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WEEI Names New Programming Leadership Team

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In recent months, Market Manager Phil Zachary and the Entercom Boston team have been on a mission to identify the right leadership to help maintain and grow WEEI’s position as one of America’s best sports media brands. Former PD Kevin Graham exited the station in July, and with WEEI locked in a competitive battle with 98.5 The Sports Hub, one misstep and bigger problems could’ve surfaced.

While identifying the right leadership for a storied brand such as WEEI is difficult enough, the station also had to tackle a few key on-air issues. Longtime morning host John Dennis left the morning show in August, and Jerry Thornton, who had been part of the afternoon show with Dale Arnold and Michael Holley, exited the afternoon show in November to return to Barstool Sports.

Despite those challenges, which would normally result in a brand taking a step backwards, WEEI actually improved. Strong internal leadership, and a great air staff contributed to a rise in ratings and revenue, and today that hard work has paid off for a few key members of WEEI’s internal staff.

Zachary has announced that after a six-month search for its next program director, WEEI will instead create a new program leadership team from its in-house talent bench.

Current WEEI Assistant Program Director Joe Zarbano has been elevated to Program Director. In his new role, Zarbano will assume direct oversight of all audio content for WEEI-FM, the WEEI Sports Radio Network, the Boston Red Sox Radio Network and ESPN 850. He is a nine-year station veteran who began with WEEI as an intern while a student at Emerson College. He has been overseeing all day to day programming matters for the radio station since July, playing an integral role in the radio station’s growth during that period.

Working in tandem with Zarbano as the station’s new Executive Producer is WEEI Senior Producer Ben Kichen. He joined the station in 2006 from iHeart Media’s WXKS and WJMN and has been lead producer for both the Glenn Ordway and Dale & Holley programs on WEEI.  Kichen also produces the acclaimed “Enough About Me” podcast with Kirk Minihane as well as hosting “Soccercast” for WEEI.com.

Carlson Mozdiez, who is currently the Director of Integrated Marketing Strategies for Entercom’s Boston cluster, will assume the new title of Director of Operations for Entercom Boston, with a special emphasis on the company’s digital juggernaut WEEI.com. Mozdiez joined WEEI in 2002 immediately after graduating from Syracuse University, and has held a variety of positions in promotions, marketing and digital operations.

Entercom New England VP/Market Manager Phil Zachary says the search was necessarily long and intensive. “With its massive broadcast reach and associated digital assets, the WEEI brand is arguably among the most influential and complex in all of broadcasting. Many of our outside candidates simply couldn’t get their arms around all of it. As each month passed, it became clear to me that we had the talent right here in Joe, Ben, and Carlson. Plus they each have that inimitable DNA of the true Boston sports fan.”

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Big 12 Bans Texas Tech Radio Crew From Upcoming Game

“Texas Tech University has not officially commented on the broadcast plans for the Oklahoma State game.”

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Texas Tech fans will not hear familiar voices this week if they tune into the radio call of the Red Raiders’ game against Oklahoma State. Play-by-play man Brian Jensen and analyst John Harris have been reprimanded by the Big 12 and barred from calling the game.

The conference took action on Wednesday. During Texas Tech’s game last Saturday, Jensen and Harris were very critical of the officials in the game. They even suggested that the league was conspiring to ensure Iowa State won.

“I’ll say it right now, the Big 12 does not want Iowa State to lose this game,” Harris said on air after an interception by Texas Tech at the goal line was overturned.

Jensen tweeted about the call from the broadcast booth during the game.

The final straw for the league may have been John Harris naming the officials on air and saying that the Big 12 should “be embarrassed” by them.

“I understand the roles of the play-by-play and color analyst,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a press release. “However as University representatives they also have an obligation to adhere to Conference policy regarding comments about game officials.  The comments by the Red Raider Radio Network booth announcers were contrary to expected levels of respect and professionalism.  Questioning the integrity of Conference officials and specifically calling out members of the officiating crew is well beyond appropriate and permissible behavior.”

Texas Tech University has not officially commented on the broadcast plans for the Oklahoma State game. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal speculates that Geoff Haxton, who calls play-by-play of the school’s basketball and baseball teams, will call the action and sideline reporter Chris Level will serve as the analyst.

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102.5 The Game To Air Tribute To Floyd Reese On Friday

“The radio special will re-air on Saturday afternoon and again on Sunday morning.”

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Floyd Reese is set to be post-humously inducted into the Titans Ring of Honor this weekend. His former co-host at 102.5 The Game will kickoff the weekend celebration with a two-hour tribute on the station.

Floyd Reese: A True Titan will air at 5 pm on The Game on Friday. The guest list includes Titans GM Jon Robinson, former Titans coach Mike Mularkey, Former Titans coach Mike Munchak, former NFL coach Jerry Glanville, former Titans WR Chris Sanders, former Titans OL Zach Piller, Titans WR Derrick Mason, and more

Reese’s sports radio career began in 2016. He joined George Plaster as part of Sports Night on 102.5 The Game. He was later moved into afternoon drive where he partnered with Jared Stillman. Reese’s time in radio came to an end in 2020. Other media experience included a brief stint as an analyst at ESPN after being let go as GM of the Tennessee Titans.

In August, Floyd Reese died. He was 73 years old.

The radio special will re-air on Saturday afternoon and again on Sunday morning.

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Sports Radio News

Dan Patrick: I Refused To Name Branded Stadiums On SportsCenter

“I just said ‘let’s go to Baltimore,’ ‘let’s go to Chicago,’ wherever it might be.”

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Dan Patrick
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The Lakers and Clippers will not be playing in the Staples Center by the time the calendar turns to 2022. The company is giving up the lifetime naming rights deal it had with the Los Angeles arena. Crypto.com will take over as the name sponsor.

Dan Patrick welcomed Darren Rovell to his radio show on Wednesday to discuss the value of the deal. Monetarily, the price tag is $700 million. That will get Crypto.com the naming rights to the arena for twenty years.

Patrick wanted to know how the company could ensure it got its money’s worth. He admitted that when he was at ESPN, he would make a point to stand in the way of that.

“I know when I did SportsCenter, I purposely did not mention a stadium that had naming rights,” he said. “I just said ‘let’s go to Baltimore,’ ‘let’s go to Chicago,’ wherever it might be.”

Would such a practice fly now at ESPN where several segments of SportsCenter carry their own corporate sponsorships?

Rovell answered Dan Patrick by saying value is somewhat relative. Crypto.com may have ideas beyond ESPN anchors saying the company’s name during broadcasts to get the most out of its $700 million investment.

“You know what? I think it’s always up to the individual company to make the value work, right?” he said. “Like, so are they going to have like ATMs where you put in your dollars and then you get a receipt that you’ve turned it into Bitcoin? Are they going to incorporate points into what the Etherium and Bitcoin price is?”

Dan Patrick had an idea for a different sponsor that he wanted to see get the naming rights. He thought the ideal sponsor for the arena would have been TNT broadcaster and Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal, who has become a real advertising force since leaving his playing days behind.

“I thought Shaq should have gotten involved and called it ‘The Shaq.’ People would have had fun with that,” the recent inductee into the Radio Hall of Fame joked.

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