John Dennis (talk show host)

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John Dennis (born March 7, 1952 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is an American radio talk show host for WEEI, known for the Dennis and Callahan show.

Biography[edit]

Dennis earned a bachelor's degree in telecommunications and journalism, magna cum laude, at Kent State University in 1974. At age 22, he served as sports director and weekday anchor for WDAF-TV, an NBC affiliate in Kansas City, Missouri. He later became a studio anchorman at WPSL radio. In 1977, he joined WNAC-TV Channel 7 (later WNEV and now WHDH-TV) in Boston. Over the next 21 years he covered the Boston sports scene for the station holding the following roles: weekend and weekday sports anchor, sports producer, sports director as well as producing several sports features and investigative reports. John Dennis is involved with several Boston based charities, raising money for the Jimmy Fund, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and he is on the board of directors for the Mutual Funds Against Cancer Organization.[1] Dennis has made cameos in many of the Farrelly brothers' films.[2]

Controversies[edit]

Boston Globe Ban[edit]

In 1999, the Boston Globe's executive sports editor, Don Skwar banned its sportswriters from the Globe from appearing on the Dennis & Callahan morning show because of its perceived lowbrow humor. This came two weeks after he banned Globe sportswriters from appearing on WEEI's afternoon The Big Show after columnist Ron Borges appeared on the show and used a racial slur to describe New York Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu. After the ban, WEEI retaliated by banning Globe sportswriters from all WEEI programs.[3][4]

METCO controversy[edit]

On September 29, 2003, during a segment called 'headlines', where they read and comment about current news stories, Callahan and his morning co-host John Dennis made racially insensitive remarks while discussing a story about an escaped gorilla. The gorilla had escaped from the Franklin Park Zoo and had been recaptured at a bus stop. Their on the air banter included these lines:

Callahan: "They caught him at a bus stop, right -- he was like waiting to catch a bus out of town."


Dennis: "Yeah, yeah -- he's a METCO gorilla."
Callahan: "Heading out to Lexington."

Dennis: "Exactly."[5]

METCO is a state program that buses inner-city Boston students to nearby suburban schools. Many perceived the comments to be comparing poor, mostly African-American children to gorillas.

WEEI general manager Tom Baker suspended both hosts for two days, then extended the suspension to two weeks after the Blue Cross-Blue Shield (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts) pulled $27,000 in ads and in turn donated that money to METCO. Dunkin' Donuts responded by ceasing all advertising that involved the voices of John Dennis or Gerry Callahan. Both hosts apologized, though in a way many thought was sarcastic and insincere, and were sent to sensitivity training. WEEI also agreed to provide free advertising for the METCO program on the radio station. In November 2003, WEEI General Manager Tom Baker was replaced by Julie Kahn. Station executives denied there was a connection between the METCO incident and Baker's replacement.

Ryen Russillo voicemail[edit]

Mr. Dennis had a personal conflict with Ryen Russillo, who at the time was a New England Patriot commentator at WBCN, during which he left Rusillo a voicemail[6] following a conversation between John Dennis's daughter and Mr Rusillo at a local Boston bar. Subsequently, and perhaps from Dennis's intervention and close relationship with Patriot's owner Robert Kraft, Russillo lost that job.[7] Russillo currently works for ESPN, which is heard in part on WEEI. The Russillo- Dennis feud continued in February of 2012, when they encountered each other at an ESPN Super Bowl Party. [8]

Personal awards and recognition[edit]

  • 1978 Nominated for Regional Emmy for his feature, "Cowboys, Creole and Orange Crush."
  • 1978 & 1981 Regional Emmy for specialized reporting.
  • 1983 & 1984 Associated Press (AP) Best Sports Coverage award.
  • 1983, 1984 & 1985 National Association of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) Boston/New England Chapter Emmy award for "Best Sports Coverage within a Newscast.
  • 1983, 1984 & 1985 UPI Best Sports Coverage awards.
  • 1986 As part of the WHDH-TV sports team, was awarded the United Press International (UPI) National Broadcast Award in the "Division One Sports Reporting" category.
  • 1987 Emmy Award for "Outstanding Sports Program within a Newscast."

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mutual Funds Against Cancer". Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  2. ^ John Dennis (III)
  3. ^ Dan Kennedy (2007-11-22). "Don't quote me". Bostonphoenix. Retrieved 2007-11-22. 
  4. ^ Wolfson, John (5/15/06). "LoudMouths". Boston Magazine. Retrieved 2010-08-09. ...the paper pulled its staffers from WEEI's morning program, too. Jack Thomas, then the Globe ombudsman, explained the decision in his column, writing that the paper realized "its sportswriters might do the newspaper, themselves, and common sense a favor by not appearing on WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show as puppets strung among jokes about big penises, fat naked fags, and the banging of Korean whores." The paper caught plenty of criticism for the ban—after news columnist Eileen McNamara had a piece on the topic spiked, she appeared on Dennis & Callahan to blast the Globe for censorship...  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ Talcott, Sasha (10/7/2003). "Hosts off air for two weeks: Station suspends 2 for Metco remarks". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-08-09. Faced with searing criticism from parents and political officials, WEEI yesterday suspended prominent radio hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan for two weeks for comparing an escaped gorilla to a Metco student waiting for a bus. The suspensions were announced on the same day that one of the station's advertisers, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, announced that it would pull $27,000 in advertising from the station and donate the money to Metco, the voluntary desegregation program that places Boston children in suburban schools.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ "Barstool Sports: John Dennis Voicemail for Ryen Russillo". Barstool Sports. September 7, 2005. Retrieved 2010-08-09. [dead link]
  7. ^ Finn, Chad (October 30, 2009). "Tenacious Russillo finds his voice at ESPN". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-08-09. There was something else that soured Russillo on Boston for a time. In 2005, he was added to the revamped Patriots pregame and postgame shows on WBCN, a promising gig. But not long after he started, he was finished. A conversation with WEEI host John Dennis’s daughter in a Boston bar for some reason inspired Dennis to leave him a voice mail - the tone being either threatening or hilarious, depending upon your perspective. The message, in which Dennis sounded considerably less polished than he does on air, became a local Internet sensation. Not long after that, Russillo was relieved of his duties on the Patriots programming. He said he remains “100 percent convinced’’ that Dennis, who is friendly with the Krafts, persuaded them to let him go. 
  8. ^ http://thebiglead.com/index.php/2012/02/04/espns-ryen-russillo-and-weeis-john-dennis-nearly-got-in-a-fight-at-the-espn-super-bowl-party/ ESPN's Ryen Russillo and WEEI's John Dennis Nearly Got In A Fight at the ESPN Super Bowl Party