By David Scott
Boston Sports Media
• The Track Gals were all over the jockstraps of the local (and former local) sports folks this week, but even the Derek Lowe infidelity allegations can’t top the transparent attempt to gain attention by WWZN 1510-AM’s Ryen Russillo.
In commenting to the TGs (in Thursday’s Herald) about his alleged night moves on WEEI 850-AM’s John Dennis’s daughter, Emilee, Russillo did the complete opposite of a simple, “No Comment.” He offered a Classless Comment, instead: “I refused to apologize because he (John Dennis) wasn’t there and didn’t have all the facts,” Ryen told the Track. “We talked again and now we’re done with this. I have bigger things out there to think about right now and I don’t need the distraction. He’s a schmuck.”
Really? That ‘schmuck’ is one of the local reasons why you even have a fighting chance of making something of a splash in this market, R-Squared. He, his morning partner, Cranky Callahan, and their station are the primary reason sports talk radio even resonates in this city.
And while we’ve been quick to praise Russillo’s evident talents on-radio and on-tube, this is an egregious error that future bosses will – and should – look at with a skeptical eye. Being a pseudo-stud and hitting on ladies one thing. Resorting to name calling and personal attacks is quite another.
Calling a dean (or Dino) of the sports scene a Yiddish term for “penis” or an English, informal noun for “a foolish or contemptible person,” is not among any of the industry’s Top 100 Ways to Pump Ratings (Q and otherwise).
While Dino – who Shots attempted to contact twice on his cell phone on Thursday – didn’t cover himself in glory by recording an obscenity-laced message on RR’s VM, he did defend what he deemed an insult to his daughter. Clearly Daddy Dino was protecting his Cub and a little swearing to help keep unwanted paws off his little girl is forgivable, if not praiseworthy.
Unforgivable, however, is a rising radio guy like Russillo resorting to such terms as “schmuck” in order to raise his own profile with the city’s top gossip mongers. A petty argument is one thing. A personal attack on one of the city’s loudest voices, for public consumption no less, is bush league even for the pretenders that play in 1510’s Zone.
(Dennis, by the way, underwent gum surgery on Wednesday, according to EEInsiders, and thus has been out of commission on the airwaves.)
• A nice job of follow-up by bostonmagazine.com’s Corey Fenwick with this exclamation point to the end of the Michael Gee saga.
• Not a bad showing by the NESN Sports Desk folks with their split set from HQ and Pats Camp. Paul Devlin has been more comfortable in his desk role and being on-site has given the NESN people a good chance to get worthwhile sit-downs that look like a real, live ESPN remote set-up. . . The same can not, however, be said for the earnest efforts of the Sports Plus/Minus staffers who are limited by the fact that both Wednesday and Friday shows are taped mid-week, meaning any kind of breaking (ie, timely) news for the Friday show is very much hit or miss. Even worse, this week, was an elongated Manny Being Manny discussion on the Wednesday show, amongst Basketball Bob, Jackie Mack and Gordon Edes – moderated by the always-solid, Neumie. “Double-taping” is clearly a cost-cutting measure by the Sox beancounters and it cheapens the product in the end. Neumie – and the viewers – deserve better from their “Ticket to New England Sports.” If you’re gonna be big time, then act big time. And please, enough of the shoulder cam wobble shots. Basketball Bob looked like he was about to dodge behind Jackie Mack before one of the commercial breaks, as the NESN-cam juked and jived towards him.
• Tuesday’s double-afternoon posts by My Boss Bruce pretty much nailed the John Wolfson Boston mag piece on WEEI 850-AM’s ‘Loudmouths’, but here are Shots lingering questions from the (beach-reading-worthy) 8/9 pager:
1. What was up with the clunky disclaimer midway through the article that stated in brackets?: “The executive vice president of this magazine is engaged to the station’s current general manager.” A crosscheck of the masthead for each entity translates that into Daniel E. Scully Jr. and EEI’s Julie Kahn as being hitched to be hitched. Fine. Mazel tov. No problem there.
