Entercom, CBS Radio—WEEI and The Sports Hub’s Parent Companies—Agree to Merge
Changes could soon be coming to the ever-tempestuous Boston sports talk radio scene.
Entercom and CBS Radio, respective parent companies of WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub, announced a merger Thursday. In a press release issued by Entercom, the merger would create a “preeminent radio platform” of 244 stations with broadcast rights for 45 professional teams, but details concerning the two that have jockeyed for ratings in New England in recent years were scarce.
“These two great companies, with their impressive histories, complementary assets, and premier content and brands, are a perfect strategic and cultural fit, enabling us to deliver local connection on a national scale and drive accelerated growth,” said Entercom president and CEO David J. Field, who will lead the new entity. “We look forward to welcoming our talented new colleagues at CBS Radio, and we have the utmost respect for their significant contributions to the industry.”
Call letters won’t change as a result of the tax-free merger, the release said, and the move awaits approval from Entercom shareholders. If given the OK, the new entity would become the second-largest radio station owner in the U.S., based on combined revenue in 2016.
Chad Finn, the Globe‘s sports media critic, reports that the reshuffling likely won’t affect either station’s on-air product.
Sources at WEEI and 98.5 have told me they've been told the expectation is that it will be status quo on air post-merger.
— Chad Finn (@GlobeChadFinn) February 2, 2017
WEEI and The Sports Hub have been locked in a bitter rivalry since the latter launched in 2009. The Sports Hub secured broadcast rights to the Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, and Revolution, while WEEI remains the radio home of the Red Sox. Tensions between the two stations have occasionally boiled over into on-air feuds, often between morning drive programs Kirk & Callahan (née Dennis & Callahan) and Toucher & Rich.
The Sports Hub’s studios are located in Allston, while WEEI’s home base is located near New Balance’s sprawling Boston Landing complex in Brighton.