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Le Batard Warns: “If You Leave, You’ll Get Lost”

Jason Barrett

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Is ESPN still a destination for the world’s biggest sports media personalities? It’s no secret that over the past two years the company has experienced an exodus. Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd, Bill Simmons, Keith Olbermann, Jason Whitlock, and Mike Tirico have all departed and a narrative has been created that the worldwide leader in sports is no longer interested in forking over big dollars to the nation’s top talents.

But do they have to?

One can make a case, that exposure for an individual is largely increased when they perform on ESPN. Stephen A. Smith re-signed with the company when he probably could’ve earned more elsewhere, but he was wise enough to recognize the value he gains from being associated with the company.

Make no mistake about it, Smith is still well paid. But, as competition has increased, talent now find themselves in a position to reap the benefits financially, even if it reduces their influence professionally.

Yesterday on Dan Le Batard’s ESPN Radio show, the subject of Skip Bayless departing was raised. Le Batard spoke candidly about it, and provided a behind the scenes account of a conversation he had with Colin Cowherd when he was entertaining moving on. Kyle Koster of The Big Lead transcribed the commentary, and a video is available on The Big Lead’s website:

“The ego of these guys is such that they don’t believe they’re choosing money over winning. They believe they are going to make the difference. It’s happening right now in the sports opinion business. I told Colin Cowherd not to leave this spot. We were having conversations — now I’m revealing private conversations that I shouldn’t be — even though it would have benefited us, I was telling Colin Cowherd I don’t think you leave. You leave, you’re going to get lost, you’re going to do it for money and no one’s going to know where to find you. We don’t do this to have our voices stuffed in a drawer; we do this to be heard.”

“Skip Bayless doesn’t think he’s going for money,” Le Batard added. “Skip Bayless thinks he’s going to make a difference. And he’s not. What’s been happening with the athletes is happening in the gasbag business.”

LeBatard isn’t wrong that there’s a drastic shift in terms of relevance when a top flight personality vacates ESPN, and signs on at another network. The reach of brands such as the CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports Network, and FS1 have yet to enter ESPN’s neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t in the future.

It also doesn’t mean that an individual who has an opportunity to vastly improve their financial standing shouldn’t explore it if they feel it will make other aspects of their life more rewarding. Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, and Dan Patrick took similar risks and they’ve turned out just fine, even if they broadcast to smaller audiences.

However, if personalities are going to move on from the four letter network, and expect immediate results in another arena, they’re likely to find themselves disappointed. You don’t make the jump without understanding that it’s a long-term play. ESPN may find itself right now in unchartered territory, but the brand still remains powerful. They can also reverse their stance on paying premium dollars for talent tomorrow if they choose to.

What this ultimately boils down to is giving up influence, and relevance for the almighty dollar. Critics and fans of an individual may find fault with a personality’s decision to chase the money, but I’m certain that the person making the decision will gladly welcome media criticism, and public scorn in exchange for enjoying a better life.

Sports Radio News

Jonathan Peterlin Takes Over Night Show On 92.3 The Fan

“”Being the guy that you turn on after a day of listening to Ken and Anthony or Andy and Jeff or Nick and Dustin is truly an honor and a privilege. I won’t take that for granted.””

Jordan Bondurant

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92.3 The Fan in Cleveland now has a permanent host for its nightly show in Jonathan Peterlin.

Peterlin wrote in a post for the Audacy station’s website on Tuesday that his show will be called Overtime with Jonathan Peterlin and will air each night starting at 7 p.m.

“This is a dream job,” he said. “Being the guy that you turn on after a day of listening to Ken and Anthony or Andy and Jeff or Nick and Dustin is truly an honor and a privilege. I won’t take that for granted.”

Peterlin had been the afternoon update anchor at 92.3 The Fan since 2016, even hosting on weekends and on a fill-in basis. Prior to that, he spent three years in a similar role at Yahoo Sports Radio.

He wrote that listeners in Cleveland will not need an introduction or reintroduction to who he is.

“You know me and I know you,” he said. “We’ve spent the past nearly 7 years getting to know each other on a daily basis…We were there for each other. Along the way I hope that I’ve earned your trust. Through the good times and the bad, the ups and the downs.”

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Sports Radio News

Layoffs Hit Pro Football Focus

“The reduction in workforce comes less than 18 months after securing a $50 million investment from Silver Lake.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Pro Football Focus has laid off 16 employees, according to a report from Front Office Sports.

The reduction in workforce comes less than 18 months after securing a $50 million investment from Silver Lake.

The company, which Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth owns a majority, still employs just over 200 people.

NFL reporter Doug Kyed was among the layoffs. Kyed had been at PFF since July 2021.

Additionally, 11 interns were also let go.

While PFF remains popular and profitable from a football analytics perspective, there had been a shift since the Silver Lake investment into attracting more sports betting and fantasy football customers. The FOS report indicated a chunk of the $50 million funding was used to develop an iPhone app.

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Sports Radio News

Laurence Holmes: Tim Jenkins Twitter Beef With Mike North Proves The Score Has Gotten Smarter

“Where now every show has a film guy. Like we’re not just out here just guessing. To a certain extent we are, but we go get confirmation and information from people who are smarter than us.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Former NFL quarterback Tim Jenkins had an interesting back and forth on Twitter with former 670 The Score host Mike North over Bears quarterback Justin Fields. Jenkins broke down a piece of film from Chicago’s game against Green Bay on Sunday, saying he didn’t agree with the notion that Fields doesn’t go through his progressions and is more of a runner.

North disagreed, saying wide receiver Dante Pettis was wide open on that particular play, and that Fields missed him.

Jenkins responded, saying North’s take was “not intellectually honest.”

In his weekly appearance on Bernstein & Holmes on The Score, Jenkins talked about the exchange not knowing North’s connection to the station.

“There’s a radio guy up there, Mike North, he was real mad,” Jenkins said. “And I tried to handle it gently because like listen, the first thing in his bio was he was born in 1952. And if my grand-pappy is on Twitter roasting somebody, I hope to handle them gently. And I tried to.”

Host Laurence Holmes said it was truly a meta moment for their show and the station. He talked about how having access to a guy like Jenkins is a sign the station, like many others have done across the country, have grown with the game.

“It speaks to the evolution of this radio station,” Holmes said. “Where now every show has a film guy. Like we’re not just out here just guessing. To a certain extent we are, but we go get confirmation and information from people who are smarter than us.”

The discussion turned to the evolution of the quarterback position in the NFL, and Holmes noted that there are some who just don’t recognize that the game has changed and called for a quarterback to be able to throw accurately but pick up yards and keep plays going with their legs.

“I’m here for the nuance, but people continue to ignore what is a trend,” Holmes said. “And I don’t mean that as a pejorative. The trend in the NFL is dual-threat quarterbacks. Look up and down the rosters.”

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