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Sal Licata Did Not Know ‘KayRod Cast’ Existed

“I can’t think of two people I’d rather watch less.”

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KayRod
Courtesy: ESPN

During the Sunday Night Baseball matchup between the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets, viewers tuned in to Karl Ravech, David Cone and Eduardo Perez’s call of the game on ESPN. As the primary home of the broadcast property, the network brings viewers a prime-time Sunday night game each week featuring a compelling matchup. For select weeks though, an alternate broadcast, titled Sunday Night Baseball with KayRod, takes place on ESPN2 featuring Michael Kay and Álex Rodríguez. The issue some viewers have, however, is being informed that the broadcast is scheduled or taking place – let alone existing altogether.

Last night’s KayRod Cast featured a star-studded guest list, including Darryl Strawberry, Kevin Mitchell and Scott Boras, urging people to view the proceedings. Others were content to stick with the traditional game call, either disinterested or incredulous towards the alternate broadcast. Throughout the course of the regular broadcast, Ravech made mention of Kay and Rodríguez’s presentation of the game, confounding some media pundits. Filling in for Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti on WFAN’s Boomer & Gio, Jerry Recco and Sal Licata discussed the Mets’ victory over the Giants and then turned their attention to the presentation of the game.

“The promotion they were giving for the KayRod thing last night during the ESPN regular broadcast,” Reccco referenced. “They actually put up live video of them doing it when they had Kevin Mitchell on. You’re basically telling your audience, ‘Hey guys, go here.’”

Licata, a die-hard Mets fan, did not want to watch a broadcast featuring a former New York Yankees infielder and the team’s play-by-play announcer on YES Network. Kay also hosts an afternoon radio show on ESPN New York 98.7, which primarily battles with WFAN for its share of the ratings. Licata, moving into the midday time slot on WFAN with Brandon Tierney starting on July 24, did not even know Kay’s alternate broadcast existed.

“I can’t think of two people I’d rather watch less,” Licata said of Kay and Rodríguez.

Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo was an additional guest on the KayRod Cast, who also makes a weekly appearance on the top-rated morning show, First Take. Licata wishes Russo’s guest appearance would have been better promoted by ESPN, affirming that it would have urged him to watch the alternate broadcast. Instead, he focused on the traditional broadcast and the essential victory of his hometown team.

“Does the rest of the country care?,” Recco replied. “….I think to the rest of the country, it’s A-Rod and Michael Kay is just the announcer.”

Aside from his role on Sunday Night Baseball, Rodríguez also serves as a studio analyst for FOX Sports on its program, Baseball Night in America. Kay and Rodríguez usually work the broadcast together from ESPN’s Seaport District studios in New York, N.Y.; however, this iteration was executed remotely. There were several moments where Kay’s internet connection was lagging, along with moments where Rodríguez spoke simultaneously because of the remote style of the broadcast.

Rodríguez was recently across the pond for the MLB London Series and on the desk with David Ortiz and Kevin Burkhardt for the broadcast debut of Derek Jeter. Recco and Licata expressed some level of envy towards Burkhardt, who used to spend time with them when he was primarily based in the New York metropolitan area.

“He gets to hang out with Jeter,” Licata expressed. “Jerry, he used to hang out with us, and now he’s hanging out with Jeter, A-Rod and Ortiz.”

In addition to his role as the host of baseball studio coverage, Burkhardt was elevated to the role of lead play-by-play announcer for the NFL on FOX. He is expected to work alongside Tom Brady in the lead broadcast booth beginning in the 2024 regular season. While Brady will be on one game per week with FOX Sports, Jeter is only on the desk for marquee events, including the aforementioned London Series and MLB All-Star Game.

“Jeter is working a couple of days,” Chris LoPresti said. “When it was like, ‘Jeter’s joining the crew,’ yeah, for a couple [of things].”

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Howie Schwab, Longtime ESPN Producer and Feature of ‘Stump the Schwab’, Dies

Many former ESPN colleagues, and those in the sports media at large, paid homage to Schwab’s memory after the announcement of his passing.

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A photo of Howie Schwab
(Photo: ESPN)

Longtime ESPN researcher and feature of the mid-2000s ESPN game show Stump the Schwab Howie Schwab has died.

Schwab joined ESPN in 1987 after serving as the editor-in-chief of College & Pro Football News Weekly. He then worked as a producer for ESPN.com before joining ESPN’s studio production team, working on shows like Outside the Lines and SportsCenter.

In 2004, ESPN launched a sports trivia game show — Stump the Schwab — hosted by Stuart Scott, which pitted contestants against Schwab in a test of sports knowledge. The program ran for four seasons, featuring 80 episodes in total, before ending in 2006.

