Monday, September 30, 2013

98.5 The Sports Hub grows its empire by inking deal with Celtics

By Zachary Baru

As if 98.5 The Sports Hub was not already in control of much of the Boston sports radio scene, the CBS-owned station added yet another team to its broadcast-rights.  The Sports Hub, or WBZ-FM, announced a multiyear agreement Thursday to broadcast the Celtics, which will not divert any Boston Bruins broadcasts to any other networks.  The Sports Hub will continue to broadcast all Bruins games, moving Celtics games that conflict to 100.7 (WZLX-FM).

With the addition of the Celtics, The Sports Hub now broadcasts four of the five major teams in New England, as they already broadcast Patriots and Revolution games.  Revolution games are a simulcast of the Comcast SportsNet New England broadcast.

While Entercom formerly had a monopoly in Boston sports radio, The Sports Hub has quickly grown to take over the country's seventh largest market.  Launched in 2009, The Sports Hub was the only FM sports station, and used their strong signal and interesting personalities to capture the interest of Boston listeners.

During a time when sports radio was starting to appear on FM, WEEI failed to do so, leaving the door open for CBS to launch the Sports Hub, the beginning of what is now an empire in Boston sports radio.  WBZ-FM also gains strong television presence from the simulcast of its popular afternoon drive program the "Felger & Massarotti Show".

Since the launch of The Sports Hub, WEEI revenues are down nearly 20 percent, according to an article published by the Boston Globe last month.

As The Sports Hub continues to expand its audience, more and more listeners are being converted to their new style of broadcasting, after decades of dominance from WEEI.  The Sports Hub's slightly less-serious but more fun approach to programming has proved to be successful with sports fans, and in just four years has changed an entire radio market.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Diego Fagundez leading the Revolution on and off the field

By Zachary Baru

It is not often that a team's leading scorer creates so much buzz for reasons other than their scoring capabilities.  Then again, it is not often a team has a local athlete that is developed in their own academy and is only eighteen years of age.  For the New England Revolution,  Diego Fagundez is all of these things, combining stellar play with his massive off-the-field appeal, creating both excitement and attention for the franchise.

Fagundez, of Leominster, played on the Revolution's academy team before being signed to a senior roster contract on November 15, 2010, becoming the Revolution's first homegrown player.  The combination of his local ties and young age make Fagundez highly marketable to Major League Soccer's key demographic.  And let's not forget about his impressive skill.

A new generation of fans is watching MLS who only know the league in its present form as an established part of the professional sports landscape.  MLS has gone through its growing pains in the late 90's and now has a strong identity and following that has lead to the expansion of its 20th franchise earlier this year in New York City.  Fagundez represents a new generation of fans who for the first time the Revolution can connect to on a more personal level.

He attracts hundreds of fans seeking autographs after each home game, and he is very good about staying to sign them all.  And who can blame him?  After all, just a few years ago, he was them.  This is the connection that is so important for the Revolution and their fans, making Fagundez arguably the face of the franchise.  His popularity has gone national, most recently from being the subject of the MLS documentary program "MLS: 36", which aired on NBC Sports Network.  The appeal of Fagundez allows the Revolution to market their brand of soccer to more than the average soccer fan, which has always been, and continues to be a challenge for all MLS franchises.  That connection is something Fagundez has been able to master, creating attention from the non-soccer community and using his on-the-field production to make believers of soccer fans across the country.

Having a player with the appeal of Fagundez is a void the Revolution have had since Taylor Twellman retired in 2010 after suffering a concussion two years prior.  What is so special about Fagundez is that he is able to be marketed to both traditional and non-traditional soccer fans.  He is the team-leader in goals this season, earned MLS Player of the Week earlier in the year, and shows no signs of slowing down.

At just eighteen, Diego Fagundez delivers the high expectations with results week after week.  It is no wonder why there is so much buzz about this young athlete.  He is able to withstand the pressure, and shows so much joy doing it.  Meet Diego Fagundez, the newest, youngest star in New England sports.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at