After 20 Years On Air, Dale Arnold Announced He's Leaving WEEI

Dale Arnold just announced that after over 20 years on the air, he's leaving WEEI sports radio in Boston.

I'll start this post with the disclaimer that I know it's one that will probably only have limited, regional appeal. I don't imagine that anyone outside of the New England market is all that familiar with WEEI or Dale Arnold and their place in Boston sports coverage, but it can't be understated. And I'll also admit the obvious that for the two years between me being part time with Barstool and coming back full time, (so from 2014-16) Dale was my co-host on Dale, Holley & Thornton, WEEI's 2-6 drive time show. 

So while I won't pretend to be neutral on the topic, I think I can objectively say that, to a couple of generations of New England sports fans, this is a big deal. Dale was at 'EEI long before Kirk Minihane or I ever drew a paycheck from there. He was one of the major reasons the station was by far the biggest thing on the airwaves for decades. And was, along with Glen Ordway, the last link remaining to the early glory years. 

I don't know if Dave will be popping champagne corks over this news. As anyone who was a Stoolie during the HowitzerGate days will tell you, Arnold and Ordway were vocal critics and Dave went to war with them both. Which made it awkward when I was first tried out as a co-host for Dale and me both. He's insisted to me he never called for Dave to be taken off the air or that Barstool should be boycotted. Dave busted my balls for working with a guy who tried to cancel him. But to the undying credit of each, neither ever tried to put me in the middle of the beef and let me do my job. Moving on ...

When WEEI went to the all sports format, the midday show was Arnold paired with Eddie Andelman, the guy who had basically invented talking sports back when I was a kid. I grew up listening to Andelman's Sunday night show "The Sports Huddle" along with my brothers. And it imprinted on my soul for the way it combined sports and comedy, homerism with ripping the local athletes, coaches and owners. But Arnold and Andelman were an odd fit. Two entirely different people who you could tell hated each other. With good reason. For all the years I've been around Boston media, the next nice word I hear said about Andelman by anyone who worked with him will be the first. Really, it's remarkable. No one is liked by everyone. He's a guy that was liked by no one. But damned, if the contempt they had for each other didn't make for great radio. It might have been a miserable way to spend four hours a day. But was a blast to listen to. And the ratings were by far the highest of any time period on any station in the market.

For a long time. But not forever. What changed things permanently for Boston sports radio was competition. The Sports Hub came in - on FM to EEI’s AM, and completely upended everything. They talked hockey, which everyone on WEEI but Arnold refused to do. The ratings plummeted. Both Arnold and Ordway were let go. New hires were made. Those guys were brought back. Minihane was brought in. I was made full time. And eventually the ratings came back. I am proud to say that in eight ratings books I was with Dale, we were number two and everyone of them. But then I left. Kirk was let go. My other partner Michael Holley left. Gerry Callahan was let go. And since then watching what’s happened has been like being on the deck of the Carpathia wrapped in a blanket sipping tea and seeing the stem of the ship we just escaped disappear under the waves. Sad.

As for me, I learned a lot from Dale. We are very different sorts of cats, we both know that. He said as much on Kirks podcast after I left. We are guys with different sensibilities and different approaches. He’s more the polished professional. And I am happy to be the random, stream of consciousness Masshole. But from working with them, I learned a lot about preparation. Doing your homework. And we shared a common interest in wanting to do great radio. And while the fit wasn’t always perfect, I not so humbly think we did a lot of that.

As for the Boston sports fan, this is one last remaining link back to the days when terrestrial radio was the water cooler around which every fan gathered. WEEI back in the day was part of the everyday life of every guy I know. And Dale Arnold was one of the guys who made it that way. And survived for almost 30 years. And I appreciate being a small part of his legendary career. Godspeed.