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Traug Keller and Marcia Keegan to Retire From ESPN Radio; Amanda Gifford and Dave Roberts to Manage the Network

“With Keller at the helm, ESPN Radio has become one of the most successful and respected brands in the country.”

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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 WingoThe Dan Le Batard Show with StugotzThe 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 SportsCenterGet UpHigh NoonHighly QuestionableAround 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.

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Jeff Rickard Out At WEEI

“In the memo, new Audacy Boston market manager Mike Thomas says that the station will be naming a new brand manager in the future.”

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Jeff Rickard’s tenure in Boston did not last long. Chad Finn of the Boston Globe tweeted yesterday that the WEEI brand manager has left Audacy and intends to return to Indianapolis.

Rickard was announced as the new brand manager of the legendary Boston sports talker in August. He left his role as morning show host and PD at The Fan in Indianapolis at that time.

In the memo, new Audacy Boston market manager Mike Thomas says that the station will be naming a new brand manager in the future.

In the meantime, Ken Laird has been promoted to operations manager for the station. Laird announced yesterday that this means he is leaving the Greg Hill Show, which will be on the lookout for a new producer.

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David Ortiz On WEEI: Everyone Knows Dan Shaughnessy’s An A-Hole

“He didn’t seem to take the slight personally. He also didn’t seem to think it mattered.”

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Mark Sardella

You don’t have to guess how David Ortíz feels about Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy. He is more than happy to tell you if you ask.

On Wednesday, the Hall of Fame candidate was a guest on WEEI and afternoon host Lou Merloni asked. He wanted to know how Ortíz felt about Shaughnessy saying he would never vote for the Red Sox slugger to be enshrined in Cooperstown.

“You know that Dan Shaughnessy has been an asshole to everybody,” Big Papí responded.

He didn’t seem to take the slight personally. He also didn’t seem to think it mattered.

“What can I do? Dan’s not gonna stop anything. He’s just one guy that didn’t vote for you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. But I mean, this is a guy who likes giving a hard time to everyone, so you’ve got to love him that way.”

For the record, according to BBHOFTracker.com, Ortíz has received more votes than anyone else on the ballots of the writers that have made their votes public. Time will tell if that holds up and he meets the 75% threshold for induction.

Dan Shaughnessy released his Hall of Fame ballot last week along with the rest of the Boston Globe staff. He only voted for Jeff Kent. He was the only one not to vote for Big Papí

David Ortíz will find out next week if he is in. He is one of four players with the numbers that make one think it makes sense for him to be in the Hall of Fame, but a cloud of doubt over him because of his past use of performance enhancing drugs.

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Tim Kurkjian: There Is No Right Way To Vote For The Hall Of Fame

“If I just said, look I’m not voting for anyone that has a connection to PEDs, that would be easier.”

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ESPN Images

The results of the Baseball Hall of Fame vote will be revealed next week, and ESPN MLB writer Tim Kurkjian has been on the fence about a lot of the players on the ballot.

Speaking Wednesday with Tim McKernan of 101 ESPN in St. Louis, Kurkjian said having the opportunity to elect some of baseball’s greatest players to the Hall of Fame is not lost on him. But the task of choosing players with ties to performance-enhancing drugs has been hard.

“It’s the greatest privilege I have,” he said of being a voter. “I love it, but it’s really, really difficult. I don’t think there are any right answers anymore.”

Kurkjian himself will be honored at the induction ceremony, and will be enshrined in the media wing as the winner of the Baseball Writers Association of America Career Excellence Award.

In the lead-up to the results of the voting, ESPN’s Outside the Lines is presenting a series on the Hall of Fame cases for five controversial candidates: Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.

McKernan asked Tim Kurkjian what his voting process was, and if he considers voting for players on a case-by-case basis. Kurkjian said that was indeed the case given how each player’s ties to banned substances is different, and that in his mind, doing it that way is the most balanced way of voting.

“If I just said, look I’m not voting for anyone that has a connection to PEDs, that would be easier,” he said. “But I do care, and I’m kind of trapped in the middle as I so often am.”

Some of the other voters have a more hard-lined stance. Guys like Bonds, A-Rod, Mark McGwire and others will never get a particular writer’s vote simply because they admitted to using PEDs. But Kurkjian said that’s not how he does it.

He also said others should model how he votes.

“I’m not suggesting it’s the right way, because I’m not sure there is a right way,” he said. “I just don’t think I’m wrong in what I’m doing. I’m doing the best I can, and it is a very difficult assignment these days.”

ESPN’s series will conclude on Wednesday with reaction to the results of the hall of fame vote. Tim Kurkjian will be a part of the series.

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