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Sports Media Musings: WEEI to 93.7, Deadspin Invasion, Curran Going Rogue

D&C Contribute to NESN & WEEI Through A Simulcast

WEEI Moving to 93.7 FM on Sept. 12

A quick thought: This won’t have any SIGNIFICANT bearing on the next rating book which is released October 4th. Those numbers predominantly will take a look at the summer ratings.

Personally, I believe this is a move Entercom should have made a long time ago. WEEI is being reactive rather than proactive (I wrote a while ago they did the same thing with the Dale Arnold move). Of course, this will put the onus on actual programming and not the signal. Let the games begin. Rule #76 – Play like champion.

NESN Continues To Straddle

I’ve written about it. Bruce has written about it. Chad Finn has written about it. So what is it?

It is NESN’s curious decision to go away from sports programming and rely heavily on lifestyle entertainment. Cue their new venture, “Schooled.” From what I can tell, this show is the field trip around Boston you weren’t looking forward to in 4th grade combined with trivia. Awesome.

I’m confounded for two reasons.

1.) I’m disappointed NESN has ran away from the first sight of competition (CSNNE) by lowering their presence in sports programming (outside of Red Sox coverage, of course). I don’t get it, was “Globe 10.0″ really that much of a mar NESN heads felt like they needed to abandon the genre? Why are they laying down like Fat Al?

2.) Even more frustrating is the network’s lack of awareness: THERE IS ENOUGH ROOM FOR TWO VIABLE BOSTON SPORTS STATIONS. We have two radio stations that do well in the market. And even with the regurgiation of opinions and ideas – and believe me THERE is a lot of REGURGITATION – we still pine for the content. At least much more than we pine for something like “Sox Appeal.”

One can point to the network’s ACC basketball coverage and college football coverage to rebut that point — but we’re in Boston, and college athletics are as relevant as the New England Revolution.

(I should know this since I was killed for to dedicating last Friday’s column to a college football writer.)

NESN’s commerical for this season’s Bruins coverage was encouraging, if not over-the-top. But they’ve always had good commercials. And remember – this is the same network that’s coverage of the Game 7 victory to win the Stanley Cup barely topped CSNNE. This is supposed to be the Bruins network, but auidences aren’t equating the Bruins with NESN anymore.

To re-emphasize — the micro view suggests lineup tweaks, but the macro outlook continues to show NESN as a stepping-stone for personalities.

The Deadspin Invasion Disappointment

A few readers asked me what I thought about the Tommy Craggs invasion of the ESPN talent seminar. I wrote my preliminary thoughts on the matter before the actual column came out on Deadspin.

In short, my view hasn’t changed. Deadspin is relegating itself to Star Magazine with these antics. But since we’re here, let me give some takeaways from the ordeal…

Things I liked: Two parts of the column made me chuckle. I enjoyed John Skipper making fun of their new competition, NBC Sports Network (which includes all the Comcast Sports Net locals along with Versus). I also got a kick out of Craggs’ exchange with Norby Williamson, and his subsequent cover-up attempt. It felt like a bad scene in one of the Naked Gun films.

“Hi, I’m Norby.”

OK. He’s just gladhanding. Meeting the help. Keep cool.

“Tommy,” I said, shaking his hand.

“Tommy who?”

Panic.

“Tommy from the magazine.”

Idiot.

“What’s your last name?”

“Craggs. Tommy Craggs. I was invited through the magazine.”

Did he recognize the name?

“Oh, so you’re a writer?”

“Writer. Factchecker. Mostly factchecking.”

He nodded. I watched the stage. I have no idea who was talking at this point, but I watched whoever it was intently, as if it were Cicero up there, as if there were nothing in the world more important than hearing this open dialogue about priorities and strategies and all the latest initiatives.

Things I didn’t like: Craggs making fun of a speaker for over-using the term ‘brand.’ Look, I come from an investment bank, and EVEN I know at meetings like this the BRAND is shoved down your throat. I don’t begrudge or think it warrants making a joke out of this. Its business 101. Brand protection, and enhancement, should be behind whatever goes on in a business — even ESPN. I also thought the build-up in the aforementioned Naked-Gun-esq scene was going to lead something sexier than “Lets get these clowns out of here.” Felt like Craggs was hoping for his “Don’t TAZZZZEEE me bro!?” moment, and it never came.

Things I’m Reading…

Chris Gasper

I saw Chris Gasper had a sub-par approval rating at BSMW. I also noticed commentators were drilling Gasper for his performance in the Pats beat since Mike Reiss left the Boston Globe. I personally enjoy Gasper on the radio and also in print the web.

That said, his Freudian anaylsis that Chad Ochocinco’s struggles on the field and his ‘personality’ restrictions are connected is a bit of a reach. In the same light, I enjoyed his piece taking a stab at 7 predictions/points going into next week’s MNF opener much better.

(Disclaimer: Do I like the piece because he mentions Aaron Hernandez is poised for a breakout season? Yes, yes I do. Am I excited because I handcuffed him with The Gronk in fantasy football? Yes, yes I am. In the same token, do you care about my fantasy team? No, no you don’t.)

Jemele Hill

Speaking of reaching, Jemele Hill playing the race card? Noooo, she never plays that card…

I especially enjoyed the second paragraph..

When Tim Tebow bowls over a couple of defensive players for a touchdown in a meaningless preseason game, it’s considered a display of his toughness and leadership. But when Vick launches himself at Troy Polamalu after throwing a costly interception, it’s considered risky and stupid.

Yes. We would say that. ‘Meaningless’ is in the eye of the beholder and has to be contextualized. Tim Tebow is fighting for a starting job.  Meanwhile, the injury-prone Vick has already secured that position.

Tom E. Curran

Tom E. Curran’s shot at Shank in his Pats/Lions preview is solid (and also over a week old). He links the Shank column on Fat Al under ‘Smarmageddon’. Curran is like Sarah Palin. Dude is going rogue against his peers in the media for chasing the ‘low fruit.’ It wasn’t just a one shot-deal either, he’s been saying this on The Big Show as well.

Two preseason games in and we haven’t seen whether Albert Haynesworth poses a bigger threat to the opposition or the team he joined. This has led to Smarmageddon.

Haynesworth represents low-hanging fruit to columnists like the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy and radio shriek shows like Tony Massarotti. Shaughnessy burped out a 950-word column – 250 of which came in the form of quotes - that concluded Haynesworth in a Patriots uniform represents the greatest threat to New England since the Pilgrims landed nearly 400 years ago.

About Ryan Hadfield

Ryan Hadfield is the author of the weekly Sports Media Musings column at Sports Of Boston. Hadfield is known as one of the top sports media critics in Boston. He also contributes to Boston Sports Media Watch. In November 2011, Hadfield helped launch the new SoB Point Taken blog featuring his podcasts & musings on sports, media and culture. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

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