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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

NEW STUDY: Listeners to MLB on Radio Are Willing to Spend

More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team… 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.

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MLB Radio

When it comes to advertiser’s attempting to reach an affluent and engaged audience, sports talk radio might have a whale on their hands. Major League Baseball play-by-play features an audience that has money and has no problems spending it.

In a recent MRI-Simmons study, data shows that consumers who listen to MLB broadcasts on the radio are the perfect audience for sports marketers. According to the analysis, done by Katz Radio Group, nearly two thirds (62%) of those surveyed consider themselves “super fans” of baseball. That number is 58% higher than the average.

Radio Listeners to MLB

Those “super fans” are willing to spend to support their team, as well. More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team. Those fans are also far more willing to make the trip to see their team. The study found that 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.

The news continues getting better for advertisers. Continued analysis reveals that 66% of listeners are currently employed and have a median household income greater than $106,000.

Listeners to MLB games on the radio are also 34% more likely to place a sports bet and 106% more likely to be a participant in fantasy baseball.

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Sports Radio News

Jeff Dean Signs Off At ESPN Tucson for Final Time

Dean said on Facebook: “…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”

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Jeff Dean Show

Fans will no longer be able to tune into ESPN Tucson and hear Jeff Dean hosting his show. Friday morning was his last show, according to his Facebook and Twitter pages.

The Jeff Dean Show had been airing from 7-9a MT weekday mornings. Dean took to social media to relay the news and the reason behind him stepping away from the microphone. Dean said on Facebook:

“This morning I signed off from my radio show on ESPN Tucson for the final time. I have been devoting too much of my life and my time to working multiple jobs…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”

Jeff Dean Facebook

Dean went on to emphasize that he isn’t stepping away from ESPN Tucson, he’s just taking himself off the air. He also added that “gladly, I will be continuing my position as PA announcer of University of Arizona Football and Men’s basketball.”

Dean would also go onto Twitter to add even further context for his self-removal from the ESPN Tucson airwaves. He added, “It’s not a decision I arrived at hastily, as it’s been a 6 month mental grind to make the ultimate decision that had to be made, and I’m not particularly happy about it, but I have to put my health first, we all do, and make sure we’re around long enough to enjoy life”.

Dean had been ESPN Tucson’s morning host since November 2019.

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Sports Radio News

Jonas Knox: Adrian Wojnarowski’s NBA Draft Reporting Was Desperate Ratings Ploy

“The idea that Woj is going to get duped by Orlando Magic in the draft! The first time he’s ever been duped in his career?”

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Thursday’s NBA Draft is a moment the guys waiting to hear their names called had been waiting for since the day they picked up a basketball. While his draft came decades ago in the NFL, LaVar Arrington could relate to what they were feeling.

“It’s a dream recognized,” he said on Friday’s episode of FOX Sports Radio’s 2 Pros and a Cup of Joe. “You work so hard for so long. So, when you’re sitting there waiting for them to call your name, it’s a surreal moment.”

His partner, Jonas Knox, wasn’t in such a nostalgic or celebratory mood. He had a problem with the information leading up to draft night and just how much the narrative that Auburn’s Jabari Smith would be taken by the Orlando Magic with the first pick was pushed before all the sudden, it wasn’t.

“What a bunch of crap that we are being fed by Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN, the Orlando Magic,” he said. “Whoever’s feeding it is full of crap.”

Wojnarowski tweeted an hour before the Draft that Jabari Smith was still the favorite to be taken, but he was hearing that the Magic weren’t ruling out Duke’s Paolo Banchero. 

When the first pick was announced, it was Paolo Banchero that heard his name called, not Smith. 

“One of three things happened,” Knox said. “Either ESPN is so desperate for ratings and for people to give a crap about the NBA Draft and their sport that they waited until the final hour to pump up some interest, realizing we’ve got a problem here based on some ratings and some reports on some ratings in the NBA Finals, so they waited until an hour before and had Woj drop a ‘Woj Bomb’ that it could not be Jabari Smith, that it could be Banchero who’s gonna go number one overall. It’s either that or Woj is in some kind of cahoots with the Orlando Magic.”

That is a powerful accusation. Knox finds it hard to believe the information got to ESPN’s renowned NBA Insider so late in the process.

“The idea that Woj is going to get duped by Orlando Magic in the draft! The first time he’s ever been duped in his career?”

He didn’t rule out that someone was trying to make money behind the scenes. As late as Thursday afternoon, the Duke Forward was still in plus territory to be the top pick on many sportsbooks’ odds boards. The odds had gone as high as +1600 last week.

“I call BS. I think it’s all shenanigans and I think somebody needs to get called out for it,” Knox concluded. “That pisses me off, man.”

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