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Here’s the ‘nice’ list in local sports media

NESN’s Tom Caron.barry chin/globe staff/Globe Staff

According to my end-of-the-year self-scouting — sort of an annual exercise in which I look back at whom and what has been written about and whom and what has been overlooked, with the goal of not repeating the same mistakes in the new year — here's one conclusion I've come to:

Far too many words were spent in this space reacting to the antics of those in the sports media whose primary intent is to antagonize rather than inform or entertain.

Well, the holiday season is for elves, not trolls, right? So today seems like an appropriate time to acknowledge some jobs well-done in Boston sports media in 2015.


This is far from a complete list, and it excludes the work of my Globe colleagues.

Consider it a starter list of the good stuff, and a hope for even more of it in 2016 . . .

Here's to pretty much everything about Comcast SportsNet New England's "Quick Slants," a fun, smart, interactive, and goofy show that seems to be designed around the sensibilities of its host, Tom Curran.

Here's to CBS Boston's Michael Hurley, who read and analyzed — entertainingly — every report, brief, ruling, and footnote regarding Deflategate, so you didn't have to.

Here's to Mike Narracci, the dependable director of NESN's Red Sox telecasts, whose best work might have come in the final inning of the season.

Here's to WEEI's "NFL Sunday," which even through the cast changes through the years (can't Steve Nelson make a cameo once in a while?) remains a fine way to begin a day of devouring football.

Here's to Scott Zolak's segments with Bill Belichick on "Patriots All-Access," which always make us feel like we learned a new football nuance.

Here's to Ch. 5's Mike Lynch, still our foremost champion of high school sports, and Channel 7's Joe Amorosino, a pro's pro.


Here's to "Dale and Holley's" always entertaining "4 at 4" segment, and "Felger and Mazz" when they're in a mood of self-deprecation.

Here's to CSNNE's Rich Levine, who doesn't waste a word in his thoughtful and often hilarious columns.

Here's to those who always seem to be happy doing what they're doing: Curran, Mike Gorman, Dave Goucher, Mike Giardi, Elle Duncan, Abby Chin, Hardy, Dan Roche, Mike Reiss, Chris Price, Tom Caron, Rich Shertenlieb, and Michael Holley in particular.

Here's to those I forgot, and those I will try to remember in the year ahead.

And here's to you, the most knowledgeable and passionate audience imaginable.

Room for more?

The Nielsen Audio ratings for the fall came out Tuesday, and the easy conclusion after realizing that the Sports Hub and WEEI finished 1-2 among all stations of any format in Boston during the period is that the thirst for sports talk is unquenchable around here right now. That they combined for a 22.7 share overall (13.6 for the Sports Hub, 9.1 for WEEI) in the men 25-54 demographic is truly remarkable. ESPN Radio has not caught on at the 850 signal — it was tied for 33d in the fall ratings with a 0.4 share — but that's due to the spotty AM signal and our parochialism. It makes one wonder whether a third local sports station with a strong signal would be sustainable. I'm skeptical — there's a tipping point with everything — but it would be fascinating to find out. Two other ratings notes: 1. The Sports Hub's numbers climb by approximately 1 share on each program when streaming numbers are included. Because CBS had not signed up for Nieslen/Arbitron's "Total Line Reporting" — something Nielsen/Arbitron started allowing stations to do this year — its streaming numbers are not included among the share, as they are with WEEI, which signed up for the program. 2. WEEI saw significant progress in several day parts over last fall. The "Dennis and Callahan" show jumped from a 9.7 to a 13.6, and the midday program more than doubled its share from the previous fall. Yet the increased listenership didn't reduce the Sports Hub's audience, but drew from other non-sports stations.


Fruitful fillings

Filling airtime over the holidays can be difficult for radio stations with so much of the full-time talent on vacation, but the Sports Hub has come up with an interesting solution. The station will air two audio documentaries it has produced, both on worthwhile topics. "Call to the Hall: The Willie McGinest Story" is an hourlong look at the career of the defensive stalwart on three Patriots Super Bowl champions. McGinest sat down with Bob Socci and producer Howie Sylvester to discuss his career, as did many former teammates and coaches. The McGinest doc will air at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Christmas Day. In advance of the upcoming Winter Classic showdown between the Bruins and Canadiens, the Sports Hub has put together a two-hour documentary on the history between the storied rivals. Titled "Too Many Memories: the Bruins-Canadiens Rivalry" and narrated by Goucher, it features all the classic moments and broadcast calls a Bruins fan would expect. That debuts after Saturday's Bruins-Sabres game and re-airs several times over the next couple of weeks. Both documentaries will also be available on the CBS Boston website.


A win with Smoltz

Baseball fans won't be able to savor this unexpected holiday gift until the season comes around, but here's to Fox Sports getting it right with the decision to replace Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci on its top broadcast team with John Smoltz. Smoltz is a terrific analyst — funny, prepared, up-to-date, opinionated. Reynolds was a nuisance as an analyst, his relentless, rarely insightful, and occasionally contradictory commentary overwhelming any affability that he might have had. Verducci, who will work broadcasts on Fox's backup teams, was collateral damage in the whole thing . . . WEEI is expected to reveal its choice to replace Dave O'Brien on Red Sox radio broadcasts no later than Monday. Tim Neverett, an Emerson grad who has called Pittsburgh Pirates games since 2009, is expected to be the choice.

Chad Finn can be reached at finn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeChadFinn.