On Monday, Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reported significant changes could be on the horizon for ESPN Radio. While personalities such as Will Cain and Trey Wingo have previously been mentioned as candidates to leave ESPN Radio, Marchand added Dan Le Batard’s name to that list.
“There is a feeling among many that his program does not mesh with the tastes of Norby Williamson, who is ESPN’s executive vice president and the point person on ESPN Radio’s programming,” Marchand wrote in the story. “Le Batard does more of a variety show rather than strictly sports.”
Naturally, Le Batard’s tendency to stray from sports, combined with the fact that there are no sports right now, led the ESPN Radio host to address Marchand’s report, calling the story “weird” and “false.” Ryan Glasspiegel of Outkick The Coverage posted the segment of Le Batard discussing the “false” story to YouTube.
“Anybody who’s followed us at ESPN knows that I negotiate freedom, not money. I negotiate the ability, as a child of exile, to talk about the things I want to talk about. And so, the idea that there would be a newspaper story, and that any executive would have any issue, would have a problem with me commenting on a newspaper story about us, when I’m in the radio content business, I’m not really going to ignore that one,” Le Batard said.
“When the story is not flattering to us, when ESPN’s fired an employee (Adnan Virk) for talking to the media about stuff, and then you get a weird story in the New York Post during a pandemic talking about whether we’re going to be here any more when we’ve got two-and-a-half years of an expensive contract that makes it kind of ridiculous, the whole story. To not talk about it, it is one of the objections I’ve always had. ESPN doesn’t like to cover itself the way it covers others, but hell if you’re going to do that to me.
“I’m a journalist, they wrote a story about us. I called some people, they said it’s not true, they said it’s false, it’s a false story.”
Le Batard did note his past disagreements with ESPN. “We’ve always fought with parts of the regime at ESPN,” he said of the idea that he should “stick to sports,” rather than have serious discussions about things such as journalism and race.
As the bearer of a prominent media platform, there have been numerous times Le Batard veered from sports to discuss a topic he feels should be addressed. Last summer, he famously called the behavior of a crowd at a rally for President Trump “un-American.” In the same rant, he called out his own network’s past reaction to its talent talking about political stories saying ESPN hasn’t “had the stomach for that fight” and described ESPN’s policy for discussing politics as requiring “some sort of weak cowardly sports angle that we can run it through.”
Le Batard avoided suspension for the incident. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro even expressed his support for the outspoken host after multiple meetings. According to an article by Ben Strauss of The Washington Post, Le Batard said that he would “check with the higher-ups” before addressing such stories in the future.
Le Batard signed a four-year deal with ESPN during the summer of 2018, making it unlikely that he would be nearing a departure from the network, but Marchand didn’t report a full parting of the ways for Le Batard and ESPN. The New York Post report acknowledged Le Batard’s contract status when stating he could leave radio.
There’s a difference between leaving ESPN Radio and leaving ESPN. If ESPN Radio does indeed undergo an overhaul in the coming months, Le Batard could be impacted by those changes and still continue to be an important contributor to The Worldwide Leader.
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
Jeremy White: Ryan Fitzpatrick Will Be Shirtless On Amazon Prime Video Tonight
“They start the broadcast, and Fitz is seated at the table, shirtless.”
Thursday Night Football will feature the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots. Last year during the dead of winter, Amazon Prime Video analyst Ryan Fitzpatrick — then just a retired player — was seen in the Buffalo crowd shirtless. WGR morning host Jeremy White believes you’ll see that scene recreated during tonight’s broadcast.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they have Fitz on there talking about his experience in that game, being there shirtless,” White said. “Fitz is on the studio panel with Richard Sherman, Tony Gonzalez, and Andrew Whitworth. Best broadcast in the league. If you haven’t had the chance to see an Amazon Prime game, you get it on channel 7 tonight. I think it is the best broadcast in the league and it’s because the players are fresh out of the league. It’s not constant conversations about how you gotta be careful on fourth down and run the ball.”
“No one on there is afraid to say anything,” Joe DiBiase said, filling in for Howard Simon. “Al Michaels doesn’t feel afraid to say anything, by the way. He criticizes the game almost every week. He might be like ‘Oh thank god, the Bills. Just get me away from the Commanders and the Bears. I’m sick of 13-10.’ The happiest person might be Al Michaels.”
