Even a political dunderhead like me
understands the significance of yesterday's special election for the
Massachusetts Senate seat opened by the death of Ted Kennedy. It's a big deal.
I get it. It has a huge national impact.
For the last few weeks, we haven't been able
to escape the television, radio, internet and print advertisements for the
candidates. The phone calls came in non-stop. There has been a ton of news
coverage devoted to the election, both on a local and national basis, and this
is as it should be.
People often turn to sports as a distraction
from the "real world." They enjoy talking about sports as a respite.
For listeners of so-called "Sports
Radio" WEEI, they haven't had that escape, at least not between the hours
of 6:00 - 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. Those hours have been almost entirely
devoted to the election. Candidate Scott Brown, yesterday's winner, has been a
frequent guest on both programs. Even when news came out that Patriots
defensive coordinator Dean Pees would be parting ways with the club came down,
they pushed on with their political talk.
I don't have a problem really with the hosts
letting their political views be known. They have a very public platform, and
if they choose to let their views be known, that's an advantage of their
position. I don't like however, the turning of entire programs into political
infomercials for their chosen candidate.
There's also something a little off-putting
about hearing Glenn Ordway pontificate on health care reform for the working
people, and then go into a commercial break where you hear Ordway stumping for
Lexus of Watertown and how much he enjoys his brand new Lexus. Or yet another
Fred & Steve's Steakhouse ad.
When callers have had the temerity to actually
question why the show is so politically focused, Ordway condescendingly says
"You can't expect us to talk sports ALL the time."
Um, yeah, we can. It's a "Sports
Radio" station. You're there for four hours. You're paid handsomely for
your supposed knowledge and ability to talk sports. Use the other 20 hours in
the day to advance the cause that you feel so strongly about. I would guess
that the majority of your audience does not tune in with the express purpose of
hearing what insight you can provide on the election.
When did this start? For much of the last
decade, those two programs have become increasingly political, more and more of
the time. They eschew sports talk at any opportunity, as if it is is beneath
them to talk sports.
This time however, there was an alternative.
98.5 FM for the most part, avoided talk of the election. It was refreshing. The
sports talk may not have been great, but it wasn't political talk. I
appreciated that. I'll be interested to see if the ratings at all reflect this
To be fair, most of the time Dale and Holley
on WEEI have also avoiding getting into long, drawn out political discussion.
They let us know their views, and then move on. That's fine. You can tell me
your views, but don't change the entire format of your show to fit your own
Bruce Allen is the creator of Boston Sports Media Watch,
which has recently been recognized by SI.com as one of the best non-corporate
sports web site's on the Internet