Howie Schwab was part of widespread layoffs at ESPN in 2013. He then worked on Sports Jeopardy! alongside Dan Patrick as a writer beginning in 2014, and also briefly spent time at FOX Sports after his departure from ESPN.

Many former ESPN colleagues, and those in the sports media at large, paid homage to Schwab’s memory after the announcement of his passing.

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Report: ESPN Seems Likely to Renew NFL Draft Media Rights

ESPN has been broadcasting the NFL Draft since 1980.

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ESPN Logo, ESPN NFL Studio Bristol Headquarters

ESPN has been the broadcast home of the NFL Draft since 1980, and the property has become one of the network’s hallmark events within its overall coverage of the National Football League. Analyst Mel Kiper Jr. will return on the airwaves this year for the broadcast of the event, which will include separate feeds on ABC and ESPN on Thursday night.

ESPN has had the rights to the event for several years and attained improvements in ratings with an average of approximately 9.73 million viewers across networks on Day 1 last year. As a whole, the NFL Draft attained a total, unduplicated audience of 54.4 million viewers over the course of the three days on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, NFL Network and additional digital platforms, and will make its return next Wednesday from Detroit, Mich.

John Ourand of Puck News reported that the deal for ESPN to broadcast the NFL Draft will expire in 2025. Within his report, he noted that ESPN is likely to renew its deal with the league, but other media companies could be interested in exploring potentially assuming the property. Some of the companies Ourand includes within his report are FOX, NBC and perhaps Amazon.

ESPN announced its plans for coverage of the 2024 NFL Draft earlier in the week, which will include two broadcasts on ESPN and ABC for the first two days. This year’s draft class contains several top-tier college quarterbacks who will be looking to make an impact at the NFL level, including USC star Caleb Williams. The Chicago Bears hold the first-overall pick for the 2024 NFL Draft and are projected by several insiders to select Williams after trading away quarterback Justin Fields earlier in the offseason.

ESPN and NFL Network will bring back a crossover element to the NFL Draft broadcast this year, something that both entities collaborated on in 2020 and 2023. On Tuesday, April 16, Kiper Jr. will appear on NFL Network for NFL Total Access. ESPN NFL insider Field Yates will appear on NFL Network Wednesday, April 17 for Path to the Draft while NFL Network analyst Steve Smith Sr. appears on SportsCenter. Both programs will last from 6 to 7 p.m. EST on their respective networks. Mina Kimes will appear on Move the Sticks Thursday, April 18 on NFL Network, while Kurt Warner and Daniel Jeremiah will be on Get Up and NFL Live, respectively, the following day.

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NBA TV Announces Playoff Coverage, Gus Johnson to Call Game 2 of Pacers-Bucks

Coverage of games throughout the NBA Playoffs on NBA TV will include pregame, halftime and studio coverage as well.

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NBA TV Logo
(Illustration) Courtesy: National Basketball Association, Warner Bros. Discovery

Warner Bros. Discovery has announced coverage plans for the first round of the National Basketball Association Playoffs on NBA TV, which includes back-to-back nights of live game broadcasts beginning on Monday, April 22. The Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers will face off from Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio featuring play-by-play announcer Kevin Calabro, analyst Brendan Haywood and sideline reporter Lauren Jbara. This will mark Jbara’s playoff debut with NBA TV, which comes after officially joining TNT Sports last fall. Calabro, Haywood and Jbara will also return on Thursday, April 25 at 7 p.m. EST for Game 3 between the Magic and Cavaliers from Kia Center in Orlando, Fla.

The second game of the series between the Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks will be presented on NBA TV at 8:30 p.m. EST and features the return of Gus Johnson behind the microphone for playoff action. Johnson, who serves as the lead play-by-play voice for college football and college basketball coverage for FOX Sports, will work with Jim Jackson and Dennis Scott on the call from Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisc.

Over the course of the 2023-24 NBA season, Johnson filled in on select New York Knicks game telecasts on MSG Networks, where he previously served as an announcer and studio host for 16 years. Coverage of games throughout the NBA Playoffs on NBA TV will include pregame, halftime and studio coverage as well.

NBA TV could televise up to nine games throughout the 2024 NBA Playoffs depending on the outcomes of the individual series. Star players such as Paolo Banchero, Damian Lillard, Tyrese Haliburton and Donovan Mitchell are expected to participate across the matchups. The league-owned broadcast entity jointly managed by the NBA and Warner Bros. Discovery is coming off its most-viewed season since 2015-16.

TNT Sports will also present playoff games on TNT and available to stream utilizing the B/R Sports Add-On through Max. Coverage will conclude with the Western Conference Finals with a spot to compete for the Larry O’Brien Trophy in the balance.

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