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WEEI’s John Dennis Takes Leave

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For WEEI talk-show host John Dennis, “rock bottom” took place during the Red Sox’ home opener against the Washington Nationals Monday afternoon at Fenway Park.

He says all he had was one drink. Whatever the number, it was enough to convince Dennis, who hosts the popular “Dennis & Callahan” morning-drive program with Gerry Callahan and Kirk Minihane, to check himself into rehab.

“I knew immediately that one (drink) was not going to be enough,” Dennis said during a telephone interview yesterday after informing station management of his decision. “I can stop for long periods of time, but then once I have one, one seems like a good idea, and then two seems like a really good idea. And then four seems like a great idea.”

By his own count, Dennis said he had gone 40 days without touching alcohol. But then came the traditional home opener, after which he decided to take a leave of absence from WEEI.

“They’re not sending me to the Betty Ford in California,” Dennis said. “It’ll be local. But it will be inpatient, and I’m told it’s approximately four to five weeks. Could be a little more or a little less.”

A statement emailed to me by Dennis includes the following: “I’ve made the decision to take serious steps to eliminate the role alcohol plays in my life before it impacts my health. I’m told it’s an arduous undertaking, but it’s one I’m willing to embrace. I know it can be a lifelong battle, but it’s one I want to fight.”

During the telephone conversation yesterday, Dennis was more blunt.

“It’s time to grow up,” he said. “It’s time to be a better husband to Kathy. It’s time to be a better dad to my two daughters, and a better grandparent. And you know? A better teammate to Kirk and Gerry.”

According to Dennis, he was assured his job will be waiting for him when he returns. Station manager Phil Zachary confirmed that last night.

“Absolutely,” Zachary said. “Not a question at all. WEEI has been built on the ‘Dennis & Callahan Show’ with Dennis and Callahan and Kirk Minihane, and we don’t see a future without John Dennis.”

For Zachary, Dennis’ disclosure did not come out of the blue.

“He and I have been talking about a problem he’s had with alcohol for a while,” Zachary said.

Minihane, a self-professed recovering substance abuser who says he hasn’t had a drink since 2012, likened Dennis to a character from the hit TV series “Mad Men.”

“The way he looks, the way his hair is, the way he talks, the way he dresses, some of the words he says, I feel like you could put John in ‘Mad Men,’ like Season 2, and he’d be the most successful advertising man in the history of ‘Mad Men,’ ” Minihane said. “I think John has that 1960s mentality still about (alcoholism), where he thinks he should be embarrassed about it. He absolutely should not be.”

Dennis, 63, had been a sports anchor for 22 years at WHDH-TV, leaving the station in 1999 to team up with Callahan, a former Herald columnist and Sports Illustrated staffer, to host a mid-morning program at WEEI. Three years later, the show was moved to morning drive and became a ratings giant for the station. Minihane became a permanent addition to the show in February 2013.

“I’m getting up there,” Dennis said. “I want to live a long and happy life. I want to be a snow bird, between Miromar Lakes (Fla.) and Boston, and I want to get things straightened out before anything happens to me health-wise. I just had my physical and everything is fine, but it was one of those things where back in the day, having a couple of drinks was for an event, like a birthday party, or an opening or some kind. Or watching the Super Bowl. But my events became more frequent.

“It was an accumulation of years of watching ballgames, watching on TV, and out-to-dinner type things. That seemed to increase the last year or so.”

To compound matters, Dennis must arise at a time of day when the vast majority of his listeners are still asleep.

“I was really careful for a long time not to (drink) on school nights, because a 3:45 a.m. wakeup call is brutal,” Dennis said. “And by and large I have lived by that rule. But I will admit there have been some Mondays when I’d walk in and I was a little fuzzy, and I don’t think at my best.

“I don’t drive drunk. I didn’t run over anybody. I didn’t fall down and crack my head. I didn’t get in a fight. None of that stuff. It was an accumulation of more frequent events where I said, ‘Oh, yeah, it would be a good idea to have a cocktail while I’m watching this game.’ And I wanted that to stop.”

Credit to the Boston Herald who originally published this article

Sports Radio News

Tony Bruno Relives Favorite Moments With Angelo Cataldi on 94 WIP

“I loved every day. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that.”

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Tony Bruno has been a staple of the sports radio business for decades. Bruno is from Philadelphia and was teamed up in the early nineties with a duo still dominating the local airwaves there today, Angelo Cataldi and Al Morganti. The three reunited Thursday morning on 94 WIP to remember the glory days of their partnership and friendship.

One of the first moments Cataldi asked Bruno if he remembered was the update he did from a tree outside of their studio and the answer was an emphatic yes.

