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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.”

Ricky Keeler

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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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Ken Carman: Al Michaels ‘Feels Untethered’ On Amazon Prime Video

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

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The Cleveland Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers during Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video. 92.3 The Fan morning host Ken Carman applauded Al Michaels for his performance during the presentation.

“Al Michaels feels untethered for the first time. He’s not network television anymore and he can say whatever he wants. We interviewed him on the pregame show and I was nervous,” Carman said.

“He’s a legend,” co-host Anthony Lima added.

During the final play of the game, the Steelers fumbled a lateral into the endzone which the Browns recovered to make the final score 29-17. Michaels said “that may be meaningful to some of you. And you know who I mean”, alluding to people who had placed wagers on the game.

Carman, who hosts two-hours of pre-game coverage on the Browns Radio Network, continued to discuss how nervous he was interviewing Michaels. He also discussed how impressive Amazon’s behind-the-scenes production was, pointing out the only football broadcast with more cameras is the Super Bowl. More than 400 people work behind the scenes for Amazon Prime Video.

“The thing that stuck out was Kirk Herbstreit ripping the elf,” said Carman. “Don’t be ripping Brownie the Elf, man.”

Carman later said people angry that Michaels misspoke by saying the Pro Football Hall of Fame is “down I-71” instead of I-77 were unreasonable, and joked “Al Michaels hasn’t been on a highway in 20 years”.

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Boomer Esiason: Michael Kay ‘Swooping In’ On Stephen Nelson ‘Just Not Right’

During a remote broadcast, they asked fans in attendance if they wanted to see Kay in the booth Friday night, which resulted in a resounding no.

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Boomer Esiason

Much has been made about the potential of New York Yankees television play-by-play announcer Michael Kay announcing Friday Night Baseball on AppleTV+ while slugger Aaron Judge chases the franchise and American League record for home runs in a single season. During Boomer & Gio Friday morning, Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti disagreed on whether Kay should have taken the gig from usual AppleTV+ announcer Stephen Nelson.

During a remote broadcast, they asked fans in attendance if they wanted to see Kay in the booth Friday night, which resulted in a resounding no.

“I bet he put that out there to see what the reaction would be,” Giannotti said of Kay’s comments that he would be “big-footing” Nelson by taking the assignment. “And the reaction was like that, and was like ‘You know, I’m kinda uncomfortable doing this. Maybe I shouldn’t do it’. And no one wanted to see it anyway.”

“They shouldn’t do it,” said Esiason of AppleTV+ allowing Kay to step in for Nelson.

“If the shoe was on the other foot, and let’s say it was Pete Alonso chasing this record and there was AppleTV for potentially 61 or 62, you’re telling me that you’d want a fella named (Stephen) Nelson over Gary Cohen? There’s no way in hell!”, Giannotti countered.

“I want what’s right,” Esiason said.

“AppleTV’s not right to begin with,” Giannotti replied.

“But Michael Kay swooping in on some kid named Nelson, that’s not right. That’s just not right. You just can’t do that!”, argued Esiason.

“Yeah, but the fact that it’s on AppleTV to begin with is annoying,” Giannotti concluded. “It’s just annoying.”

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Craig Carton: AppleTV+ Shouldn’t Have Answered The Phone For YES Network Trade

“This is when I get to bring new people and new eyeballs to my streaming service. And I’m sure they’ll have more signups than they’ve had almost any other day of the week.”

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Craig Carton

A report from Andrew Marchand of The New York Post claimed YES Network, owned in-part by the New York Yankees, made several offers to AppleTV+ in regards to its scheduled broadcast of the Yankees and Boston Red Sox as Aaron Judge chases the franchise and American League record for home runs in a single season. WFAN host Craig Carton was dumbfounded by the proposals.

Carton originally blamed the Yankees greed for the game airing on AppleTV+, before co-host Evan Roberts set him straight.

“Because the New York Yankees sold their rights to everybody with a blank check in front of them, they are now faced with the reality that their greed is gonna result in a momentous, historical moment not being broadcast by their broadcast team,” Carton said.

“If you wanna blame every owner, and say ‘Hey, you all signed off on it’, I understand where you’re coming from on this. But Major League Baseball made the decision to cut a deal with AppleTV+,” Roberts countered.

Carton then pointed out how preposterous the idea was for YES Network to either air the game in conjunction with AppleTV+, or for Yankees television play-by-play announcer — and New York afternoon radio competitor — Michael Kay to call the game for the streaming platform.

“Memo to YES, and the New York Yankees, who own a piece of the YES Network: If I’m AppleTV+ — and whatever that check was that I wrote, it was big — this is the moment for me,” Carton said. “This is when I get to bring new people and new eyeballs to my streaming service. And I’m sure they’ll have more signups than they’ve had almost any other day of the week. If you’re AppleTV+, why would you even answer the phone if the YES Network calls?”

“Sometimes a guy calls you in Fantasy sports and says ‘I want your best player’, and you don’t even make a counter offer because you’re like ‘There’s literally nothing on your roster that would make me agree to this trade’,” Roberts hypothesized. “If I’m AppleTV+ — let’s play the negotiation game — is there anything that could be offered to you that would make you give up the exclusivity?”

“No! That’s what you paid for!”, Carton exclaimed. “Great luck! It worked out where you’re most likely gonna have a game on AppleTV+ where something historical is might happen!”

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