SBD/Issue 64/Sports Media

Battle Between Boston's WBZ, WEEI Shows No Signs of Abating

There is "no end in sight" to the "fight" between Boston sports radio stations WEEI-AM and WBZ-FM, according to Chad Finn of the BOSTON GLOBE. WBZ has made "remarkable headway in the Arbitron ratings since its mid-August 2009 launch, culminating in November when its programming for morning drive and afternoon drive finished first in the Boston market in the crucial male 25-54 demographic." Yet proclaiming that the station's "outstanding November signifies a sea change in the market would be premature," as WEEI's ratings "have not suffered." WBZ "trends younger, finishing first in November in the male 18-49 demo and 18-34 demos," while WEEI "embraces the reality that it appeals to the older end of the male 25-54 demo, finishing first last month in the 35-44 and 35-54 segments." But while WEEI officials "scarcely acknowledged the new competition" in the early days of WBZ, "other subtle and not-so-subtle changes continued to reveal WEEI's awareness that it no longer had a sports radio monopoly." WEEI's long commercial breaks "were broken into smaller segments beginning in August 2009, with the hosts reminding the audience how soon they would be back." The station's Red Sox pregame show also was "suddenly revamped this summer" when the hour-long "The Baseball Show" on WBZ "began beating it in the 6-7 p.m. window." Additionally, WEEI revamped its website and repositioned it "as more than just a network of radio stations." Finn wrote "perhaps the most telling and compelling competition comes in afternoon drive time." WEEI's "The Big Show," hosted by Glenn Ordway and an "orbiting cast of cohosts, has been entrenched as a ratings monster for years." But "love him or loathe him," Michael Felger, co-host of "Felger and Massarotti" on WBZ, "has become the host in the market whose opinion when sports news breaks is the one you immediately want to hear." Felger and co-host Tony Massarotti "never shy away from a sharp opinion or a well-timed rant," and the "result is that they have beaten or tied 'The Big Show' in the male 25-54 demo each of the past five months" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/12).

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