Following last week’s Christian Fauria incident on WEEI, and the resulting announcement of sensitivity training this week, one of the station’s most prominent partners is speaking out (again) against the behavior of some of the station’s personalities.
After saying that some of the station’s opinions were “offensive and out of line” last year (a statement that received criticism from WEEI hosts), the Boston Red Sox are once again expressing their displeasure with their flagship radio broadcaster. President and CEO Sam Kennedy said the team had a “growing level of concern” with WEEI, and also claimed the seemingly neverending parade of incidents that get people riled up was “exhausting,” per the Boston Herald.
“We have had a growing level of concern, and we’ve expressed that very clearly to their management, especially over the past year — and in the past week and in the past few days,” said Kennedy.
He added, “this pattern of controversial incidents is exhausting, I think, for listeners and fans in general. It’s something that Entercom (WEEI’s parent company) is smart to address.”
Kennedy also said that the team was not alright with the controversies popping up at WEEI, and that the team’s concerns aren’t fresh.
“We’ve shared our frustration and disappointment dating back to really last year,” said Kennedy. “It seems like there’s been a pattern that’s sort of emerged in terms of a different culture throughout the station. There are always one-off controversies in talk radio and we get that; we’re talking about different highly charged subjects. Since last year we’ve expressed our displeasure and concern to Entercom’s corporate leadership down in Philadelphia. They’ve listened to us, we’ve had productive dialogue, but as you know, there have been a series of incidents that have sort of become a pattern.”
It’s been a rough few weeks for WEEI. In addition to the Fauria incident, which resulted in a pair of sponsors dropping advertising from the station, Tom Brady bailed on a weekly WEEI interview after a host called his daughter a “pissant”.
However, Kennedy seemingly realizes that what the team wants from WEEI isn’t necessarily what listeners want.
“We’d like to see more sports talk, more debate and dialogue around our sports teams — but we understand that’s not our call,” Kennedy said. “Our interests are perhaps misaligned with the talk-radio format. You have controversy and sensational dialogue happening where our interests would be to have interviews with players, dialogue that involves sports and the Red Sox.
“But we’re not naive. In today’s world, media outlets have to cover all different aspects of the political and social landscape. That’s really changed, I think, at WEEI over the last year or two. We understand that there are differences of opinion, there are different political viewpoints, but there’s a line, and when that line gets crossed, it’s troubling to us. It’s disappointing to us. Each and every time that line has been crossed, in our opinion, we’ve expressed that to Entercom’s management.”
Will anything end up changing with WEEI following this week’s sensitivity training? Maybe in the short term, but in the long term, WEEI’s management and on-air talent will likely realize that controversy sells, and they’ll fall back into old habits. The Red Sox are still contracted to WEEI through 2023, so it’s not as if the station has an immediate incentive to change their programming style at the risk of losing the team’s broadcast rights in a season or two.