“Absolutely, it’s one of the highlights of my life – other than interviewing four Presidents and every sports athlete in history – there’s no bigger moment than me climbing up in the tree, which was obstructing our view of William Penn and the city skyline. That’s what I do, I was a man of action. I’m not one of these guys that talks the talk, I climb the tree to do whatever is necessary.”

More frivolity followed when Cataldi harkened back to a segment of ‘Damsels in Distress’ and a time in which Bruno was sent on the street during a snowstorm to help shovel people out of their driveways. Bruno quickly recalled, “Man of the people. I should run for – I should of run for Governor of Pennsylvania or Senate or something.”

Bruno added that his favorite rant (and one that Cataldi loved too) wasn’t about the Cowboys or sports at all. “My favorite was my Infinity Broadcasting rant where I went on one day and even ripped our bosses, all the way up to the top of Infinity Broadcasting.” Cataldi cackled and praised Bruno’s rants more before being interrupted by Bruno saying, “yeah, my only regret is I never really ripped Al (Morganti) the way I should have ripped him. I let him of the hook so many times.”

An insightful moment came at the end of the call when Cataldi asked rhetorically if Bruno ever thought they (Cataldi & Morganti) would still be doing this thirty years later and then asked if Tony ever regretted leaving.

“It was a tough decision, Ang,” Bruno answered. “I was given an ultimatum. When I came to work with you guys, I loved every day. Every day we had fun. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that. It wasn’t one of those, ‘oh I got to go; I’m too big for these guys’. I even turned the ESPN job down a couple of times.

“My kids were still younger then, I didn’t want to move. I didn’t have to move. They said just come up here on weekends and that’s how ESPN Radio started. So I was doing weekends and Tom Bigby (Program Director) didn’t like that either, told me it wasn’t going to work. It was a philosophical thing. When he told me, ‘you should go because we are not going to pay you what they’re paying you,’ I said ok.

Cataldi began to sign off with Bruno with genuine thanks: “I got to tell you something Tone, we are indebted to you for the rest of our lives because we both learned so much from you and you are one of the great talents that radio has ever had.”

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Sports Radio News

Dodgers Temporarily Pull Broadcasters Off Road

“If the broadcasters’ are not dealing with severe cases of Covid and they have cleared health and safety protocols, it appears the team is open to sending them back out on the road.”

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When the Los Angeles Dodgers visit the East Coast later this week, the men that call the action on TV and radio will not be with them. The games will instead be broadcast on AM570 LA Sports and SportsNet LA from their respective studios.

“Due to a few members of the Dodgers’ broadcast team having recently tested positive for COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, the Dodgers have decided to not travel their broadcasters to upcoming games in Philadelphia and Washington,” the Dodgers announced in a statement. Similar to the 2020 and 2021 MLB seasons, the games will be broadcast from Los Angeles,” reads a statement on the team’s Twitter account.

No further details are available, so the severity and the number of cases remain unknown.

Last September, both members of the Dodgers’ television play-by-play crew were forced into quarantine. Joe Davis was the first to test positive, followed later that month by Orel Hershiser.

On Wednesday, manager Dave Roberts told the media that the Dodgers’ roster and coaching staff are not effected.

“There’s there’s no symptoms in the clubhouse. I think that as far as the upstairs, as an organization, we’re all just trying to be very cautious. But as far as in the clubhouse, coaches, training staff, nothing like that.”

If the broadcasters’ are not dealing with severe cases of Covid and they have cleared health and safety protocols, it appears the team is open to sending them back out on the road. 2022 was supposed to be a return to normal for the Dodgers and many other teams after not letting broadcasters travel in 2020 and 2021.

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Sports Radio News

Pat McAfee: ‘No One Will Disrespect Jim Rome On My Show’

“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle.”

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Jim Rome is a sports radio icon and Pat McAfee recognizes that.

On The Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday, McAfee was talking to co-host A.J. Hawk about how Rome trended recently on Twitter.

This happened after news of Tom Brady’s FOX Sports deal surfaced, and a list of the top paid sports media personalities was compiled. Rome came in behind Brady at number two making a reported $30 million a year, and many were surprised by that number. McAfee wasn’t.

“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle,” he said. “I have nothing but respect for Jim Rome.”

McAfee gave props to Rome, 57, saying he’s been doing sports talk probably longer than anyone. He’s one of the most widely distributed hosts in the country. Pat said he won’t tolerate anyone talking smack about the Smack-Off King.

“No disrespect will be said on this show of Jim Rome, ever,” he said. “Love that man.”

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