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WEEI Names New Programming Leadership Team

Jason Barrett

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In recent months, Market Manager Phil Zachary and the Entercom Boston team have been on a mission to identify the right leadership to help maintain and grow WEEI’s position as one of America’s best sports media brands. Former PD Kevin Graham exited the station in July, and with WEEI locked in a competitive battle with 98.5 The Sports Hub, one misstep and bigger problems could’ve surfaced.

While identifying the right leadership for a storied brand such as WEEI is difficult enough, the station also had to tackle a few key on-air issues. Longtime morning host John Dennis left the morning show in August, and Jerry Thornton, who had been part of the afternoon show with Dale Arnold and Michael Holley, exited the afternoon show in November to return to Barstool Sports.

Despite those challenges, which would normally result in a brand taking a step backwards, WEEI actually improved. Strong internal leadership, and a great air staff contributed to a rise in ratings and revenue, and today that hard work has paid off for a few key members of WEEI’s internal staff.

Zachary has announced that after a six-month search for its next program director, WEEI will instead create a new program leadership team from its in-house talent bench.

Current WEEI Assistant Program Director Joe Zarbano has been elevated to Program Director. In his new role, Zarbano will assume direct oversight of all audio content for WEEI-FM, the WEEI Sports Radio Network, the Boston Red Sox Radio Network and ESPN 850. He is a nine-year station veteran who began with WEEI as an intern while a student at Emerson College. He has been overseeing all day to day programming matters for the radio station since July, playing an integral role in the radio station’s growth during that period.

Working in tandem with Zarbano as the station’s new Executive Producer is WEEI Senior Producer Ben Kichen. He joined the station in 2006 from iHeart Media’s WXKS and WJMN and has been lead producer for both the Glenn Ordway and Dale & Holley programs on WEEI.  Kichen also produces the acclaimed “Enough About Me” podcast with Kirk Minihane as well as hosting “Soccercast” for WEEI.com.

Carlson Mozdiez, who is currently the Director of Integrated Marketing Strategies for Entercom’s Boston cluster, will assume the new title of Director of Operations for Entercom Boston, with a special emphasis on the company’s digital juggernaut WEEI.com. Mozdiez joined WEEI in 2002 immediately after graduating from Syracuse University, and has held a variety of positions in promotions, marketing and digital operations.

Entercom New England VP/Market Manager Phil Zachary says the search was necessarily long and intensive. “With its massive broadcast reach and associated digital assets, the WEEI brand is arguably among the most influential and complex in all of broadcasting. Many of our outside candidates simply couldn’t get their arms around all of it. As each month passed, it became clear to me that we had the talent right here in Joe, Ben, and Carlson. Plus they each have that inimitable DNA of the true Boston sports fan.”

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Freezing Cold Takes Author Describes Difference Between Skip Bayless and Mike Francesa Hot Takes

“He has a knack for saying things defiantly and within a real brief period the opposite happens,” he said.

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Dan Patrick, Freezing Cold Takes

Fred Segal, the creator of the popular Freezing Cold Takes Twitter account, didn’t hold back
when it came to talking about some sports media personalities who are kings of the freezing cold take.

Talking to Dan Patrick on Wednesday, Segal said if there was a Mount Rushmore for hosts who
are often wrong or point out the obvious, FOX Sports host Skip Bayless would be one of the
faces.

“There’s things that he posts that are completely obvious that he can’t possibly think those things rationally,” he said.

Segal has a new book coming highlighting some of the best cold takes centered around the NFL.

“And he also has what feels to be a gimmick, his schtick, where he zeroes in on a player and decides, ‘I am going to constantly berate and say negative things about him and spin any positive into a negative.”

Segal thought of LeBron James and Aaron Rodgers as two athletes in particular that Bayless
likes to rip on.

He also said he’d add Mike Francesa to that Mount Rushmore as well, but for different reasons.
Patrick said the difference is that Francesa is just trying to be right and not troll.

“Out of all the people who try to be provocative on-air and are really concerned about being
entertaining, Francesa is completely honest with everything he says,” Segal said. “But he’s so
defiant about what he says.”

He added that Francesa has this ability of being so confident in what he’s saying, only to end up wrong nearly instantly after saying it.

“He has a knack for saying things defiantly and within a real brief period the opposite happens,” he said.

Segal mentioned Francesa saying the New York Jets would never get two first round draft picks
in a trade for Jamal Adams in 2020. Well, the Seattle Seahawks gave two first rounders to the Jets for Adams and a fourth round pick.

Patrick at least credited Francesa for owning his takes.

“He’s genuine in how bad some of his opinions are,” Patrick said.

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Sports Radio News

Pat McAfee Announces Partnership With NFL Films

“You’re going to make our show better and hopefully we make NFL Films a little bit better as well.”

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Pat McAfee Show

The Pat McAfee Show is breaking another barrier with his program. Today he revealed that his show will be teaming up with NFL Films to feature league footage on the show. They will also team up for at least one feature element between the two.

On the show, McAfee was discussing the debut of Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Detroit Lions with two of the coordinating producers of the show, Keith Cossrow and Ken Rodgers. After talking about the first episode, McAfee made the announcement.

“We will have NFL footage rights for the show every single day,” McAfee began. “We will also be creating, probably an Emmy-winning Mic’d Up type thing on the side with NFL Films. I don’t think this has ever happened before. I think this is one of the first times that something like we run has teamed up with NFL Films and the NFL.”

McAfee then told the two how happy he was to be partners with the group. “You’re going to make our show better and hopefully we make NFL Films a little bit better as well. We are very lucky and pumped to be a part of it, Keith.”

“Seeing you guys work, seeing how committed you are it reminded me of the way we are back here,” said Keith Cossrow. “What you guys have all built together is really special. What you’ve built Pat, is special. We could not be more excited at NFL Films to help build your show into something bigger. We are going to produce a weekly feature every week all season with you about the brilliance of our players in the NFL.”

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Sports Radio News

Dave LaGreca: WWE Will Improve Without Vince McMahon

“I don’t think Vince McMahon ever truly loved pro wrestling. He loved that term, ‘sports entertainment.’ He looked at pro wrestling the way a lot of mainstream people look at pro wrestling.”

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Wrestling fans have connected with SiriusXM’s Busted Open, because they trust host Dave LaGreca to be honest with them about what is good and bad in the sport. One target that he has never been afraid to go after is former WWE boss Vince McMahon.

“You can’t think about it,” he said on the latest episode of The Jason Barrett Podcast when asked how the company has responded to his criticism in the past. “You kinda have to block it.”

One of LaGreca’s most famous rants is about the appearance of zombies at a WWE pay-per-view event last year. During that rant, Dave LaGreca shouted over and over that Vince McMahon hates pro wrestling.

He told Barrett that he doesn’t regret the rant and still believes every word of it.

“I stand by that statement. I don’t think Vince McMahon ever truly loved pro wrestling. He loved that term, ‘sports entertainment.’ He looked at pro wrestling the way a lot of mainstream people look at pro wrestling.”

Dave LaGreca is a wrestling fan. He said he and people like him have plenty of reason for optimism with McMahon’s son-in-law Triple H taking creative control of the company’s storylines.

“Triple H looks at pro wrestling as an art form. He’s said it before. He appreciates it. He respects it. He grew up an NWA fan. I am very high on the next 3-6 months with Triple H at the helm of creative.”

Barrett followed that up by asking what could come next for Vince McMahon. Dave LaGreca had a simple answer.

“Watches!”

New episodes of The Jason Barrett Podcast drop every Tuesday morning.

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