By David Scott
Boston Sports Media Watch

DEVELOPING STORY:

In what could very well be a death knell for the struggling all-sports talk radio also-ran in the Boston market, ESPN 890 AM’s General Manager Jessamy Tang sent the following memo to employees earlier this afternoon:

“Due to Mike Felger’s obligations to Comcast Sports Net, he cannot continue as our Afternoon Drive host and we were unable to reach an agreement for him to host a mid-day show. We appreciate his three years of service and helping us launch 890 ESPN. We wish him the best as he moves forward.

This opens an exciting opportunity for us to expand our local programming. Each weekday, we plan to offer a local mid-day show and new afternoon drive show, in addition to our local Baseball Show from 6pm- 7pm and Pro Football Daily throughout the entire Patriots season. We will continue to broadcast Sunday Night Baseball, MLB playoffs and World Series, NBA games, NFL games, and all the Bowl Championship Series games.

We are working on the details of our new, local, Mid-Day show and Afternoon Drive Show. And as we firm up our plans, we will make sure you are informed.”

Shots is following up on the details and we have a message in with Felger on his voice mail. Word is that Felger will be jumping over to WEEI.com, joining the Herald’s Rob Bradford.

More news as it becomes available.

MORE INFORMATION ON FELGER’S MOVE:

Shots has confirmed that Felger is all done with ESPN 890. Sidekick Kevin Winter is hosting the show today and 890 is promising forthcoming news on a new line-up at the station (and they are refuting our claim that this is a death knell for the under-performing outfit). Felger had made mention at the end of Thursday’s show that he would have a special announcement today, but both sides agreed in the interim that it would be best for Felger to not go on-air on today’s show.

Felger’s main employer will remain Comcast SportsNet, but his WEEI radio (as a fill-in host) and WEEI.com duties will also mean that Felger’s near-20-year run with the Boston Herald is over. It is believed Felger, who has been freeelance with the Herald for quite some time, will bring a version of his Patriots Report Card to WEEI.com.

. . . Felger has been without a contract since June, according to a source close to the situation, and the two sides were in discussion to keep him at the station – in a different timeslot, earlier in the afternoon, as to avoid conflict with his CSN duties. Felger has been doing the radio show from the former office of Greg Dickerson at CSN’s Burlington studios in an arrangement that was enabled by some mutual agreements amongst all parties.

• Lots of re-tread names are now surfacing as possible WEEI.com hires (either as full-timers or contributors) and the list is enough to make a longtime observer puke at the thought of so many old hacks feeding at the trough once again. Let’s hope the “familiar name” trap isn’t one that WEEI.com falls into as it fills out its roster.

• Who is having a worse week, The Tang Gang head, Jessamy Tang or Harry Houdini of the Herald, Hank Hryniewicz? Tang lost her afternoon drive host AND a block of Patriots programming (which 890 declined the renew option on, according to a station spokesman); Hank Houdini lost Rob Bradford and Mike Felger.

Whoever is the bigger loser, I can guarantee you that Hank will deal with the departures better than Tang’s Gang – he’s more used to it and has a deeper bench.

• There’s just no credible way for ESPN 890 to spin this thing as a positive step forward for the station. Felger is a marquee name in the market and even he couldn’t make chicken salad out of the chicken droppings that come with a weak signal, little promotion and even less marketing. That doesn’t even bring into account the MONSTER that WEEI 850 is. To think a new afternoon line-up with what would have to be B-level local substitutes (or national programming which really doesn’t fly here in Boston) could turn around the stagnant station, is pure fantasy.

David Scott writes from a seaside shanty on the shores of Hull, Mass. and can be reached at shotsATbostonsportsmediaDOTcom.

Scott’s first book, with Memphis Coach John Calipari, is scheduled for release in the Fall of 2009.