Media Roundup: Fill-Ins Rule The Airwaves, Mourning George Kimball And Roger Clemens' Trial

The local sports radio scene was ruled by fill-ins this week as regular hosts took time off following Independence Day, the Boston sports media world is mourning the loss of George Kimball, and the Roger Clemens trial goes unnoticed in Boston.

It's a holiday week, which means one thing on the sports radio scene - vacation time and the resulting fill-ins during shows. It's always struck me as odd that radio stations seemingly let almost everyone go on vacation at the same time. I know there are reasons for it - ratings book periods, etc, but it still seems strange when you can turn on your radio at any time of day and hear a new combination.

Another thing that struck me was that Dale Arnold still got his vacation time at Papoose pond. Perhaps it was all negotiated ahead of time, but Arnold's new role at WEEI was to be the floating fill-in host, and for him to also be gone when everyone else is off seemed to diminish Arnold's actual importance in the role.

Some of the fill-in combinations are terrific, others, not so much. I enjoy having Damon Amendolara in the mornings when Toucher and Rich are off. Whenever you can have four hours of Bob Ryan, it's a worthy listen. The combination of Tom E. Curran and Rob Bradford in the afternoon was refreshing. On the flip side, giving Mike Adams the lead role on the Big Show is always going to wind up with me changing the station. 

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I was listening to the WEEI Midday show on Wednesday afternoon, and heard the station's "announcer guy" say the following tagline "Less ads than the other guys" while going into a 90-second commercial break.

I noticed the line for a couple of reasons.

First of all, the reference to "the other guys." For the longest time, WEEI would not even acknowledge there were any other sports radio stations in town. Now they're comparing themselves to the competition in terms of ad time? That's a big change.

Second, I wondered whether they're airing less ads because they really want to limit the time of their commercial breaks (in the past, WEEI was notorious for commercial breaks that could run as long as 20 minutes) as a benefit to their listeners, or are the airing less ads because they have sold fewer and thus don't have as many to run?

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The Boston sports media world suffered a loss on Thursday when it was reported that longtime Boston Herald sports columnist George Kimball had passed away.

Kimball led a fascinating life, growing up a military brat, moving around the country, then getting heavily involved in the counterculture of the 1960's and anti-war activities during Vietnam, and then ending up in Boston, where he began writing a weekly sports column in The Phoenix around 1970. He stayed there until 1979, and a year later joined the Herald, where he was a columnist until 2005.

That year, Kimball was diagnosed with esophegeal cancer. He stepped up his writing after leaving the Herald, publishing two acclaimed boxing books - Four Kings and Manly Art.  Kimball kept working pretty much right to the end, and will be missed among his former colleagues.

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Kimball once had a confrontation with then-Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens in which the ace ended up firing bread rolls at the writer.

Clemens was back in the spotlight this week, as his trial on six charges of perjury and another for obstruction of Congress began in Washington. The trial is receiving surprisingly little attention from the media here in Boston, which speaks volumes on how far his star has fallen.

Clemens was once the biggest star in town, and his every move was chronicled by the press. But his boorish behavior and tumultuous exit from Boston coupled with his resurgence in Toronto, New York and Houston led to Boston pretty much writing off the man who won three Cy Young awards with the Red Sox and led them to the World Series in 1986.

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