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Danny Kannell, Ryen Russillo Reminisce On ESPN Layoffs

“When Kanell looked back at why he might have been laid off by ESPN, he thought back to two specific instances.”

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We are less than five years removed from the massive layoffs that claimed the jobs of people on camera and behind the scenes at ESPN. One of those people was college football analyst and co-host of Russillo and Kanell, Danny Kanell. 

Kanell was on The Ryen Russillo Podcast this week to talk not only about college football, but to look back at that time where both Russillo and Kanell felt uncertain about their positions at the company.

“I had talked to my agent and he was like you are good to go. College football is one of the biggest priorities of the company, you are one of the bigger voices, you’re good,” Kanell said. “Couple weeks would go by and you kind get a little more nervous. A lot of people were holding meetings trying to make sure they are in good standing and I would go play golf on the off-day…Then comes the day. No one knew when the day was going to be. It was like a Black Friday without knowing there was a Black Friday.

“I get a phone call and it was the number from ESPN. I didn’t answer the first time and then it calls back and then it was a call from one of our higher-ups in radio who said hey, can you come in? It was eerily similar to can you bring your playbook conversation. I didn’t ask on the phone, I said sure…When the time I hang up the phone, I call my agent and I’m like what is happening? He’s like I don’t know. I go in and they got the two higher-ups there because they want the witness, make sure nothing happens and it’s thank you for your time.”

Russillo had a meeting with John Skipper at the time to want to talk about where he stood with the company, but while Russillo wanted to talk, Skipper just wanted to vent on something that was bothering him, according to Russillo.

“I had gone in to meet with Skipper. We usually got together every 6 months and he was good to me in that way. I was like hey, this isn’t working out for me in radio. I know what’s going to happen. All the signs point to this. They don’t like the show with Danny and I. I don’t want to leave. I think there’s going to be value for me somewhere else. That was the whole plan.

“The meeting with Skipper was Tuesday. The Monday, there was a leak that all of these people on air were going to let go. We spent the entire meeting, I listened to him complain about leaks and I was like okay, we didn’t get anywhere. Selfishly, I needed some Ryen time. I was just kind of being his therapist for an hour while he was like I can’t believe these leaks, Ryen.”

When Kanell looked back at why he might have been laid off by ESPN, he thought back to two specific instances.

“Possibly because the person who I upset the most was asking me to be suspended for a tweet because I was trolling the SEC. It did tick off somebody and even though I apologized, I don’t know if that person ever got over it. That person since that time rose up the ranks where they were really powerful and had some influence whether or not I was there.” 

“The other thing I don’t know if it helped, even though it was a joke, was wearing the ‘make radio great again’ hat just because it was red and it appeared like a MAGA hat even though it wasn’t. I’m sure there were people that might have walked by a TV and double-take. One of those two things probably put the final nail in the coffin.” 

Russillo and Kanell were able to talk about that awkward moment and they took the listener inside what happened during one of the crazier times at ESPN as their show was coming to an end. 

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Jeff Rickard Out At WEEI

“In the memo, new Audacy Boston market manager Mike Thomas says that the station will be naming a new brand manager in the future.”

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Jeff Rickard’s tenure in Boston did not last long. Chad Finn of the Boston Globe tweeted yesterday that the WEEI brand manager has left Audacy and intends to return to Indianapolis.

Rickard was announced as the new brand manager of the legendary Boston sports talker in August. He left his role as morning show host and PD at The Fan in Indianapolis at that time.

In the memo, new Audacy Boston market manager Mike Thomas says that the station will be naming a new brand manager in the future.

In the meantime, Ken Laird has been promoted to operations manager for the station. Laird announced yesterday that this means he is leaving the Greg Hill Show, which will be on the lookout for a new producer.

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David Ortiz On WEEI: Everyone Knows Dan Shaughnessy’s An A-Hole

“He didn’t seem to take the slight personally. He also didn’t seem to think it mattered.”

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Mark Sardella

You don’t have to guess how David Ortíz feels about Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy. He is more than happy to tell you if you ask.

On Wednesday, the Hall of Fame candidate was a guest on WEEI and afternoon host Lou Merloni asked. He wanted to know how Ortíz felt about Shaughnessy saying he would never vote for the Red Sox slugger to be enshrined in Cooperstown.

“You know that Dan Shaughnessy has been an asshole to everybody,” Big Papí responded.

He didn’t seem to take the slight personally. He also didn’t seem to think it mattered.

“What can I do? Dan’s not gonna stop anything. He’s just one guy that didn’t vote for you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. But I mean, this is a guy who likes giving a hard time to everyone, so you’ve got to love him that way.”

For the record, according to BBHOFTracker.com, Ortíz has received more votes than anyone else on the ballots of the writers that have made their votes public. Time will tell if that holds up and he meets the 75% threshold for induction.

Dan Shaughnessy released his Hall of Fame ballot last week along with the rest of the Boston Globe staff. He only voted for Jeff Kent. He was the only one not to vote for Big Papí

David Ortíz will find out next week if he is in. He is one of four players with the numbers that make one think it makes sense for him to be in the Hall of Fame, but a cloud of doubt over him because of his past use of performance enhancing drugs.

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Tim Kurkjian: There Is No Right Way To Vote For The Hall Of Fame

“If I just said, look I’m not voting for anyone that has a connection to PEDs, that would be easier.”

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The results of the Baseball Hall of Fame vote will be revealed next week, and ESPN MLB writer Tim Kurkjian has been on the fence about a lot of the players on the ballot.

Speaking Wednesday with Tim McKernan of 101 ESPN in St. Louis, Kurkjian said having the opportunity to elect some of baseball’s greatest players to the Hall of Fame is not lost on him. But the task of choosing players with ties to performance-enhancing drugs has been hard.

“It’s the greatest privilege I have,” he said of being a voter. “I love it, but it’s really, really difficult. I don’t think there are any right answers anymore.”

Kurkjian himself will be honored at the induction ceremony, and will be enshrined in the media wing as the winner of the Baseball Writers Association of America Career Excellence Award.

In the lead-up to the results of the voting, ESPN’s Outside the Lines is presenting a series on the Hall of Fame cases for five controversial candidates: Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.

McKernan asked Tim Kurkjian what his voting process was, and if he considers voting for players on a case-by-case basis. Kurkjian said that was indeed the case given how each player’s ties to banned substances is different, and that in his mind, doing it that way is the most balanced way of voting.

“If I just said, look I’m not voting for anyone that has a connection to PEDs, that would be easier,” he said. “But I do care, and I’m kind of trapped in the middle as I so often am.”

Some of the other voters have a more hard-lined stance. Guys like Bonds, A-Rod, Mark McGwire and others will never get a particular writer’s vote simply because they admitted to using PEDs. But Kurkjian said that’s not how he does it.

He also said others should model how he votes.

“I’m not suggesting it’s the right way, because I’m not sure there is a right way,” he said. “I just don’t think I’m wrong in what I’m doing. I’m doing the best I can, and it is a very difficult assignment these days.”

ESPN’s series will conclude on Wednesday with reaction to the results of the hall of fame vote. Tim Kurkjian will be a part of the series.

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