Jul 18 2008
By David Scott
Boston Sports Media Watch
The biggest – in every sense – winner is none other than Glenn “Pay Day” Ordway, whose contract is expiring with WEEI 850 AM. Ordway has the leverage of a Posey and the WEEI.com component of the equation could very well make Ordway famously wealthy, should he manipulate the web extensions to his benefit. (Similar to Posey, Ordway is going to want the extra year AND the extra dollars.)
Some of the things Ordway can now roll into his contract demands would be additional monies for live-streaming (or TV broadcasting) of The Big Show; exclusive on-line chats with the Big-O; a “Big O Big Blog”; Interactive elements to his show; and whatever other scams Ordway and his handlers can figure out.
With all that the Big O has meant to the station, ‘EEI pretty much needs to show him the money.
In short, Ordway is probably just weeks away from becoming the town’s highest paid sports media personality ever. And considering some of the stupid money that’s been thrown around this town (Hello, WCVB and WBZ!), that’s saying something.
Local Mainstream Sports Websites
Boston.com’s sports package on the web probably doesn’t need to start quaking in its big boots just yet, but we’d suggest that the Boston Herald’s digital sports division might want to get a move on things. Without Bradford’s blog, the meager Herald site is sure to lose traffic and loyalists.
Further, Bradford’s pending arrival in the New Balance Building means that he’s going to be given the keys to some very interesting toys, aka resources. Video, written word, spoken word and community development options will all be elements available to Bradford. (Might be worth looking at what the Worldwide Leader is doing with something it’s calling “Streak for Cash.” In essence, it’s building brand loyalty and offering fabulous cash and cache prizes.
Bradford thought out of the box on the beat and he will have to continue to go where others fear to tread in his new content editor role for WEEI.com. Best yet, he will still be allowed to spread his wings as a writer.
It’s a mixed bag for Help Me Hank, the Herald’s resourceful sports editor. On the one hand he loses Bradford, a true talent and a voice that popped from his pages (web and print).
On the other hand, he has a built-in escape hatch that can plop John Tomase right on to the Red Sox beat and keep him away from Foxborough, where the whole situation is bound to be a festering sore unless Tomase is quietly shifted off football and back onto baseball. We’re told it’s Tomase’s sport of choice and he has done some of his best work from the clubhouse, not the locker room.
The Bradford departure affords everyone at the Herald a more workable situation with Karen Guregian able to take lead duties and Jeff Horrigan and Tony Mazz able to augment her efforts. Throw in Buck and a couple of Callahan classics and the Pats beat is covered pretty securely while the Sox beat gets the best available replacement for Bradford (although Herald freelancer Alex Speier is a close second).
Local Off-Mainstream Sports Websites
WEEI.com operatives are trying to convince us that the content-providers (i.e. columnists and commentators) for the new-fangled website won’t just be old graybeards looking for a check. We’ll believe that once the re-launch is complete and there’s not a Borges or a Peter May to be found on the site. Still, the promise of new blood is encouraging for some of the established local sports blogs that might be able to add content for WEEI.com VP/GM Tim Murphy and Bradford’s newborn baby.
Creative sorts like the people behind Soxaholix, or, dare we say it, 38pitches.com, would be able to bring established audiences to the WEEI site and help to quickly build a loyal audience. It’s almost a shame that Chad Finn jumped to Boston.com because he’s the kind of pick-up that would indicate ‘EEI.com recognizes a “true” blogger-type.
After Gerry Callahan (who probably doesn’t need the headache of writing anything beyond his limited Herald offerings), Holley is the in-house candidate who could help WEEI.com the most. Give him an exclusive column once a week and use him for whatever video component Bradford settles upon and the result would be some original content from an original fella with worthwhile takes. Holley is a five-tool guy and he’s smart enough to know that some groundfloor, reasonably-priced web work for the employer will serve him well down the road.
