Dennis and Callahan return

Not much to say about the return of John Dennis and Gerry Callahan to WEEI Radio (AM 850) except that Entercom executives proved to be not quite as suicidal as they sometimes appear.

Personally, I wouldn’t have minded seeing the offensive duo take a permanent vacation. But they’re ratings monsters, and it was obvious that Entercom had to do everything it could within reason to bring them back.

Even though I suspect WEEI’s morning ratings would be fine without Dennis and Callahan, Jason Wolfe and company would be foolish to take a chance.

The last “D&C” update

Pending any real news (and certainly Entercom’s acquistion of half of WCRB (99.5 FM) qualifies as real news), I’ll let David Scott round things up one more time. Bottom line: It’s now clear that no one — not Scott, not the Herald, not the Globe and certainly not yours truly — had any idea of what was really going on until the agreement was announced yesterday afternoon.

Perhaps Entercom and Nassau can now cut a deal that would allow John Dennis and Gerry Callahan to take over the morning show on WCRB. No disrespect to Laura Carlo, but wouldn’t you love to hear Dennis introducing one of the “Brandenburg Concertos” while Callahan wonders out loud if Bach was an illegal immigrant?

“D&C” headed to WCRB?

David Scott reports that “Dennis & Callahan” may be headed for classical station WCRB (99.5 FM), which could become the hub of a regional sports network. He rounds up Globe and Herald coverage as well.

Stunt or not?

Bruce Allen of Boston Sports Media offers five reasons why the “Dennis & Callahan” lockout might be a stunt, but says he really doesn’t think that it is. Among other things, he cites Entercom sources who claim John Dennis and Gerry Callahan are looking for as much as $1.5 million apiece annually. Not much laugh potential there.

I doubt it’s a stunt, too, but you never know. Allen points to the time that Mike Adams locked himself inside the studio in order to demand a contract, an incident that was later revealed to be a hoax. But that was at least semi-amusing. What’s happening now isn’t funny or even all that interesting, my own incessant posting on the subject notwithstanding.

“Dennis & Callahan” non-update

There is absolutely nothing new on the “Dennis & Callahan” front this morning, so I’m not going to pretend otherwise. The roundup of coverage begins with David Scott. From there, move on to the Herald (here and here), the Globe and, finally, Save WRKO, which pores over a line supposedly excised from the Herald like a Roman priest examining sheep entrails.

For my money, the most insightful commentary today comes from Media Nation’s own Amused but Informed Observer, even though I disagree with him (her?) that this is nothing more than a stunt. For the record — to borrow a wonderful phrase from Curt Schilling — I also disagree with Amused about Scott’s inherent toolness. But there you go.

Entercom’s latest disaster

It’s one thing for Entercom to screw up its fading Boston talk station, WRKO (AM 680). It’s quite another for the company to mess with its highly successful sports operation, WEEI (AM 850). But that’s exactly what has happened.

Boston Sports Media’s David Scott got the scoop late last night, reporting that WEEI’s top-rated morning hosts, John Dennis and Gerry Callahan, have been locked out over a contract dispute. The Herald’s Jessica Heslam and Laurel Sweet follow today with a story that actually leads the paper. (Callahan is also a Herald columnist.)

Now, consider the ill-fated moves that have brought Entercom to this impasse. The big one took place last fall, when the company negotiated a deal with the Red Sox to move most of their games from the sports station to the talk station. Yes, some games are still on WEEI. The schedule is determined, as best as I can tell, by the phase of the moon. Fortunately, those of us who live in Media Nation are able to hear all the games on a non-Entercom affiliate, WBOQ (104.9 FM).

The residual effects: WEEI now has a talented host, Mike Adams, trying to do a sports show that competes with the Red Sox, an impossible task. WRKO’s Howie Carr (like Callahan, a Herald columnist) is said to have been furious over having his show cut short by Sox games, thus helping to precipitate his move — pending the resolution of lawsuits he and Entercom have filed against each other — to rival WTKK (96.9 FM). Finally, both WRKO and WEEI have had their identities fuzzed up (a talk station with the Red Sox? a sports station without the Sox?), which is deadly for marketing.

In the case of “Dennis & Callahan,” there is an additional drama. Callahan has been off the air for months, recovering from what Scott describes as “multiple surgeries to his throat.” Supposedly Callahan was going to return to the airwaves today and explain, finally, what was at the root of his health problems. Scott also writes that “D&C” may not return to WEEI at all:

The final bit of intrigue in this whole complicated mess is the multiple reports we are receiving that D&C are being coveted by a completely separate broadcasting entity that would use the pair as its cornerstone to build a New England regional sports talk network. While some industry insiders are telling us that is a real, viable possibility others are more skeptical and assume it is a ploy on behalf of D&C’s representatives to drive up their clients value on the open market.

Shots can confirm that a regional player fitting the description does have the infrastructure in place to build such a network, but whether or not the group would be able to guarantee the kind of money that Dennis and Callahan are looking for is open to debate.

Personally, I wouldn’t miss “Dennis & Callahan,” which trucks in low-rent populism, homophobia and — in one notorious incident — out-and-out racism. I think you could move the vastly superior “Dale & Holley” show into the morning drive-time slot without missing a beat or a ratings point.

But “D&C” is the number-one radio show among men between the ages of 25 and 54. I wouldn’t think Entercom executives Jason Wolfe and Julie Kahn would want to take the chance of losing them.

Then again, maybe Tom Finneran can do sports.

Virtual Dennis: If you click on the WEEI home page right now, you might see a virtual John Dennis talking up the Jimmy Fund radiothon.