WEEI-FM (93.7 FM, "SportsRadio 93.7") is a radio station licensed to serve Lawrence, Massachusetts. The station is one of the top-rated sports talk radio stations in the nation. Studios are located in Brighton, Massachusetts, and has a transmitter in Peabody, Massachusetts. Its local programming is heard on the "WEEI Sports Radio Network" that broadcasts throughout the New England region.
WEEI-FM is the flagship station of the WEEI Red Sox Radio Network. In addition, WEEI broadcasts games of the Boston College football and basketball teams in season. When local programming is not on WEEI-FM, usually ESPN Radio or NBC Sports Radio will air.
The station is popular with fans of the Boston professional sports teams, especially the Boston Red Sox. WEEI-FM calls itself "the #1 rated sports radio talk station in America," in terms of the percentage of the area radio listening audience tuned-in. WEEI-FM isn't alone in providing 24/7 sports radio in Boston; sister station WEEI (850 AM) offers the full ESPN Radio lineup, while local competition includes WBZ-FM.
The call letters WEEI-FM, formerly on a station in Westerly, Rhode Island, were granted on September 21, 2011 as part of a call letter shuffle. The 93.7 frequency, established in 1960, has carried WEEI programming since September 12, 2011, and has been the primary station for local WEEI programming since October 4, 2012; prior to then, this programming had been on 850 AM since 1994, and on 590 AM before then.
The sports format currently heard on WEEI-FM originated on September 3, 1991 on 590 AM (which at that time had the WEEI call letters), replacing an all-news format that had been in place since 1974; WEEI itself had gone on the air in 1924. At that time, the station was owned by Boston Celtics Communications (a group that shared ownership with the Boston Celtics basketball team), which bought WEEI from Helen Broadcasting on May 10, 1990 and simultaneously purchased WFXT (channel 25) from Fox Television Stations. The station, which had already carried Celtics broadcasts since 1987, expanded its sports programming after the sale; WEEI became the flagship station of the Boston Bruins (replacing WPLM-FM) in 1990 (however, Celtics broadcasts were given priority, resulting in some Bruins broadcasts moving to WVBF or WMEX), and a nightly sports talk show with Craig Mustard was launched on August 20, 1990. WEEI also carried Sports Byline USA and CBS Radio Sports broadcasts not cleared by WRKO, which took all other CBS Radio Network programming from WEEI on September 3, 1990, leading the station to affiliate with the ABC Direction Network.
Upon the change to all-sports, WEEI featured the Andy Moes show and Glenn (Ordway) and Janet (Prensky), a short-lived experiment in bringing a "Bickersons"-type format to sports radio. Also part of the roster was Boston sports talk pioneer Eddie Andelman. WEEI also began to carry Boston College Eagles football in 1992, replacing WBZ. However, the change was followed by a dramatic drop in its ratings; additionally, the station struggled financially, at one point losing $80,000 a week, leading to rumors of a sale of WEEI. Still, WEEI improved its morning ratings after it became one of the earliest affiliates of Imus in the Morning from WFAN in New York City on July 12, 1993.
On March 16, 1994, the Boston Celtics reached a deal to sell WEEI to Back Bay Broadcasting; shortly afterward, the rights to Celtics broadcasts passed to American Radio Systems (ARS), owner of WRKO and WHDH, effective with the 1994–95 season, while the Bruins signed a deal with WBZ to carry its broadcasts starting in 1995. Sister station WFXT was sold back to Fox Television Stations soon afterward. On August 29, Back Bay Broadcasting sold the call letters and all-sports programming of WEEI to ARS, which placed the WEEI call sign and intellectual property on the 850 kHz frequency that was previously home to WHDH. After a brief simulcast, AM 590 relaunched as business news station WBNW, and later became WEZE. With the move, WEEI retained Boston Celtics broadcasts, and also added BC basketball; it also ceded the final year of its Bruins contract to the new WBNW. It also inherited the CBS Radio Network affiliation (which had by then passed from WRKO to WHDH) until early 1995, when it moved to WBZ. The move to the 850 frequency allowed WEEI to broadcast at 50,000 watts, as opposed to 5,000 watts on 590. ARS also moved Red Sox broadcasts to WEEI from WRKO starting in 1995. Conversely, Celtics broadcasts were moved to WRKO for the 1995–96 season; they returned to WEEI the following season.
