February 15, 2013
As Local Talk Radio Churns....
First the "Big O", now Ron St. Pierre. The talk radio landscape is a-changing and one wonders where it will lead. While we can appreciate what both Glenn Ordway and St. Pierre have done, it seems to me like it's a pretty normal changing of the guard. In short, out with the old and in with the new.
For WEEI, Ordway's firing is yet one more reaction to the success of 98.5 the Sports Hub, which has supplanted WEEI as the preeminent sports talk station in the region. Ordway was a pioneer, but he was expensive and his schtick just wasn't working any more. And, particularly in sports talk, younger (and cheaper...and hungrier) voices willing to offer "hot sports takes" abound. Ordway will be replaced by one such guy (Mike Salk) and there is talk that WEEI is pursuing other young talent (such as CSNNE's Mary Paoletti) to freshen up their product. What seems apparent is that WEEI is not looking to go with national shows.
As for St. Pierre, the RI Radio Hall of Famer has nothing to worry about as far as his legacy. He's just about done it all in this market. But with the money spent on Gene Valicenti for the new WPRO Morning show, perhaps such a move should have been predicted: in retrospect, keeping St. Pierre on to hold hands with the afternoon drive-host was a luxury that a local station simply couldn't afford. And all of this seems to indicate that the Mayor may not be far behind his long-time friend in exiting the broadcast center on the Wampanoag Trail. The only question is whether other hosts will follow suit, too. However, throughout the tumult, my guess is that WPRO will try to keep it local and I wonder if they'll try to woo other local hosts over to try to consolidate their strength in the market? Time will tell.