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The Athletic Reinstates Full Salaries

“On June 5, The Athletic implemented 10% salary cuts across the board on its staff, with higher percentages for those making more than $150,000 per year.”

Brandon Contes

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Five months after imposing salary reductions on their employees because of negative financial impacts stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, The Athletic has removed those cutbacks according to Front Office Sports

On June 5, The Athletic implemented 10% salary cuts across the board on its staff, with higher percentages for those making more than $150,000 per year. The company simultaneously laid off 8% of its staff, or about 46 of their 570 employees. When the cuts were announced, they were expected to last through the year. But the roll-back on reductions, retroactive to Oct. 15, offers a boost for employees as the holiday season nears. 

The announcement that those salary reductions have ended was welcome news for the sports media industry which has been ravaged by the pandemic. On the same day full salaries were reinstated by The Athletic, ESPN began its most devastating round of layoffs in company history, impacting hundreds of employees.  

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Edison Research: ‘The Dale Jr. Download’ Ranks No. 4 in Podcast Listener Exclusivity

The podcast has been on the air since 2017 and discusses a variety of topics pertaining to racecar driving, and is available on all major podcasting platforms.

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Edison Research
(Illustration) Edison Research Logo – Courtesy: Edison Research

Earlier in the year, Edison Research determined within its Infinite Dial 2024 report that 34% of Americans age 13 and older listen to podcasts every week. Podcast familiarity was recently measured at 84 million people across the United States, and the weekly listening audience was determined to be approaching 100 million weekly listeners.

An aspect of that study, however, that was not divulged was the listening exclusivity and investment that audiences demonstrate to different offerings. Edison Podcast Metrics, which interviews 20,000 weekly podcast listeners per year while tracking demographics, content preferences and listening behaviors, recently viewed the 500 largest active shows in the United States. In this exercise, the company was trying to determine which programs had the highest portion of the audience that listens exclusively to the show.

Edison Research findings discovered that The Bible in a Year hosted by Father Mike Schmitz and featuring Jeff Cavins finished No. 1 in this study, finding that 30% of program listeners do not listen to any other show during the week. Finishing fourth in the study is The Dale Jr. Download from Dirty Mo Media featuring two-time Daytona 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. The podcast has been on the air since 2017 and discusses a variety of topics pertaining to racing, and is available on all major podcasting platforms. Additionally, the show has a video component on YouTube and currently has approximately 400,000 subscribers.

The program has been releasing three episodes per week in recent months that features discussion, debate and interviews. Apple Podcasts measurements have the show reaching its 600th episode in the coming weeks and receiving a 4.9 out of five stars from approximately 8,200 ratings. In addition to The Dale Jr. Download, Dirty Mo Media includes various podcast offerings with hosts such as Andrew Kurland, Denny Hamlin and Steve Letarte.

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Scott Van Pelt: The Masters Invites Me to Be Reflective and Nostalgic

“There’s something about it – and I get that if you haven’t been here, you can roll your eyes at it – but everyone’s sort of in a good mood; everyone’s on their best behavior.”

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Scott Van Pelt SC
Courtesy: Allen Kee, ESPN Images

Scott Van Pelt is hosting his edition of SportsCenter this week from Augusta National Country Club, the site of The Masters golf tournament. The heralded tradition of the sport is considered to be one of the most difficult events for which to secure a ticket, but it has been part of Van Pelt’s career as a media professional from nearly the very beginning.

Fans recognize Van Pelt at the tournament and often ask him for pictures, and his coverage of the proceedings has become a regular part of the tradition itself. Yet it took Van Pelt time to become fully accustomed to working in sports media and overcoming imposter syndrome, something he attributes to being part of the reason why he believed he would never work at ESPN.

Van Pelt was rejected from the journalism program at the University of Maryland and struggled to find a full-time television job for many years out of school. One of his friends offered him a chance to work at the Golf Channel, a new startup network at the time, and he worked to become an anchor of the Golf Central program. When championship golfer Tiger Woods was playing in Doral, Fla., Van Pelt drove five hours from Orlando just to ask if he would be able to interview him the next week. Woods obliged and informed the PGA Tour that he wanted to speak with Van Pelt, a conversation that he affirms impacted his career.