Concurrent with the move to 850, WEEI ceased an affiliation with ESPN Radio; however, it returned to the network on September 11, 1995 to carry The Fabulous Sports Babe (in middays) in a schedule shuffle that also saw the merger of the Dale Arnold and Eddie Andelman shows into The A-Team and the launch of The Big Show. WEEI also added "Patriots Monday," featuring weekly appearances from New England Patriots players and coaches, in 1995; it moved to rival WNRB/WWZN in 1999, but returned to WEEI in 2002, and was joined by the similar "Patriots Friday" (formerly aired on WAMG) in 2008. In March 1995, the station ceased carrying Sports Byline USA and One-on-One Sports in the overnight hours in favor of the Sports Fan Radio Network. WEEI dropped The Fabulous Sports Babe after the October 3, 1997 broadcast, leading to the launch of Dennis and Callahan on October 6.Dennis and Callahan became the station's morning show on September 7, 1999, after the station dropped Imus in the Morning in August due to declining ratings.
In 1998, American Radio Systems was acquired by CBS Radio. As a result of the merger, the combined company was forced to sell several of its Boston stations. In late 1998, Entercom announced plans to acquire WEEI, along with WAAF, WRKO, WWTM (now WVEI) and WEGQ (now WEEI-FM), from CBS for $140 million.
WEEI again lost the Celtics broadcast rights in 2001, this time to WWZN. Entercom reacquired the rights to the broadcasts in 2005; initially heard on WRKO, Celtics games moved back to WEEI in 2007 (though Celtics coaches and players appeared on WEEI regularly during WRKO's time as flagship). In April 2005, WEEI began streaming its broadcasts live online by way of a free membership at its official website; a previous stream was offered from 1997 until 2002. The exception is for Red Sox and Celtics games, as these are streamed only through the team and league websites as part of subscription packages. Around the same time, the station again lost ESPN Radio programming when the affiliation was acquired by WAMG and WLLH; the station then expanded an affiliation with Fox Sports Radio that began in 2002.
WEEI was awarded its first Marconi Award in September 2006 for . WEEI was also named large market station of the year.
The station had an ongoing feud with The Boston Globe. In 1999, the Globe's executive sports editor, Don Skwar, banned the newspaper's sports writers from appearing on the station's afternoon The Big Show after columnist Ron Borges used a racial slur while on the air in reference to New York Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu. Two weeks later, the ban was extended to WEEI's Dennis and Callahan morning show. WEEI retaliated by banning Globe staffers from all its shows. Nevertheless, WEEI host Michael Holley is a former Globe columnist. The ban came to an end on August 4, 2009, when Bob Ryan appeared on The Big Show, with host Glenn Ordway stating that "we have all come to our senses."
In September 2009, there was speculation that WEEI could move to one of Entercom's properties on the FM dial (such as the 93.7 FM facility then occupied by WMKK), with the AM 850 signal switching to ESPN Radio (which was being dropped by WAMG). Entercom did announce on October 7, 2009 that starting on November 2, 2009, WEEI would once again carry the ESPN Radio affiliation (though most programming would remain local). WEEI began to carry ESPN Radio's overnight programming, including All Night with Jason Smith from 1–5 a.m. and some weekend programming. In addition, WEEI began to simulcast on 93.7 FM on September 12, 2011. On October 4, 2012, WEEI and WEEI-FM split the simulcast; the existing local programming and sports broadcasts remain on WEEI-FM, while AM 850 aired a redirection loop for one day before becoming a full ESPN Radio affiliate on October 5.
In the station's early days as WGHJ and WCCM-FM, 93.7 aired locally based programming that targeted Lawrence and the Merrimack Valley. In 1974 the station evolved into WCGY, an automated Stereo Top 40/oldies station that targeted the Greater Boston, Massachusetts area, due to the signal's strength. The call letters were chosen with the owner in mind as Curt Gowdy and his children owned and operated the station until the sale to American Radio Systems in 1994.
