John Dennis In Rehab

A second unplanned absence from WEEI this year left many people wondering what was going on with morning host John Dennis. Some listeners wondered about his health, others speculated there was a suspension going on.

Things were cleared up last night when the Herald’s Steve Buckley broke the news that Dennis was entering rehab for alcohol use:

Rehab for John Dennis; WEEI host to take leave

Dennis tells Buckley that “rock bottom” for him came Monday during the Red Sox home opener. It was enough to convince him that he needed to seek help. He took a leave of absence from WEEI and entered a local inpatient facility where he is expected to stay or four or five weeks.

Statement from John Dennis – Statement from Dennis, which he says will be the last he’ll talk about it.

WEEI Morning Show Co-Host John Dennis to Enter Alcohol Rehabilitation – Chad Finn makes his report on the situation.

It would be easy to pile on and kick Dennis while he’s down. Many will do so. I’ll let others take that route and instead just wish him well, and hope he comes out of rehab a better person. It takes courage to admit you have a problem and to take steps to deal with it.

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The Celtics finished off their regular season last night with a 105-100 win in Milwaukee. The Celtics finished the regular season with a 40-42 record. They finished the season 24-12.

Two years ago the Celtics went 41-40. That team had Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo (until he was injured) Jeff Green, Jason Terry, Doc Rivers and Courtney Lee.

None of those guys are here now.

Here is their playoff schedule:

Game 1 – Sun, Apr 19
@
Cavaliers
3:00 PM
Game 2 – Tue, Apr 21
@
Cavaliers
7:00 PM
Game 3 – Thu, Apr 23
vs
Cavaliers
7:00 PM
Game 4 – Sun, Apr 26
vs
Cavaliers
1:00 PM
Game 5 – Tue, Apr 28
@
Cavaliers
TBD
Game 6 – Thu, Apr 30
vs
Cavaliers
TBD
Game 7 – Sat, May 2
@
Cavaliers
TBD

Five Years Of 98.5 The SportsHub – How The Landscape Has Changed.

Five years ago, WEEI was still riding high. They had stomped attempts to challenge them in the forms of 1510 the Zone and ESPN590.

In February of that year, Chad Finn wrote a column for the Boston Globe OT that was eerily prescient in what it had to say about WEEI and its future.

Maybe the average Boston sports fan is less sophisticated than I want to believe. But I’m convinced that provided with an equal signal, some savvy program director could build what WEEI claims to be: the premier sports radio station in the country.

Then in July of 2009, it was announced that the new 98.5 The SportsHub would be starting up. WEEI had no reason to be concerned, and even issued statements saying they were prepared to beat this challenge as well.

Five years ago today, on August 13th, 2009, WBZ-FM, 98.5 The Sportshub came on the air. Everything changed that day. Unlike previous competitors, 98.5 had a strong, FM signal. They also had the Patriots and Bruins radio rights. This wasn’t static-filled AM radio with limited signal reach and lesser known talent.

The new station was competitive right away, and while WEEI tried to keep up their air of superiority (Who can forget Gerry Callahan telling Jessica Heslam when asked about Toucher and Rich that he had never heard of them and that ““I am speaking to you from under my desk right now because I am so scared”) but within two years 98.5 overtook them in the ratings, particularly on morning and afternoon drive, time slots which WEEI had dominated for 15 years.

WEEI then made a series of panic moves, none of which really panned out, including ditching the one show that was still winning its time slot – Dale and Holley – and replacing it with Mut and Merloni, which quickly fell behind Gresh and Zo in the ratings.

The station fired or reduced the roles of  the likes of  Pete Sheppard, Glenn Ordway, Jason Wolfe and Dale Arnold, while going through the disastrous Jeff Brown era. They changed management again, and have somewhat stabilized things finally, with Dennis and Callahan topping Toucher and Rich in this past month of July. (which doesn’t mean they’ll win the ratings period, but it is a start.)

Meanwhile 98.5 rolls on. Interestingly, they’ve enjoyed success, not on smart sports talk (for the most part) but on taking what WEEI did and bringing it to another level. The Felger and Mazz show and nightly Adam Jones show thrive on being incessantly critical of every single local team and player, and coming up with “sky is falling” scenarios on a daily basis. Listeners love it, as the ratings bear out.

What do the next five years bring in terms of sports talk radio in Boston? Does 98.5 fall into the same trap that WEEI did? Does another station give it a try? Does Glenn Ordway’s Big Show Unfiltered get picked up by terrestrial radio?

Kirk Minihane Suspended For One Week Over Andrews Comments

Entercom and WEEI suspended morning co-host Kirk Minihane for a week, but only after pressure from FOX, which informed Entercom that it was pulling all sports and entertainment advertising off of the company’s airwaves. That includes ALL stations, not just WEEI.

FOX talent will also not be appearing on any WEEI program.

It was only after that move that Entercom suspended Minihane.

To me, this just compounds my frustration with the whole situation.  I certainly disapproved of the comments and of the lack of seriousness with which WEEI appeared to take them (“The Triumphant Return of Kirk Minihane?”).

minihane

Fox noted this as well. In the note to Entercom was this:

To make matters worse, the “apology” was posted under a banner (allegedly approved by your Boston VP and Market Manager, Phil Zachary) hailing “The Triumphant Return of Kirk Minihane.”

On the other hand, I wasn’t sure  a suspension was in order, either. I just would’ve liked a bit more sincerity from Minihane.

But if WEEI was going to suspend him, they should’ve done it when the remarks were first made. Now it’s clear they condoned his comments and only now suspended him because it is costing the company advertising dollars. Maybe they thought this whole thing would just blow over, but it couldn’t because Minihane and his on-air colleagues wouldn’t let it. They talked about it repeatedly on-air, and Minihane wrote his column this morning childishly attacking those who have been critical of him, essentially saying Yeah, I screwed up, but you’re no better! You’re out to get me!

I’m stunned to find that I actually agree with Dan Shaughnessy on this.

Either suspend the guy or stand by him. Now they look spineless. If his comments were so offensive, why didn’t they suspend him when he made them?

(Note: Dan Shaughnessy regularly appears on WEEI competitor 98.5 The Sports Hub and thus has an agenda in this issue.)

Minihane suspended for comments against Fox’s Erin Andrews – Chad Finn

WEEI suspends Kirk Minihane over Erin Andrews flapBoston Herald.

The Herald post has a quote from Entercom CEO David Field:

“Kirk Minihane’s statements regarding Erin Andrews were offensive and deplorable. It is clear by the response from our listeners, advertisers and employees that Kirk’s efforts to apologize and make this right have been insufficient and ambiguous,” Entercom CEO David Field said. “We want to make it unequivocally clear that his comments were unacceptable and do not reflect Entercom’s values and standards. As a result, we have suspended Kirk for the upcoming week.”

It still seems a little late for action.

Finally this post from former WBZ-TV Sports Reporter Alice Cook is worth a read. It’s honest, enlightening and intelligent.