As COVID-19 cases are ramping up again throughout the country, so too are cost-cutting moves in the sports media industry.
On Thursday, Bonneville’s 710 ESPN Seattle announced a round of layoffs, leading to another shake-up within their lineup which has seen multiple changes in the last 15 months. On-air personalities John Clayton, Tom Wassell and Jim Moore were let go, as were behind-the-scenes contributors Matt Taylor and Scott Blumenfeld.
According to the director of programming for Bonneville Seattle Mike Salk, the cost-cutting moves are a direct result of declining ad revenue during the economic downturn stemming from COVID-19. Salk, who previously hosted morning drive for 710 accepted responsibility for the personnel changes, but by no means were these moves he wanted to make.
“Horrible day at 710 today. Hardest we’ve had. The financial effects of this virus caught up with us in a big way and that caused three great people to be laid off,” Salk wrote on Twitter. “I understand if you are upset by the changes. I take responsibility for it. One of the best things about radio is the relationship that forms between hosts and audience. It’s unique and real. We feel it just as much as you do. And it makes days like today even harder.”
For Clayton, this is the second time he’s been laid off in recent years. With 710, Clayton had been hosting their late morning show, but he previously spent a near quarter-century as an NFL reporter for ESPN. Clayton was part of a 2017 round of layoffs by ESPN which announced another 300 cuts last week.
According to the Seattle Times, Clayton will continue working as a sideline reporter for Seahawks games on KIRO. Replacing Clayton on his late morning show will be Paul Gallant, who will host a solo hour from 10 – 11am. Gallant will continue to host 710’s morning show alongside Danny O’Neil.
The 710 ESPN midday show will shift its timeslot up an hour, now filling the 11am – 2pm block, but they’ll do so without co-host Tom Wassell who was laid off Thursday after about a decade with the station. Stacy Jo Rost and Jake Heaps will continue as co-hosts of the show. Prior to working as a full-time host on 710, Wassell served as a producer for Brock and Salk.
Jim Moore is a longtime radio personality on 710, spending most of the last decade as co-host of their afternoon show. Without Moore, Bob Stelton and Dave Wyman will continue in afternoons for 710, extending their show by an hour, now airing from 2 – 6pm.
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.
Rob Dibble, 97.9 ESPN Help Collect Nearly 5,000 Turkeys
“This year, the support from listeners, sponsors, partners and volunteers helped make a remarkable state-wide impact.”
The station, along with other iHeart Connecticut stations, also raised more than $189,000 during the 23rd annual Turkey Tuesday at Connecticut Foodshare’s headquarters.
“We are continually grateful of the outpouring of donations from our listeners and Connecticut community on our annual events to ensure a Thanksgiving for all,” said iHeartMedia Hartford and New Haven Vice President of Marketing Vanessa Wojtusiak. “This year, the support from listeners, sponsors, partners and volunteers helped make a remarkable state-wide impact.”
Dibble has been a longtime support of Connecticut Foodshare, hosting its director Al Marino on his show several times throughout the year to ensure families in Connecticut have access to the food bank.
Danny O’Neil is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously hosted morning and afternoon drive for 710 ESPN Seattle, and served as a reporter for the Seattle Times. He can be reached on Twitter @DannyOneil or by email at Danny@DannyOneil.com.
Ray Didinger Subject of NFL Films Feature, Tells Angelo Cataldi He’s Stayed Busy in Retirement
Former 94WIP host and Philadelphia Daily News and NBC Sports Philadelphia writer Ray Didinger retired earlier this year, but he told Angelo Cataldi he’s remained busy even though he stepped away from his media career.
“It’s been busier than I thought,” Didinger said. “Just because of the way things have gone in the city. The Phillies going to the World Series, the Eagles are 10-1, I don’t think any of us thought it was going to be this kind of run. Consequently, my phone hasn’t stopped ringing. I had no idea everyone in the world has a podcast so I’ve been getting all those calls. My name and my phone number are on way too many rolodexes all around the country. When somebody says ‘Hey, let’s do a piece about Philly’, my phone rings. It’s been busy but it’s been good. It’s been great to see what this has meant to the city.”
Didinger hosted shows from 10:00 AM-1:00 PM on Saturdays and Sundays for 94WIP. In total, he spent more than 50 years covering the NFL before retiring in May.
After Cataldi asked for Didinger’s opinion on the 2022 Eagles, he asked the now-retired reporter if he was still using his yellow notepad. Didinger admitted he does still use the notepad, and Cataldi chastised his former colleague after he said he would retire the notepad. Cataldi joked when he retires after the Eagles season concludes, he hopes to lose co-hosts Al Morganti and Rhea Hughes’ phone numbers.
Didinger will be the subject of an NFL Films feature about his longtime career covering the league. The program will air on FS1 on Friday at 12:30 AM.
Colin Dunlap: ‘Insane’ What Tom Rinaldi Has Done During Last Week
“He’s going from Doha to Dallas and Kansas City to Doha and Columbus to Doha. Something’s up! There’s two Tom Rinaldi’s.”
It was a banner week for FOX Sports during the Thanksgiving holiday, and no one got more work than the network’s Tom Rinaldi. 93.7 The Fan morning show host Colin Dunlap believes Rinaldi deserves props for his schedule.
“It’s insane what he’s done,” Dunlap said. “I wrote it down and I saw somebody tweet it. Listen to this schedule — and I don’t even know if it’s worth it — but listen to what Tom Rinaldi has done: Wednesday? Qatar. Thursday? Dallas for the Cowboys game. Friday? Back to the US-England match in Qatar. Saturday? In Columbus, Ohio for Michigan/Ohio State. Sunday? Kansas City for the NFL game.
“And then if you’ve gotta guess, he’s gonna be at the American game tomorrow so he’s travelling back to Qatar today. I don’t even travel back and forth to Baltimore like that. He’s going from Doha to Dallas and Kansas City to Doha and Columbus to Doha. Something’s up! There’s two Tom Rinaldi’s.”
Dunlap, co-host Chris Mack, and producer Adam Crowley then discussed whether FOX Sports was using Rinaldi enough. While noting that he’s travelling to all these locations, they believe he isn’t being utilized enough for the bigger stories he’s been known for.
They also joked about whether Rinaldi was flying back and forth on Rupert Murdoch’s private jet and whether or not that would make life easier.