By David Scott
Boston Sports Media Watch

Scott’s Shots presents a day of sports talk radio listening through the steely ears of one brave man – ME.
On Thursday, September 15, 2005, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., yours truly, David Scott undertook the following Boston Sports Talk Radio listening schedule:

8 a.m. to 10 a.m. – WEEI 850 AM,
Dennis and Callahan

10 a.m. – Noon – ESPN Radio Boston (ERB) 890 AM
Colin Cowherd

Noon-1 p.m. – WWZN 1510 AM
The Sportsmemo (Gambling) Show with Tim Trushel

1 p.m. –3 p.m. – WEEI
The Final Hour of “Dale and Holley”
First Hour of “The Big Show”

3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. – WWZN
Second (final) Hour of Eddie Andelman
First Half Hour of “The Diehards” with Ryen Russillo, Anthony Pepe and Jon Anik

4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. – ERB
Middle of “The Drive” with Mike Felger and Kevin Winter

5:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. – WEEI
Whiner Line
Last Call

***NOTE: Total Listening Time (TLT) allotted based on current ranking of the stations, thus ‘EEI received the most TLT.***

Here’s how it went down. Enjoy:

This was not a good idea. Not at all.

It’s 11 a.m. on a rainy, foggy and dank Thursday in late Summer/early Fall.

It is the fourth hour of my self-imposed Ordwayian Ordeal. . . My Day of Dale. . . The Andelman Apocalypse.

Radio Gaga. Radio GooGoo. . .

For a total of 10 hours, I have foolishly promised myself (and thus, you), that I will listen to Boston Sports Talk Radio and ONLY Boston Sports Talk Radio. Eight in the ay-em to six in the pee em, for one inglorious, insane and likely intolerable, all-day session.

And for this I will go basically unpaid.

Writers are funny people. They self-inflict pain and suffering and call it art.

Colin Cowherd, however, is not art. Colin Cowherd – of “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” – is barely clever and largely dull. Artless and hopeless, he’s a poor man’s Jim Rome (and, symmetrically, leads into Romey with his 10 a.m. to noon slot on ESPN Radio Boston (ERB) 890 AM).

Colin Cowherd is who I am listening to when I begin to think about the lab rats. And quite frankly the rats are more relevant than the topic Cowherd is soliloquizing on and on about during the first hour of his show – Mr. Joe Torre.

Torre, who has his team on the verge of overtaking the first-place Red Sox on this dreary, rainy Thursday in my dreary, rainy life, is Cowherd’s topic because Cowherd thinks he will be gone next year. Why this need to be discussed in the final weeks of a pennant race is beyond me. Why I am still listening is even further beyond me.

But I struggle through. And at last, around noonish I can say I have heard The Herd and I don’t believe what I just heard.

In all fairness to The Herdhead, national sports talk (even about the hated Yankees) is a tough sell in this market. It will prove to be one of the biggest obstacles standing between ERB and the local leader (by a longshot) WEEI 850 AM. That, and a signal strength that would embarrass some Playskool walkie talkies, should keep ‘EEI atop the heap and should also spell the end of the useless WWZN 1510 AM.

But for now, there are three sports talk radio stations in greater Boston. And in service to you, my beloved reader(s), I will persevere. I must carry on. God Bless sports talk radio America.

I am beginning speak like George Bush.

Somebody please call FEMA for me.

***

Before we get too much further in the chronicling of a day in the life of what would have to be a really bored or really gluttonous person, let’s take a look at the medium of which we’re speaking.

Talk Radio in general is not only a “fellowship of the miserable,” it is a gathering of self-doubters who like nothing better than to torture themselves with hours upon hours of Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh or Don Imus.

Sports talk radio specifically, takes this miserable fellowship, douses it with cheap vodka, throws a Bruschi shirt on it and gives it a cellphone to call 888.525.0850.

The hosts – at least the “good ones” that “get it” – play their roles according to a formula. They are part actors and proudly provokers. The callers are simply brief interruptions for the yakkety-yakkers to sip from their mugs, emblazoned with the station’s logo, and catch their considerable breath.

