A few scattered media thoughts while cruising up and down the dial …
· A couple of weeks ago in this space we went over NESN’s plans for broadcasting Red Sox games, which include having Dave O’Brien, Jerry Remy, and Dennis Eckersley call all 60 games from NESN’s Watertown studios. The network’s plans for Bruins broadcasts are now taking shape as the NHL prepares for its return. The NHL hasn’t announced it yet, but regional networks are not expected to be invited to broadcast from hub cities Edmonton and Toronto. That means Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley will also be calling the play-by-play from Watertown on a live feed from Toronto. Rinkside reporter Sophia Jurksztowicz is expected to join them in Watertown, although there is a possibility that she could have an easier time getting credentialed in Toronto since she is a Canadian citizen. NESN will have the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but no series beyond that, as all broadcast rights after the initial round belong to NBC Sports.
· Over on the radio, The Sports Hub’s broadcasters for Bruins and Celtics games will call the action from the station’s Morrissey Boulevard studios, though program director Rick Radzik said there is a possibility that Celtics voices Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell could call some playoff games from a Celtics room at TD Garden. That has not been approved yet, however. They will watch the games on the video feed transmitted with natural sound from the NBA bubble in Orlando. The Sports Hub will receive that feed from NBC Sports Boston.
· WEEI’s ratings for the spring Nielsen Audio book were, to be polite, rough. The station finished eighth in the men 25-54 demographic with a 4.5 share, well behind The Sports Hub, which was first (11.5). It’s apparent, if it wasn’t before, that WEEI needs a shakeup, starting in afternoon drive. Its program hosted by Glenn Ordway, Lou Merloni, and Christian Fauria pulled a fifth-place share of 4.3, miles behind The Sports Hub’s juggernaut “Felger and Massarotti” program, which nearly quadrupled “OMF” with a 16.9 share. Numbers were nearly as dismal in middays, but afternoon drive is much more important.
There’s some interesting context to be found in the morning ratings, though. While “The Greg Hill Show” finished fifth, well behind The Sports Hub’s top-rated “Toucher and Rich” program, it did earn a 7.3 share. That’s a larger piece of the audience than Gerry Callahan and Mike Mutnansky got in the spot last spring, when their show finished fifth with a 6.5. The day after those ratings became available, WEEI dumped Callahan, who had been with the station since 1997.
· NBC Sports is unveiling a six-part podcast anthology series, titled “Sports Uncovered,‘’ on its various regional networks. Topics include Michael Jordan’s return to the NBA (wasn’t there just a miniseries on this guy?), an in-depth look at late Redskins star Sean Taylor, and the story of Raiders center Barret Robbins’s disappearance before Super Bowl XXXVII during the 2002 season. I had a sneak listen at the episode for NBC Sports Boston and New England fans, an in-depth look at what Bill Belichick is really like, and it is excellent. It features commentary from Rodney Harrison, Doug Flutie, and Charlie Weis, and will be available July 16.
· ESPN announced Thursday it has begun production on a multipart “30 for 30” documentary on the hard-playing, hard-partying 1986 New York Mets. The series, which will be directed by Nick Davis (who shepherded the superb “Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived”), does not have an air date. Producers include Jimmy Kimmel. Two hopes for this series: 1. That it’s at least half as good as “The Bad Guys Won!‘’ author Jeff Pearlman’s 2004 book on the same subject. 2. That poor Bill Buckner gets only cursory mention. I suppose that last part is unlikely.
· Perhaps the most discussed national sports media story of the past week was ESPN Radio’s programming shakeup, which included reducing “The Dan Le Betard Show” — its best program by far — from three hours to two, adding “Get Up” host Mike Greenberg back to the radio lineup, and leaving popular longtime voice Mike Golic Sr. without a role. While I’m sure the televised simulcasts of its radio programs draw some interest around here, especially now that most people are working from home, I couldn’t imagine the changes mattered much in the parochial Boston sports radio market. The spring ratings seemed to confirm as much. In the men 25-54 demo in the Boston market, ESPN Radio’s programming on WEEI (850 AM) earned a 0.0 share. I will defer to Shaughnessy for the appropriate “Animal House” reference here.