WEEI is adding Meghan Ottolini to its afternoon drive program as a third full-time host, the station and its parent company Audacy announced Wednesday.
Ottolini, a multimedia reporter at the Boston Herald and cohost with Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston’s “Quick Slants” program, will join Lou Merloni and Christian Fauria on the program beginning May 4.
Ottolini, who will leave her position at the Herald, has been a part-time and weekend host at the station since January 2021, and has made regular appearances on “Merloni and Fauria” over the past few months. Merloni and Fauria have not had a permanent third host since Glenn Ordway retired last August.
Ottolini said the trio has already built a connection.
“I think we have pretty natural chemistry and balance each other out well,” she said. “I also think I can bring out a sense of fun in most of the people I work with. We can be serious and sensible when the topic demands that and it’s something we need to be sensitive about. If it’s sports, I know these are two people I’ll have a good time with.”
Ottolini, who also will write and produce content for WEEI.com, said it’s important to her to be authentic on the air rather than getting caught up in the kind of contrived opinions that often plague sports radio.
“I know a lot of people say this, but I feel pretty strongly that I just want to be myself,” she said. “It’s really important to me to say what I believe on the radio and not just come up with something that I think will get traction in the market.
“At the end of the day, it’s not about finding conflict or generating that. It’s OK to disagree with each other, as long as I feel like we’re having a good time. I’ve done many different kinds of journalism, and to me, sports is the area where you can have fun, where you can have a good time.
“That doesn’t mean that I don’t get [upset] about something like Kyrie Irving’s exit. Of course I’m going to be passionately negative about that. But there’s something to be said for having fun and having a sense of humor about everything.”
WEEI now has women in two drive-time roles, with Courtney Cox established as a cohost of “The Greg Hill Show” morning program. That is a rarity for a sports radio station. Per research from Jason Barrett at “Barrett Sports Media,” as of March 2022, there were just 15 women with full-time roles on sports programs in the top 50 American markets.
“It’s no secret that there aren’t a lot of women in this space,’’ said Ottolini. “But I think sports media overall has done a great job in trying to bring different perspectives and voices and trying to leverage people into positions where they have more of a platform.
“No shots at anybody, but the traditional thing when I came out of grad school [she got her master’s degree in journalism at Boston University] was that you would go be a sideline reporter, and maybe you will be on a studio show one day. And now you see what people like Doris Burke are doing.
“But at the end of the day, what matters to me is that I connect with people, and when they hear me they’re not going to go, ‘Oh, that’s the girl on afternoon drive.’ I hope they will think, ‘Oh, that’s a person who is funny and informed and I enjoy listening to her.’ ”