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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

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Sports Radio News

101.9 The Horn in Austin Sold to Norsan Media

Norsan has appointed Edgar Saucedo as Southwest Market President overseeing all of the company’s Texas operations and Ramon Loo as Austin Program Director.

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Logo for 101.9 The Horn in Austin, TX

A Radio Insight report says Norsan Media has purchased 101.9 The Horn in Austin, Texas from Genuine Austin Radio. According to the report, Norsan had already been operation a couple of Genuine Austin Radio’s stations and will now take add the rest of their stations, which also includes country stations 99.3 FM.

The report also says Norsan has appointed Edgar Saucedo as Southwest Market President overseeing all of the company’s Texas operations and Ramon Loo as Austin Program Director.

The Horn used to also be on 104.9 FM and was the University of Texas flagship station for Longhorn athletics. That stopped when Norsan took over the signal to air Regional Mexican programming. The Texas Rangers games air currently on The Horn.

Should anything change with the programming or format at The Horn, we will keep you posted.

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AJ Hoffman Headed to Mornings on San Antonio’s Sports Star

“Excited for my next chapter post-Vegas and stoked to start building an audience in San Antonio!”

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Photo of AJ Hoffman and a logo for 94.1 San Antonio's Sports Star

AJ Hoffman announced via his X account he will be back on local radio in Texas doing mornings at San Antonio’s Sports Star. “Life announcement,” Hoffman wrote. “I’m moving back to Texas. Starting May 6, you can find me back on local radio, doing mornings on San Antonio’s Sports Star. Excited for my next chapter post-Vegas and stoked to start building an audience in San Antonio!”

Hoffman had worked for several years at ESPN 97.5 in Houston and was most recently in Las Vegas serving as the executive vice president and director of digital content for Pregame, an information site for sports wagering.

Hoffman had hosted the popular show, The Blitz, with Fred Faour for more than 10 years and then became the station Program Director in 2019. He exited the station in the summer of 2021 to take the position with Pregame.

San Antonio’s Sports Star made a change earlier this year in mornings when Rudy Jay left the station in mid-January. RJ Ochoa, Managing Editor of the ‘Blogging the Boys’ website, took over for Jay, doing the show with station Program Director Rob Thompson.

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Steak Shapiro About Pat McAfee: “Dude, Relax”

“That is the definition of cringe. You have to be authentic.”

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Graphic for The Steakhouse on 92.9 in Atlanta and a picture of Pat McAfee

Sports radio has spent a lot of time during this football offseason talking about Bill Belichick. From his ending in New England to the search for a new head coaching position to being a free agent in the sports media world, his name has come up often. Steak Shapiro and Sandra Golden hit on the topic this week during The Steakhouse on 92.9 The Game in Atlanta.

A lengthy story from ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr., Seth Wickersham and Jeremy Fowler this week reported Belichick may not have landed the Atlanta Falcons head coaching position because of a conversation Falcons owner Arthur Blank had with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Another part of the story says the executives around Arthur Blank didn’t have Belichick in their top 3 of candidates which had interviewed for the position.

The same report also divulged that Belichick is expected to sign a deal with Omaha Productions to provide analysis and is interested in potentially coaching either the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles or New York Giants after taking this year off.

The same day, The Pat McAfee Show had Belichick on as a guest and announced the coach would join McAfee and team for their annual Draft Spectacular.

Shapiro and Golden talked about the article as it related to Atlanta, but also about Belichick’s appearance on McAfee’s show. “[Belichick] on McAfee trying to be this lighthearted guy that loves The Pat McAfee Show, it’s a stretch dude, that is a stretch.”

“That is the definition of cringe,” Golden replied. “You have to be authentic.”

Shapiro does an impersonation of McAfee talking excitedly about hanging out with Belichick and said, “Dude, relax, relax…the whole thing…I wish we hadn’t gotten started on this…”

Back in late January, McAfee had said on his show about Belichick, “I would like to let everybody know…I will make this promise that if Bill Belichick is going to do TV, ol’ Pat McAfee will be in the running to try to get Bill Belichick to join our progrum [sic],” McAfee said. “Belichick… knows everything about the NFL. Every game that’s ever been played…every player that’s ever been great — that’s why he was so great on [NFL 100 All-Time Team]. And after what we saw on College GameDay, he’s got moxie too. He’s great on TV, I think we’ll all be incredibly lucky if that’s the case.”

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