An integral part of the Big Show
Sheppard helps WEEI gain supremacy over Boston’s radio dial
By Cary Shuman
Pete Sheppard is known far and wide among Boston sports fans. As the regular reporter of sports flashes and fill-in host on the Big Show on WEEI-850 AM Sports Radio, Sheppard’s booming voice can be heard every weekday afternoon.
And if Glenn Ordway is the Bill Russell of WEEI-850 AM Sports Radio and the Big Show, then Pete Sheppard is its John Havlicek, the ever-dependable sixth man who helps make the show the ratings champion it’s become and can take over the big chair.
Sheppard, who lived in the North End for 10 years (“I absolutely loved the area,” he says), has become a popular staple on the Big Show, offering his strong but often hotly contested opinions on the local sports teams while displaying an encyclopedic knowledge of Boston and Providence sports that cannot be denied.
Sheppard, who turns 40 on March 26, began working at WEEI in 1995, handling weekend sports flashes. He was soon promoted to full-time sports flash duties for the ‘A’ Team show with Dale Arnold and Eddie Andelman.
Sheppard then teamed with John Wallach for their own weekend show in 1998.
“That was because there was a fire drill down at the [Patriots] stadium in Foxboro and the Big Show was interviewing Drew Bledsoe,” recalled Sheppard, a graduate of Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick, R.I., and the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. “Everybody had to evacuate and nobody was left at the studio except for John and me. We went at it for 20 minutes about a particular play in the Patriots-Pittsburgh game. Our boss, Jason Wolfe, liked what he heard and decided to give us a weekend show.”
Sheppard made the most of his hosting opportunity with Wallach. And when Sean Grande, the former sports flash reporter on the Big Show, left to take a broadcasting job for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sheppard became the sports flash reporter alongside Ordway.
“It’s been eight years and a month on the Big Show and it’s been fantastic,” said Sheppard.
Sheppard’s role has grown tremendously on the show. “During the show, it’s much more than just being a ‘flash guy,’ it’s more like being a co-host of the show,” said Sheppard.
Why has Pete Sheppard become a lightning rod on the show, often drawing the affectionate wrath of callers to the Whiner Line and heated but enjoyable-for-the-listener confrontations with former National Football League and BC greats Fred Smerlas and Steve DeOssie?
“I think everyone provokes reaction on the show,” said Sheppard. “But I’m just really passionate about all the teams that I follow. Sports is something that I’ve always enjoyed since I was a young kid. When I stopped playing sports, the only thing I wanted to do was to continue to talk about it.”
The Big Show provides a fountain of information for Boston sports fans, sometimes breaking news stories on the air. Ordway, the master moderator, Sheppard, the flash guy, and co-hosts, including prominent sportswriters Tony Massarotti and Steve Buckley, Eagle Tribune Sports Editor Bill Burt, and NFL insiders Smerlas, DeOssie, and Paul Perillo offer an incredible array of knowledge.
But it’s the interaction among the hosts and the conversations with the callers that makes the show flat-out funny. Sheppard has been a huge contributor to the winning formula of knowledge and humor.
“I like to think that I bring some knowledge to the show,” said Sheppard. “I bring a lot of passion and a lot of energy. You have to be entertaining. Those are the three things. Glenn talks about it all the time. It’s such a parochial area. You don’t have to know everything about everything. You just to have to know something about a bunch of different things.”
Sheppard enjoys being an integral part of the Boston sports scene. He also appears regularly on the Fox Sports Tonight show with Gary Tanguay and Greg Dickerson.
“I love what I’m doing,” said Sheppard. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”