A little more than two years after Pete Sheppard’s position was eliminated by WEEI’s parent company Entercom, he’s returning to the station’s airwaves.
Sheppard will host a program on the station Sunday from 12-3 p.m.
WEEI program director Jason Wolfe said in an email that Sheppard “will host some weekend shifts where I’ve got some time available.”
A blustery everyman who was popular with WEEI’s core listeners because of his genuine enjoyment of sports, was let go in January 2010 after more than 10 years at the station.
The reunion between Sheppard and the station began during segment a few minutes past 5:30 on WEEI’s “The Big Show” this afternoon, when hosts Michael Holley and Glenn Ordway took a call from a “Pete in the car.”
Sheppard had teased earlier Wednesday on his Twitter account that a return to the station, or at least something “interesting,” could be imminent.
It was, of course, Sheppard on the line.
After some bantering with hosts Ordway and Holley — they joked that he’s been driving around looking for the New Balance building that houses WEEI for two years — it was made clear that Sheppard will host a program this Sunday.
“Let me check my schedule,” joked Sheppard. “You know what? I’m free.”
Buzz has been building over the past few weeks that his return was pending.
“I’m so glad, it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Sheppard said. “We’ll take it one day at a time and see what happens.”
At 5:45 p.m., following the conversation with Ordway and Holley, he tweeted: “Yes, it is now official..I am back at WEEI!!..My first shift back will be this Sunday from noon-3pm…Thanks so much everyone!!”
The interest generated by Sheppard’s return is a plus for WEEI. It’s afternoon drive program, which was revamped last February, has solid ratings but has finished consistently behind 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Felger and Mazz” show in the Arbitron ratings.
In the fall, Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti were first (10.7), while “The Big Show” finished third (7.0), up from seventh in the summer (4.9) but still a significant distance behind.
It remains to be seen whether Sheppard will have a greater role down the road, beyond this Sunday. There is a belief that Jeff Brown, the VP Market Manager at Entercom Radio, is not nighttime host Mike Adams’s strongest backer. Because of Red Sox and Celtics programming, Adams hosted fewer than 30 full-length programs last year.
Sheppard began at WEEI in 1994, when he joined the station part time. In 1999, he moved to “The Big Show,” a ratings behemoth at the time, where he provided sports updates and bantered with the callers and hosts.
He also previously hosted the “Real Postgame Show” following Patriots games and has been hosting a Tuesday show on Patriots.com the past couple of years.