On Monday, Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reported significant changes could be on the horizon for ESPN Radio. While personalities such as Will Cain and Trey Wingo have previously been mentioned as candidates to leave ESPN Radio, Marchand added Dan Le Batard’s name to that list.
“There is a feeling among many that his program does not mesh with the tastes of Norby Williamson, who is ESPN’s executive vice president and the point person on ESPN Radio’s programming,” Marchand wrote in the story. “Le Batard does more of a variety show rather than strictly sports.”
Naturally, Le Batard’s tendency to stray from sports, combined with the fact that there are no sports right now, led the ESPN Radio host to address Marchand’s report, calling the story “weird” and “false.” Ryan Glasspiegel of Outkick The Coverage posted the segment of Le Batard discussing the “false” story to YouTube.
“Anybody who’s followed us at ESPN knows that I negotiate freedom, not money. I negotiate the ability, as a child of exile, to talk about the things I want to talk about. And so, the idea that there would be a newspaper story, and that any executive would have any issue, would have a problem with me commenting on a newspaper story about us, when I’m in the radio content business, I’m not really going to ignore that one,” Le Batard said.
“When the story is not flattering to us, when ESPN’s fired an employee (Adnan Virk) for talking to the media about stuff, and then you get a weird story in the New York Post during a pandemic talking about whether we’re going to be here any more when we’ve got two-and-a-half years of an expensive contract that makes it kind of ridiculous, the whole story. To not talk about it, it is one of the objections I’ve always had. ESPN doesn’t like to cover itself the way it covers others, but hell if you’re going to do that to me.
“I’m a journalist, they wrote a story about us. I called some people, they said it’s not true, they said it’s false, it’s a false story.”
Le Batard did note his past disagreements with ESPN. “We’ve always fought with parts of the regime at ESPN,” he said of the idea that he should “stick to sports,” rather than have serious discussions about things such as journalism and race.
As the bearer of a prominent media platform, there have been numerous times Le Batard veered from sports to discuss a topic he feels should be addressed. Last summer, he famously called the behavior of a crowd at a rally for President Trump “un-American.” In the same rant, he called out his own network’s past reaction to its talent talking about political stories saying ESPN hasn’t “had the stomach for that fight” and described ESPN’s policy for discussing politics as requiring “some sort of weak cowardly sports angle that we can run it through.”
Le Batard avoided suspension for the incident. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro even expressed his support for the outspoken host after multiple meetings. According to an article by Ben Strauss of The Washington Post, Le Batard said that he would “check with the higher-ups” before addressing such stories in the future.
Le Batard signed a four-year deal with ESPN during the summer of 2018, making it unlikely that he would be nearing a departure from the network, but Marchand didn’t report a full parting of the ways for Le Batard and ESPN. The New York Post report acknowledged Le Batard’s contract status when stating he could leave radio.
There’s a difference between leaving ESPN Radio and leaving ESPN. If ESPN Radio does indeed undergo an overhaul in the coming months, Le Batard could be impacted by those changes and still continue to be an important contributor to The Worldwide Leader.
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
ESPN Radio 94.1 Sells Station Naming Rights To Priority Automotive Group
“The programming on the station does not change.”
Max Media has found an interesting new revenue stream in Virginia Beach. ESPN Radio 94.1 has sold its naming rights. The station has rebranded as Priority Auto Sports Radio 94.1.
“This is an important partnership for us,” said Priority Automotive COO Matt Elmer. “At Priority Automotive we think sports ties everyone together, so this is a great opportunity for us to be a voice in the community and partner with the number one voice for sports in Hampton Roads, ESPN 94.1.”
The programming on the station does not change. Listeners in the 757 will still hear the nationally syndicated ESPN Radio lineup except for in afternoon drive when The Tim Donnelly Show is on the air.
“The partnership between ESPN 94.1 and Priority Automotive is a natural evolution for both companies,” President and Market Manager Keith Barton added. “From the many youth organizations to college teams, Priority Automotive Has been dedicated to sports in Hampton Roads for decades. Max Media is incredibly proud to be partnered with such a class organization.”
Priority Automotive owns 17 car dealerships across Virginia.
SiriusXM Plots Super Bowl LVII Coverage
“SiriusXM will deliver fans around the country the unique mix of sports, music and entertainment programming that you can only find on SiriusXM.”
SiriusXM has announced its extensive plans for coverage of Super Bowl LVII and the events leading up to the big game.
A dedicated Super Bowl pop-up channel on SiriusXM Channel 104 will be just one of the avenues SiriusXM plans to cover the event. Amber Theoharis will conduct interviews with players, and personalities making their way through Radio Row throughout the week that will air on the pop-up channel.
Mad Dog Sports Radio will have a large presence on Radio Row, with shows hosted by Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, Adam Schein, Dusty Dvoracek, Danny Kanell, and Steve Torre all airing live on location in Arizona. Former NFL All-Pro wide receiver Brandon Marshall will be on hand to host I Am Athlete Tonight from the event, as well.
“With all eyes and ears focused on Phoenix for Super Bowl Week, SiriusXM will deliver fans around the country the unique mix of sports, music and entertainment programming that you can only find on SiriusXM,” said SiriusXM President and Chief Content Officer Scott Greenstein.
“With multiple game broadcasts, several channels in Phoenix covering the latest news and providing expert analysis on the teams, interviews with many of the celebrities in town for the game, and our exclusive concert with Luke Combs, our subscribers will have exceptional access throughout the biggest week on the NFL calendar.”
ESPNU Radio hosts Colt McCoy, Rick Neuheisel, and Max Starks will also be in Arizona on Radio Row, in addition to Dusty and Danny hosting their shows each day from Radio Row.
Fantasy football expert Jeff Mans and SportsGrid Radio host Scott Ferrall will also originate content from Radio Row.
SiriusXM will offer four different game broadcasts of Super Bowl LVII. The Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles home broadcasts will each air, as will the national Westwood One call. Additionally, a Spanish-language broadcast will also be provided. Listeners will also be able to hear the halftime show — performed by pop star Rihanna — on Sirius XM Hits 1, The Heat, and Super Bowl LVII Radio.
BetQL Network Going to Arizona for Super Bowl Week
“Three shows will be at the BetMGM Sportsbook in Glendale.”
BetQL is headed to Radio Row. Audacy’s sports betting radio network will be in Arizona ahead of Super Bowl LVII.
Three shows will be at the BetMGM Sportsbook in Glendale. BetQL Daily and You Better You Bet will be live Monday through Friday. BetMGM Tonight will be live Monday through Thursday.
The network’s hosts will stay busy in the desert. BetQL is producing 52 hours of live audio and video content. Hosts are also scheduled to make 25 live appearances across other Audacy radio stations and digital channels.