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Sports Media Musings: 98.5 On Top, BSMW Approval System Wins, Marv Albert

Believe It Or Not - This Guy Helped in The Sports Hub's Rise to the Top

Every Friday I will be providing SoB with a weekly media news/notes column, including three must-read columns for the Boston sports fan (whether good or bad).

The King & I

WEEI’s long reign as world-beater of the sports radio landscape has come to an end. In the month of May, 98.5 The Sports Hub bolstered its already impressive lead over ‘EEI in the ratings war. Much has been made of the data interpretation and how to view the ratings. In this case, there seems to be no issue extrapolating the figures – put simply – Numbers don’t lie.

And right now, the numbers are telling us 98.5 The Sports Hub is annihilating the antecedent home for sports radio in Boston, WEEI. Now, it merits mentioning, The Sports Hub is the home of the Boston Bruins. As I outlined last week, the flourishing station certainly benefited from the B’s triumphs this spring.

I think there are three primary reasons for the Sports Hub’s rise, and coinciding fall of ‘EEI.

  • WEEI’s lack of urgency in the immediate inception of competition played a paramount role in their current predicament. Management didn’t make any moves, and now are paying the price – they’re reacting when they should have been proactive. For example, WEEI has the rights to the Red Sox games, so The Sports Hub combats ‘EEI and it’s mundane pregame show, with Tony Massarotti and his “Baseball Show.” Mazz engages fans, has other reporters on to banter about current Sox issues, and generally is more endearing than WEEI’s pregame coverage.
  • The moves made since the Sports Hub’s transient existence were misguided, and wreaked of desperation. Getting rid of Dale Arnold hasn’t worked out. WEEI conceded the one time frame they held consistent leads, 10 AM – 2 PM,  in order to behoove the pivotal afternoon drive show, by breaking up Dale & Holley. The move was initially seen as a promotion for Holley; however, he finds himself the MVP of the proverbial San Diego Padres of radio. To make matters worse, Dale’s skill has been romanticized and management could have used his hockey knowledge during the B’s run on a fixed basis, rather than fill-in duty.
  • Talent evaluation. WEEI had John Wallach for over a decade, but never used him in a potent capacity like The Sports Hub does. It’s funny, too, because Wallach was never utilized like other “flashboys” like D&C’s Meter or The Big Show’s Pete Sheppard. Additionally, Mazz was a consistent guest on The Big Show and Felger was a fill-in host AS WELL AS a columnist for EEI’s website. Now that tandem has teamed up and is beating their former employer’s afternoon show.

In the coming weeks I’ll delve further into some issues involving both these stations and the domineering personalities that clutter the airwaves. For now, just let the realization settle in. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Novel Approach

Speaking of personalities, I really like the “Approval Ratings” being done by Boston sports media officio, Bruce Allen. In each feature, Allen gives a brief yet informative biography of a Boston sports media figure then simply poses the question of whether you approve of said figure and their work. It’s interesting going over reader comments (sans the few who just use the opportunity as a forum to insult). I think the idea gives a good aggregate view of how the audience feels about the people covering our treasured sports teams.

OH! A Spectacular Move…By Michael Jordan CBS Sports

Marv Albert, now 70, signed on to become a play-by-play man for CBS Sports football coverage. The news comes months after the network let go of the ever-eccentric Gus Johnson. I know what you’re thinking, and no, Albert will still man his post with Turner Sports’ NBA coverage.  This is an important caveat considering Albert’s name is synonymous with the NBA, and is a celebrated member of the Hall of Fame. So basically, the move means more Marv. He leaves his radio post covering night games for Westwood One, and joins the television coverage at CBS.

A few more words on Albert. I think he is a classic case of utilitarianism. We all know the story of his sexual assault charges that led to him being excommunicated from NBC, and ultimately destroying his visibility from ’97 until ’05. And that’s a shame. It really is. Because anyone who has ever yearned to be a part of the sports world in a capacity not related to participating in the actual games – whether to be a writer, broadcaster, or whatever – adored Marv Albert for his professional abilities. It’s nice to see him back in the fold, albeit late, I just wish he had never left.

Things I’m Reading

This is why the new Bill Simmons site,, will work. Thought-provoking piece by Chuck Klosterman.

Gerry Callahan steps away from the mic, and delivers a fine piece on whether Boston is a “Hockey Town” or “Basketball Town” in the winter.

And our dud of the week comes from Jemele Hill, who reminds us that David Tyree’s anti-gay marriage thoughts may be off-base, but he has a right to voice them. Because people were trying to mute him? Really? Thanks for that. I enjoyed our own Matt Goisman’s, who also has that same right, evisceration of Tyree.

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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