The One Trick Ponies Currently at WEEI
While intrusive laughing, general ignorance and single-mindedness play well on sports talk radio, the effectiveness of our generic, moronic, Meaty Men for use on the website is going to be negligible. Beyond re-packaging the snorts and soundbites of Smerlas, DeAwful and The Dwarves, it’s not like any of those big, bad, bullies could ever blog or otherwise communicate effectively. Sentence writing, we’re guessing, wasn’t high on the course list at Connecticut School of Broadcasting.
The beauty of what WEEI.com is going to be able to do, is that it won’t have to strictly rely on in-house (non-)talents to fill the web pages. Murphy and Bradford will be able to line up freelancers and gifted souls who aren’t beholden to fart jokes and homophobia. Even if the majority of WEEI’s radio talk isn’t intelligent and barely entertaining, the website has the hope and ability to be both.
Jason Wolfe and Julie Kahn
Say what you will (and Lord knows we have) about Entercom’s Boston Duo of Dynamic, but this significant move into the digital market could very well be a coup for the company and ‘EEI in general. The ability to use the WEEI brand across platforms and do so in a new, and much-needed way for the market is the kind of move that will keep ‘EEI on top for a long time to come.
Still, the question of whether the Entercommie culture will overcome guys like Murphy and Bradford or whether they’ll be able to overcome IT, will eventually foretell the success or failure of the initiative.
They lose their only legit local-originating show’s host and he not only jumps ship, he jumps back to the dominating competition. As Felger said to Paul Flannery at BoMag, most (including Shots) figured 890 would last a year. They’ve been around three years now but their effectiveness and place in the market is still as poor as when they began. “That was a tough road to hoe,” said Felger late last week. “I got my brains beat in for three years by WEEI and Glenn. I enjoyed 890 and having my own little show. Yeah, a (better) signal would have helped but it’s all about the competition at WEEI. They have such resources to draw on.”
An 890 spokesman this week indicated the station would have new line-up information in two or three weeks, but for now capable Kevin Winter has been hosting a show inexplicably called “Prime Time Live” in the old Felger slot from 3 to 6 p.m. All the usual suspects have been mentioned as possible permanent replacements for Felger, but the longer the delay in announcing the changes the more likely it is that 890 will be forced to shutter once and for all.
WEEI is now Hamilton College East. Both Murphy and the guy who brought him into the New Balance building Jim Rushton are Hamilton College grads. Both graduated in 1992. Go Continentals! (Worst. Nickname. Ever.)
[One clarification on Murphy's career path from our reporting last week. Here's how Murphy confirms his profession progression in resume form: 1994-1999, Titleist & FootJoy Worldwide, last title was Senior Brand Manager; 1999-2006, NYTimes Company/Boston Globe Media, last title was VP of Advertising & Marketing; 2006-2007 Monster.com, VP of Strategic Marketing; 2007-2008, Comcast/Golf Channel, Director of Digital Media; Current, WEEI.com, VP/GM.]
• The Hartford Courant’s Red Sox beat guy, Jeff Goldberg confirms that he is taking the paper’s buyout (effective at the end of the Sox season) and it’s likely he’s not the only sports desk member of the Hartford staff that takes the option.
Said Goldberg via email, “I grew up in West Hartford, went to Hall High (and eventually Central Conn. State Univ.) and started an internship in the sports department (at the Courant) the summer before my junior year at Hall (16 years old, I’m 39 now). I did just about everything up the sports department food chain – took high school scores over the phone, filed photos, did agate, copy-edited, then started writing on a regular, full-time basis about 10 years ago.
“But, all good things must come to an end, I’m afraid,” said Goldberg, who hopes to continue writing in the Boston market. “UConn won the first 70 games I covered (Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird crew) for the Courant. (Goldberg) switched to the Sox beat in 2007 and between UConn and the Red Sox, I’ve covered four championship teams in six-plus seasons. Not bad.”
Mark our words, as guys like Felger and Goldberg leave newspapers, there will not be 20 years-at-one-paper writers for a foreseeable stretch and the mere thought of Lifers like Bob Ryan and Dan Shaughnessy is laughable in today’s race-up-the-totem-pole world of sports journalism.
