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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.”

Jason Barrett

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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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Mark Schlereth: Level of Intrigue for ‘Receiver’ on Netflix is ‘Not Less Than Zero, Although It’s Close’

“It’s not zero.”

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Mark Schlereth
Courtesy: FOX Sports

Netflix recently released the trailer for Receiver, a 10-part docuseries produced by NFL Films, Omaha Productions and 2PM Productions that will premiere on July 10. The show features NFL stars Davante Adams, Justin Jefferson, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Amon-Ra St. Brown, giving viewers a look into their lives on and off the gridiron. The series is a sequel to Quarterback, which premiered last summer and received stellar reviews from a large faction of viewers when it highlighted quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes, Kirk Cousins and Marcus Mariota. Mat Smith, who was filling in for Mike Evans on Friday’s edition of Schlereth and Evans, mentioned the series as part of the show’s “4 Down Territory” segment in which they discuss key topics from the world of football.

Smith outlined that the show had problems getting more quarterbacks to commit last year and could not really pull off the concept because of its intensity. The show, however, did exhibit parts of their personal lives and ended up following Mahomes as he won Super Bowl LVII from State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Heading into the new season, Smith was curious to get Schlereth’s perspective on the level of intrigue he had in the sequel.

“It’s not zero,” Schlereth said. “It’s not less than zero, although it’s close.”

Schlereth played 12 seasons in the NFL as an offensive lineman and currently serves as a broadcast analyst for FOX Sports in addition to co-hosting morning drive on Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan. Smith then asked him if he would be interested should the third season of the show be titled Offensive Lineman and presumably follow athletes in that position.

“Zero,” Schlereth said. “Yeah, I already did that – I lived that. That was the thing with the Quarterback thing. Everybody was like, ‘Oh, you got to watch this, you got to watch it. Oh, it’s unbelievable, you’ve got to watch it,’ and so I was like, ‘Alright, I’ll watch one episode,’ and I watched it and I was completely bored with it.”

Since he was a former NFL player, Schlereth did not need for the program to divulge what happens behind the scenes. In fact, he was somewhat indifferent towards the whole venture, not really finding it interesting for him because he previously lived in a similar situation. To close the segment, Smith wanted to know if his interest would change if the series was simply called Schlereth and ostensibly chronicled his life along the same premise.

“I think it would be the worst show ever produced on television,” Schlereth said, “because you would think you were getting into something really juicy and you realize how freaking boring I am.”

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Caroline Fenton Announces She is Leaving 102.5 The Game

“Please bear with me today as I work through the emotions of leaving a place that has become my home with people that grew into family.”

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Logo for 102.5 The Game in Nashville and a photo of Caroline Fenton
Photo Courtesy: 102.5 The Game

Caroline Fenton, who has been a part of 102.5 The Game in Nashville since 2021, announced today on her X account that today will be her last day with the station. She did not say what she’d be doing next but said she would announce that soon.

Fenton’s announcement said, “Today is my last day at 102.5 The Game. Please bear with me today as I work through the emotions of leaving a place that has become my home with people that grew into family. I’ve felt so much love this week, so thank you.”

Fenton joined the station in 2021 as part of the Stillman & Company show in afternoon drive. When the station shuffled its lineup around in January 2023, Fenton was moved to middays where she has been part of Caroline, Willy & DMase with Willy Daunic and former Tennessee Titans wide receiver Derrick Mason.

Fenton came to Nashville from ESPN in Bristol, CT where she created content and contributed on-air as a social/digital video producer. She is a native of St. Louis and a graduate of LSU.

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Sean Pendergast: I Didn’t Know Brian Windhorst Had This in Him

“He destroyed Luka in the postgame after Game 3.”

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Brian Windhorst
Courtesy: Juan Ocampo, ESPN Images

The Boston Celtics are preparing to take the court Friday night with a 3-0 series lead in the NBA Finals, only needing to secure one more victory to obtain the 18th championship in franchise history. Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Dončić, who helped lead the team to the NBA Finals with a strong postseason performance, has struggled throughout the series and been on the receiving end of criticism about his conduct and play on the court. Seth Payne and Sean Pendergast of SportsRadio 610 in Houston spoke about how Dončić was evoking a similar sentiment to that of former Rockets guard James Harden in that he is an offensive-minded player who demonstrates minimal effort on the defensive end.

Payne expressed that Rockets fans had been frustrated that Dončić would be praised for his style of play while Harden would be somewhat castigated over the years. The plaudits that he has received though seems to have taken a turn amid this series because of the lackluster play.

“This is not a great Finals – [it] could get closed out tonight – and Luka in Game 3 was a mess,” Pendergast said. “He’s arguing with the refs, he’s arguing with his bench… yelling like a child at his coaches. Not a good look.”

The criticism of Dončić from ESPN senior NBA writer Brian Windhorst on SportsCenter with SVP gained notoriety on Wednesday night because of the tone used and the way in which Dončić was called out for carrying himself. The Payne & Pendergast morning drive show played audio of Windhorst delivering his analysis of what occurred on the court and the sentiment surrounding the team.

“Brian Windhorst, man,” Pendergast said. “I didn’t know Windhorst had this in him. He destroyed Luka in the postgame after Game 3.”

Windhorst believed that Dončić put himself in an unacceptable position fouling out of Game 3, specifically in how he looked at his bench after committing his sixth foul and stating that they “better bleeping challenge it.” Within his report, he stated that he was standing in the Mavericks tunnel and that the winners are within the Celtics tunnel and then referenced what Dončić would have to do in order to render the Mavericks tunnel the location of the winners.

“His defensive performance is unacceptable – he is a hole on the court; the Celtics are attacking him,” Windhorst said. “They are ahead in this series because they have attacked him defensively, and you’ve got a situation here where Luka’s complaining about the officiating. They have begged him – they have talked with him, they have pleaded with him. He is costing his team because of how he treats the officials.”

Windhorst continued to voice that Dončić was going to have to get over it, but the fact that he blamed the officials after the game demonstrated to him that he is not close. The performance he had in Game 3 is one that Windhorst called “unacceptable” and attributed it to a reason as to why the Mavericks are not going to win.

“So maybe over the summer somebody will get to him because nobody with the Mavericks or anybody else in his life has, and that’s where the Mavericks are at this point,” Windhorst said. “They’re never going to get to this tunnel with the trophy if he doesn’t improve those aspects of his game.”

The comments from Windhorst elicited further discussion on SportsRadio 610 about the similarities and differences between Dončić and Harden. Whereas Dončić is gaining a reputation for complaining to the officials, Payne conveyed that Harden was “surgical” in his understanding of how to create fouls during the game. Although everyone in the league “begs for calls at some point,” according to Payne, he never recalled Harden having an issue with the officials throughout an entire series.

“If they get swept out of the Finals, that’s going to be a huge story,” Pendergast said. “That’s going to hover over him all summer, like the poor performance in the Finals [and] just the complete fade. You could argue Luka would have been better off playing heroically in a seven-game loss in the Conference Finals than making it to the Finals and getting destroyed.”

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