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.
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.
Tim Allen Joins 97.3 The Game
It took Tim Allen just over 24 hours to find a new job after being laid off by 1250 The Fan‘s during Audacy’s round of cuts.
Allen tweeted he’s joining iHeartMedia’s 97.3 The Game to continue his long running Milwaukee Brewers postgame shows. Allen worked for 1250 The Fan for 17 years before being cut Tuesday.
97.3 The Game announced this news this morning during The Steve Czaban Show.
“It has been a crazy few days. I will just say that,” Allen said during his appearance. “Change is something that people handle a little bit differently and, man, what a run. It really was…I’m excited for this change.”
Bill Schmid noted how influential Allen was in starting his career. Schmid also said when he got the news of Allen’s departure from 1250 The Fan, he sent a text to his boss that just said “Tim Allen” and Allen’s phone number.
Jason Martin Exits 104.5 The Zone
According to reports, Jason Martin has been removed from 104.5 The Zone’s morning show.
According to reports, Jason Martin has been removed from Nashville’s 104.5 The Zone morning show.
The station website now shows Ramon Foster as the sole host from 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM, while Twitter users claim the station’s Buck Reising said Martin is no longer with the station.
The morning show’s former Twitter handle @JMartAndRamon no longer exists, being replaced by @RamonAndWill, appearing to pair Ramon Foster with producer Will Boling.
Martin joined 104. The Zone’s morning show in August of 2020, and agreed to a multi-year contract in September of that year.
This is a developing story. More information will be added when available.
Portland Trail Blazers TV, Radio Broadcasts To Call Away Games Remotely
Rip City Radio 620’s Dwight Jaynes confirmed a rumor co-host Chad Doing mentioned on the air that he had been told the Blazers broadcasters would announce away games remotely for the upcoming season.
Portland Trail Blazers broadcasters will have a different vantage point for away games during the 2022-2023 season.
Rip City Radio 620‘s Dwight Jaynes confirmed a rumor co-host Chad Doing mentioned on the air that he had been told the Blazers broadcasters would announce away games remotely for the upcoming season.
“They will not be sending radio or television on the road with their team,” Jaynes said. “Also, what I’ve heard and I’ve tried to check this out, I have not found any other team in the league that’s doing this.”
On Twitter, a user asked Jaynes if potentially the broadcast crew asked to not travel, which Jaynes said did not happen while noting the broadcasters will “enjoy more time at home”.
Kevin Calabro and Lamar Hurd make up the Trail Blazers television crew on ROOT Sports, while Travis Demers serves as the radio play-by-play announcer. Rip City Radio 620 is the flagship of the Trail Blazers Radio Network.