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NESN drops WEEI's "Dennis & Callahan"

WEEI facing some tough decisions
WEEI facing some tough decisions
Tony Branco

According to the Boston Globe's Chad Finn, NESN has decided to end their nearly four year relationship with WEEI's "Dennis and Callahan Show." While they say it has nothing to do with Kirk Minihane's recent controversial comments about Erin Andrews, the timing seems a bit too coincidental.

According to Finn, NESN's contract with "The D&C Show" is due to expire in September. The first three hours of the show can be seen on NESN from 6-9 a.m. Interestingly, John Dennis and Gerry Callahan's contract are set to expire in September as well.

Is this just the first shoe to drop for the veteran WEEI hosts? For reasons unknown to me, Dennis and Callahan continue to do the best, ratings-wise, of any show on WEEI. The addition of Minihane in February 2013 has been a boon for the show. They still trail their chief competitor -- 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher and Rich Show."

Minihane has brought a contemporary, edgy, quick-witted slant to the show. That quick wit got him into some hot water last week when he attacked Andrews. He didn't think before he went into a rant against Andrews, calling her a "gutless bitch" and wishing she would just "drop dead."

Minihane has attacked other media types in recent months as well. Most notably, he has called for the firing of popular NESN employees Jenny Dell and Jerry Remy. Dell no longer works for NESN, due in large part to her relationship with Red Sox player Will Middlebrooks. Remy's crime against humanity is that he is the father of a murderer.

The thing Remy and Dell have in common is that they are local celebrities. Many people beyond New England have no idea who they are. Everyone knows who Erin Andrews is. She is a national celebrity. Heck, she co-hosts "Dancing with the Stars" for crying out loud. When Minihane went after her he may have bit off a little more than he could chew. Attacking a national sweetheart like Andrews sparks the attention of national media outlets like E! Online, People Magazine, and Deadspin.

Some speculate that was Minihane's plan. Minihane is a smart guy, but his comments were not planned. This is just who Minihane is. He heard a clip of Andrews offering up softball questions to St. Louis Cardinals' pitcher Adam Wainwright and he exploded into a rant. He didn't do it because he knew it would garner national attention. He didn't do it to get WEEI's brand in the headlines.

It is interesting that WEEI decided not to discipline Minihane. As luck would have it, Minihane went on a pre-planned vacation following his comments. When he returned, he offered an on-air apology to Erin Andrews. Sort of. Following his admission that he used some offensive language to describe Andrews, he went on to speculate that if Andrews were "fifteen pounds heavier she'd be a waitress at Perkins."

Now I have no idea where or what Perkins is, but if Andrews were to be a waitress there, I'd be a regular.

I think I can understand where Minihane is coming from. Allow me to get out my psychology degree from the University of Phoenix for a minute. Minihane is a bit of a late bloomer to broadcasting. He has wallowed in the muck as a writer for a long time. It is frustrating to see young, less-talented women be offered up higher-profile (i.e. higher paying) positions based on little more than the fact they have a pretty face and a striking body. Meanwhile, Minihane is banging out three or four columns per day for various web sites trying to make a name for himself. Trust me, I can relate.

Now Minihane has gotten his break and he wants to make the most of it. Like I said, Minihane is a smart guy. He knows what works in radio. He knows you have to walk that tight rope between being an agitator, but not being offensive. Last week, in the eyes of many, he crossed that line.

Again, WEEI didn't view it necessary to discipline Minihane. Prior to last week, Minihane was their rising star. It puts the station in a tough spot. NESN, however, made their feelings known loud and clear. They want nothing more to do with the show. NESN spokeman Gary Roy released a statement saying that NESN "complete disapproves of Mr. Minihane's disparaging statements. Furthermore, we feel it's unfortunate that his comments aired on our network." Sounds like quite the condemnation to me.

In Chad Finn's article, he says there have been employees from FOX Sports and ESPN that have come out and said they will boycott WEEI. Noted FOX baseball analyst Ken Rosenthal is one of them.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months. Will advertisers pull out from the show? Will Dennis and Callahan's contracts -- which expire in September -- be renewed? I would think they were in trouble before this controversy even occurred. Would something Minihane said have an adverse effect on their contract negotiations? Oddly enough, Minihane seems safe as he, recently, signed a contract extension.

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