In 1983, WCGY flipped to an oldies format playing hits of the '50s and '60s. The station, however, did not perform well in the Boston ratings. Some early to mid '70s oldies were mixed in by 1984, and by 1985, the '50s music was gone. The station by then was called "Superhits WCGY". By 1986, the station leaned slightly toward classic rock while still playing mostly music from 1964 to 1974. By 1987, WCGY evolved to more of a classic rock format and held on to this format until 1994. From 1992 until its demise in 1994, they were called "Rock 93, WCGY".
On September 30, 1994, after the station was sold to American Radio Systems, WCGY became '70s-formatted WEGQ "Eagle 93.7", which then underwent many changes over its five-year existence. Initially, they played music from 1970-79, ranging from classic rock and pop, to disco, novelty and easy listening. As time went on they added late '60s and early '80s music. The Lost 45s with Barry Scott was moved to WEGQ from sister station WBMX and became a Sunday night staple there before heading to WODS. By 1995, they also leaned toward classic rock. The station's morning show team, Karlson and McKenzie, are now on WZLX.
After American Radio Systems was acquired by CBS/Westinghouse, the combined company was required to sell two of their FM stations, along with three AM stations. WEGQ, along with WEEI, WRKO, and WAAF, was sold to Entercom Communications.
Shortly after the sale, at 10 PM on March 31, 1999, after playing "You Can't Always Get What You Want" by The Rolling Stones, WEGQ began stunting with a loop of Prince's "1999". At 3 PM the following afternoon, the station flipped to rhythmic adult contemporary as WQSX, "Star 93.7". The first song on "Star" was "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" by The Gap Band. The format consisted of '70s and '80s-soul music, dance music and rhythmic hit music. This format, however, didn't catch any fire in the Arbitron ratings, but did have a loyal audience and served a small niche in Boston. During 2001, controversial "Survivor" winner Richard Hatch was a morning host briefly.
On April 14, 2005, after playing "Last Dance" by Boston native Donna Summer, WQSX became WMKK, with an adult hits format branded as "93.7 Mike FM". The first song on "Mike" was "Tessie" by Dropkick Murphys. Inside Radio, a radio industry publication, released information that had this change not taken place, Infinity Broadcasting (interestingly, the group that was prohibited from owning 93.7 itself back in the late 1990s, and is now known as CBS Radio) reportedly would have transformed either WBMX, WZLX, or WODS into Jack FM on April 15.
Following the Boston Red Sox victory in the 2007 World Series, the station re-branded itself as 93.7 Mike Lowell FM after the third baseman for one day. Similarly, the station paid tribute to Michael Jackson in July 2009 by re-branding themselves as "Michael FM" and playing Jackson's songs for the afternoon on the anniversary of his death.
On September 8, 2011, it was announced that WMKK would begin simulcasting WEEI's sports radio format on September 12. The switch took place at 6:00 am that day, after Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird". On September 21, 2011, WMKK changed its call letters to WEEI-FM.
J.T. The Brick's Fox Sports Radio program returned to WEEI on May 6, 2013. (The program, along with other Fox Sports Radio programming, had moved to WBZ-FM after WEEI began carrying ESPN Radio in 2009, but was dropped from that station following the launch of CBS Sports Radio in January 2013.) On August 20, 2013, WEEI-FM announced that it would no longer carry Celtics broadcasts after being unable to reach a new contract with the team. In early 2014, WEEI-FM again dropped Fox Sports Radio and began carrying NBC Sports Radio's overnight program, shortly after WUFC (now WMEX dropped its affiliation with that network.
The station's HD-2 signal carries the programming of sister station WRKO.
Teams on WEEI
Boston Red Sox
Red Sox broadcasts are a daily feature of the WEEI Red Sox Radio Network slate from March through October. Each broadcast consists of:
- "The Pregame Show" is recorded from an air studio inside Fenway Park next to gate C
- "The Inside Pitch", a segment with a member of the local sports journalism establishment;
- (optional) A pre-game interview with the general manager;
- The game intro itself, a compilation of great moments in Red Sox broadcast history;
- The game itself, with Joe Castiglione broadcasting with either Dave O'Brien or Jon Rish. Prior to the 2007 season, Castiglione was partnered with long-time co-broadcaster Jerry Trupiano.
