Jerry Thornton, who has been the third voice on WEEI’s Dale and Holley program for two years, is leaving the station to return to Barstool Sports.
The station hired Thornton, a part-time comedian who wrote frequently about the Patriots, in November 2014, in part to try to attract some of Barstool’s large and demographically desirable audience to WEEI.com.
He continued to have a following at WEEI, and ratings for the afternoon drive program, which also features longtime station hosts Dale Arnold and Michael Holley, were strong. (The show was second in his timeslot in the most recent ratings period over the summer.)
But Barstool Sports, founded as a free newspaper by David Portnoy more than a decade ago, has grown massively in its website form. In January, it was sold for more than $10 million to an investment firm headed by Peter Chernin and moved to New York City, but has retained the same format.
Its staff has grown, and Barstool has found success in other media, including a series of chart-topping podcasts. In bringing Thornton back to the site, Barstool gave him a salary that was more than competitive with what he was making at WEEI. Thornton will host his own podcast as well as write for the site.
“You don’t walk away from a job situation like this unless you have an opportunity too good to pass up,’’ he wrote in a post on his personal website Saturday. “I’ve always been proud to have been part of The Stool as we grew from an obscure newspaper to a brand, then an empire and eventually a lifestyle choice.
“I won’t lie to you; the pay and the benefits matter. But the chance to reach that audience again was the deciding factor.”
WEEI doesn’t have an immediate plan to replace him on the afternoon show. His final day is Nov. 18.Follow Chad Finn on Twitter @GlobeChadFinn.