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Burke Magnus: Audio is ‘Work in Progress’ for ESPN

“It’s in a little bit of a transformative period right now.”

Derek Futterman

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Burke Magnus - ESPN Radio
Courtesy: ESPN Images

ESPN Radio recently announced its new on-air lineup featuring established hosts and varied content offerings. The audio business is in a midst of transition and ESPN has outsourced different aspects of the model to other entities, most notably Good Karma Brands. ESPN recently agreed to a deal with the company that renders it responsible for sales on the radio and podcast networks, a transaction that was preceded by a larger move as it pertains to ownership of traditional outlets.

The discussion pertaining to the ephemeral future of audio communications and the sports radio format in particular have been amplified over several years. Some local stations are syndicating large swaths of national content throughout the day with minimal amounts of original programming. Moreover, there have been people from around the industry claiming that the company is “punting” on radio, wondering about the future of ESPN Radio as a division altogether. In general, a sentiment of the company neglecting the radio medium in particular has pervaded media circles, evidenced by frequent lineup changes and alterations in the leadership and management structure.

The future of the audio medium is in the purview of Burke Magnus, president of content at ESPN, and he has a significant hand in the future of the network. Magnus emanates from the world of college sports, having landed a full-time position with ESPN in 1995 as a programming associate. While he has remained cognizant of radio from afar, he is now entrenched in the room where industry-altering decisions are made.

“I think it’s a work in progress,” Magnus said of the future of audio at ESPN. “I think it too is transforming, particularly with the significance and power and influence that podcasting has taken with people’s time, and in particular sports fans’ time.”

Indeed, several original podcasts distributed by ESPN are produced by Omaha Productions, a media company founded by Pro Football Hall of Fame member Peyton Manning. Omaha is also responsible for Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli, the hit alternate broadcast that is set to enter its third season in a few weeks. Because of the growth in other spaces, Magnus and those in the industry tend not to define the landscape as the radio business, instead adopting broader nomenclature.

“We’ve said for many years [that] it’s the audio business, Magnus said, “and I think that manifests itself in a lot of different ways, but terrestrial radio is certainly part of that mix.”

As part of layoffs mandated by The Walt Disney Company to slash $5.5 billion in operating costs, leaders across the format lost their jobs, including senior vice president of audio Scott McCarthy. The cuts came after Disney chief executive officer Bob Iger reorganized the company into three distinct business segments, one of which is ESPN, which will report its own earnings for the first time later this year. Additionally, Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams and Max Kellerman departed the network shortly after the cancellation of their national morning show, and the network has cross-utilized its talent across various programming through different verticals.

“Sometimes, I think people read into a particular individual circumstance too much looking for a deeper meaning to a particular change or two,” Magnus said. “That would be the way I feel about where radio is at the moment.”

ESPN and Pat McAfee inked a multi-year, multimillion dollar contract to bring the hit digital program, The Pat McAfee Show, to various network platforms for 235 episodes per year. McAfee, a former NFL punter with the Indianapolis Colts, along with the rest of his show cast, will be available to watch on linear and digital outlets as part of the network’s new, upcoming daytime programming lineup. The network may reportedly look to put McAfee’s show on radio down the road, in line with the multiplatform nature of the endeavor.

“There are radio people who are very good on the radio, and maybe they wouldn’t be able to succeed on television, and vice-versa,” Magnus said. “To me, it’s a blend of big-name talent that cuts [through] regardless of medium, but balanced considerably by true radio professionals that are entertaining and have a mastery of that medium in particular.”

As Magnus works with Chairman Jimmy Pitaro and the rest of ESPN leadership to craft the future of the network, it is certain that audio will be a part of it. In just what capacity the network will be involved with the content remains to be seen, but it encompasses part of a larger plan to keep the network positioned for future growth in the dynamic modern media ecosystem.

“It’s in a little bit of a transformative period right now,” Magnus said of the audio industry, “but it is definitely something we’re thinking about and seeing how it could optimize itself over time.”


