Leaving ESPN has to come with an overwhelming feeling of uncertainty. Even if a star analyst or host is walking straight into a new job, there is still no way to know what is going to be next. That has to hold true for both Dan Le Batard and Cari Champion.
On the latest episode of the Naked with Cari Champion podcast, Champion asks Le Batard about how he has felt since he and ESPN parted ways earlier this year. He noted that it wasn’t easy to walk away from the validation working from ESPN made him feel.
“That place is hard to leave because it is a destination and I’ve been single all my life so I had 30 years of savings as a single man and I had plenty of journalism bona fides and I had opportunities and it was still scary to leave.
“For where it is, all of us wanted to arrive with our vanities, with our insecurities because they would make you madder, they would give you the bona fides, they would give you the reach of television and those four letters behind your name. It sort of masked whatever it is you felt fraudulent. They knighted people.”
Le Batard didn’t have bad things to say about ESPN. He just felt like he could no longer do the job he was hired to.
“I was hired to be a fire-starter. I was hired to talk about some of the difficult stuff and the company changed and the country changed. What didn’t change is the reason I was hired and what didn’t change is that I was going to be my most authentic voice and self. We left amicably and I don’t have hard feelings toward ESPN. They helped make us bigger. It was a mutually beneficial relationship for as long as it was a mutually beneficial relationship.”
One of the things that Le Batard enjoyed doing at ESPN was getting the chance to work with his father, but he revealed that Gonzalo “Papi” Le Batard didn’t want his television career to last as long as it did.
“The daily grind of it was hard for him to come in. He is well and my father is enjoying his retirement. My father was threatening to quit if they did not pay him better. He did not think they would actually pay him better. It wasn’t a principle, he just wanted to stop doing the show because he was tired.”
As for how the Le Batard and Friends podcast is doing now, he noted that there are many responsibilities now that he never had to worry about at ESPN and there are times he just wants to be silly.
“I loved just showing up talking to a microphone and seeing that direct deposit. I was always fooling around. I was somebody doing a show with my father. I was doing stuff that was silly and didn’t have any of these real responsibilities making sure our employees have healthcare and talking to accountants and attorneys…I don’t want to do the stuff that’s conquering and ambitious, I just want to giggle snorts with my friends and I did that for a long time at ESPN.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at [email protected].
Sports Media Reacts to Joe Castiglione Winning 2024 Frick Award
Castiglione’s colleagues and contemporaries were more than complementary when finding out he took home the award.
Longtime Boston Red Sox radio announcer Joe Castiglione was announced Wednesday as the 2024 Ford C. Frick Award winner given by the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The 76-year-old Castiglione has been the voice of the Red Sox since 1983, calling all four of the team’s modern-era World Series victories.
Several across sports media offered their reactions and congratulations to an MLB broadcasting legend.
Even University of Oklahoma Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione had to make sure he congratulated his good friend with the same name.
Joe will be honored during Hall of Fame induction weekend in Cooperstown in July.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
All The Smoke Productions, Meadowlark Media Agree to Content Partnership
“We feel pretty strongly that it was not a totally maximized property when it was under the Showtime banner.”
The basketball program All The Smoke and its portfolio of shows is joining Meadowlark Media and DraftKings Network in January 2024. Program hosts and former NBA champions Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson will join the company’s lineup of shows and talent, which includes The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, Pablo Torre Finds Out and Oddball with Amin Elhassan & Charlotte Wilder among others. As part of the partnership, DraftKings will distribute and sell available advertising inventory. Moreover, fans will be able to watch highlights and full episodes on a new YouTube page, titled “Certified Smoke,” to ensure viewers do not miss a moment of the program.
All The Smoke formerly aired on Showtime Sports, which will be shuttering its operations by the year’s end due to the network’s transition towards offering “Paramount+ with Showtime” as part of a bundle. Other programs associated with “All The Smoke Productions,” which includes programs hosted by Rachel Nichols, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, are also set to join the platform. A new lineup of shows is set to be announced sometime in the next few weeks, according to a report by Bloomberg.
“We know the asset,” Bimal Kapadia, Meadowlark Media chief operating officer, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We feel pretty strongly that it was not a totally maximized property when it was under the Showtime banner.”
