The Media Column: This is Mut's opportunity to show us who he really is

Alex Reimer
November 16, 2018 - 12:55 pm

WEEI

The Boston Globe’s media critic says he’s a junior varsity version of Gerry Callahan; Lou Merloni says he can’t escape his character as a degenerate gambler; Kirk Minihane says he’s "a whatever." This is Mike Mutnansky’s time to prove them all wrong. 

As you undoubtedly know, there was a big shakeup on WEEI’s morning drive show this week. Kirk is slated to return to the airwaves early next year hosting his own program on Entercom’s national digital platform, RADIO.COM. Kirk says he is “extremely excited” for the opportunity and to “connect with his fans,” according to the press release. 

Mut, meanwhile, will slide alongside Gerry Callahan on a full-time basis. “Mut & Callahan” debuted Friday, with a familiar looking image and Twitter account. I suppose perfection takes time. 

Nobody involved with “Kirk & Callahan” wanted the show to end. Kirk acknowledged the obvious on Twitter Thursday, following an on-air blow up with Gerry that featured all of the biting personal barbs and sardonic humor that propelled K&C to the top of the ratings for the last two years. “We fought a lot and it ended horribly, but I love Gerry Callahan,” Kirk wrote. “It sucks that we are going in different directions. The last two years were great. I owe him a lot.”

Some, such as WEEI afternoon host Glenn Ordway, don’t believe Kirk and Gerry have done their last show together. Kirk is signed with Entercom through 2021 and exited at the height of his show’s popularity. On Friday’s program, Mut hinted he thinks Kirk could come back at some point as well. 

But if Mut is going to succeed in morning drive full-time, he must disabuse himself of that notion. For the last eight weeks, he’s been filling in for Kirk. Now he’s replacing him. 

“I think my voice is loudest on this show,” Mut said Friday. “I have been put in different roles, and have been damn successful in all of them. I have been the No. 1 person on this show not named ‘Kirk” or “Gerry.’ They installed me when those guys were out for various reasons –– not just last summer, but over the last year and a half –– and 33 of 34 weeks, this show was No. 1 in men 25-54.”

Mut frequently gets criticized for his multiple personas on the station. I think that is unfair. Up until this point, he’s been asked to fill various roles, ranging from K&C to hosting Red Sox pregame. Those jobs require different mindsets. In one, Mut was asked intimate questions about his personal life and encouraged to reveal his many, many, many, many, many, many oddities. In the other, he was tasked with giving scoreboard updates in between Joe Castiglione’s Hall of Fame play-by-play. 

While “Mut at Night” would never be confused with “Kirk & Callahan,” there were several similarities, or at least as much there could be on a solo nighttime show. All of the elements that made K&C so unique –– the drops, Ken and Curtis’ one-liners, morning drive time juice, and oh yeah, Kirk and Gerry –– are absent from 6-10 p.m. It is impossible to replicate K&C’s irreverence and bite without those elements. 

Whenever I hosted with Mut, we usually started off with station gossip and ripping on the other shows. Then we would move to sports, and more times than not, Tom Brady and/or Bill Belichick  were the topic de jour. This was not “Mut & Merloni” redux. I don’t recall Mut doing one Pierre McGuire interview.

“‘Mut at Night’ was essentially a version of this show,” Mut said Friday. “Who were the co-hosts on that show? Reimer, Tomase, Bradford, the same guys here. I saw what was going well at the station, and I tried to do something similar. Go back and listen to those ‘Mut at Nights.’ Sporty Mut at night? That doesn’t mean anything.” 

Without question, Mut entertained far more sports talk on his night show than he claims to like during his stints on morning drive. I am guilty of similar hypocrisy. For me, at least, it keeps going back to the fact that neither Gerry nor Kirk were there at night. The third voice reacted to them. 

But Mut can longer have that mentality. He is hosting with Gerry now. His sidekick days are over. 

“Kirk and Callahan built a No. 1 show. I am not Kirk or Gerry, but I was a big part of that show,” Mut said. “We’ve done eight weeks of the show now. They have not been all sports, they have not been sports-centric. We have yelled about the election, we have yelled about Tucker Carlson. We have done all of that.”

This is a different Mut than the one who floundered in middays. His truer identity has been revealed this fall, during the “Mut & Callahan” dress rehearsal. Now it’s time for the show.

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K&C fanboy until the end: I will admit to feeling melancholy during the surreal final two hours of “Kirk & Callahan” Thursday. K&C was the most revolutionary sports radio show of its time, tearing down the fourth wall and convention. No other big-time morning drive radio show would’ve given me an equal seat at the table. But Kirk and Gerry did. I loved being part that show, despite all of the angst it perpetuated on my snowflake mind. 

The dynamic of Kirk and Gerry together is what brought me back to WEEI. I started commuting into the city for work in 2015 –– as Gerry likes to say, “Our listeners wake up and go to their jobs!” –– and rediscovered the show right at the onset of Deflategate. The ensuing months produced some of the best sports radio ever. Gerry, Kirk and Dino largely approached the story from a media criticism perspective, picking apart the flawed narratives and pervasive leaks that engulfed the biggest sports scandal in recent history. They would battle with Deflategate Truthers on the air, exposing their fraudulence. 

At the same time, Boston also experienced its worst winter in years, which crippled the public transit system. Nobody reviles more in excoriating taxpayer waste than Gerry. Even as an avowed liberal, I loved every minute of it. 

(And yes, I totally deserve to get ridiculed for writing that cheesy retrospective.) 

Globe publishes hit job on Kirk: I am not going to link to the Globe hit job on Kirk nor expound on its contents. But I will say this: it is shameful to publish a takedown of that magnitude without contacting Kirk for comment directly or mentioning his mental health leave of absence. Bad job. 

"Mut & Callahan" show image contest: Mut and Gerry need their own show image. Is there any doubt it should be this?

Gerry’s deranged smile says more than any words could. 

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