The Last Days of WEEI

by

WEEI 850 am

I despise politics.

Everything about the arena is sickening to me. As far as I’m concerned there aren’t three ounces of sincerity in anyone who runs for or holds any political office in this country and We, The People, are the ones to blame for this. We’ve allowed the system to grow into a grotesque mockery of the democratic process where corruption and fraud are the norm, where media spin and likablitly account for more than real issues and discussion thereof. Pretty faces and catch phrases win elections and losers are voted off the Island.

We have become a Nation of Idiots and we deserve the entire mess we’ve created for ourselves over these last few decades. This is not news.

As much as I hate politics and politicians, I love sports and sports talk. Which is why I’ve spent vast, inordinate amounts of time over the years listening to WEEI, Boston’s first all sports radio station. In fact, I recall vividly, as a talk radio listener in the early nineties, when the station switched to it’s All Sports format. It was 1991 and one late-summer evening Eddie Andelman dropped by what I believe was a night time sports related show hosted by Craig Mustard, which I had only recently found and become interested in, to promote the change in format.

I was instantly hooked. Those early days were a bit rought, as I recall. Andelman, Dale Arnold and Glenn Ordway, the latter two of whom are still very involved with the station, were some of the mainstays during the midday hours. The mornings shows, for the first few years, were disastrous. From Andy Moes to Don Imus to some horrific personality called The Sports Babe, it was some miserable programming from the 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. hours. Eventually that would stabilize thanks to the Dennis & Callahan Show, a popular morning drive hosted by former television sportscaster John Dennis and Boston Herald columnist Gerry Callahan.

The afternoon shows found their levels, switching eventually from single person hosted shows to teams of two and, in the case of The Big Show afternoon drive broadcast, teams of three or more. Local sports personalities were used heavily as contributors with a focus on opinionated, informed local sportswriters like Bob Ryan, Jackie MacMullen and even the dour Dan Shaughnessy. The addition of The Flash Boy was a stroke of genius, using the spot of a regular sports news reader to provide a mouthy, dumb whipping boy type personality that everyone, including the listeners, could goof on endlessly, like a group of guys hanging around a TV watching a game picking on a fat, moronic friend or a mousy know-nothing. The Whiner Line, a taped call in segment where listener could turn comedian and hear themselves played on the air if they were good enough was another dab of pure genius and became a huge draw.

It all became wildly successful. Over the years, the format would spawn countless imitators in search of the station’s exceptional ratings numbers and the broadcasts would expand to cover much of the Northeast. These days they are a bit of a media powerhouse, owned by massive broadcasting company Entercom Communications, providing extensive news coverage via on-air broadcast and the internet.

Which makes what’s happening today all the more tragic and disturbing.

Because today WEEI officially died.

Today it completed the selling of it’s own soul to the Satanic Machine of the mindless, thumping Right Wing conservative agenda that dominates a lot of other talk radio in our current age. They have completed their unholy marriage with such odious embarrassments as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity as transparent, pandering mouthpieces for America’s Republican Party. Desperate to reclaim some of the power they recently lost through failed policies, blatant corruption, political stupidity, greed and religious overindulgence, these folks spend all their on-air hours trying to influence the minds of the lazy and the stupid, the mewling sheep so easily swayed by idiotic rumors and half-truths, unsubstantiated claims and outright propaganda.

This, now, is the game that WEEI has decided to play.

John Dennis Gerry Callahan

John Dennis, Gerry Callahan and Jon Meterparel

I guess it started with Gerry Callahan, really. Once a pretty decent sports writer in his own right, working for the Herald and Sports Illustrated, I was actually quite a fan of his show back in the day. In fact, I remember being one of the very first faxers to the program the day it first went live, a missive amusing enough to be read on air and that he later admitted hanging it on the wall of his office there for a time. His conservative leanings, though, became more steadily apparent the more time he spent on the air. Initailly, this bothered me a bit but I didn’t really hold it against him. We all have our own politics and I don’t judge anyone solely on that aspect. I knew there were other hosts at the station with similar leanings but I wasn’t tuning in for that so I didn’t really care. It was the sports talk I wanted and they were good at it.

That all changed in the mornings, however. The format for that show became broader than just sports, including all manner of popular “water cooler” topics including politics, of course. This was tolerable as it was often pretty funny and entertaining. Slowly, over time, though, Callahan’s extreme right wing views began to dominate. Arguments with callers would send him into an absurd rage and he would become a frothing, screaming reactionary at a moment’s notice. It was instantly uncomfortable for me when that would happen. A man I had formerly respected was turning into a troll in fromt of my very ears.

