Big changes are underway at the ESPN Radio Network. The longtime SVP of ESPN Radio and the ESPN Talent Office, Traug Keller, has announced he’s retiring. Keller is expected to help the network thru a transition before stepping away from daily activity sometime next month.
With Keller at the helm, ESPN Radio has become one of the most successful and respected brands in the country. Under his watch, ESPNRadio.com became the most listened to live stream of any terrestrial broadcaster in the world, reaching more than 700,000 unique listeners per month. He’s also led the expansion of the ESPN Audio brand to the ESPN apps, SiriusXM, Apple Music, Slacker Radio, TuneIn.
During his time with the network, Keller has had direct oversight of all aspects of ESPN Audio’s business including talent, staffing, national programming content, scheduling, and event production. In May 2016, he added the responsibility of managing the ESPN Talent Office, which is responsible for recruiting and retaining ESPN’s more than 1,000 on-air personnel.
Prior to joining ESPN, Traug served as the President of ABC Radio Networks, leading all aspects of network programming, affiliate relations, engineering, finance, research, IT, international programming, and marketing. Prior to his time at ABC, Keller worked as a sales manager in New York for the CBS Radio Networks, and held marketing and sales positions with the New York Times.
Also retiring from the company is Marcia Keegan. Keegan worked for the company in the early 1980’s and returned for a second run in 2007. She recently served as vice president of national radio programming and production following stints as the vice president of production, and vice president of content integration & strategic planning. Most recently, she oversaw the network’s weekday shows First and Last, Golic and Wingo, The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, The Stephen A. Smith Show, The Will Cain Show, Spain and Fitz, Freddie and Fitzsimmons, and SportsCenter AllNight.
In an email distributed today to ESPN employees, executive vice president of event and studio production Norby Williamson said, “Both Traug and Marcia have been pivotal in successfully leading the Audio division to continued growth in a dynamically changing industry.”
To fill Keller and Keegan’s roles at the network, ESPN will turn to the team of Dave Roberts and Amanda Gifford. Both have prior experience working with ESPN Audio and ESPN television. They’re both well respected, talented professionals with a lengthy track record inside the company.
Roberts, currently serves as the Vice President of Production at ESPN, overseeing production of First Take, the 6pm ET SportsCenter, Get Up, High Noon, Highly Questionable, Around the Horn & Pardon the Interruption. He is directly responsible for 35 hours of programming per week on ESPN’s airwaves.
Previously, Roberts held the title of vice president of ESPN Audio network content, leading a group focused on strategy for national talk and play-by-play content. Roberts had a big role in bringing Bomani Jones to the network, and added shows such as espnW Presents: The Trifecta, Izzy & Spain, and The Morning Roast.
His experience includes time spent in New York as the general manager of ESPN Radio New York 98.7FM. He’s also held roles as senior coordinating producer of studio production for ESPNEWS, and coordinating producer for ESPNEWS, SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight. He joined ESPN after 25 years in local news, both in front of and behind the camera.
Gifford on the other hand started her career at ESPN Radio in 2004 as an intern, advancing to a producer role on ‘The Herd’ with Colin Cowherd, before taking the plunge into management. She currently serves as Coordinating Producer II, overseeing content planning and strategy for SportsCenter and the network’s studio shows. Her responsibilities include managing ESPN’s Talent Producers, and having direct oversight of guests booked on the network’s key shows and platforms.
Prior to her promotion to the CP role in February 2019, Gifford worked in the ESPN Talent Office, handling all talent matters related to SportsCenter, ESPNEWS, ESPN Radio, ESPN2’s daytime shows, MLB, NBA, Soccer, Golf and Tennis. Part of her role included assisting with contracts, and helping to recruit talent.
But radio is where Gifford first earned her stripes as a manager. As the network’s Senior Director of daytime programs, she oversaw the content, production staffs, talent and operations of “Mike and Mike,” “The Dan Le Batard show with Stugotz,” and “Russillo and Kanell.“ She also managed other programs such as “College GameDay,” “GameNight,” “The Erik Kuselias Show,” “The John Kincade Show” and “The V Show” with Bob Valvano. Gifford has also been heavily involved in the planning, organizing, and executing of the annual ‘Don’t Ever Give Up V Foundation Auction’.
Though Roberts and Gifford are taking on the responsibility of running the ESPN Audio division, both will remain involved in their current roles on the television side as well.
Last but certainly not least, the network has confirmed that Tim McCarthy, ESPN Audio’s Senior VP and GM, and head boss at 98.7 ESPN NY will take over GM duties of ESPN LA 710 in addition to continuing to operate 98.7 ESPN NY and managing network play by play. Scott McCarthy, who’s managed the L.A. brand in addition to holding a VP and GM role with ESPN Audio, will shift his focus to overseeing business operations for the audio division, which includes network ad sales, affiliates, marketing, digital, and podcasting.
Barrett Sports Media congratulates Traug and Marcia on all of their accomplishments with the company, and Dave, Amanda, Tim and Scott on their new opportunities.
KNBR’s ‘Murph and Mac’ Talk Barry Bonds’ Baseball Hall of Fame Exclusion
The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly joined the show to explain Hall of Fame balloting in baseball’s steroid era.
