There is no such thing as bad publicity. That is what WEEI is hoping for.
WEEI morning radio talk show co-host Kirk Minihane stirred some controversy this week for comments he made about FOX sideline reporter Erin Andrews. He called her a "gutless bitch" and wished that she would just "drop dead." I've seen other media personalities fired for less. Instead, no discipliary action will be taken by the station against Minihane other than making him make a formal written apology (convienently enough) on the WEEI web site.
And why would WEEI suspend or even fire Minihane. Minihane has instilled new life in the lifeless "Dennis & Callahan" morning show? He is contemporary and witty. That stands in stark contrast to his two other co-hosts. He also comes across as being angry at the world and sometimes you wonder if he lacks that filter that should lie between his angry mind and his mouth. On Wednesday, it was evident that filter was missing.
Or maybe not. He did admit, sheepishly, at the end of his rant, "I'm going to get in trouble for this." Trouble? He might get a raise and promotion.
Prior to Minhane's arrival, the "Dennis & Callahan Show" had seen their ratings plummeting for several years. They lagged behind their competitors at The Sports Hub. The D&C Show once ruled the roost, but those days are long gone. Longtime hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan, however, continued to go about their business like they were sitting up on high talking to their minions. When Minihane joined the show in February of 2013, he was often ridiculed on air by Dennis as "the little guy in the corner." Well, that "little guy in the corner" has pretty much saved Dennis and Callahan's jobs as ratings have rebounded-- still not surpassing 98.5's "Toucher and Rich Show," but improved, nonetheless.
Minihane has appealed to the much sought after younger demographic. He can be crass. He has his finger on the pulse of public opinion. He is not afraid to play the contrarian and take unpopular positions. He was on the frontlines for those advocating the dismissal of the very popular Jenny Dell as NESN sideline reporter following her admission of a relationship with player Will Middlebrooks. He has also campaigned to get the very popular Jerry Remy off the air following his son's criminal troubles. Makes you wonder what Minihane would write about himself following this fiasco.
Minihane is a relative newbie to the radio biz. I've followed Minihane for a long time and have been one of his biggest advocates. I wrote before Minihane got promoted to his current position that he was a rising star that the station should build around. I often interacted with him via private messages on social media in those early days. It was obvious from the tone of those messages that he was a very confident individual who had a firm grasp of what the modern-day audience wants. It was also obvious to me that he didn't have a very high opinion of some of the longer-serving employees at the station. Did I mention that he came across as a very cocky individual?
Once Minihane hit the "big time," our communications ended. I was merely a tiny pebble on his cobblestone path to his ultimate goal of fame. And that's fine. I am not one of those who gets bitter when somebody unfriends me or unfollows me on social media. I'm really not... but you better not do it! (Just kidding-- I couldn't really care less.)
I do feel like I got to know the inner workings of Minihane's mind a little better from these brief communications we used to have a long time (three years?) ago. He always wants to be cutting edge-- never boring. He wants to stir the pot. He wants to get people talking.
Well, he did exactly that. But it is a fine line and that is where his broadcast inexperience rears its head. He walked the tightrope precisely with topics such as Jenny Dell and Jerry Remy. He went over the line with Erin Andrews.
The problem with Minihane is how he handles fame. He knows -- even if his other co-hosts don't want to acknowledge it -- he is the reason the show's ratings have improved. He jokes on air about his power at the station. It is a running joke that he is the one who got former afternoon host Mike Salk fired. Maybe it's not a joke.
A little humility would go a long way with Minihane. Hubris is what brought down WEEI in the first place. This incident should serve as a teaching point for Minihane-- if he is humble enough to accept it. Minihane is lucky-- many wouldn't be given a free pass for the comments he made.