SBD/February 14, 2013/Media

WEEI Parts Ways With Longtime Afternoon Host Glenn Ordway As WBZ's Ratings Rise

Ordway has been a prominent radio voice in Boston for more than three decades
A "seismic shakeup" at Boston's WEEI sportsradio has "brought to an end the tenure of longtime host Glenn Ord­way ... after a decline in ratings brought on in part by the ascent of a competitor," according to Chad Finn of the BOSTON GLOBE. Ordway will be "replaced" by ESPN Radio 710 Seattle co-host Mike Salk, a Boston native. Ordway was the "ringleader" of WEEI's afternoon drive program, "The Big Show," which was a "tremendous ratings success through the late 1990s and well into the last decade." He has been a "prominent radio voice in Boston for more than 30 years as a host and former Celtics radio announcer." The "fall is a stunning one for Ordway, even by the volatile standards of the radio business." Sources said that Salk’s salary is "expected to be in the vicinity of $100,000" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/14). In Boston, Matt Stout writes Ordway became the "latest casualty of the pitched battle between his venerable station and its upstart rival," WBZ-FM The Sports Hub. Ordway's departure makes way "for a new younger talent" in the 34-year-old Salk as WEEI "scrambles to reboot its stale image and regain lost ground before it’s too late." But whether "ousting the popular Ordway will stem the tide or cause irreversible damage remained an open question among media experts." WBZ has "rock­eted past WEEI in the ratings by pumping up-and-coming personalities." SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said that Ordway’s "hefty salary," reportedly $1M per year before a 50% cut after down ratings in '11, "likely played a role in his departure" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/14). Ordway yesterday said on-air, "I apparently didn't do a good enough job in the past couple of years, so I paid the price. ... They made that call, but I don't want to BS it." Ordway, whose final show will be tomorrow, has been with WEEI since '87 and has been a part of "The Big Show" for 18 years (BOSTONHERALD.com, 2/13).

AIRING GRIEVANCES: In Boston, Gayle Fee writes of Ordway's ouster, "The writing had been on the wall for some time." WEEI "blew up his groundbreaking 'Big Show,' which featured a revolving cast of characters, in February 2011 and paired him full-time with midday host Michael Holley." A few months later, the station "cut Ordway’s salary in half after the program’s ratings didn’t hit the top three." Ordway said, "The mistake WEEI made that got them into this trouble was the fact that they were on AM, an antiquated band that basically was listened to by nobody under the age of 40. Forty or 45. When The Sports Hub came on the air, they went with the FM band and they stole away this whole young audience." He said of his next career move, "I’ve got a couple of projects I’ve been working on in the last few months, including a business venture that I believe is the future of our business. ... I think the business is going to the Internet. Internet radio is the next big thing" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/14). The HERALD's Steve Buckley writes Ordway "didn't invent sports talk radio in Boston, but he took a meandering, still-finding-itself format and turned it into an industry" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/14). WEEI morning show host Gerry Callahan said, "Any sports radio station in the country you hear has been influenced by Glenn" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/14).

CLEANING HOUSE? The GLOBE's Finn reported WEEI on Monday "fired" sports update anchor Kevin Winter "just six weeks after his debut as the replacement for Jon Meterparel." Sources said that Winter was told that the "chemistry between him and hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan wasn't working." Finn wrote Winter's "energetic style seemed an odd fit with the more cynical Dennis and Callahan from the beginning." Winter previously worked for ESPN Radio (BOSTON.com, 2/11).
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