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Touching All the Bases

WEEI's 'Dennis and Callahan' Program Will No Longer Air on NESN When Contract Expires

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Since November 2010, the first three hours of WEEI's weekday morning-drive Dennis and Callahan program have been simulcast on NESN.

Often, when the program signs off from the television broadcast at 9 a.m., co-host John Dennis will remind listeners and viewers that the show runs for one more hour on the radio side by saying, "Say goodbye to NESN."

Soon, Dennis's prompting will have a permanent connotation in relation to the program.

According to multiple industry sources, NESN informed WEEI and its parent company, Entercom, in recent days that the Dennis and Callahan simulcast will not continue after their contract comes to an end in September.

Dennis and co-host Gerry Callahan's contracts with WEEI also expire at that time. They signed five-year deals in September 2007, then had two more years added to their contracts when the simulcast was launched. Negotiations are ongoing.

The third co-host, Kirk Minihane, joined the program in February. His contract is not expiring.

The decision to cancel the simulcast is not specifically related to the controversies surrounding Minihane's controversial comments about Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews, according to industry sources.

NESN was considering going in a different direction -- possibly with more localized programming featuring its own on-air talent -- even before Minihane caused significant backlash last Wednesday when he referred to Andrews as a "gutless bitch."

He made the comment in reference to her softball interview with Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright during the All-Star Game last Tuesday.

Minihane again caused a stir yesterday when, upon returning to the show from vacation, he apologized for his comments but punctuated the apology by saying that if Andrews were "15 pounds heavier she'd be a waitress at Perkins."

NESN spokesman Gary Roy said the network's policy is not to comment on personnel or programming matters. But earlier Thursday, he did provide a statement regarding NESN's view on Minihane's comments:

"NESN has absolutely no editorial control of WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Morning Show, and completely disapproves of Mr. Minihane’s disparaging statements. Furthermore, we feel it’s unfortunate that his comments aired on our network."

There has been backlash elsewhere to the recent controversies. Fox Sports personnel have had internal discussions on the possibility of banning its talent from appearing on WEEI programming, or at the least “Dennis and Callahan.” Respected Fox Sports baseball writer Ken Rosenthal already has said he will no longer appear on D&C.

ESPN’s Keith Law, often a guest on Alex Speier’s excellent “Down on the Farm” weekend show and podcast, said during his chat on ESPN.com Wednesday he will no longer appear on WEEI programming.

“It’s a shame Alex has to work for an outfit that condones this combination of outright misogyny and demeaning personal attacks,’’ wrote Law.

There is no indication that Minihane’s comments have caused advertiser backlash. And the notion that the program is pulling a stunt to increase sagging ratings fails to recognize that “Dennis and Callahan” actually has had the strongest ratings on the station consistently for the last few years.

NESN is owned by John Henry, the principal owner of the Red Sox who
also owns The Boston Globe and Boston.com.

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