- A post-game interview;
- Post-game statistics (called "totals");
- A highlights clip for those who missed the early part of the game;
- A roundup of out of town scores;
- and a signoff tag.
During game broadcasts, WEEI-FM is also made available through the Major League Baseball web site (for a fee), and (for home games) on XM Satellite Radio (as part of the standard service) for those outside the Boston listening area. The entire 162-game Red Sox schedule also may be heard on an extensive radio network throughout the 6 New England states. Many of the smaller stations have always aired the Red Sox Network regardless of what Boston station originated those broadcasts.
In 2006, the Boston Red Sox signed a 10-year radio deal with sister WRKO (also owned by Entercom) for the broadcast rights for the 2007 through 2016 seasons, worth a reportedly $13 million a season. About 30 Red Sox games a season, including all games on Wednesday nights and all weekly day games were heard on WEEI as part of the deal. As of August 26, 2009, WEEI once again became the flagship station for the Red Sox. This occurred two weeks after the debut of competitor WBZ-FM "The Sports Hub" and was seen as a reaction, focusing all Red Sox games on one station, WEEI, rather than splitting them between the station and WRKO.
During a rain delay, Jon Rish hosts a show called "Sox Talk", where he takes calls and texts while the rain delay is in effect.
Sean Grande hosted the Celtics Tonight pregame show before each Celtics game on WEEI-FM in addition to providing the play by play for the game. Cedric Maxwell provided color commentary during the broadcast. The broadcast duo called themselves "Grande and Max." John Ryder hosted the halftime show and the Celtics Rewind show following the game.
- Dennis and Callahan — Featuring hosts John Dennis, Gerry Callahan, Kirk Minihane, producer Chris Curtis and producer Craig Sawisch. It has featured a variety of special guests during different parts of the year including Curt Schilling every Tuesday and Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino every Thursday during the baseball season, as well as Tom Brady every Monday during football season. On February 21, 2013, it was announced Kirk Minihane would be the third host of "Dennis and Callahan", an equal voice.
- Ordway, Merloni, and Fauria: Featuring hosts Glenn Ordway, Lou Merloni & Christian Fauria. The show replaced Middays with MFB.
- Dale and Holley: Featuring hosts Dale Arnold and Michael Holley. Holley replaced Bob Neumeier in 2005 and the show was renamed Dale and Holley from Dale and Neumy. The final Dale and Holley aired in the midday on February 23, 2011 but was then brought back officially on April 1, 2014, taking the 2-6 PM slot previously occupied by The Big Show. Comedian and writer Jerry Thornton joined full time as the third host of the show on November 17, 2014
- Evenings the station runs Red Sox First Pitch and Red Sox Review with Mike Mutnansky before and after games.
On June 21, 2016 the station announced they had let go host Mike Adams, whose "Planet Mikey" show had run since 2005 (he had taken over for Ted Sarandis). The station said they would announce a permanent evening host in a few months.
- Butch Stearns — WFXT sports anchor Butch Stearns regularly hosts a Saturday afternoon show.
- NFL Sunday — Runs on Sundays. The show is hosted by Greg Dickerson and co-hosted by Christopher Price.
- Sunday Sports Roundtable — hosted by Greg Dickerson and John Tomase on Sundays.
- Real Postgame Show — Hosted by former NFL stars, Steve DeOssie and Fred Smerlas. Runs after each Patriot game during the NFL season.
- Mustard and Johnson — Hosted by Craig Mustard and Larry Johnson. The show was cancelled in 2008 but was renewed and the schedule will vary from week to week. The show is also nicknamed "Yankee Talk" because of the large number of Yankee fans that call into the show.
