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Sports Media

Just airing out a few things...

By Chad Finn
Globe Staff / August 12, 2011

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Clicking through the channels, cruising up and down the dial, and catching up on a few matters . . .

■ Best wishes to NESN anchor Jade McCarthy, who gave her two weeks’ notice at the network Tuesday.

The Newton native had a homecoming when she was hired by NESN in January 2010 from the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia. Coincidentally, she is returning to Philadelphia to make her home there; her husband recently took a new job, and they decided to make the move before McCarthy gives birth in the fall.

While NESN has seen more charismatic personalities depart - such as the NHL Network-bound Kathryn Tappen and very possibly Heidi Watney when her contract expires at the end of the Red Sox season - McCarthy deserves credit for maintaining her professionalism even when put in what quickly became a hopeless situation.

And yes, “hopeless situation’’ refers to the directive to banter with the miscast Uri Berenguer in the early days of “NESN Daily.’’

Chemistry in television can’t be faked. McCarthy’s legacy will be that she gave it her best shot in circumstances where she might be excused if she didn’t, and her best shot was pretty good.

■ With the usual caveat that monthly Arbitron ratings are nowhere near as meaningful as the quarterly reports, it’s worthwhile to pass along the July ratings for 98.5 The Sports Hub and WEEI (850).

After all, the last time we checked in, The Sports Hub had earned such an overwhelming victory in the spring ratings book that there were a couple of significant questions left hanging in the air.

How much of The Sports Hub’s success - it was first overall in the men 25-54 demographic with an 8.8 share, while WEEI was tied for sixth (5.1) - was due to the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run, considering the station is the team’s flagship?

And did this indicate that the game had changed for good between the sports radio rivals?

Conclusions shouldn’t be drawn from the July monthly, but there are clues. The Sports Hub had another strong month, finishing tied for third overall among men 25-54 with a 6.1 share. WEEI was tied for 10th (4.3).

The Sports Hub programming finished first in morning drive (“Toucher and Rich,’’ 8.6 share) and afternoon drive (“Felger and Massarotti,’’ 8.4) drive, while the WEEI counterparts were sixth (“Dennis and Callahan,’’ 6.0) and tied for seventh (“The Big Show,’’ 4.7) during the most lucrative parts of the day when it comes to advertising.

The July ratings cover the period of June 23 (eight days after the end of the Bruins season) to July 20. The Sports Hub did see some dropoff post-Bruins. For instance, even though “Felger and Massarotti’’ remained No. 1 in the 2-6 p.m. slot by a wide 1.8 margin over No. 2 WXKS, their share dipped 27 percent from June’s 11.5.

It’s obvious that they were helped by the Bruins’ run. It’s also obvious that, even though the firm conclusions will be drawn when the summer Arbitron ratings are revealed Oct. 4, the Sports Hub’s audience is big enough that it doesn’t need a championship team to carry it.

■ The fact that relatively meaningful August games between the Red Sox and Yankees draw large numbers of television viewers probably falls into the “well, duh’’ category, but every now and then, the ratings exceed expectations.

Such was the case last weekend, with three national networks the beneficiaries.

Friday night’s game was the second-most-watched game ever on MLB Network (563,000 average viewers), trailing only the debut of Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg last June. Friday’s game also aired locally on NESN.

Saturday’s matchup on Fox was the most-watched non-prime-time regular-season telecast since July 2008 with 4.10 million average viewers, though that tally includes parts of the country that saw a Giants-Phillies matchup.

And ESPN hit the jackpot with “Sunday Night Baseball,’’ drawing its largest audience in four years with 4.72 million average viewers. That sure is a lot of people who got to hear Bobby Valentine’s tiresome gripes about the length of the game.

■ If Comcast SportsNet New England’s “Villains’’ series is little more than late-summer filler, it should be praised as entertaining and extremely well-produced filler. The vintage comic-book look is eye-popping and original, and the first “villain’’ profiled as an athlete Boston fans love to hate - Kobe Bryant - was a fitting one.

Should the NBA lockout abbreviate the season or even lead to its cancellation, CSNNE, the longtime home of Celtics broadcasts, will have some programming gaps to fill. The “Villains’’ series is an encouraging sign that it will be up to the challenge.

■The filmmakers who are making a movie about iconoclastic former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee - titled “Have Glove, Will Travel’’ - are taking a creative approach to generating awareness as well as a few bucks. They’re utilizing an online funding platform called Kickstarter, which allows interested patrons to help fund film projects in exchange for unique products and experiences.

Donations can be made at 12 levels, from $1 to $2,500. Rewards include limited-edition buttons, autographed books, and handmade bats from Lee’s own company, attending a Red Sox home game with Lee, and an exclusive invitation to a weekend at “Space Camp’’ that promises “baseball, beer, BBQ, swimming, and Yankee hunting.’’ A select few will have the opportunity to have a walk-on role in the film.

Apparently, there is no reward in which Lee will make a contributor pancakes. Probably a good thing.

Chad Finn can be reached at finn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globechadfinn.