As COVID-19 cases are ramping up again throughout the country, so too are cost-cutting moves in the sports media industry.
On Thursday, Bonneville’s 710 ESPN Seattle announced a round of layoffs, leading to another shake-up within their lineup which has seen multiple changes in the last 15 months. On-air personalities John Clayton, Tom Wassell and Jim Moore were let go, as were behind-the-scenes contributors Matt Taylor and Scott Blumenfeld.
According to the director of programming for Bonneville Seattle Mike Salk, the cost-cutting moves are a direct result of declining ad revenue during the economic downturn stemming from COVID-19. Salk, who previously hosted morning drive for 710 accepted responsibility for the personnel changes, but by no means were these moves he wanted to make.
“Horrible day at 710 today. Hardest we’ve had. The financial effects of this virus caught up with us in a big way and that caused three great people to be laid off,” Salk wrote on Twitter. “I understand if you are upset by the changes. I take responsibility for it. One of the best things about radio is the relationship that forms between hosts and audience. It’s unique and real. We feel it just as much as you do. And it makes days like today even harder.”
For Clayton, this is the second time he’s been laid off in recent years. With 710, Clayton had been hosting their late morning show, but he previously spent a near quarter-century as an NFL reporter for ESPN. Clayton was part of a 2017 round of layoffs by ESPN which announced another 300 cuts last week.
According to the Seattle Times, Clayton will continue working as a sideline reporter for Seahawks games on KIRO. Replacing Clayton on his late morning show will be Paul Gallant, who will host a solo hour from 10 – 11am. Gallant will continue to host 710’s morning show alongside Danny O’Neil.
The 710 ESPN midday show will shift its timeslot up an hour, now filling the 11am – 2pm block, but they’ll do so without co-host Tom Wassell who was laid off Thursday after about a decade with the station. Stacy Jo Rost and Jake Heaps will continue as co-hosts of the show. Prior to working as a full-time host on 710, Wassell served as a producer for Brock and Salk.
Jim Moore is a longtime radio personality on 710, spending most of the last decade as co-host of their afternoon show. Without Moore, Bob Stelton and Dave Wyman will continue in afternoons for 710, extending their show by an hour, now airing from 2 – 6pm.
Colin Cowherd: Lincoln Riley At USC Is Good For Networks
“Colin Cowherd pointed out that when USC is a contender, LA watches.”
Colin Cowherd is a self-professed college football fan. When the sport is interesting, he talks about it. The sport may never be more interesting than when the coaching carousel is spinning.
On Mondy’s edition of The Herd on FS1 and FOX Sports Radio, Cowherd dove in on USC’s hire of Lincoln Riley. He says that it is good for college football that Riley left Oklahoma for Los Angeles.
“My phone blew up yesterday, not only because people know I’m kind of a USC honk, but network people,” Cowherd said. “They’re like ‘do you understand how big this is for networks?’”.
Colin Cowherd pointed out that when USC is a contender, LA watches. He noted that when USC lost to Texas in the 2006 Rose Bowl, ABC scored a 22.5 rating in the city.
“The networks want USC to be good. You know why? Because New York, DC, and Boston have never watched college football. Chicago does and LA does. So the Big Ten being good is good for college football TV ratings. But LA doesn’t watch college football anymore. They will now.”
As for the hard times USC has fallen on and been stuck in mostly since Pete Carroll bolted for the NFL, Cowherd is not particularly worried. He pointed out that Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, and Notre Dame were all down before they hired the right coach. Programs at the blue blood level in the sport have a way of bouncing back quickly.
Network executives are hoping Cowherd’s assessment is correct. USC is the only brand on the West Coast capable of resonating on a national level.
The Los Angeles sports landscape has changed though. When USC was a celebrity program under Pete Carroll, the city did not have an NFL team. Now it has two. The Dodgers were not annual contenders in Major League Baseball. The Lakers had stars, but the Clippers didn’t. Now both do.
Does LA love college football enough for the Trojans to turn some heads in the city with the most stars in the sports world?
Pat McAfee’s Wife Shares Couple’s Pregnancy Struggles
“Saying that now the couple is no longer able to conceive naturally, Samantha went on to tell her followers that she and Pat will be pursuing in vitro fertilization when they are ready.”
As hard as it can be as a celebrity, or as the spouse of a celebrity or popular media figure, to keep your personal life private and out of the limelight, sometimes it can be uplifting to put your personal struggles out there for all to see.
Enter Samantha McAfee, the wife of popular sports radio host Pat McAfee. Samantha took to Twitter on Monday afternoon to share a heartbreaking update on the couple’s journey to conceiving a child.
“On Tuesday, I had what we thought was a ‘normal’ miscarriage, it was painful and miserable,” Samantha wrote in part. “However, Saturday morning I woke up in extreme pain so Patrick took me to the ER. They found that I had internal bleeding again due to the pregnancy being in my (fallopian) tube and it had burst. I needed emergency surgery to remove my remaining tube.”
Samantha shared that this was not the first time she had experienced complications in the beginning weeks of a pregnancy. She said she had her right fallopian tube removed in 2020 due to an ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy where a fertilized egg implants and grows outside the main cavity of the uterus.
Saying that now the couple is no longer able to conceive naturally, Samantha went on to tell her followers that she and Pat will be pursuing in vitro fertilization when they are ready.
Additionally, McAfee noted that the point of her sharing the update was to give others who may be going through similar difficulties hope, but to also shed a light on the reality of fertility issues and emphasize that she will have a child someday.
“I KNOW I WILL BE A MOTHER somehow some way, I know Patrick and I will be the best parents we can be whenever the universe thinks it’s the right time,” she said.
AJ Hawk: You Don’t Need To Hear Me When Aaron Rodgers Is On
“I am not someone who jumps out there and has an opinion on a lot of things. That’s why we just let him talk.”
One of the more memorable interviews this year on sports radio was Pat McAfee and AJ Hawk’s conversation with Aaron Rodgers on The Pat McAfee Show shortly after Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19.
Hawk was a guest on the latest episode of The Ariel Helwani Show. He talked about how awkward it was to talk to his former teammate because he’s not into the politics of everything.
“A lot of people were super pissed we didn’t press him on certain things. It was a little awkward. I’m definitely not a political guy. I am not someone who jumps out there and has an opinion on a lot of things. That’s why we just let him talk,” AJ Hawk explained.
He realized that people didn’t tune in to hear him talk. Instead, the audience wanted to hear what Rodgers had to say so he felt he only needed to say a few words during the interview and only ask questions he felt people wanted answers to.
“If we have Aaron Rodgers on, I need no time with me on the mic. I need to say how you feeling Aaron? That should be my only thing. Trying to figure out follow-ups, I was trying to think of questions that other people would have. When Aaron came on the first day to address the situation. I said like 3 words. I wanted to hear what he had to say.”
Early on in his career with the Packers, Hawk didn’t really try to join the media. It wasn’t until he attended the NFL’s broadcast boot camp that he realized he wanted to be in the field after his playing days were over.
“It was great. They gave us homework every night. You were there 12-15 hours doing every single thing from writing scripts for prompters, calling fake games. Doing every aspect of what you can do in sports. I came away and said this is awesome. I want to dive in. I want to do this.”
AJ Hawk has been a game analyst in the past. Certainly working with Pat McAfee elevates him to a more visible place in the broadcasting world. He is certainly more of a recognizable name in the field than ever before. Being part of an interview that has been analyzed and dissected over and over again didn’t hurt either.
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