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Tributes soon filled the airwaves

News of Will McDonough's death stunned the Boston sports media yesterday morning. This time, it was the death of the man who had broken so many big stories in the Globe that was making news.

WEEI's (850) morning drive ''Dennis and Callahan'' jumped on the story, getting McDonough's close friend Joe O'Donnell on the air immediately. John Havlicek, Bill Parcells, William Bulger, Red Auerbach, and Peter King would follow as the midday ''Dale and Neumy'' show picked up the story.

At WWZN (1510), Eddie Andelman went on the air at 10, two hours before his show was scheduled to start, and stayed on the air for five hours. Frank Deford, former Sports Illustrated editor Mark Mulvoy, a onetime Globe colleague of McDonough's, Auerbach, and O'Donnell were among the many to share their thoughts.

Perhaps the saddest show was Mike Barnicle's morning stint on WTKK-FM (96.9) where McDonough was scheduled to be in the studio for his regular Friday co-host stint. Instead, his chair was filled by Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, with news cameras watching it all.

All of Boston's stations led their evening news with the story as Bob Lobel, Mike Lynch, and Gene Lavanchy reported for Channels 4, 5, and 7, respectively. Butch Stearns and Rob Nikoleski reported for Channel 25.

At Channel 5, Clark Booth prepared one of his signature appreciations on McDonough and his career.

NESN scrapped its Bruins pregame show and play-by-play man Dale Arnold [Dave Shea was calling the Bruins-Sabres in Buffalo] came in to host a half-hour tribute to McDonough with Globe columnists Bob Ryan and Shaughnessy, and former Globe columnist Leigh Montville in studio. The station also had video tributes from Bruins president Harry Sinden, Patriots owner Bob Kraft, Globe assistant managing editor/sports Don Skwar, and former Boston mayor Ray Flynn.

New England Cable News's Chris Collins and Mark Ockerbloom tracked the story throughout the day, putting together a tribute with recent McDonough footage from a visit to his Hingham home.

ESPN prepared a minute and a half obituary/tribute to McDonough for its ''SportsCenter'' show in early evening.

At the network level, the sports departments at CBS, NBC, and Fox all were planning to pay tribute today to a man who had left his mark on the industry.

NBC plans to have Kraft, studio host Bob Costas, and Ryan on air at 3 this afternoon (Ch. 7) before the network's PGA Tour coverage. CBS was planning a McDonough remembrance at the top of today's ''The NFL Today'' pregame show (Ch. 4, 3:30) that leads into the 4:30 telecast of the Steelers-Titans playoff game.

At Fox, studio host James Brown will do a voice-over for a tribute to McDonough when the playoff edition of ''Fox NFL Sunday'' comes on at 7:30 tonight (Ch. 25) before the Falcons-Eagles game. But Fox director of communications Dan Bell said it wouldn't stop there. ''I know Howie Long was close to Will and will want to say something, as will Terry Bradshaw and Jimmy Johnson,'' said Bell.

Stearns captured the mood of all the coverage when he said, ''I miss him already.''

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