Although the complete breadth of future plans for Showtime sports-related properties still remains unknown, Paramount Global made the decision to have the network focus on original programming for series such as Billions and Yellowjackets. The company has CBS Sports within its portfolio, which is set to broadcast Super Bowl LVIII, part of March Madness and The Masters ahead of the retirement of Chairman Sean McManus. Additionally, the sports property has several podcast offerings of its own within a crowded media landscape pertaining to football, golf and sports betting along with other topics.
“It’s hard to get the economics to work in a single-medium basis like audio,” Kapadia told Bloomberg. “You have to have multimedia and an established audience that you can build off of.”
Yahoo Sports Undergoes Round of Layoffs Including Hannah Keyser, Sam Cooper, Kevin Iole
Zach Crizer and Arun Srinivasan were among the employees who revealed the news that they had been let go by the company.
Yahoo Sports has engaged in a round of layoffs as part of an effort to eliminate more than 20% of its staff by the end of the year, a figure that was reported earlier in the year by Sara Fischer of Axios. The company is currently owned by Apollo Global, which purchased the entity from Verizon in 2017 along with AOL and other media businesses.
On Friday, mixed martial arts and boxing journalist Kevin Iole announced that he was laid off by the company in a post on X and took the time to thank his co-workers and express his appreciation for his time with the outlet. Within that post, he conveyed how this is not the end for him; rather, he hopes it is the start of a new chapter.
On Monday, several other Yahoo Sports staffers announced their departures from the company as a result of the layoffs. Senior MLB reporter Hannah Keyser lost her job on Friday and shared the privilege it was for her to report on the game through the platform. Keyser also appears on SNY as a contributor on Baseball Night in New York and other programming, and it remains unknown if and how her exit from Yahoo Sports will impact the role.
“Five years ago, I was terrified to accept the job and I’ve been terrified (truly) every day since that I’m bad at it,” Keyser said in a post on X. “But I never worked harder or took more joy in learning.”
MLB writer Zach Crizer was also part of the layoffs on Friday, and divulged that he continues to write about baseball. Although he acknowledged that the ending is not great, he feels that a lot of people with the outlet changed his career for the better and had more belief in his work than he did.
“I learned more about baseball from Zach in five years than I even knew there was to know,” Keyser said on X. “He is more organized than I am, less erratic, and since he actually opens HR emails about our health insurance changing, I can actually say that I wouldn’t have survived without him.”
“No one pushed me harder, or advocated me more forcefully, than Hannah,” Crizer said of Keyser in a post on X. “She is a complete original that the baseball world can’t afford to lose. Whenever you think you have a good answer, I promise she’s going to have a better question.”
Sam Cooper revealed that he was part of the Yahoo Sports layoffs after working with the company over the last 10 years. Cooper had been promoted to a full-time senior editor, a role he served in for the last five years, after starting out as a freelancer. In a series of posts on X, Cooper acknowledged how he does not understand the rationale behind the current direction of Yahoo, but also articulated that it was a great place to work and will miss his colleagues.
“So now I’m a free agent,” Cooper continued. “I’ve written extensively about CFB (+ other sports), helped transform [Yahoo Sports College Football] from an RSS feed into an account with 50k+ followers and had a consistently profitable betting column. I also know the ins and outs of editing in the digital media space.”
Arun Srinivasan worked at Yahoo Sports Canada and was part of the recent round of layoffs as well, posting a statement on Saturday night while covering his final Toronto Maple Leafs game at Scotiabank Arena for the outlet. Within his remarks, he thanked Dan Toman and Mackenzie Liddell for their leadership and for taking a chance on him, along with William Lou for endorsing him after he was looking for work following layoffs from theScore in February 2019.
“…I’m itching to get back to the arena more regularly,” Srinivasan said on X. “How many of us get to do everything we dreamed of as children? Thank you for everything Yahoo, this message is for everyone I’ve ever been lucky enough to work with here.”
Earlier in the year, Yahoo laid off 1,000 positions within its companies and revealed that the remaining layoffs would occur in the second half of 2023. The company is in the midst of a restructuring of its advertising technology unit in an effort for the company to be able to invest more heavily in areas of the company that garner significant profits. Additionally, the company hired Ross Dellenger and Jason Fitz, along with welcoming new president Ryan Spoon in June 2023.
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