Emails For: Michael Felger

1216308483The news came down this week that WEEI was adding two big-time talents to its roster in preparation for a revamped website (hat tip to David Scott of Scott’s Shots for getting the scoop). The first to jump was Rob Bradford, the Herald’s excellent Red Sox beat man, and one of the first newspaper writers to fully embrace the Internet (see: Bradford Files). Then the station announced that they had landed Michael Felger as a contributor to the site and a fill-in host.

With his own afternoon show on ESPN 890, he had accomplished a seemingly-impossible task: offering a highly-creditable, if ratings-challenged, sports-talk alternative to WEEI’s Big Show. Felger, who came to prominence as the Herald’s Patriots beat writer, has also made a successful transition to television as one of the hosts of Comcast SportsNet’s Sports Tonight. With his Comcast duties becoming more of a priority, something had to give.

We caught up with him, via email, and asked what his future holds.

Boston Daily: Can you describe what your role with WEEI is going to be, and what’s the time frame for the start? (On air, website, etc.)

Michael Felger: I will be a fill-in host for primarily the morning and mid-day shows, when the regulars are on vacation or out. I start July 21 on Dale and Holley. I will also write for the web twice a week during the football season and every-other-week in the offseason. I will do my report card for one of the stories and an extended mailbag—responding to report card emails, looking ahead to the upcoming week, etc.—later in the week. That’s pretty much the extent of it. I’m a regular freelancer.

BD: Are you officially done with ESPN Radio (890)? What led to the decision to leave? How did you find that whole experience, being the host of your own show?

MF: I am, indeed, off of 890 ESPN. The decision to leave was really made last year when I accepted a full-time position anchoring at Comcast SportsNet. Starting last November, I did the radio show from the Comcast offices, running from the radio show in my office at 6 to start preparing for the 6:30 edition of Mohegan Sun’s Sports Tonight out in the TV studios.

The people at Comcast were generous enough to make this special arrangement and let me finish out my 890 contract—but it was only meant to be a temporary thing. It was going to come to an end eventually, and this was the time. It turns out 890 was willing to move my show to a mid-day time slot, but in the end I wanted to make sure I could devote as much time to Comcast as possible, and so I accepted the part-time role at WEEI instead.

As for my experience at 890, I think, on balance, it was good. The show certainly wasn’t a success—not in terms of ratings or ad revenue or anything like that. But we survived for three years and had an offer on the table to continue it into a fourth. Most people felt we’d be done in 12 months. I think the show itself was decent more often than not. But it’s hard not having a steady audience.

There were many reasons why we didn’t build one (signal strength, lack of marketing money, my mediocrity, etc), but, in my opinion, by far the biggest problem we had was the competition. People just love the Big Show on WEEI, and for good reason. I’ve said it all along: Glen Ordway is as good at what he does as anyone in the country. I know some people flipped over and sampled us, but not enough really wanted to turn away from Glen. Can’t say I blame them.

Overall, while my show didn’t succeed, I don’t think I hurt myself taking the job. I learned about radio, gained some experience and made a few bucks. I’d do it again.

BD: Are you officially done with the Herald?

MF: Yes—and it kills me. This would have been my 20th year at the paper. I’m 39. Do the math. Over half of my life has been spent there, so leaving was hard. I’m still having trouble coming to grips with the fact I won’t be in print. So why did I do it? Because being tied into the WEEI brand was too tempting. And, of course, I acknowledge that the web is the future.

BD: Is your job with Comcast going to change at all?

MF: No. I just won’t have the conflict with the radio show, which was really the impetus behind all this change. I’m a full-time Comcast guy, and I didn’t want other things getting in the way as they had while I was at 890.

BD: That’s a lot of change, so how are you feeling right now? Are you excited about the new challenges, upset about leaving 890 (or the Herald)?

MF: Upset about leaving the Herald, yes. Less so at 890 because, as I said, that thing was destined to come to an end. I’m really looking forward to being in the thick of it at Comcast, because there are some exciting things on the horizon there between the Celtics, the Patriots and the company’s desire to really make a statement in the market.