WEEI to Replace Glenn Ordway

Find out with whom, and why it's a step in the right direction.

For Boston sports fans, today marks the end of an era. The Globe’s Chad Finn—who, it must be noted, has been doing a hell of a job on the local media beat—is reporting that WEEI is getting rid of Big Show co-host Glenn Ordway. He’ll be replaced, Finn writes, by Mike Salk, who currently co-hosts a popular sports radio show in Seattle. (Salk grew up in Massachusetts and used to work for Boston’s now defunct ESPN affiliate.)

To me, who grew up listening to Ordway almost every weekday afternoon, the move is stunning. Love him or loathe him, “The Big O” is a local institution. He was Johnny Most’s partner on Celtics broadcasts for more than a decade and has been with ’EEI since 1987. As our own Jason Schwartz put it this afternoon, five years ago “I would’ve said the only person in town with a safer job than Ordway was Menino.” In 2006, Boston profiled WEEI, which at the time was completely dominating the ratings. We even called Ordway the station’s “most powerful” personality:

The best athletes are said to see plays unfold in slow motion, allowing them to exploit opportunities others miss. It’s hard to think of Ordway in athletic terms—he is short and heavy, with a big, jowly face—but he possesses a similar trait. He seems always aware of everything happening around him, knows how to talk under people as well as over them, and his comedic timing is flawless. He often stands throughout his entire four-hour program, energized, working the call buttons, reading the computer screens, scrambling for statistics. His on-air manner swings between laid-back and hyper-aggressive, depending on his mix of guest hosts. He’s often referred to as The Big Show’s quarterback or point guard, but really he’s a puppeteer, manipulating the action, pulling the strings.

Recently, however, Ordway’s grip on local sports radio has loosened. When The Sports Hub was born in 2009, listeners finally had a genuine alternative. WEEI even tried shaking things up a few years back, pairing Ordway with Michael Holley. As Finn points out, last spring, the revamped Big Show “had strong ratings, finishing second in the men 25-54 demo, a spot ahead of The Sports Hub’s Felger and Massarotti program.” But, Finn added, in the fall ratings book, The Big Show had once again dipped well below Felger and Massarotti.

Still, WEEI’s decision to part ways with Ordway seems slightly misguided. Dennis & Callahan, the station’s version of a Statler and Waldorf routine, is poorly rated, too. It’s a hell of a lot more painful to take than Ordway and Holley. “John Dennis,” Bruce Allen said on Twitter today, “must be really, really hard to fire.”

With that said, I can’t complain about new blood being injected into the Boston sports radio scene. Salk will be paired with Holley. Combined, their ages don’t add up to more than 100. That in itself is a step in the right direction.