While Van Pelt was at the Golf Channel, he worked with producer Lee Rosenblatt, a former employee at ESPN that was nicknamed “Nate,” the reasoning behind which is unbeknownst to Van Pelt. Nonetheless, Rosenblatt told Van Pelt that he would work at ESPN someday, a statement that Van Pelt did not believe would become true. Rosenblatt then subsequently bet Van Pelt $100 that he would, prompting Van Pelt to write a Post-It note that reads, “I’ll never work at ESPN.” In 2001, Van Pelt was hired by ESPN and officially lost the bet, but he keeps the note on his desk as a reminder not to state the things that he will not do.

“It’s good to have that sort of rutter for yourself, and I think of it often, and I’ve changed some of the things I’ve done,” Van Pelt said in a recent interview on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. “I’ve taken on different challenges throughout time, and I try to remind myself not to just get stuck in a lane, which I think can happen to all of us if we’re not willing to do the thing we think we aren’t good enough to do.”

Earlier in the conversation, show host Dan Le Batard asked Van Pelt if he considers the week in which he gets to cover The Masters as a representation of having a “get-to job” rather than a “got-to job.” Van Pelt replied that it was without question and explained how he gets to reconnect with old friends every time he visits Augusta, including someone who works on the grounds that recently introduced him to his nephew.

“There’s something about it – and I get that if you haven’t been here, you can roll your eyes at it – but everyone’s sort of in a good mood; everyone’s on their best behavior,” Van Pelt said. “All the players love it – they revere the place. I owe my career to it largely having met Tiger [Woods] and having him do what he did in ‘97 and have the opportunity to talk to him about it afterwards and maybe get on the radar of ESPN or whatever, so I don’t know. It invites me to be reflective; it invites me to be nostalgic, and gratitude is something I try to put out in the universe all the time. I don’t always do a great job of it, but it’s really easy to do that this week.”

Van Pelt has found that he appreciates going to The Masters more with age and tries to maintain a sense of perspective regarding his career. He discussed that there is a point when you wake up and realize you are on the “Back 9 of your life,” and thinks back to the time when he was in the early stages of his career covering the sport. Van Pelt is undoubtedly grateful to be at the course this week to watch the 88th iteration of The Masters as golfers from around the world compete for the title.

“The end of the runway doesn’t feel like it’s immediate, but it’s you’re getting there, so undoubtedly coming here and thinking, ‘How long do you get to do this – this get-to job?’ I don’t know, but I’m here right now, and so you just try to be present in that and grateful in that because at some point, I won’t. I try not to think a ton about that, but absolutely, age makes you more aware of and present in the present.”

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Holly Rowe: When it Comes to Women’s College Basketball, “I Never Thought I Would See This Day”

“Sometimes it’s all I can do to not get all choked up on the stage.”

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Graphic for Call Your Mom podcast and a photo of Caitlin Clark and Holly Rowe

As the college basketball season has come to an end, many are still trying to process the history made on the women’s side as far as interest, television ratings and what it could mean for the sport moving forward. Holly Rowe saw all of it up close and personal working for ESPN and she talked about that experience on her new podcast with her son, Call Your Mom.

Speaking to her son and co-host McKylin, Rowe said, “Our ratings were insane. Women’s March Madness outrated men’s March Madness. Like this is one of the most historical things ever. 18.9 million people watched the women’s NCAA championship game with South Carolina and Iowa. 14 something million watched the men’s game with Purdue and Connecticut. I just never thought I would see this day. I have been covering women’s college basketball for 30 years.”

Holly and McKylin talked about whether or not McKylin’s friends, around 30 years old, were talking about the women’s tournament. He said he knows a topic has become important when people start asking him what his mom thinks about a particular subject and said he has had friends asking what Holly thinks about Caitlin Clark.

“It’s kind of become a national phenomenon, I think,” said Holly. “My very first person I kind of fell in love with as a player was Dawn Staley. When I got out of college, I went to New York City and did an internship at CBS Sports. One of my first jobs was I would have to watch the games back and check off the advertising elements…I started watching Virginia basketball in 1991 or 1992 and I was like ‘I had never seen a woman play like this before’…she blew me away.

“I think I have followed every step in Dawn Staley’s career…so to be able to be there and being the one getting to present the trophy to her. Sometimes it’s all I can do to not get all choked up on the stage. It’s the journey of my basketball loving life and I get to be the one giving her the trophy. It’s just really cool.”

Mother and son also talked about when Staley asked to say something after the trophy presentation and gave a shoutout to Caitlin Clark for the attention she brought to the sport. Holly said she was about to “ugly cry” when that moment happened.

“It was just this really beautiful moment of women who are competing against each other supporting each other in this really beautiful way so that was cool, so cool.”

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