fact that the Yankees aren't putting up much of a fight or somesuch. Callahan writes better than he speaks (a low bar, but ...) so maybe it's just one of his Droogies.

P.S. It would be interesting to see the traffic from Entercom ISP addresses, wouldn't it?

Anonymous said...

.....Here's a thought...don't like WEEI?....THEN DON'T LISTEN.....bottomline is: WEEI'S ratings are FANTASTIC...of course 99% of the people who comment on this blog say, "I HAVEN'T LISTENED TO WEEI IN YEARS!!!".....give me a break with that crap...YOU know YOU listen, then you complain......people always love to complain about who is in power and make no mistake about it, WEEI is IN POWER

Tiki said...

"WEEI is in power"? In power over what, exactly?

Melissa said...

I love the PEOPLE who randomly capitalize WORDS to make their POINT. I haven't listened to WEEI in any SIGNIFICANT amount of time in about 2 YEARS. Yet, for the occasional few minutes I turn it on, SOME DOUCHEBAG is yelling about some contrived storyline or on any given weekend, PSEUDO-CELEBRITY Yankee callers are given a forum. Keep commenting all you want, Entercom employees, you're working for the Applebee's of sports RADIO.

Mark said...


This is funny on so many levels. Bro, you work for a fucking radio station. You're one poor quarter away from running the air freshener dispenser at a car wash. I think everyone here fully acknowledges that sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. What else are you ruling the world on besides that? It must be that shiny new web presence, stuffed with hacks and has beens.

Dan said...

"WEEI is the highest rated sports radio station in the COUNTRY" - isn't that like being the world's tallest midget?

Anon. also neglects to mention that WEEI has a fraction of the actual number of listeners of WFAN, which is why Mike and the Mad Dog made so much more $ than the Morning Klan at EEI. Keep crowing about the ratings though. Make sure to keep us up to date on the page views at EEI.com. The web strategy is a smart move....in 1998. Idiots.

Boda said...

It looks like Buzz has caused a bit of an uproar over at WEEI. The funny thing is he doesn't try to deny the success of the station. All he really does (in a devastatingly effective way) is chronicle who they are and what they're about. And when that mirror was turned inward, the lashing out was as predictably pathetic as it was inevitable. They are who they are, no matter how much they don't want to hear about it.

A famous judge once commented metaphorically to a young man aspiring to greatness that the world needs ditch diggers too. I say to the men and women of WEEI - take pride in your role within the entertainment industry. Your high ratings clearly indicate that the entertainment industry needs its proverbial ditch diggers.

Anonymous said...

Real tough making fun of a guy that had throat cancer.

Anonymous said...

yeah... don't pick on Hitler either, I mean, he had a tough childhood.

Denise said...

Just because he had cancer it doesn't mean he's any less of a douche. And from the little I've heard, Gerry can take care of himself in an argument- even if it's just mocking the other side with his whiny baby voice. They teach that tactic in debate classes now, you know.

Anonymous said...

"Kevin = Pete would make sense: AWG and monosyllabic."

Kevin is a two-syllable word.

Tom Clancy said...

Melissa, you forgot the random ellipses that suggest the meat of your argument is so . . . obvious . . . there's no point rehashing it for . . . everyone.

Then again, maybe mouth-breathers just type like they talk.

Tim said...

what a brilliant reference to Judge Smails.

green33 said...

well done, thanks for doing the painful and dirty work so others don't have to. I second the sentiment from someone earlier about a similar log from a day's listen to 'FAN. Mike and the(recently departed) Mad Dog were exactly what I was looking for in an all-sports radio station: informed hosts who truly liked sports and were enthusiastic about discussing & debating them.

John said...

I bet 100 bucks this asshole is another MA liberal weenie who doesn't like WEEI because its run by TRUE AMERICANS and not a bunch of communists. Who the fuck is Buzz Byrne? I bet he's a Barack HUSSEIN Obama fan who supports fascist regimes and fairness doctrines. Callahan and Dennis should run for president.

Draco LePage said...

[i]Applebees of Sportsradio[/i]

Wow, perfect, just perfect

AdamsFan said...

How come you didn't do Planet Mikey? It's the best show on WEEI. You probably wouldn't know that since you're a loser.

Anonymous said...

If EEI really wanted to make money they should only have two 4 hour shows. One for the morning drive and the afternoon drive without commercials. Then sell the rest of the shifts(Dale and Holley, Plant Drug Dealer) for commercials.

Jon said...

John- Congratulations. That was the best impersonation of one of those nitwits who thinks they're Howie Carr I've ever read.
Did you mistake this for the Herald comments section?