“Leaving the Herald is by far the hardest part of all of this,” said Felger last Friday. “I’m 39 years old. This would have been my 20th year at the Herald. It’s going to be weird not being in the paper. It really is.
“But the brand of WEEI is huge. They are No. 1 in the market and what they’re doing is the future.”
• Familiar Providence voice Scott Cordischi confirms to Shots that he will be hosting a show on WPRO on Saturday mornings from 9-11:45am. “It will be called ‘Scott Cordischi On Sports’ and starts Saturday (July 19th),” he said via email. “I am very much looking forward to talking sports with Rhode Islanders and Southern New Englanders once again here in Providence. I have missed talking about things like the Sox, Yankees, the Celts run to a championship, the PC coaching search, the NFL Draft, etc. It’ll be nice to do it again.”
• While I agree with the general sentiment that ESPN Ombudswoman Le Anne Schreiber has been mostly effective and aggressive in her role, I couldn’t help but giggle this week when she brought up the fact that ESPN announcers sometimes do game coverage from the confines of a Bristol bunker.
The practice has been going on for years and we had exposed it two years ago, but the tactic is still employed and there is very little way for viewers to know what is ral and what is Memorex. It was misleading then and it is still misleading now. Schreiber’s ignorance on certain rudimentary matters is still puzzling to me and it makes me wonder just how effective she really is and how seriously her Ombudsing is taken by the higher-ups.
• A different take on Josh Beckett from Friend of Shots (FOS), Matt Waxman.
• Speaking of former CSTV cohorts, look at what goodies the former network (now CBS College Sports) is pulling out starting this Monday:
CBS COLLEGE SPORTS NETWORK RELIVES THE ACTION AND EXCITEMENT OF THE 2008 NCAA® DIVISION I MEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP WITH “NCAA MARCH MADNESS® REWIND”
Extensive Programming Block Begins Monday, July 21, and Features EveryGame from the 2008 Tournament
CBS College Sports Network relives March Madness this summer with a special encore presentation of the 2008 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. “NCAA MARCH MADNESS REWIND” features all 63 tournament games, from the first-round to the championship game, in their entirety, beginning Monday, July 21 (NOON, PM ET). A full programming schedule is available at www.cbssports.com/cbscollegesports.
Kansas’ thrilling overtime win against Memphis in the National Championship Game will air twice, Friday, Aug. 1 (10:00 PM, ET) and Saturday, Aug. 2 (6:00 PM, ET). Other memorable games include:
First Round – #12 Western Kentucky over #5 Drake (101-99, OT)
Airs Wednesday, July 23 (10:00 PM, ET)
Drake erased a 16-point deficit in the final eight minutes of regulation to push the game into overtime. Down 99-98 in OT with 5.7 seconds left, Western Kentucky’s Ty Rogers hit a desperation three pointer from the wing to notch the win and give the Hilltoppers their first tournament victory since 1995.
Second Round – #1 UCLA over #9 Texas A&M (51-49)
Airs Sunday, July 27 (4:00 PM, ET)
Down for much of the game, the Bruins survived the Aggies with the help of Darren Collison’s late game heroics. Collison’s shot with 9.5 seconds left gave the Bruins the lead for good, propelling them to the Sweet 16.
Second Round – #3 Stanford over #6 Marquette (82-81, OT)
Airs Sunday, July 27 (6:00 PM, ET)
Stanford’s Brooke Lopez hits the winning shot with 1.3 seconds left in overtime. The Cardinal overcomes the first half ejection of coach Trent Johnson and a six-point halftime deficit.
Second Round – #10 Davidson over #2 Georgetown (74-70)
Airs Monday, July 28 (9:00 PM, ET)
Led by Stephen Curry’s dominating second half performance, Davidson upsets Georgetown. Curry outscored Georgetown 25 to 22 over the final 14:24 of the game.
. . . For the record, I’m still not ready to watch the Memphis-Kansas game. Maybe another decade or so.
• Brand new farmer’s market starting up in Hull on Friday – see you there.
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.