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Media Roundup: Boston's Morning Sports Talk Shows Are All A-Twitter

The competition between Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sportshub and WEEI's Dennis and Callahan has carried over from the airwaves to Twitter, with WBZ-FM's pair tweaking their cross-dial-and-frequency competition 140 characters at a time.

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Ever since they came on the air with the then-brand new 98.5 The Sportshub in August 2009, making them immediate competition for WEEI's Dennis and Callahan show, the WBZ-FM morning upstarts Toucher and Rich have not been shy about tweaking their cross-dial-and-frequency competition.

They don't hesitate to name the station and the program, and to mock and make fun of them. Their recent surge in the ratings - which at times has put them ahead of Dennis and Callahan - seems to have emboldened them to take things to even a higher level.

No doubt at the urging of management, John Dennis (@JohnDennisWEEI) and Gerry Callahan (@HeyCallahan) have each recently joined Twitter. The wisdom of Entercom management urging these two fossils to jump into the new social media world which neither clearly understands seems questionable at best. These two are likely the last people who should be letting the world see the stream-of-consciousness that goes through their heads.

Looking over Tweets from John Dennis especially confirms this. A voicemail to Ryen Russillo back in September of 2005 revealed Dennis to be a short-tempered, threatening bully - a persona that he seems to have taken over to the Twitter world as well.

Toucher and Rich followers have seized on the opportunity to taunt Dennis on Twitter over the recent success that his competition have had in the ratings. Dennis' replies are priceless. Here is one example:

@nd508 go away you little insignificant man. Ur jealousy is such a pathetic emotion. Check Ur 1040 and count Ur PENNIES.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

Toucher and Rich (@ToucherandRich, @FredToucher) gleefully jumped into the mix, retweeting all the barbs aimed at Dennis, and even using a picture of Dennis as their avatar on Twitter.

The incident even got attention on when the blog The Angle took the story and highlighted it as a cautionary tale: A handy how-not-to guide for the famous Twitter user.

Entercom cannot be pleased with this type of publicity. Dennis has not Tweeted since Monday, which may or may not be just a coincidence.

For years, listeners endured the self-congratulatory ratings recaps from the various WEEI shows, who essentially operated without competition in the local market. Now that there is a viable contender in Boston, it appears that things will be very interesting moving forward.


Congratulations are in order for Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe, who this week was elected to the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA) Hall of Fame. Ryan joined the Globe in 1968 as an intern in the sports department (on the same day as Peter Gammons, who was elected to the NSSA Hall last year). Covering the Celtics in the early 1970's, Ryan became the preeminent basketball writer in the country before moving into the columnist role he continues in to this day.

The other electees are longtime broadcasters Brent Musberger and Bob Uecker. It is the third straight year that a Globe writer has been elected to the Hall, with Leigh Montville (2008) and Gammons (2009) preceding Ryan.


I've purposely tried to avoid it thus far in this column, but I suppose I do have to mention the collective sports media joy that this week has been for reporters covering the Patriots and the Jets. Every day this week has been a circus, with reporters getting the latest on what trash the Jets have said about the Patriots and running to the Patriots trying to get a reaction from them. Meanwhile, the sports talkers on radio and TV analyze and debate whether the trash talk is beneficial, detrimental or inconsequential to each team, and what the purpose behind these statements might be.

It was entertaining on Monday and Tuesday, and perhaps even through the snowstorm on Wednesday. Now, it's tiresome. Let's just play the game already.

If the Patriots are fortunate enough to win this game - and I'm far less certain of this than many others seem to be - it likely won't get much better next week, especially if they have to play the Baltimore Ravens, with Brady-hating Terrell Suggs waiting in the wings.


If you tune in to ESPN this week looking for analysis of the weekend's games, one of the guest analysts the network has brought in is an interesting one - former Patriots assistant and Jets (and Browns) head coach Eric Mangini will contribute to the network's coverage. Mangini will be uniquely qualified to discuss not only the Patriots and Jets, but also the Steelers and Ravens having faced each them twice a year in his time with the Browns.