But does that mean Kahn can’t be quoted as well? It would have been nice to have a top, female executive’s take on the “soap opera” that Wolfson set forth as the Big Show’s main formula. A woman’s voice in a man’s world always makes for good copy.
2. MBB was dead-on with requesting Wolfson had divulged the nine writers who, “for the record” said that they are loyal to WEEI first and their papers, second. We’re guessing No. 1 on the list was Sean McAdam who seems to have every other tag in front of his name before you can scroll down to ‘ProJo Writer’ ID.
3. Ordway told Wolfson that the Whiner Line was the 10-15 most listened to minutes of the show. It might have been worth delving a bit more into just why that is? At the very least a sidebar on three or four regular Whiners might have given a good break to the text. Oh, that’s right. Boston Mag is too posh for sidebars. My bad.
• How fortunate is Yellow Boxer Steroid Bryant going to be as the Palmiero circus plays out and other ‘roid bombshells get revealed? Timing is everything in publishing (and life, so they say) and Bryant is about to capitalize on his good timing in major ways. But first, he needs to stop doing Lou Tilley’s abysmal show on CN8. In fact, Lou Tilley should just stop doing Lou Tilley’s show. We’d take another CN8 infomercial over TerriTilley any day.
• Hope that little rant doesn’t screw up the Shots scheduled appearance with infinitely-more-talented-than-Tilley, Ed Berliner next Tuesday night. If it does, anyone want to have Sushi near BU on Tuesday eve? I already booked the trip from Hull to CN8 studios and it’s a non-refundable. And my visa’s only good for the night.
• Pick, from the following real examples of actual words uttered on-air this week, your favorite sign that Pete Meathead’s head is actually filled with meat:
A. “Thongs” of people follow Red Sox players on Newbury Street, Shep said. ‘Thongs.’ Not ‘throngs.’ Not ‘numerous.’ Not ‘lots.’ But ‘thongs.’ Funny, Connecticut School of Broadcasting (Meat’s alma mater) never mentions its ‘English as Second Language’ program in its ‘EEI ad.
B. In droning on endlessly about high school hockey in Rhode Island on Wednesday (riveting radio it wasn’t, rest assured) Meat mentioned “straight, consecutive” titles for Mount St. Charles. That’s almost as redundant as “loud, know-it-all, Sheppard.”
C. That same day he blamed Jose Canseco for some “unnecessary blabber.” Coming from the King of Such Blabber, Canseco should be doubly proud.
Take your pick, folks. It’s just Meat being Meat, and for some reason the Decision Makers at Entercom believe it makes for entertaining radio.
We beg to differ.
• In the interest of equal time, here is an impassioned plea from emailer Andrew with the tag of ARS630: “Hey Pal, Why are you so jealous of Pete “the Meat” Sheppard?……is it because he is a Big radio star and you are just a Small Pee-on with a computer?……I think so. Get over your resentment of Pete Sheppard……..”
My initial thought was that Meat has a brother with the initial ARS – maybe Andrew Robert Sheppard – but then I thought about. Would Meat’s brother even defend the guy?
We kid because Meat’s in Hull now and we need a little hometown humor every now and then.
• My favorite irony of the adidas buying Reebok deal is that Shots’ all-time Fave, Sonny Vaccaro will be once again drawing a paycheck from the folks at All Day I Dream About Supersizing. Vaccaro had split for Reebok a while back (after leaving Nike for adidas, way back) and has been building The Vector’s “grass roots” hoops operation with varying levels of success. No chapter of the shoe industry’s rise through the 80s can be written without at least a mention of Sonny. A lot of people resent him for that (and other things). We’re simply amazed by his presence, his power and his panache. . .Nike will undoubtedly blow off the merger as inconsequential but you should know better than that. This makes the sneaker wars the hottest they have ever been with the most money at stake in the sordid industry’s long, grisly past. We smell “Sole Influence: The Sequel” . . . Scott’s Shots can confirm that earlier this year, adidas had been in serious, high level negotiations to acquire Philly-based AND 1, the makers of tees, shorts, sneaks and Streetballers. The deal fell through late in the process and eventually AND 1 was bought by American Sporting Goods, Inc., the company that makes Avia sneakers (an odd pairing if ever there was one). Had that deal ever transpired, it would have set adidas and Reebok up even prettier in the basketball shoe world. They will surely be stronger with this deal, but not as strong as they could have been with the street cred (and edgy designs) of AND 1. (Shots Disclaimer No. 3,478: I worked for AND 1 within the past year. No more, though. Cool?)
