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Sports Radio Hits the FM Dial, The Sports Hub Set to Launch

98.5 The Sports Hub logo

Let the battle begin. Thursday marks the launch of the area’s newest sports radio station, 98.5FM, a.k.a. “The Sports Hub,” Boston’s first sports talk radio station on the FM dial. While 850AM WEEI has long been the sports radio juggernaut in New England, The Sports Hub hopes to carve a healthy chunk out of WEEI’s #1 ratings, featuring the play-by-play rights to both Patriots and Bruins games this upcoming fall. Today’s station launch is wrapped around the return of Tom Brady, as the Pats’ preseason kicks off Thursday night in Philadelphia against the Eagles.

Toucher & Rich

For their starting lineup, 98.5FM has brought over Toucher & Rich from the now defunct WBCN 104.1FM. Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb, both out-of-towners, have had a top-rated show in the area for a few years now, having started during afternoon drive on ‘BCN, and more recently moving to mornings. While their show won’t totally revolve around sports, their brand of comedy in the morning will continue to bring listeners a refreshing alternative to wake up to, compared to the uber-conservative political yapping found most mornings from WEEI’s “Dennis & Callahan” each day. I, personally, would rather hear “Drunken Red Sox Recaps” and sound clips from “The Chili Guy,” over close-minded, arrogant whiners on the AM dial.

Tanguay & Zolak

Heading into midday, the sweet sounds of Comcast Sportsnet’s Gary Tanguay will grace the airwaves every weekday from 10-2. Joining him will be ex-Pats sideline QB Scott Zolak, who had seen some time on WEEI’s “Big Show” since losing his gig with Rhode Island’s 790AM “The Score.” This pairing seems a bit “vanilla” to me, but hopefully they can bring enough to the table to at least compete with the already intelligent and successful “Dale and Holley” program on ‘EEI.

Felger & Massarotti

The afternoon drive is where the money’s at. For “The Sports Hub,” they are putting all their chips behind journeyman media mogul Michael Felger, who in the last few years has jumped from the Boston Herald to WEEI to ESPN Radio, back to WEEI, over to Comcast Sportsnet, and now as the co-headliner for “The Sports Hub.” 98.5FM has paired Felger with the Boston Globe’s Tony Massarotti, another ex-WEEI’er and ex-Herald columnist. I liked both of these guys during their WEEI stints, and I’m really looking forward to them providing a viable alternative on the radio for my ride home from work each weekday.

While you might not agree with everything Mike Felger spouts, after all he is the region’s ultimate contrarian, his views and opinions are always backed with the facts to support his opinion, and for that you have to respect the work he does. Tony Massarotti is a well-respected journalist whose Red Sox insider status should act as a talking point catalyst for all things Sox.

This new afternoon show has as good a chance as any to dethrone Glenn Ordway’s “Big Show,” or at least take a good chunk of listeners away. I can’t be the only one sick of the yelling, the berating of callers, the talking over each other, and the overall pompous attitude of Ordway, Pete Sheppard, and other Big Show contributors.

Damon Amendolara

The evenings are where “The Sports Hub” has me scratching my head a bit. They have decided to bring in outsider Damon Amendolara to take on the 6 p.m. – 12 a.m. shift. “D.A.,” as he apparently refers to himself as, is a New York native, but has recently been heard on WQAM in Miami. WEEI’s “Planet Mikey” has a strong following, and I don’t see how an outsider like Amendolara can make an immediate impact on swaying listeners to 98.5FM

Other Programming

Also, it’s been reported that former Red Sox radio play-by-play man Jerry Trupiano will be heard on the 98.5FM airwaves on Saturdays, paired with ex-WBCN mid-day host Hardy. Beyond that, most weekend programming will go to CBS Radio or Sporting News Radio syndicated shows.

Final Thoughts

So while I am definitely welcoming another option in the sports radio world, I see early indications that the inevitable ratings war will shake out to be a draw. I can see WEEI holding strong with “Dale & Holley” and evenings with “Planet Mikey,” while “The Sports Hub” will hopefully gain a lot of ground in the mornings with “Toucher & Rich” and in the afternoons with Mike Felger and Tony Massarotti. The potential for a great new alternative is there, and now, only time will tell if 98.5FM “The Sports Hub” can deliver the goods. I know I’ll be listening to find out.

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Discussion

7 comments for “Sports Radio Hits the FM Dial, The Sports Hub Set to Launch”

  1. Sports Radio Hits the FM Dial, The Sports Hub Set to Launch: Let the battle begin. Thursday marks the launch of .. http://bit.ly/3MftCJ

    Posted by Sports of Boston | August 13, 2009, 6:48 pm
  2. I’m pretty impressed with the lineup. If you’re gonna go through with it, you might as well go big. I’m not so sure about the nightime guy…but Felger head-to-head with the Big Show is brilliant. Can you believe 98.5 even stole John Wallach??

    I’m a WEEI guy through and through, but I will switch back and forth definitely.

    Posted by KC | August 13, 2009, 8:14 pm
  3. I have heard and followed the Amendolara guy and he is very good. Very informed and entertaining. You guys are lucky to have him. Check out his website–www.thedashow.com

    Posted by GV | August 13, 2009, 8:55 pm
  4. [...] ⋅ August 25, 2009 at 3:48pm ⋅ Post a comment In a move that may be a huge blow to the new 98.5 The Sports Hub, Entercom has elected to move all Red Sox games starting Wednesday night from 680 WRKO-AM (a talk [...]

    Posted by Red Sox Radio Broadcasts to Return to WEEI | Sports of Boston | August 25, 2009, 3:48 pm
  5. I always preferred The Score over WEEI because of it’s nationwide sports coverage and glad to hear Zoe and Gresh(after the Pats game at least) back on the air, I hope it doesn’t turn into another WEEI,where the guys over there think they know it all and belittle there callers, I hope it does well. I will be listening

    Posted by Oscar | August 31, 2009, 8:13 pm
  6. I was listening to the “team” fan conversation on my ride home and realized that you guys missed one important point. “Teams” are not teams for very long anymore. Long gone are the days of players being loyal to teams and fans. Players are now loyal to the biggest contract. The Red Sox of the past six years are now scattered across the league and the country so how can you be loyal to a “team” which doesn’t exist?

    Posted by Alan | October 23, 2009, 4:25 pm
  7. Can I believe what I am hearing on your station at this moment about “SKATEBOARDING” My God, the Patriots ,after a great thangsgiving win.Saints -Dallas, Jets -Cincy and I cannot believe what I am hearing!!!! SKATEBOARDING . You have a long way to go to catch THEM!!!

    Posted by butch | November 25, 2010, 9:09 pm

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