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John Skipper Joins Le Batard & Friends Podcast

In addition to talking about the new company, Skipper and Le Batard started off the podcast by talking about what led to Le Batard being hired at ESPN: The Magazine in 1998.

Ricky Keeler

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Earlier this week, former ESPN personality Dan Le Batard and the former president at ESPN, John Skipper, announced the name of their new media company, Meadowlark Media. It will be a company that focuses on sports and storytelling. 

To help announce this venture, Le Barard had Skipper as a guest on the Le Batard and Friends podcast. The one hour podcast released this week is the first of multiple parts, but Skipper did reveal the purpose and goal of the venture. 

“What we are going to do is create a company that will take great content and make content out of those stories,” he said. “We want to tell stories. We want to have associations, relationships with great, talented storytellers and help them tell those stories across all platforms and mediums and genres. The meadowlark is the songbird of the new dawn and I figured post-Trump, post-COVID, the songbird as the new dawn might be welcome.”

In addition to talking about the new company, Skipper and Le Batard started off the podcast by talking about what led to Le Batard being hired at ESPN: The Magazine in 1998. For Skipper, his goal was always to have a diverse workforce at the magazine. 

“The story of me trying to hire you started with the beginning of ESPN: The Magazine. I made the decision that we were going to create a diverse workforce for the magazine,” Skipper told Le Batard. “We were going to create a magazine with a great business plan. I looked at Sports Illustrated and believed that they were not in touch with the times. Sports Illustrated was a weekly gathering of sports fans who got the magazine and read about things that happened the week before, I thought that was a little out of date.

“Well, somebody got me a list of every hispanic sportswriter that has a regular column in the top 50-to-100 newspapers in the country. It was just one person. You. When I traveled and read the Miami Herald, I read many things that you wrote and they were great. I think he can speak to Hispanic sports fans and become a national figure.” 

“You brought me in as one of the fire starters because you were trying to change the culture a little bit,” said Le Batard. 

During this podcast, Le Batard got into what he felt was one of Skipper’s greatest failures at ESPN. It was a conversation Le Batard said the pair had in North Carolina after Skipper resigned from ESPN. 

“I thought your greatest failure at ESPN for all the good work you did is that you couldn’t pour enough of that money back into content to make the content even better than it was. You did change it from it’s not just sports and highlights. You had the spirit of Page 2 in your heart and I wanted to see some great content across the network where at one point they brought in Rush Limbaugh. I believe you would be fascinating on the subject of ESPN was not a political company, all you did was put minorities on the air. The moment you did that, it became a political company because you were giving minorities voices.”

“I never understood why people can’t decouple the idea that diversity and tolerance and accepting people for who they are is political,” Skipper answered. “I don’t think that’s political. I think that’s human values. Why wouldn’t you want to populate your on-air talent with people from all different kinds of experiences? That’s not political. That’s respect for people for who they are.”

Sports Online

Mike Francesa: George Steinbrenner’s Idea to Put Mike and The Mad Dog On YES Network

“It was George’s idea. So give him credit for it. He wanted Mike and The Mad Dog as part of the CBS Radio contract, and we were.”

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Mike and The Mad Dog is often cited as one of, if not the, best sports radio shows of all time. The show saw an expanded reach with its partnership with the YES Network beginning in 2002. During his podcast Tuesday, Mike Francesa gave all the credit to the simulcast hitting the air on YES Network to the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

“It was George Steinbrenner that came up with the idea of Mike and The Mad Dog being on the YES Network. No one else,” Francesa said.

“They came to us when they were negotiating a new radio deal with him and they said ‘Hey, we need a quick answer on this. Would you guys want to be on the YES Network every day, simulcasting? You know what Imus is doing with MSNBC? We wanna do it with you guys, but we need a very quick answer’.”

Francesa said the show airing on YES Network was a sticking point for the Yankees in negotiations with CBS Radio to continue airing the franchise’s broadcasts.

“Our first deal with them were not for a lot of money. Our later deals with them were for a very significant amount of money. But it was George’s idea. So give him credit for it. He wanted Mike and The Mad Dog as part of the CBS Radio contract, and we were. Our joining the YES Network was part of the CBS Radio contract.”

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Sports Online

Dave Portnoy Reveals Back-And-Forth With New York Times Reporter Who Claimed He ‘Did Not Provide Answers’

“You waited till (sic) your hit piece was done and now you just need to say you gave me a fair chance to speak even though you have no interest in the truth and your article is already written”.

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A story from The New York Times centered around “aging casino company” — Penn National Gaming — and its relationship with “degenerate gambler” — Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy — caught the eye of the face of the online outlet after the claim that he “didn’t provide answers”.

In the story, Steel claims “Penn and Barstool executives did not respond to repeated messages. Mr. Portnoy did not provide answers.” Portnoy brought the receipts to Twitter with a video of all of the correspondence he had with Times writer Emily Steel.

The alleged conversation takes place sporadically from May through November, with Portnoy offering to meet face-to-face with Steel for an interview that is mutually audio and video recorded, which Steel declines. She offered to meet Portnoy in New York for an audio recorded interview, which he declined, saying the interview needed to take place in Miami, because “I’m not running around to accommodate you at the 11th hour.”

He added “You waited till (sic) your hit piece was done and now you just need to say you gave me a fair chance to speak even though you have no interest in the truth and your article is already written”.

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Sports Online

Kareem Daniel Leaving Disney After Bob Iger Reassumes Role as Company CEO

“This is a time of enormous change and challenges in our industry, and our work will also focus on creating a more efficient and cost-effective structure.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Bob Iger is back as the CEO of Disney, and one of the first moves he made was to announce a company restructure. Part of that restructure includes the departure of Kareem Daniel, the chair of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution (DMED).

DMED was formed under now-previous CEO Bob Chapek. The division manages Disney’s streaming services which includes ESPN+.

Daniel was considered one of those closest to Chapek. Iger announced Daniel’s departure in a memo to employees at DMED.

“It is my intention to restructure things in a way that honors and respects creativity as the heart and soul of who we are,” Iger said in the memo. “As you know, this is a time of enormous change and challenges in our industry, and our work will also focus on creating a more efficient and cost-effective structure.”

ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro will join other company leaders in coming up with a new company structure that Iger hopes “puts more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalizes costs.”

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