• Props to Jay Glazer at msn.foxsports.com for having the Richard-Seymour-returns scoop, late Monday. We were betting (maybe even hoping) Jerome Solomon might get that one to get off his Boston schneid. Next time, Solly. And Sully, too, for that matter. . . Just an internet guy on the national beat scooping your guy on the local beat. ‘Just the internet.’ No biggie.
• Here’s something I’ve said twice in conversations this week and both times Industry Insiders were shocked – or at least surprised – at the news. So it must mean something: Any frequent visitor to www.journalismjobs.com will tell you that the recent rise in web producer postings for newspaper/TV-attached websites has been palpable. (Web producers are basically the web’s equivalent of editors, hopefully possessing new media tech skills and old media news judgment). Among the newspaper sites looking for web producers over the last month were: The Wall Street Journal, The Indianapolis Star, The Virginian Pilot; Washingtonpost.com, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and USA Today. Add in Yahoo!, CNET, CNN and NPR and what you see is a who’s who of new media progressives.
What you don’t see is a paper in New England, never mind the Globe or the Herald.
• Also, in a widely circulated memo, the Big Daddy of the Globe, The New York Times announced an integration of its news side with its web side to form a news/web side. Revolutionary! Here are some of the highlights form the memo, posted in full at Poynter.com. Shots has taken the liberty of bolding some of the key concepts that resonate loud and clear for the Boston market:
From: Bill Keller
To: [New York Times newsroom]
Subject: A Message from Bill Keller and Martin Nisenholtz
To the Staff,
Over the past ten years the newsroom of Nytimes.com and the newsroom on 43rd Street have been partners at a distance — separated administratively, culturally, geographically and financially. We have built bridges . . . This was probably a healthy arrangement in the formative years, because it allowed our digital operation to flourish, to experiment, to move at its own quick rhythm and focus on the competitive new digital world. The result is, unassailably, the best and most widely read newspaper website in the world, one that consistently wins every award in the field and that continues to attract new readers in droves.
But in those ten years, the world has changed. The digital news operation is now grown up and strong, ready to enlarge its ambitions. . . . We have a burgeoning video unit that is eager to be a larger presence on the website, at a time when most users of Nytimes.com have graduated to the kind of high-speed delivery that makes video appealing. And all of us appreciate that one of the biggest long-term challenges facing our craft is to invent a digital journalism and new services for our readers that both live up to our high standards and help carry the cost of a great news-gathering organization.
We have concluded that our best chance of meeting that challenge is to integrate the two newsrooms into one. This will enable us to fully tap the creative energy of this organization and thus raise digital journalism to the next level. . . .
By integrating the newsrooms we plan to diminish and eventually eliminate the difference between newspaper journalists and Web journalists — to reorganize our structures and our minds to make Web journalism, in forms that are both familiar and yet-to-be-invented, as natural to us as writing and editing, and to do all of this without losing the essential qualities that make us The Times. Our readers are moving, and so are we. . .
An undertaking on this scale is full of complications, but we are convinced that the time is right for this, and that it cannot be a halfway venture. . .
Every ink-stained wretch needs to read and repeat the one, singular line: “But in those ten years, the world has changed.” Sadly, the local newspapers have failed to follow that change and now must instead, follow the Times.