- Danny Picard — local product Danny Picard hosts weekend afternoons
- Chris Villani — Chris Villani hosts at various times on weekends
- Sunday Skate with DJ Bean & Joe McDonald — a Boston Bruins themed show that airs Sunday mornings during the hockey season. Hosted by WEEI.com Bruins beat writer DJ Bean and ESPNBoston.com reporter Joe McDonald
- Andy Moes Show (September 3, 1991–September 1, 1992): WEEI's first morning show following its switch to an all-sports format. It was hosted by Andy Moes, former co-host of the Joe and Andy Show on WROR. The show was cancelled after one year due to low ratings.
- Doyle and Mustard Show (September 1992–July 1993): Replaced The Andy Moes Show as WEEI's morning program. It was hosted by veteran radio personalities Craig Mustard and Tom Doyle. It was replaced by the syndicated Imus in the Morning in July 1993.
- The Janet and Glenn Show/The Glenn Ordway Show (September 3, 1991–June 25, 1993): 1-4 pm show created as part of WEEI's switch to an all-sports format. Co-hosted by then-Celtics announcer Glenn Ordway and public relations executive Janet Prensky. Prensky was fired by WEEI on September 4, 1992 and Ordway hosted the show solo until June 25, 1993.
- The Craig Mustard Show (June 28, 1993–August 1994): Replaced The Glenn Ordway Show as WEEI's midday talk-show. Show ended after Mustard's firing from WEEI in August 1994.
- Ted Nation (1992–September 2005): Aired weekdays 7 pm to midnight. Hosted by then-Boston College Eagles basketball announcer Ted Sarandis.
- The Baseball Show (formerly Red Sox Baseball Today): Ran 9 am-noon on Saturday. Up until 2008, Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald and Sean McAdam of The Providence Journal served as co-hosts. In 2008, Buckley and McAdam alternated weeks co-hosting with Mike Adams. In 2009, the show began simulcasting on Comcast SportsNet New England with Mike Felger hosting with analysts Lou Merloni, Sean McAdam, and Steve Buckley. Greg Dickerson replaced Felger in July 2009 following Felger's move to WBZ-FM. WEEI dropped The Baseball Show following the 2010 season; it will continue to air on Comcast SportsNet.
- The Big Show (August 1995– February 15, 2013): sports talk radio program hosted by Glenn Ordway with various co-hosts and guests. One of the show's regular features was "The Whiner Line", which consisted of listeners calling in and leaving complaints on a voicemail system.
- Salk and Holley (March 19, 2013 – March 12, 2014): — Featuring hosts Mike Salk and Michael Holley. The show replaced The Big Show on March 19, 2013. Producers of the show were Andy Massua and Ben Kichen. Mike Salk left the station on March 12, 2014.
- Mutt and Merloni (February 28, 2011– May 22, 2014): Featuring hosts Mike Mutnansky and Lou Merloni
- Middays with MFB (May 27, 2014– July 30, 2015): Featuring hosts Tim Benz, Christian Fauria, and Lou Merloni
- Planet Mikey with Mike Adams (Dec 2005 to June 2016)
- John Dennis – Dennis and Callahan
- Gerry Callahan – Dennis and Callahan
- Kirk Minihane - Dennis and Callahan
- Glenn Ordway: Ordway, Merloni, and Fauria
- Lou Merloni - Ordway, Merloni, and Fauria
- Christian Fauria - Ordway, Merloni, and Fauria
- Dale Arnold – Dale and Holley
- Michael Holley – Dale and Holley
- Jerry Thornton – Dale and Holley
- Rob Bradford – Weekend/Fill-in
- DJ Bean – Weekend/Fill-in
- John Tomase – Weekend/Fill-in
- Mike Mutnansky – Red Sox pre/post host, Planet Mikey
- Joe Castiglione – Red Sox play-by-play
- Dave O'Brien – Red Sox play-by-play
- Butch Stearns – Weekend host
- Lenny Megliola - Planet Mikey
- Danny Picard – Weekend/Fill-in
- Chris Villani – Weekend/Fill-in
- Christian Arcand – Weekend/Fill-in
- Greg Dickerson - Weekend/Fill-in
- Michael Andelman: SportsRap (1994–1995)
- Eddie Andelman: (1991–2001)
- Michael Felger: (2008-2009) former Big Show co-host and fill-in host, now with WBZ-FM