Somehow, knowing that Pete Sheppard will be an ignorant ignoramus or Dale Arnold will be a meek, hockey-loving nerd is enough to bring tens of thousands of listeners to a spot on the dial nestled between sister station, WRKO 680 AM and the new enemy, ESPN Radio Boston 890.

All of which is a fancy way of saying: this isn’t rocket science and the discussions that fill hours upon hours of air time aren’t doing much for the overall IQ or general knowledge bins of the users’ brain compartments. But it’s like pile-ups on the highway: you can’t help but look, or in this case, listen.

***

My Noon – 1p.m. listening hour on this dastardly day of audio was at WWZN where my eardrums were graced by something called the “Sports Memo,” hosted by Tim Trushel. ATTENTION ALL DEGENERATE GAMBLERS, the high pitched, hypnotic squeal seemed to beckon, WE CAN LOSE YOUR MONEY FOR YOU JUST AS WELL AS YOU CAN LOSE YOUR OWN MONEY. CALL THIS NUMBER AND WE’LL TELL YOU HOW.

A gambling infomercial is what passes for programming at The Zone (not to be confused, of course, with 620 AM, WZON). If you can afford the air time, you can broadcast it at 1510.

(Morning drive at 1510 is filled by Sporting News Radio network’s “The Opposites with Scott Wetzel and Matt Spiegel” show (6 a.m. to 9 a.m.) – no great shakes there, and followed by Tony Bruno (9 a.m. to Noon), who truth be told, is a good listen. But not good enough in this market with that signal.)

My random listening experience included just one hour of the Sports Memo’s two hour (black)hole. It was approximately 59 minutes too much Trushel and his promise: “If the line moves we know about it.” Great! Then you’re fully aware the red line on my radio dial is going from 1510 back down to the two “legit” sports talk radio stations at 850 and 890.

***

Before Cowherd and Trushel, when this day of dementia began, the Philips radio alarm clock had slipped on at 8 a.m. with the dulcet tones of John Dennis as he introduced the regular guest for Thursday mornings (during baseball season): Larry Lucchino.

(For people looking for “infotainment” in the morning, Dennis &Callahan (plus flash guy, Jon Meterparel) are the most popular stop within the wide-ranging demographic of 25-54-year-olds. WBZ 1030 AM uses a strictly news/traffic/weather informational approach in the morning, thus accounting for its own prominence during the drive time. But D&C get more Boston radios tuned in than Howard Stern, Don Imus or any of the other wake-up warblers who populate the AM and FM frequencies. It’s not a small feat, either.)

Admittedly, we’re mostly familiar with the pace and tone of the ‘EEI morning show. So there was no “surprise” factor with them, the way there was when we heard the Bookie With a Microphone on WWZN.

Lucchino was mostly monotone and unrevealing. But it was worth the listen – if only for what he might have said. Which is why ‘EEI signs on guys like Curt Schilling, Keith Foulke and Bill Belichick. Rarely do any of them give shock factor (well, okay, Schilling is a ticking time bomb), but it’s still almost mandatory listening for the What If?

Oddly, Eddie Andelman – the Godfather of Boston Sports Radio who has turned into the sad punch line of Boston Sports Radio – boldly touts the notion (during hour one of his painfully awful show which we tune in from 3-4) that “We don’t pay any athletes, coaches or managers to come on. We just do our thing unencumbered.”

We checked our Roget’s, Eddie, and “unencumbered” is NOT a synonym for “unlistened to.” Your unencumbered because if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it. . .

To which Eddie would likely tell us (as he did at the top of the hour): “The lines are wide open for you.”

No kidding, Eddie. That’s because no one’s out there. Your sons won’t even call in!

And anyone that would call, is too old and decrepit to dial the rotary phone they used to call you on. (The others who were listening were probably the stragglers congregating near the station’s table at Suffolk Downs, where Eddie and his co-jamoke Jack, were broadcasting live from. The Zone is at a run-down pony place and ‘EEI is broadcasting from an auxiliary studio at Fenway. Perfect, when you think about it. Just perfect.)

The Jack character, who we assume is a hanger-on from when Andelman was relevant 20 years ago, has a Boston accent worse than Eddie’s and a delivery unfit for the Elks club PA system, never mind a supposedly viable radio station.

