His career as a professional athlete isn’t the only reason WEEI’s Lou Merloni is a good radio host, but it certainly helped.
Merloni, entertaining and opinionated, co-host of Merloni and Fauria, spent nine major league seasons with the Red Sox, Angels, Indians (now Guardians) and Padres. He also spent portions of 15 straight years in the minor leagues and even had a stint in Japan.
One of the biggest clichés in all of sports is that baseball is a game of adjustments. The pitcher adapts to the batter. The batter adapts to the pitcher. Players must adapt to the ballpark. And in Merloni’s case, you’re constantly adapting to the roster you’re on and the teammates you’re playing with.
“I played with people all over the country, all over the world,” Merloni told BSM. “Understanding people, and kind of saying, okay, maybe that’s what makes this guy or that guy tick. I think those things helped me (on the radio) too.
Since entering media in 2008, Merloni has worked with various radio partners, including Mike Mutnansky, Tim Benz, Glenn Ordway and current co-host Christian Fauria. Merloni has worked on two- and three-person radio shows, served as a color commentator on Red Sox radio shows, did pre-game and post-game TV work on NESN, not to mention shows on NBC Sports Boston. alongside its radio rival. , Mike Felger, of 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Merloni continues to adapt today, as his responsibilities on Merloni and Fauria have recently changed. Since the retirement of former co-host and longtime Boston radio stalwart Glenn Ordway in 2021, Merloni has found himself as the show’s pilot — a role we don’t typically see in. no former athletes.
“I tried to learn as much as I could from (Ordway), but there’s definitely a transition from this guy who was just in second chair and all of a sudden trying to host the show,” said he declared. “It’s something you’re still struggling with or working on. He was a host. And it’s funny, when you’re not in that position, you don’t do what you’re being asked to do, fill in the gaps and direct the show and keep it in line.
Maybe that will change in the coming weeks. Of course, it wasn’t until hours after my due date that Lou and his partner Christian Fauria announced that Meghan Ottolini would be joining their show as their new full-time co-host.
It’s certainly been my experience on radio that when the main conductor of a show is gone, the others tend to do the show a little more loosely. It’s often less structured and freer for everyone. You have all seen it. Heck, some of you are even guilty of it. But for Merloni without Ordway? The opposite is happening.
“I think because I’m new to this, I keep it more in line,” Merloni said. “He would have a bit more flexibility and that’s something I have to learn sometimes as well sometimes. So for me, I’m constantly trying to do the fundamentals right because I’m new to it. Whether it’s to tease or stay timed is something I try to focus on as much as possible just because I’m always trying to work my way up and improve.
While adaptability is a critical trait that intersects between professional athlete and radio host, it’s not the only one for Merloni. The ability to be coachable and the desire to compete and be better drives him and his current partner at Fauria.
“I think one of the things about being an athlete, and that’s where I think Christian and I are similar, is that we both want to be better,” he said. declared. “When you’re an athlete it’s like I don’t swing the bat well, I want my hitting coach to come up to me and say ‘you’re doing this wrong’. I’m not going to take it personally because you try to help me. And if that’s what I have to do, then that’s what I’m going to do. Because I just want that end goal of excelling and being the best I can be.
As Merloni continues to build towards the best version of his media self, he’s unsure what the ultimate end game is. This offseason, he turned down a potential opportunity to be part of the rotating cast of Red Sox television color commentators.
“I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about where I’m going,” Merloni said. “And really, a big impact on my professional career is my son, who’s 12. He plays baseball, and as far as my job goes, I love calling Red Sox games, but there’s nothing that I love more than watching my son play sports and spending that time. If my son was 18 and went off to college, maybe I’d be in a cabin all the time. I have no idea, but right now I’m enjoying the flexibility. The time I can spend with him, you know, weekends, coming home for dinner and hanging out with him. That’s, right now, the most important to me. We’ll see how that changes down the road. But right now I’m just trying to stay in the moment and enjoy what I’m doing.
Merloni isn’t sure what the future will bring, but it’s been quite a journey for the former infielder, who started making weekly appearances on The big show with Ordway in 2008 before becoming a mainstay of the WEEI range.
But as the road gets clearer, you can bet Merloni will adjust and adapt.
He made a career out of it after all.
When you write one of these plays, you always pay attention to the narrative that emerges and try to ensure that whatever is included matches the story you are trying to tell. That means good stuff ends up on the cutting room floor.
Well, in this case, I had two questions that Lou gave great answers to, and unfortunately I just couldn’t find a way to fit them in. Here they are, presented as they were asked and answered.
BSM: You and Mike Felger are rivals on radio, how do you do a TV show on NBC Sports Boston with a guy you’re not “supposed” to like?
ML: I have known Mike for a long time. I respect what he does. So for me it’s like it’s competitive but we don’t play them. It’s not like a one-on-one game for me as an athlete. So all I can do is just worry about our show and do what I think is best. I know what the ratings are, we’re getting our ass kicked, and the idea is that it starts to turn around, close the gap a little bit, and then it’s a little positive that you were trying to build from there. Felger is good at what he does, we all know that, but our job is to kind of counter-program that and be the best we can be and hopefully get people back. When I worked with him, it wasn’t like, “I don’t want to work with you because you’re the competitor.” I just try to separate it and focus on what I’m doing, because that’s the only thing that could help us.
BSM: Do you run with the whole “Angry Lou” track or is it something you roll your eyes at?
ML: I think it’s always been kind of therapy for me sometimes, to be honest with you. People always say, “Oh, you’re negative about the Patriots or the Celtics or something.” The Angry Lou is really dating the Red Sox. That’s where it kind of started. That’s what it’s all about, just the things that have sometimes bothered me with the organization over the years. I’m just passionate about it. It is not an act. I have to pull something off my chest and it kind of turned into this rant that naturally started happening.