White later said he received a text asking what the odds were that Fitz would be shirtless on the studio set. “They start the broadcast, and Fitz is seated at the table, shirtless,” White said, adding if Adam Schefter was seen shirtless earlier this season during a pregame show then it’s almost a certainty Fitzpatrick will do the same.
Evan Roberts: Boomer Esiason Was Taking Shot at Craig Carton With FS1 Dig
“He said they only put the stuff no one cares about on FS1. And he did it with his Boomer smile where I knew what he was mentioning.”
WFAN afternoon host Evan Roberts was listening to the station’s morning show, Boomer & Gio, and heard what he believed was a slight towards his current co-host Craig Carton Wednesday from Boomer Esiason.
“I heard Boomer this morning taking some shots at you. I did not like it,” Roberts said. “Did not like it. Big shots at my partner. He made a comment about how FOX puts stuff that no one cares about on FS1. And he meant that directly at you.”
“First off, he wouldn’t say that,” replied Carton.
“He said it. I listened. He said they only put the stuff no one cares about on FS1,” Roberts reiterated. “And he did it with his Boomer smile where I knew what he was mentioning. He wasn’t talking about anything other than his old, dear friend Craig. What a cheap shot.”
Carton, who hosts The Carton Show each weekday morning on FS1, said no one must have been listening to Boomer’s attack because he didn’t get any tweets or emails about it.
“Boomer’s probably listening — because he does listen to us — and he’s probably smiling saying ‘Evan’s right!’,” Roberts said before laughing out loud.
“If he did say it — next time — I’ll just ask a favor,” Carton asked of Esiason. “Reminder your listeners that I am on FS1 from 7:00-9:30 AM, but only until 9:00 AM this week because of World Cup soccer. If you’re gonna take a shot, it allows me to promote it. And I don’t promote it here.”
A caller later told Carton & Roberts the exact moment, down to the minute, of when Esiason made the quip about FS1. Producers then pulled up the clip, which they played on the air.
After hearing the clip, Carton joked FOX puts they stuff they don’t care about on FS2 before asking “Now I gotta figure out, do I respond or not? Or do I just let it go?” before concluding that he’s more mature than making a response.
Fred Toucher Tells Paul Finebaum: Your Greatest Talent Is Not Losing It On Callers
“What you’re actually taught in radio — and not to the benefit of people — is to move things along and cut people off.”
98.5 The Sports Hub morning show Toucher & Rich has frequently pointed out the absurdity of callers into The Paul Finebaum Show. Thursday morning, the Boston show welcomed in the southern college football host to discuss what makes his show tick.
“I can’t tell you how big a thrill this is for me, because I didn’t realize how funny our show was until I started listening to you guys,” Finebaum joked.
“Part of the brilliance of your show is you just let these people go,” Fred Toucher said. “For those that don’t know, the instinct in what you’re actually taught in radio — and not to the benefit of people — is to move things along and cut people off. At what point did you realize ‘I’m just gonna let these dudes talk and see where they take it’?”
“I listened to all these radio goobs — I mean all these people in the corner office — tell us how to do it and I realized I can’t do that. I didn’t have the radio voice, I didn’t have the style, I didn’t have the energy. So I just sat there and literally listened to callers ramble on and I started to find the humor in it.
“It hit me one day that these people don’t have a voice,” Finebaum continued. “Especially in the south where we don’t have six or seven professional sports franchises. Callers started becoming famous and becoming a part of the show. We started having lunches with them for Christmas and various other things and days and I think we realized what we had and we made the most of it. Some of these callers really defy logic. I think I’ve given four or five eulogies at various callers funerals and I think that there’s a connection there.”
Finebaum then mentioned one of his more notorious callers, Legend. The caller actually spent more than 20 years in prison after shooting someone six times. Toucher said Legend has actually called into their show but they have never taken his call.
“We don’t take Legend because we’re not gonna do as good a job with him,” Toucher said. “I told our producer, I do not want to take Legend.”
“Paul’s a master with him,” Rich Shertenlieb added.