It’s the end of an era in Boston sports radio.
No, I’m not talking about WEEI’s programming on AM 850 turning into a full-time satellite of ESPN Radio, which happened last October.
Of course, WEEI’s local programming is still heard on 93.7 FM, as it has been since September 2011.
But unfortunately, one person who had been on WEEI’s airwaves for its entire run as a sports radio station will no longer be.
Glenn Ordway, longtime host of WEEI’s afternoon drive “Big Show” program, has been let go by the station, mostly due to the show on WEEI’s competitor, WBZ-FM/”98.5 The Sports Hub,” nearly doubling up “The Big Show” during the most recent football season.
Ordway, 62, who had been a fixture on AM 850 since 1987, when he was co-hosting a show with Janet Prensky, was named program director of WEEI in 1995, four years after the station went all-sports. Around that same time, he introduced “The Big Show,” which he hosted solo until a couple of years ago, when he was granted a co-host in Michael Holley. At that time, WEEI dubbed it their “new drive-time dream team.” But what the move really was was a plan to counter with “Felger and Mazz” on “98.5 The Sports Hub,” which at that point had only been on the air for a couple of years.
It was during the now-brief Ordway/Holley era that the even briefer Bobby Valentine tenure at the Red Sox took place, as some believe that it was this feisty chat that may have contributed to Bobby V’s days being numbered.
Ordway’s reported replacement is Mike Salk, a Boston native who at one time worked at another local sports radio station alongside Mike Felger, one half of the show that currently dominates afternoon drive in Boston sports radio.
Ordway’s ouster comes one week after current WEEI program director Jason Wolfe conducted a survey, whose subjects consisted of people who made the switch from WEEI to “The Sports Hub.” “They were told to focus on the morning and afternoon drive programs, and were asked how they would fix those programs,” wrote the Boston Globe’s Chad Finn last Friday. The survey participants were also “asked why they like or dislike” Ordway, as well as WEEI morning co-hosts, John Dennis and Gerry Callahan (not so much Holley), and to comment on the possibility of “female co-hosts” appearing on WEEI in the near future.
Looks like Wolfe is wasting no time in responding to the survey, firing ESPN Radio part-time personality Kevin Winter from his full-time position as sports update anchor on the “Dennis & Callahan” morning show after just half a year, before showing Ordway the door today.
Could a female voice, which the survey suggested, soon be heard on WEEI?
If they do, it likely won’t be the aforementioned Prensky, who these days prefers to call herself a “boomer broad.” But it’ll certainly have to be a woman that knows sports as much as she knows how to cater to the male demographic. In other words, she has to be so good, Boston will forget about “The Fabulous Sports Babe,” a previous WEEI fixture. (Jen Royle, maybe? Hmm…)
For many sports radio listeners in New England, it’s hard to imagine Glenn Ordway as a previous WEEI fixture, as well.
But unlike most radio personalities upon their firing, WEEI allowed Ordway the opportunity to do a final show – as is deserved.
“I was there [from] day one,” he commented, in looking back at his quarter-century with the station.
In proclaiming that he has “nothing negative to say” about the firing, Ordway said that Winter actually got a raw deal. “To me, that’s not fair.”
He also admitted that he was “lucky to work with some of the greatest people in the business,” including those that have went on to other stations – namely “98.5 The Sports Hub” – which may contribute to the reason Ordway is departing WEEI.
“I’ve met the last couple of days with Jason Wolfe,” he said in the first segment of Wednesday’s show. “It’s obvious that we are not getting the ratings on this program [afternoon drive time] that you need to get, and that’s what this business is all about. It’s a rating-driven business… The ratings are the issue. They’re always the issue. That’s how we’re judged.
“I apparently didn’t do a good enough job in the last couple of years. And so, I pay the price.”
Meanwhile, there is speculation that the move was made by WEEI’s parent company, Entercom, as a precursor to a sale of the station to another radio group, and even with Ordway and Winter in the rear-view mirror, “there will probably be more whackings” at WEEI.
In the meantime, WEEI’s most popular head is in the duffel bag.