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.
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].
Brian Murphy: Paul McCaffrey Tried to Make ‘Radio Magic Every Single Segment’
“He was the most consistent, energetic, relentless pro that I, or any of you, would ever want in your life.”
During a round of layoffs last week, longtime KNBR morning host Paul McCaffrey exited. His co-host Brian Murphy eulogized the pair’s 18-year morning show in his first appearance on the station since the cuts Monday morning.
While reminiscing about the pair’s original, Murphy said a former executive used to frequently point at the radio and say “magic comes out of that box”.
“Paulie Mac may have been the guy who understood that idea more than anyone I’ve ever met in the business,” Murphy said. “Paulie Mac strived every single segment, every single segment, to make magic come out of the box. And he succeeded wildly. He was the most consistent, energetic, relentless pro that I, or any of you, would ever want in your life. He taught this old newspaper guy that we were doing radio and radio mattered. And bits mattered. And getting people through the morning mattered.
“The show, the show, the show. It was always what was good for the show. Not what’s good for him, not what’s good for me, but what’s good for the show.”
Video of Murphy’s comments and reflection on his time with McCaffrey was posted by the station to social media. Former KNBR Program Director Kevin Graham chimed in, calling Murphy’s farewell a “fitting tribute”.
Chris Garagiola to Replace Greg Schulte As Arizona Diamondbacks Radio Voice
“I have a few big-ticket things I want to achieve in my life and being the voice of a major league baseball team is one of them.”
After 25 years as the only radio voice in the history of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Greg Schulte stepped aside after the 2023 season. Chris Garagiola will step into the team’s broadcast booth moving forward.
Garagiola has spent the past two seasons working as the fill-in voice for the club while Schulte missed time to undergo chemotherapy treatments as he battled cancer. He also served as the pregame and postgame host for the D-backs.
“This is the byproduct of a lot of hoping, a lot of being in the right place at the right time and a lot of hard work,” Garagiola told AZCentral.com. “This was a major life goal. It really was. I have a few big-ticket things I want to achieve in my life and being the voice of a major league baseball team is one of them.”
The 31-year-old previously worked as the voice of the AA Pensacola Blue Wahoos. He said if he had the opportunity to choose any MLB play-by-play job, this was the one he wanted.
“People would ask if you could pick any team what would you pick? My pick would have been Arizona,” Chris Garagiola said. “That was my team. That was my childhood team and some of the best sporting memories I ever had.”
Chiefs Radio Voice Mitch Holthus Misses 1st Game in 30 Years After COVID Diagnosis
Mitch Holthus claimed he had not missed a Chiefs broadcast in 30 years — calling more than 500 consecutive games for the team.
Mitch Holthus has been one of the most distinctive NFL radio voices during his 30 years as the play-by-play announcer of the Kansas City Chiefs. His voice was absent Sunday for the franchise’s game after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
In a post to X, Holthus said he tested positive for the virus on Friday, and attempted to find a way to broadcast Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers remotely, before ultimately coming to the realization that it wasn’t feasible.
“I appreciate everyone who spent most of the day Friday trying to figure out how I could broadcast this game 2020 studio style,” Holthus wrote. “If it was (a) home game could maybe have had (an) isolated booth. But no way to pull it off on road, and (I) would never put anyone in that travel party in jeopardy, especially those who are immune compromised.”
He called the situation a “challenging 60+ hours”.
Mitch Holthus claimed he had not missed a Chiefs broadcast in 30 years — calling more than 500 consecutive games for the team. However, he concluded that he would start a new streak of broadcasting the team’s games next week.