Amid the current team owners’ lockout, now the longest in Major League Baseball history, the sport is still generating publicity. But the headlines have nothing to do with the labor dispute between the owners and players.
Generating debate is the controversial omission of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens from being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in their final year of eligibility.
This year, 394 members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voted in the election, with former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz being the only player on the ballot to surprass the required 75 percent threshold. Ortiz received 77.9 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility.
Bonds and Clemens both allegedly used performance-enhancing drugs during their careers, significantly impacting their candidacies for baseball immortality. There was outrage in many corners of the baseball world Tuesday night following the announcement, and widespread disappointment from fans of the game who feel that an apparent “blemish” on baseball history is trying to be forcibly erased rather than remembered.
On Wednesday morning, Murph & Mac on San Francisco’s KNBR welcomed The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly to their program to discuss the exclusion of Bonds from Cooperstown and the negative perception the voting process is receiving by members of the media and fans alike.
“In 2014, the Hall of Fame sort of unilaterally changed its rules and reduced the time you can be on the writers’ ballot from 15 years to 10,” Baggarly explained. “There’s no doubt that was intentional to clear the way for steroid-era players that would otherwise linger on the ballot forever.”
Bonds is widely regarded as one of the best hitters to ever take the field, and is baseball’s current record holder for both the most career home runs (762) and the most single-season home runs (73). He also won the National League Most Valuable Player award a record seven times, also receiving 14 All-Star Game selections and 12 Silver Slugger awards.
“When I hear guys like Chris Russo tsk-tsk… Bonds for using steroids, [I say] ‘What, are you kidding me?’” said Brian Murphy, co-host of the Bay Area morning drive program. “How widespread it was in the game, how owners and GMs and team presidents never told players that they would be facing penalties and kept giving them money, and everyone collectively participated? Now, [it’s] ‘No, Mr. Bonds, you can’t do that.’”
For those who are not members of the BBWAA, the perception of the Hall of Fame announcement has generated negative publicity for Major League Baseball during an already-contentious negotiation towards a new collective bargaining agreement. Baseball’s all-time home run leader in Bonds and a seven-time Cy Young Award winner are barred from Cooperstown – for now.
There is another way in, but it is sure to cause even more public controversy, according to Baggarly.
“Now [Bonds] goes to the committees,” outlined Baggarly. “All of [these] committees meet twice every five-year period. It just so happens that the Today’s Game Committee will meet at the Winter Meetings in December… and they can consider as many as 10 individuals [for the Hall of Fame]… Can you imagine if the panel who elected Commissioner Bud Selig will be the same people who don’t elect Bonds? If you think the writers are getting blasted, just wait.”
Parker Hillis Upped To APD At 104.3 The Fan
“Hillis has been at The Fan since April of 2019.”
All on-air talent at 104.3 the Fan in Denver now reports to Parker Hillis. He has been promoted to become the assistant program director of that station and ESPN Denver 1600.
“Parker has been critical to the success of our Bonneville Denver sports properties,” 104.3 The Fan and ESPN Denver 1600 Program Director Raj Sharan said in a press release. “He’s absolutely earned this opportunity to take on increased responsibilities managing our sports stations on a daily basis.”
Hillis has been at The Fan since April of 2019. He came from Dallas, where he worked for Audacy’s 105.3 The Fan.
With the promotion, the station is now looking for a new executive producer. Parker Hillis will oversee that search.
“I’m excited to work with our hosts in a greater capacity on a day-to-day basis,” Hillis said. “The opportunity to lead collaborative efforts among our amazingly talented team is truly an honor.”
Doug Gottlieb Calls Out Jeff Passan, Others Arguing For Barry Bonds in Hall of Fame
“Tell me a museum that puts an artist in it who cheated, who takes credit for what someone else did. Do you think it would hang in the Louvre?”
The Baseball Hall of Fame election results were announced Tuesday evening with some big names up for induction. Most notably, David Ortiz was elected while longtime nominees Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds were once again snubbed.
Many fans and media personalities believe Bonds specifically should have been inducted because of his on-the-field accolades and achievements. They seem to believe his alleged steroid usage is irrelevant. or at least not worth the snub.
Doug Gottlieb, on his Fox Sports Radio show, took the Hall of Fame’s side and called out ESPN’s Jeff Passan, who advocated for Bonds on television. The host used several analogies to explain why society does not honor those who have cheated in their respective fields.
“The core of what you are as an athlete is how hard you work,” said Gottlieb. “You’ve got natural ability, how can you get better, and at some point you come to that end. Clemens and Bonds robbed Father Time, and they robbed baseball. Shame on you, Jeff Passan, calling it a museum. Tell me a museum that puts an artist in it who cheated, who takes credit for what someone else did. Do you think it would hang in the Louvre?”
Gottlieb makes a strong argument. As he mentioned, Bonds not only broke the rules but was also caught. While other players who used steroids may have snuck in somehow, Gottlieb compared it to being pulled over for speeding.
“It’s like you get caught speeding,” he said, “somebody else was going 90 and zips past you five minutes before you were speeding, and you’re sitting there going like ‘Yeah, I was speeding but that guy was going faster.’ That doesn’t actually work in real life.”
You can listen to the rest of Gottlieb’s thoughts at the Fox Sports Radio website.
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