- Bob Neumeier: Dale & Neumy Show (2002–2005) now broadcasts for NBC Sports
- Ted Sarandis: Ted Nation (1992–2005),
- Dave Shea: co-host on The Big Show (1995)
- Jon Wallach: Dale and Holley flashboy, now with WBZ-FM
- Jon Meterparel: Dennis and Callahan update anchor (2000–2012)
- Pete Sheppard Former update anchor on The Big Show (1994-2010, March 10, 2012 - April 6, 2013)
- Mike Salk – Former co-host of Salk and Holley (March 19, 2013 – March 12, 2014)
- Sean Grande – Former update anchor on The Big Show, Celtics play-by-play (1991-1998, 2007-2013)
- Cedric Maxwell – Former Celtics color commentator (1997-2001, 2007-2013)
- John Ryder - Former Red Sox/Celtics pre/post game host, Planet Mikey
- Tim Benz – Former co-host of Middays with MFB (May 27, 2014 - July 30, 2015)
- Mike Adams --Former host of Planet Mikey, Dec 2005 to June 2016
Each year since 2002, New England Sports Network (NESN) and WEEI have teamed up to raise money for The Jimmy Fund by holding a Radio-Telethon. For two days every August the event is simulcast on WEEI and NESN. WEEI radio personalities conduct auctions and interviews with cancer patients and survivors, doctors, athletes and celebrities. Since 2002, this event has raised around $17 million for the Jimmy Fund and has received donations from all 50 states.
A number of other stations in the New England region carry most of WEEI-FM's local programming. The stations are branded as "Sports Radio WEEI", and many carry call letters similar to the Boston flagship station.
WEEI-FM's sports play-by-play broadcasts are distributed separately, though some games originated by WEEI may air on some of the other affiliated stations by way of a separate deal. Some of the stations have picked up play-by-play rights in concert with WEEI after their conversion to the simulcast. Most stations carry either ESPN Radio or Fox Sports Radio when the flagship station carries games or when WEEI-FM is not airing local programming.
- WEEI-FM 93.7 FM, Lawrence, Massachusetts (serves Boston, flagship)
- WEEY 93.5 FM, Swanzey, New Hampshire (serves Keene)
- WEII 96.3 FM, Dennis, Massachusetts (serves Cape Cod)
- WPEI 95.9 FM, Saco, Maine (serves Portland)
- WPPI 95.5 FM, Topsham, Maine (serves Portland)
- WVEI 1440 AM, Worcester, Massachusetts
- WVEI-FM 103.7 FM, Westerly, Rhode Island (serves Providence)
- WWEI 105.5 FM, Easthampton, Massachusetts (serves Springfield)
- WZEI 101.5 FM, Meredith, New Hampshire (serves Concord and the Lakes Region)
WVEI, WVEI-FM, and WWEI are owned by Entercom outright. WVEI originally carried WEEI programming under a lease from Zapis Broadcasting from 1991 until 1994; after Zapis sold the renamed WWTM to American Radio Systems along with WAAF in 1996, it reincorporated WEEI programming into its lineup in 1997, and in 2000 reclaimed the WVEI call sign. What is now WVEI-FM was acquired from Phoenix Media/Communications Group in 2004, and what is now WWEI was purchased from Vox Radio Group in 2006. Entercom's initial plan to syndicate WEEI programming to non-Entercom stations was to place it on stations owned by Nassau Broadcasting in 13 more markets, but the deal between the two companies ended up collapsing; one of these stations, the station now known as WZEI, joined the WEEI network in 2013 after Nassau sold its stations. The first of WEEI's eventual affiliates began airing its programming in September 2008. WPPI, one of the first affiliates, initially carried WEEI programming (as WGEI) from September 2008 until April 2009, when it began simulcasting talk station WLOB; it rejoined the network in August 2011. Additionally, WAEI (910 AM and 97.1 FM) in Bangor, Maine carried WEEI programming from September 2008 until January 2010, when Blueberry Broadcasting terminated its affiliation following a breach-of-contract dispute.