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WEEI’s John Dennis Takes Leave

Jason Barrett

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For WEEI talk-show host John Dennis, “rock bottom” took place during the Red Sox’ home opener against the Washington Nationals Monday afternoon at Fenway Park.

He says all he had was one drink. Whatever the number, it was enough to convince Dennis, who hosts the popular “Dennis & Callahan” morning-drive program with Gerry Callahan and Kirk Minihane, to check himself into rehab.

“I knew immediately that one (drink) was not going to be enough,” Dennis said during a telephone interview yesterday after informing station management of his decision. “I can stop for long periods of time, but then once I have one, one seems like a good idea, and then two seems like a really good idea. And then four seems like a great idea.”

By his own count, Dennis said he had gone 40 days without touching alcohol. But then came the traditional home opener, after which he decided to take a leave of absence from WEEI.

“They’re not sending me to the Betty Ford in California,” Dennis said. “It’ll be local. But it will be inpatient, and I’m told it’s approximately four to five weeks. Could be a little more or a little less.”

A statement emailed to me by Dennis includes the following: “I’ve made the decision to take serious steps to eliminate the role alcohol plays in my life before it impacts my health. I’m told it’s an arduous undertaking, but it’s one I’m willing to embrace. I know it can be a lifelong battle, but it’s one I want to fight.”

During the telephone conversation yesterday, Dennis was more blunt.

“It’s time to grow up,” he said. “It’s time to be a better husband to Kathy. It’s time to be a better dad to my two daughters, and a better grandparent. And you know? A better teammate to Kirk and Gerry.”

According to Dennis, he was assured his job will be waiting for him when he returns. Station manager Phil Zachary confirmed that last night.

“Absolutely,” Zachary said. “Not a question at all. WEEI has been built on the ‘Dennis & Callahan Show’ with Dennis and Callahan and Kirk Minihane, and we don’t see a future without John Dennis.”

For Zachary, Dennis’ disclosure did not come out of the blue.

“He and I have been talking about a problem he’s had with alcohol for a while,” Zachary said.

Minihane, a self-professed recovering substance abuser who says he hasn’t had a drink since 2012, likened Dennis to a character from the hit TV series “Mad Men.”

“The way he looks, the way his hair is, the way he talks, the way he dresses, some of the words he says, I feel like you could put John in ‘Mad Men,’ like Season 2, and he’d be the most successful advertising man in the history of ‘Mad Men,’ ” Minihane said. “I think John has that 1960s mentality still about (alcoholism), where he thinks he should be embarrassed about it. He absolutely should not be.”

Dennis, 63, had been a sports anchor for 22 years at WHDH-TV, leaving the station in 1999 to team up with Callahan, a former Herald columnist and Sports Illustrated staffer, to host a mid-morning program at WEEI. Three years later, the show was moved to morning drive and became a ratings giant for the station. Minihane became a permanent addition to the show in February 2013.

“I’m getting up there,” Dennis said. “I want to live a long and happy life. I want to be a snow bird, between Miromar Lakes (Fla.) and Boston, and I want to get things straightened out before anything happens to me health-wise. I just had my physical and everything is fine, but it was one of those things where back in the day, having a couple of drinks was for an event, like a birthday party, or an opening or some kind. Or watching the Super Bowl. But my events became more frequent.

“It was an accumulation of years of watching ballgames, watching on TV, and out-to-dinner type things. That seemed to increase the last year or so.”

To compound matters, Dennis must arise at a time of day when the vast majority of his listeners are still asleep.

“I was really careful for a long time not to (drink) on school nights, because a 3:45 a.m. wakeup call is brutal,” Dennis said. “And by and large I have lived by that rule. But I will admit there have been some Mondays when I’d walk in and I was a little fuzzy, and I don’t think at my best.

“I don’t drive drunk. I didn’t run over anybody. I didn’t fall down and crack my head. I didn’t get in a fight. None of that stuff. It was an accumulation of more frequent events where I said, ‘Oh, yeah, it would be a good idea to have a cocktail while I’m watching this game.’ And I wanted that to stop.”

Credit to the Boston Herald who originally published this article

Sports Radio News

Bobby Belt: ‘Pat McAfee Butchered The Name Shan and RJ’

“I mean, it clearly says on the graphics ‘Shan and RJ’.”