• XM Satellite Radio and the US open announced a 3-year deal to live broadcast the US Open men’s and women’s semis and finals from Flushing. Tennis on radio? Is this an old Second City TV skit or something? “Serve. Bounce. Return. Bounce. Return. Oooh. Bounce. Return. Bounce. This Return brought to you by H&R Block. Bounce. Return. This Bounce brought to you by the makers of Bounce fabric softener. And a put away. Fifteen-love. Serve. Bounce. . .”
• We told you the Track Gals would be all over the Derek Lowe dirty-doings. Front Page even! And Shots brought it to you Monday Night! If we don’t get a Christmas Card from the TGs this year, it’s gonna mean WAR!
• Looks like the Yellow Boxers are fully immersed in giving X Games coverage, including a Thursday preview that covered three-plus pages, all via their X Man, Rich Thompson.
• It’s no secret that Shots has been critical of the mega-talented Boston Sports Guy. We have also gone out of our way to praise his pioneering ways and applaud his phenomenal rise from his pre-blogging Blog to his current position of influence. We have, however, also been disappointed in some of the “loss of innocence” that has accompanied his meteoric ascension. The cartoon attempt was a joke. He gets held back by his editors. He’s been Disney-fied. These are just a few of our observations. And more and more, those observations are falling on sympathetic ears. For instance, this well-conceived email from Craig Barry arrived earlier this week. Maybe I am – as the Sim Supporters like to claim – a bitter, burned writer looking to grab at his coattails. Or maybe, as Mr. Barry indicates, Simmons has lost some of his universal appeal.
I don’t think you could put it ANY better when you called out the Sports Guy for his lack of effort. I am a ridiculously loyal SG reader that’s turned at least 10 readers on to him over the past 4-5 years or so, since his bostonsportsguy.com days. And don’t get me wrong – when he’s on, he’s ON.
But I am getting increasingly frustrated with his empty promises and inconsistent entries. It seems like every 4-5 months, he gives a “State of the Sports Guy” column explaining what he’s been doing with his woe-is-me West Coast 11-to-3 life and what his loyal readers can expect in the future. Yet every time this happens, he follows through with three weeks of what was promised – then disappears for a month.
It’s not like the guy has a hard life – he’s writing a column in the style that he prefers (though PG-13 rated), he has more freedom than any other writer on the most popular sports site in the country, and he writes 60% of his column on the New England region. For Christ’s sakes, the guy waxes poetic about reality TV and 80′s movies – yet we all read, because his style is addicting and his wit is unmatched.
I mean, the guy has an intern. He’s a frigging sportswriter. You’re telling me that this Intern can’t sift through Sports Guy’s mail and give us a SG Mail column more than 4 times a year?
I know the guy has a new daughter and is working on side projects galore, but just don’t lie to us with this “new columns every X and Y, I promise” bullshit. Put up or shut up.
Quick on the heels of that missive came this from the SG on Wednesday’s Cowbell: “Just as a heads-up, this “More Cowbell” space is going to be used for recommendations, brief postings, quick reactions, “The Book of the Week Club” and so on … we just finished customizing the blog so it’s easy to use. Hope you enjoy it over the next few months. As I wrote before, I’m going to spend the vast majority of my time working on columns, but this page can be useful for all the fringe ideas/rants/reviews that need a home somewhere — some of them will be longer, some of them will be shorter, and some of them will be in the middle (like today’s post). And occasionally, like with yesterday’s Manny post, one of those rants can be blown out into something a little more substantial.”
We’re guessing Craig Barry – and others – are holding the SG to this vow. And we’ll be sure to track it as well.
• This week’s Scott’s Shots innovation worth noting is the newfound ability to tow the 1970, aluminum Chaise Lounge from the Seaside Shanty, to the shores of the mighty Atlantic, on the back of my rusted out, flat-tired Trek 830 (circa 1999). Let’s see old Lancey Pooh try that one. And I could even tote Sheryl Crow with me!
Enjoy the weekend, and be sure to use the sun block. Curt appreciates it.
David Scott writes from a seaside shanty on the shores of Hull, Mass. and can be reached at shots@bostonsportsmediadotcom