“Toucher and Rich,” which became one of the most successful Boston radio programs of any genre since 98.5 The Sports Hub launched in 2009, has reached a crossroads that could lead to the end of the show.
Co-host Fred Toucher recently signed a multiyear contract extension. Longtime co-host Rich Shertenlieb has not. On Wednesday, Shertenlieb piqued curiosity by changing the handle on the @ToucherandRich Twitter/X account that he has long operated to his own name, with the handle @heyrichhey.
Toucher’s extension was confirmed by a Beasley Media press release Wednesday night.
Reached by email, Toucher said he couldn’t comment. Shertenlieb has not responded to requests for comment. It’s uncertain whether he has pursued a contract extension.
If the hosts go their separate ways, it’s the end of a remarkable run. Toucher and Shertenlieb, who worked together in Atlanta before coming to Boston in 2006 at rock-radio station WBCN, became The Sports Hub’s morning program upon its debut in August 2009. The Sports Hub immediately challenged longtime sports radio powerhouse WEEI, and soon overtook its established competition (which was still on AM at the time) in the Nielsen Audio ratings.
“Toucher and Rich” was the No. 1 program in morning drive (6-10) during the summer ratings period in the men 25-54 demographic, finishing with a 15.3 share, with WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” second at 11.6. That’s actually closer than any sports show in their time period has been to them in years, but it’s still a notable lead.
Toucher and Rich have distinct talents — Toucher is excellent at ad-libbing humor, and Shertenlieb has a gift for cooking up creative bits — but their ability to play off each other often takes the show to another level, whether the focus is on sports, pop culture, or something else they decide to discuss on a whim.
But over the past year, the show has been plagued by tension. During a meeting with station and parent company Beasley Media management, Shertenlieb accused Toucher of creating a hostile work environment.
Toucher had dealt with alarming voice and throat problems in the previous months, requiring serious treatment and a leave of absence. During his absence, Toucher posted on social media that Shertenlieb and others involved with the show hadn’t checked in to see how he was doing, which he later acknowledged was untrue upon returning to the show. Shertenlieb was not on the show when Toucher apologized, having taken a sick day.
In recent months, the program, which also includes third voice Jon Wallach, has had less noticeable tension, though the banter between the hosts could sometimes become awkward. It may not be much longer that they’re talking at all.