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Shan and RJ is a show that routinely finds itself in the media spotlight. They may be a Dallas show, but when Jerry and Stephen Jones routinely appear on your airwaves, you are going to draw attention from outside of the market.

On Tuesday, Pat McAfee played a clip of the hosts talking to Jerry Jones. McAfee threw to the clip introducing the show as “Shan, RJ, and Chop.” On Wednesday morning, the 105.3 The Fan’s morning show had some fun with the former Colts punter’s struggles.

“There’s a lot to unpack here,” newly added co-host Bobby Belt said after listening to McAfee and his crew take three unsuccessful cracks at naming the show.

“Reggie made a good point yesterday when I was talking to him about this,” Belt said. “Reggie was like ‘I think McAfee was going to the clip, saw three faces and didn’t know a third name, and so he’s like ‘well, that must be RJ and Chop.’”

Belt delighted in the idea that in McAfee’s mind, RJ Choppy goes by “Chop” on air and even pointed out that one of the producers said that RJ “looks like a Chop.”

Pat McAfee called the show “Shan, RJ, and Chop,” “Shana, RJ and Chop,” and “Shannon and RJ” on different occasions according to Belt. He didn’t think it was disrespectful. He just didn’t understand how McAfee got it so wrong so often.

“They butchered this three ways to the weekend. I have no idea. I mean, it clearly says on the graphics ‘Shan and RJ’.”

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Sports Radio News

Cubs Radio Voice Pat Hughes Named 2023 Frick Award Winner

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Chicago Cubs radio voice Pat Hughes has been honored as the 2023 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award.

The award is given annually for “excellence in broadcasting” by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

“Known throughout the Midwest for his easy delivery and unparalleled knowledge, Pat Hughes has called some of the biggest moments in Cubs history and has provided the narrative for one of the most successful eras in the history of the franchise,” said National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum President Josh Rawitch. “Since arriving at Wrigley Field in 1996, Pat has served as the radio voice for nine postseason teams – matching an ardent fan base with his own passion in every broadcast. His reverence for baseball history and gift for storytelling have made him one of the game’s broadcast treasures.”

Hughes has spent more than 25 years as the voice of the Cubs, and is a nine-time winner of the Illinois Sportscaster of the Year Award. Earlier this year, Hughes found out on-air that he would be inducted into the Cubs Hall of Fame.

Hughes was previously a finalist for the award in 2016 and 2020.

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Sports Radio News

Craig Carton: Jon Heyman ‘No Longer An Insider’ After Aaron Judge Gaffe

“That’s a bad job. And all that is is a guy trying to get ahead of everybody else. He screwed the pooch. That’s embarrassing.”

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MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman erroneously reported that New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was signing with the San Francisco Giants in free agency yesterday. That news was not well received by WFAN afternoon hosts Craig Carton and Evan Roberts.

After Heyman rescinded his original tweet saying “Arson Judge” appeared headed to the Giants, he resent a new one with the correct spelling. During the confusion, Roberts told producers to get Heyman — who is an Audacy contributor — on the phone, which Carton immediately shot down.

“No, we’re not putting him on the air,” Carton said. “I’m not putting him on the air. He doesn’t get a platform on this show. Listen, he made a deal with the devil when he took a job with The (New York) Post. That’s his business.”

While Carton and Roberts processed the news, producer Chris McMonigle said he was certain that Judge would be signing with the Giants, but that was not Heyman’s report, and would hold off until it was official.

Roberts mocked McMonigle by saying he was in denial. “He still hasn’t accepted that Jon Heyman knows what he’s talking about,” Roberts said. Moments later, McMonigle read Heyman’s follow up tweet apologizing for “jumping the gun”.

“That is a horrendous job by Jon Heyman,” Carton replied.

“Heyman’s done,” Roberts shouted. “Jon, what are we doing?”

“Heyman is no longer an insider,” Carton added. “That’s a bad job. And all that is is a guy trying to get ahead of everybody else. He screwed the pooch. That’s embarrassing.”

Carton later took umbrage with Heyman deleting his tweets.

“To play fans like that is absolutely unacceptable. It’s not right. Sorry. That’s because everyone’s gotta be first. God forbid someone else has it first. You’re a clown. Your entire career’s work has just been flushed down the toilet.”

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