It got even worse, though. The more issues that were introduced, the more of a Right Wing Thumper he became, espousing any and all manner of absurd nonsense to forward a conservative agenda. During the 2008 Presidential Campaign, it reached all new propagandic lows as he carried the Republican Party’s water like a good, mindless soldier, selling whatever the latest garbage and half-truths and near-slander he could to try and derail Barack Obama’s Predisential bid. It became truly embarrassing as folks pointed out the massive failings of the Bush administration and the obvious inadequacy of the McCain-Palin ticket and Gerry simply would not admit reality. Whether it was self-deception or just outright lying, the stuff that flew across the airwaves on that show became unbelievably odious. It was clear that they were part of The Machine. The Rush Limbaugh of Sports Talk.

Not a compliment, there, folks.

It’s continues on, of course. The station, in allowing it, has shown it’s own true colors and one can speculate that ownership has it’s own agenda to allow such specific political ranting to air every day. Now, with a hotly contested Senatorial race reaching it’s peak in Massachusetts today with conservative Republican Scott Brown running against Democrat Martha Coakley to fill the vacant Senate seat once belonging to Sen. Ted Kennedy, all pretense has been thrown aside as personalities from every show (excluding the fairly reasonalble Dale & Holley midday broadcast) have thrown in their lot with Brown, stumping and thumping in a blatant attempt to use their vast reach to sway their listening audience and impact a critical election with serious national political implications. The morning guys tell you to vote for him, the afternoon guys tell you to vote for him, Curt Schilling, the blatantly right-wing former Red Sox pitcher who just never seems to shut up, is on there telling you to vote for him. Hell, I got a robocall from Schilling one night slagging off Coakley and promoting Brown. It’s become so overt it’s sickening.

Curt Schilling

Please stop calling my house, Curt Schilling. Please.

At one, point, last week, they had Brown on the air live twice. In the same day. Once with Dennis & Callahan in the morning while they brought in a guest who was unfairly imprisoned 25 years ago and tried to connect his injustice to Martha Coakley and then again later in the day on The Big Show, clearly sensing blood as a spike in the polls showed the race getting closer and trying to promote him as much as possible to boost his momentum. It was just disgustingly obvious what was going on there.

That’s when I turned it off. Finally. Just switched it off.

Do you understand, WEEI, or even care? Possibly the most loyal listener you have ever had, a man who spent about 45 hours a week for the last 27 years of his life listening to your station, has at last flipped the switch. Because he couldn’t take it anymore.

I love sports. I love the Bruins, as you all know. I love the Red Sox. I’m knowledgable enough about many sports related subjects and I like nothing more that a great sports argument, a debate about strategy, player moves, coaching controversy, media blunders, trades and signings. Hot stove baseball. All of that stuff. And WEEI used to be the best at it.

No more.

The only thing worse than politics is the brainless, blabbering, one-sided barking of an obvious, agenda-driven propagandist talking to me like I’m an idiot stupid enough to buy that brand of Snake Oil. No sale, guys. Today, Election Day, as you continue to screech hysterically about Brown and deride Coakley, I was happily listening to something else.

Strike three.

You’re out.

There is another sports radio in station now, seriously competing with WEEI for attention, thankfully. 98.5 WBZ-FM, The Sports Hub. It has it’s share of odious personalities. It’s not perfect. There are a few journalists on there that I respect, a few who justlike to hear themselves talk and stir up controversy. But it’s already better than WEEI because there is little or no politics in the mix. It’s sports, all day, everyday. And that was what I wanted. Something tells me I’m not the only one driven to switch over to the FM side now that the other station is showing it’s colors like that. From now on, excepting a brief check in to make sure the lone voice in the wilderness there, Michael Holley, is still alive, I will be listening to 98.5 exclusively.

I’m not going to tell you who I’m voting for today, by the way. Hopefully, you don’t even care. Politics is not what I’m interested in and I can assure you this will be the last time the subject ever comes up here.

Back to the Hockey Talk.

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3 Responses to “The Last Days of WEEI”

  1. Gonz Says:

    Are you sure Schilling isn’t just shilling for the other guy because what’s her face called him a Yankee? I’m no right wing lunatic by any stretch but if someone accused me of wearing the pinstripes, I’d probably go full retard, myself.

  2. Ken Socrates Says:

    Nah, Schilling has a track record as a staunch right winger (lord knows we’ve heard him rant about it for countless hours on WEEI) and was even rumoured to be a candidate for this very seat at one point. He’s all in with those folks.

    Anyway, Brown won. It all worked. He even thanked a couple of WEEI on-air personalities during his speech. How disgusting is that?

    And some strange news this afternoon from EEI that one of the whipping boy news readers, the biggest in fact, Pete Sheppard, has been fired. really odd since he was such an integral part of that show and filled his role repugnantly well.

  3. Gonz Says:

    I know Schilling’s political history and it ain’t pretty. But I’m sure the Yankee comment didn’t help matters much.

    By the way, I’m having endless fun telling everyone that Massachussetts has Brown in their Seat.

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