The third man in, Jay Harlow, was about the only redeeming value of the show. Sadly, between Eddie and Jack, he was drowned out by the inane (Andelman’s story of his boys peeing in the Fenway troughs) and the insane (Jack bemoaning that the Sox “shipped out Nomah.”)

Damn shame Theo couldn’t have packaged Eddie and Jack with Nomie.

***

There are two hours left in my excruciating experiment at this point of the dreary day that has given me Excedrin headache No. 7.

I managed a solid hour of The Big Show on ‘EEI (from 2-3 p.m.) where Sean McAdam baritoned on and on and was followed up by Peter Gammons. It was guys giggling, experts pontificating and inside jokes that are neither inside nor jokey. And yet, they’re the industry leader. So the ‘formula’ works. For ‘EEI anyway.

The formula is still being tweaked and fine-tuned elsewhere: Meet 1510’s “The Diehards,” my 4 to 4:30 program on this day of dial delirium. They are Ryen Russillo, Anthony Pepe and Jon Anik and with Mike Felger now doing The Drive from 4-7/8 at ERB, it is a trio that should quickly be assembling its audition MP3s.

Their sound and feel is remarkably similar to what I recall hearing on the WMUA 91.1 FM airwaves during UMass’s John Calipari Era. A couple of the “radio guys” would share studio time with a couple “Collegian writers” and they would make potty humor jokes, sports commentary and take calls from their buddies in Southwest. It was all in good fun and all about the essence of student-run media: learn, enjoy, fail, succeed.

The Diehards, to their credit, sound like they’re seniors in college not green-in-the-gills freshmen. They’ve all been around the radio block all will continue in the business somewhere after The Zone gets shuttered in the near future. For now, they’ll just try and get their sometimes-intern a blind date to a Red Sox game (in a limo!) by starting a “contest.” And they’ll still have time to brag about their impending trip to Vegas for an HBO fight junket (departing that night).

“Do you guys want to get a really good burger together when we get out there?” asks Russillo.

See what we’re saying about the college radio thing?

***

With 90 minutes left I actually begin to get a renewed energy. I’m start to wish that I had scheduled in a couple of more hours. Maybe get some Ted Nation (ava Shalom) later on. . .

And then Bob Halloran of ABC5 WCVB TV joins Felger in the studio. And things grind to a halt. Halloran is a fine newsman and knowledgeable on sports – but his radio appeal is negligible and to be honest, Felgie is sounding a bit fatigued after the two-week whirlwind that led up to the launch of his own show. It’s understandable – and forgivable even.

And we like it when Felgie unabashedly announces: “I’m enjoying the crap out of it.”

That makes one of us. Our second wind is gone.

The daylong destruction of my eardrums is nearly complete. The final half hour goes to what some believe is the most-listened to 15-30 minutes of radio in Boston. It is WEEI’s Whiner Line and the “Last Call” segment where hosts and talent get to rant on one topic or plug their upcoming charity event/book signing/or baby naming.

The Weiner Whiner Line, as it’s called, is a sometimes amusing, oftentimes dreadful collection of callers’ impersonations, insults and innuendo.

It is somehow the perfect bow tie on the 10 hour package of Boston sports talk radio I have endured. A combination of grown men giggling and gurgling their way through one last segment. It is a meshing of humor and hatred; venom and verve. It serves no purpose in the grand scheme of things but a grand purpose in the schemata of sports.

I have survived. Mine ears have heard the glory of 10 straight hours of sporadically entertaining radio productions.

Leftovers:

Headlines of the day on September 15, 2005, when Shots undertook this momentous task included: the Red Sox winning a 5-3 game at Toronto (on a game-winner by red hot David Ortiz); the Patriots preparing for a Sunday game against Carolina and BC hosting FSU in its ACC coming out party).

Much of the local discussion throughout the day on sports talk radio centered around David Ortiz’s MVP worthiness. He had made a huge push during the week and was starting to break down some of the barriers that being a DH were thought to have caused.
Patriots talk was a distant second on this Thursday. And the Bruins and Celtics barely came up.

• A sampling of the ads Shots heard during his 10 hour Ordwayian Ordeal:

• Psoriasis skin zinc
• Quit smoking
• Betting Touts
• Male penis enhancement
• Baldness remedies
• Autos
• Electronics

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