Last week Ryen Russillo confirmed on his Twitter feed that he had re-signed with ESPN, a welcome move in these parts. I’ve written often how much respect I had for the show he and Scott Van Pelt did for ESPN Radio—not only were they authentic, they didn’t toke the easy drug of lowest common denominator sports talk. Russillo also fronted college football and NBA shows on ESPN and ESPN Radio and even if you disagreed with his analysis, you come away respecting that he does the preparation. Over the weekend, I emailed him some questions, and below is our conversation verbatim:
SI.com: Why did you decide to re-sign with ESPN?
Russillo: The obvious answer is that it’s ESPN. I’ve been here almost 10 years. I’m not sure that I’ve ever felt more appreciated than now. I wanted to live in L.A. and do something different. I wanted to challenge myself and get away from the east coast after a difficult two years for my family. One of my parents got sick, then they got divorced and I was dumped 30 minutes before my show, twice. These last two years have sucked and I wanted to go swimming. I’m not bull——– you. And I miss [Fox Sports host and good friend] Charissa [Thompson]. During my time here it’s been weird. I had one manager tell me to not talk on the air during the baseball show I hosted. My favorite quote was “we need Scott to talk more but don’t feel like you need to talk less.” So I was ready for something different. But these guys have been incredible. They made me feel like they really wanted me.
SI.com: What was the deciding factor in the reason you are remaining at ESPN?
Russillo: I like it here. I honestly love coming to work each day.
Also, more television exposure, which has been an issue in the past. I love talking NBA and wanted a chance to do that more. I was the first person at ESPN to say that LeBron was going back to Cleveland that week. That was sourced information. I said all season Kevin Love was re-signing with Cleveland. I sit on all this info because it doesn’t always work well for a radio segment. TV will help with this.
SI.com: What has management told you about your role on ESPN Radio heading forward?
Russillo: They haven’t said anything except to keep doing what I’m doing. I know the numbers for Scott and I were really good the last few years. Maybe that continues, maybe it doesn’t. But I feel really lucky to be trusted to keep this going.
SI.com: Is it your preference to work solo at ESPN Radio, or to work with a partner?
Russillo: A partner. Solo radio is the hardest thing to do in this business. It’s harder than anchoring, play by play, writing for a deadline. It’s not even close. I’ve done all of these things. There are times I’d rather an interview be solo or a time I have something to say where I don’t want anyone else getting in. But for the most part I’m better listening to someone I respect and making it a conversation. [Colin] Cowherd doesn’t get enough credit for this. We don’t take calls because calls are terrible. Three hours solo is tough to pull off. In the past I think I was good solo for 1/3 shows and I wasn’t doing it regularly so that made it worse. The scariest feeling ever is being on the air and realize you are boring as “F” and you wish you could change the channel on yourself. When I get older I just want to take calls for five hours and tell people how tough my job is. Calls are a crutch.
SI.com: How much television will you do as part of this new deal?
Russillo: A lot. It took a long time. [Executive vice president] John Wildhack really changed things for me here. He pushed to get me on TV two years ago and I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that. I did TV for the Celtics for six years. I was doing post-game for the NBA Finals in 2008 sitting next to Tommy Heinsohn. [Comcast SportsNet New England news director] Kevin Miller in Boston took a chance on me and I’ll always be grateful for that. People were like “who is this guy?” But it worked, so I always wanted that to be part of my future.
Credit to Sports Illustrated who originally published this article
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
David Schultz Out At 105.5 WNSP
“I had a blast covering the Jaguars, Tide & Tigers, Saints, and high school sports and then sharing my opinions.”
WNSP is looking for a new afternoon show. A source tells Barrett Sports Media that David Schultz has been let go.
Schultz served as the Program Director as well as the host of The Game Plan in afternoon drive. Michael Brauner has been his co-host since last April.
David Schultz came to Mobile in August of 2019, replacing Creg Stephenson and Randy Kennedy, who is now heard on crosstown rival Sports Talk 99.5. Before coming to Alabama, Schultz hosted mornings on 103.7 The Game in Lafayette, Louisiana. He is also a former contributor to WQAM in Miami.
“To the listeners of WNSP, it has been my honor and pleasure driving you home from work since August of 2019,” he wrote on Twitter. “I had a blast covering the Jaguars, Tide & Tigers, Saints, and high school sports and then sharing my opinions. I appreciated your patience as it took this ‘yankee’ a bit to get used to his surroundings. Thank you very much for bringing me into your homes, cars, and phones.”
The station’s permanent afternoon plans are far from solidified. BSM has learned that Mark Heim — who currently hosts The Opening Kickoff on the station — will cover the shift in the interim.
Audacy, New York Mets Announce Addition of Keith Raad, Pat McCarthy
“The Mets are excited to have Keith and Pat join WCBS 880 as part of the Mets broadcast.”
Raad joins the crew after spending last season announcing games for the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Mets single-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League. He has also been the voice of Wagner University football and women’s basketball since 2017.
McCarthy — the son of Philadelphia Phillies television voice Tom McCarthy — has served as the voice of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the AAA-affiliate of the Phillies. He has filled in on Phillies broadcasts during the past two seasons, in addition to working as a football, and men’s/women’s basketball announcer for Princeton and St. Joseph’s Universities.
“The Mets are excited to have Keith and Pat join WCBS 880 as part of the Mets broadcast,” said Andy Goldberg, Executive Vice President, and Chief Marketing Officer, New York Mets. “Having Keith called up from Brooklyn, and being a local New Yorker to keep it in the family is what the Mets are all about.”
Raad will serve as the play-by-play and color commentator on the club’s broadcasts, while McCarthy will host the pregame and postgame shows, and step into the play-by-play role held by Howie Rose during select broadcasts.
“As we round the bases towards Spring Training, we’re proud to officially welcome Keith Raad and Pat McCarthy to our popular coverage of Mets baseball alongside Mets Hall of Famer Howie Rose,” said Chris Oliviero, Market President, Audacy New York. “Once again, the Mets offseason has created anticipation and optimism for the 2023 Amazins’ and we’re looking forward to being the audio home for every moment on-air and digitally.”
ESPNU, SiriusXM End Partnership, Channel 84 Rebrands as SiriusXM College Sports Radio
“Beyond the name and branding, nothing else for the channel has changed.”
SiriusXM still has a college sports radio station on its platform. It’s just called something different now.
A report from Cord Cutters News confirmed that ESPNU and SiriusXM have ended their partnership. Channel 84, which used to be known as SiriusXM ESPNU Radio, is now known as SiriusXM College Sports Radio.
ESPNU had been with the satellite radio provider since 2017. The channel itself, which has been on the Sirius lineup since 2010, was called SiriusXM College Sports Nation when it first launched.
Beyond the name and branding, nothing else for the channel has changed. Listeners can still tune in to hear hosts like Danny Kanell, Dusty Dvoracek, Rick Neuheisel and EJ Manuel, as well as live college sports play-by-play broadcasts.
The move doesn’t end ESPN’s partnership with Sirius. Cord Cutters noted that College GameDay will still be fully simulcasted on channel 81, which is ESPN Xtra.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.