WEEI gets back in the game

Much as I prefer the Sports Hub to the bitter old men of WEEI, I suspect John Dennis, Gerry Callahan and company are going to make up a lot of ratings ground very quickly once they start simulcasting on WMKK (93.7 FM) this coming Monday (Boston Globe story here; Boston Herald story here).

I don’t think anyone should underestimate how badly ‘EEI has been hurt by its miserable signal (AM 850) in the face of sports-talk competition from the Sports Hub, officially WBZ-FM (98.5). Yes, the programming on the Sports Hub is better, younger and funnier. But ‘EEI has been at a huge disadvantage. And it’s not without assets, principally Michael Holley plus Red Sox and Celtics games.

It’s not just that AM is fading from the scene — no worries, I suspect, at news-and-talk station WBZ (AM 1030), which has a nice, strong signal that can be heard in most places east of the Mississippi River after sundown. It’s that 850, weak and full of static, is almost unlistenable.

As for the simulcast, I give it a few months so that WEEI can promote 93.7. Once everyone has gotten the message, Entercom will probably do something else with 850 — although, frankly, it’s not good for much more than leasing it to a foreign-language religious broadcaster.

11 thoughts on “WEEI gets back in the game

  1. Al Fiantaca

    I won’t listen to ‘EEI, regardless of their soon to be enhanced broadcast coverage signal. I want my sports talk to be about sports, not the conservative politics of headliners Dennis and Callahan. The rest of their lineup descends too often into childish ranting for my own taste for them to interest me, either. That being said, I often listen to radio while on my daily walks up in Dan Kennedy country, and listen on my MP3 player which only has an FM tuner, so the addition of an FM station to their broadcast capability could have an impact on the many people I see walking around with headphones on. It will be interesting to watch the ratings for ‘MKK to see how it plays out.

  2. Aaron Read

    It’ll take more than a few months for the branding to switch over in everyone’s minds. I’d say it would take at least a year, probably two, for that to really happen. I suspect the Sox management will demand at least one full season of simulcasting to make sure no fans get confused…although whether Entercom agrees to that demand is another story altogether! 🙂

    In fact, how quickly the simulcast ends will likely be a telling indicator to the overall financial health of Entercom Boston.

  3. John F.J. Sullivan

    Going to miss Mike FM’s commercial-free morning of music. Won’t be tuning into Dennis and Callahan.

  4. At least WEEI will have a better signal for the Sox games (and the Celtics, if that happens this year) but I’ll continue to listen to the Hub most of the time. Both D&C and Mikey Adams are unlistenable. I actually hope WEEI keeps ESPN on the overnights because when they switch to FM because the Fox overnight programming on the Hub leaves a lot to be desired

    1. Dan Kennedy

      @Al: I have a soft spot for Mike Adams. But it’s been a long, long time since he had a high-school band play “Purple Haze” on NECN.

  5. Matt Kelly

    Can we spare a moment here to lament the passing of any good radio stations in Boston now? I miss the WFNX of 1997 or the WBCN of 1989, or even that station The River (92.5, don’t know the call letters), whose signal completely sucks these days.

    I guess the death of that scene is inevitable, given the rise of Pandora and listening to stations afar thanks to Internet radio. But christ, I miss hearing Elvis Costello’s ‘She gets paid on Fridays’ at 1:08 pm on the dot every Friday afternoon, and knowing my weekend was so close I could almost taste it.

  6. Aaron Read

    The River is WXRV, and their signal doesn’t “suck”, it’s just not really a Boston signal. It’s licensed to Andover and based in Haverill, I believe so it covers the North Shore pretty well, but it’s not going to get into downtown Boston terribly well. WCRB 99.5FM has similar issues.

    And had they changed formats? I wasn’t aware of it, and that would be big news if they did…WXRV is one of the few independently-owned commercial FM radio stations out there and they pride themselves on that, and on their format.

    There is another thing I thought of with WEEI 850AM is that despite the Red Sox Radio Network, there’s probably a fair number of people who tune into WEEI after dark up in NH and ME. That 50kW skywave means (after dark) you can hear WEEI nicely along I-95 all the way up into Bangor. Unfortunately, their nighttime pattern also means you CAN’T hear WEEI in Framingham, which is why WMKK is dropping Mike for WEEI.

    But still, to the north and east, WEEI 850 comes in great. And while it’s only a niche audience there probably IS an audience up in the hinterlands. For most programming, and for most advertisers, it’s an audience they don’t care about. But for Red Sox games, it’s a little more plausible. I could see it going either way…although if China came to Entercom and said they wanted to pay X dollars a month to put the stuff they’re putting on WILD over on WEEI, I think it’s a safe bet you’d hear Mandarin on 850 before the day was out!

  7. Michael Corcoran

    I am very much a left-winger, but lately Callahan and Dennis have not ventured into politics much (when they do, they are rather lacking in anything valuable to say). And I think they talk sports (along with Meter) better than the morning guys on 98.5. They are also on NESN in the morning, so that makes signal issues a non-factor. I prefer 98.5 at every other time of the day, especially when it comes to Big Show vs. Felger and Mazz. THey also worked the Bruins run as well as anyone could have, not only having the games, but having a lead-in show (Felger and Mazz) that has been talking hockey for years.

  8. Stephen Stein

    Tuned in today mostly to test the signal – it’s wonderful, compared to the tinny and static-ridden AM signal. Looking forward to finally hearing Red Sox games that don’t fade in and out. (Hoping that the *Red Sox* take this opportunity to fade in – get it together, guys!)

  9. Al Fiantaca

    Even though this is a relatively old thread, I wanted to take a chance and post an update to an earlier comment I made. I said I wouldn’t listen to ‘EEI is spite of the addition of 93.7 FM to improve their signal reach. Well, out of curiosity, I did tune in, up here in Peabody, and for me, at least 93.7 has it all over 98.5, Sports Hub as far as signal quality. I still have a problem with Dennis & Callahan, and with the Whiner Line crowd in the afternoon, but I’m no fan of Scott Zolak’s at Sports Hub style for that matter, and don’t like talk that has the obvious purpose of agitating its listeners, instead of piquing their interest. I listened during the 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM period during the Red Sox-a-palooza Friday, and found it engaging, given the stronger, clearer reception I get, they could pick me up as a listener, depending on the hosts.

Comments are closed.