Business

Questionable business moves hurting onetime sports radio powerhouse WEEI

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Drew Mavrikos’s devotion to WEEI is wavering.

An avid listener of the Boston sports radio station for years, the 28-year-old software sales executive is turned off by the current roster of on-air personalities, whom he considers either overbearing or underwhelming, and disappointed by recent news that the station will no longer broadcast Boston Celtics games on 93.7-FM.

“They’re making it harder for me to stay loyal,” Mavrikos said.

Once a Boston radio powerhouse that had the local sports market to itself, WEEI already has lost many listeners like Mavrikos to 98.5 The Sports Hub, a CBS-owned rival that was launched in 2009. Though the station takes in much more money than its new competitor, revenues at WEEI are down nearly 20 percent since the Sports Hub began broadcasting, according to industry figures, and it remains saddled with an expensive contract to broadcast the Boston Red Sox

Turnover has been high — it fired some of its biggest names, while others have quit. Longtime program director Jason Wolfe, who led the station during its most successful years, received his pink slip two weeks ago.

“They had so many opportunities to become complacent over there. They had the Sox on that amazing run, the economy was hot,” said Scott Fybush, who edits the trade publication NorthEast Radio Watch.

But while WEEI’s problems are serious, Fybush said, they are not fatal. “Look: ’EEI may be hurting. It is certainly far from dead.”

The company that owns WEEI, Entercom Communications, says it will continue with the current format and programming lineup, and argues that overall brand remains strong. Officials point to the station’s sports-news website, WEEI.com, which they said drew 1.4 million unique visitors last month.

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