On Thursday, arts and entertainment website DigBoston published a piece by writer Britni de la Cretaz about racism in the world of Boston sports and Boston baseball in particular.
The whole story is worth a read, but the part that grabbed our eye regarded Red Sox radio partner WEEI. De la Cretaz lists controversies involving WEEI personalities’ opinions on race, then shares a statement from a Red Sox spokesman about the team’s affiliation with the station.
In an email statement provided to DigBoston, a spokesperson for the Red Sox said that they have no control over the content of the chatter on the station and that their influence is limited to the content of the game broadcast, including pregame and postgame shows.
“None of the opinions or sentiments expressed on WEEI or any of the 57 radio affiliates throughout New England are those of the Boston Red Sox,” said Zineb Curran, senior director of corporate communications for the Red Sox. “We understand the frustration of those who feel the opinions expressed are offensive and out of line. At times, we feel the same way.”
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That quote isn’t revolutionary, per se—many people would be frustrated by hosts describing an escaped gorilla as a black high school student or threatening to beat protestors with a baseball bat—but it’s about as close as you’ll see a sports team come to distancing itself from its own radio partner. It’s not every day you see an organization publicly question a partner that pay it hundreds of millions of dollars.
And although, as the DigBoston piece points out, there’s an obvious dissonance in the Red Sox criticizing WEEI but continuing to partner with them (last year they extended the relationship through 2023), the team’s public disapproval of WEEI’s antics is at least something. No amount of searing takedowns from Deadspin will get WEEI to change course, but maybe a little pressure from the Red Sox could have some effect. Then again, that would presumably take more than just a throwaway comment from a spokesperson, and we’re not exactly holding our breath.