Barrett Sports Media’s exclusive interview with Burke Magnus will be published on Friday morning, featuring his thoughts on the new daytime programming lineup, ESPN BET and the future of the “Worldwide Leader.”

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Tom Crean Added to SiriusXM NBA Draft Coverage

The former Marquette, Indiana, and Georgia men’s basketball coach will co-host SiriusXM’s NBA Draft Preview Show, alongside Eddie Johnson and Justin Termine.

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NBA Draft logo, SiriusXM logo and a photo of Tom Crean

The 78th edition of the NBA Draft will be the first to be held over two days. The first round will take place on Wednesday June 26 and will be followed by the second round on Thursday June 27. The draft will be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. SiriusXM will provide full coverage on SiriusXM NBA Radio channel 86, and they have announced Tom Crean will take part in a preview show prior to each round.

The former Marquette, Indiana, and Georgia men’s basketball coach will co-host SiriusXM’s NBA Draft Preview Show, alongside Eddie Johnson and Justin Termine, on Tuesday, June 25 on Wednesday, June 26 prior to Round 1 at 4 p.m. ET, and on Thursday, June 27, prior to Round 2 at 2 p.m. ET.

Crean returned to ESPN as a college basketball analyst in December 2022 after having worked for them previously during the 2017-2018 season. Crean was fired after four seasons at Georgia, prior to his ESPN return.

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Dan Woike: ‘I Can’t Imagine’ JJ Redick and LeBron James Podcast Will Continue

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JJ Redick
Courtesy: Phil Ellsworth, ESPN Images

Following the conclusion of the 2024 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks, JJ Redick has reportedly agreed to a contract to serve as the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Redick, who recently broadcast the best-of-seven series for ESPN on ABC with play-by-play announcer Mike Breen, analyst Doris Burke and reporter Lisa Salters, is reportedly in the process of compiling his coaching staff for his first season leading the Lakers. Although Redick does not have any NBA coaching experience, he played 15 seasons in the league with six teams and has been an analyst for ESPN over parts of the last four years. Outside of his work with ESPN, Redick also built his ThreeFourTwo Productions company and co-hosted The Old Man and the Three podcast.

This past March, Redick launched a new podcast with Lakers forward and four-time NBA champion LeBron James titled Mind the Game. Episodes of the show contained nuanced basketball discussions that some people feel gave Redick an inherent edge in the head coaching search. Dan Patrick recently had Dan Woike, Lakers beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, on his program, the Dan Patrick Show, and asked about the future of the podcast with James.

“I can’t imagine it’s going to continue,” Woike said. “Sad, right? We might get a season finale episode…. Who knows what’s going to happen here.”

Woike spoke about Redick’s eclectic interests that include basketball, broadcasting, golf, wine and fancy suits. Part of this transition that Woike will be watching is how Redick makes the adjustments and focuses the energy that he has. The organization, he stated, is not hiring a podcaster and believes that Redick has an aptitude and shrewdness towards basketball and is serious about the endeavor. While Redick and James have a good relationship with strong rapport, it is relatively new and something Woike perceives as critical to everything going on. Nonetheless, he does not think they can continue the show because it would be an “unnecessary distraction” to the team.

“They’re paying him to coach, they’re not paying him to podcast,” Woike said. “His divestment from his podcast empire is sort of an interesting media side-note to this to see kind of how much he steps back and kind of what happens to it because it’s been really successful for him.”

Rather than asking him another question, Patrick presented Woike with a sentence and asked him to complete it. The statement was, “If he doesn’t have the podcast with LeBron…,” and Woike proceeded to outline that the Lakers would then have more questions about his ability to coach James. Patrick then immediately followed up by asking if he still would have landed the Lakers’ head coaching job if he did not have the podcast, to which Woike replied that he believed it would still be possible. Former Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski was reportedly advising the organization throughout its head coaching search, and Redick previously played for him at the university.

Woike referenced a specific clip from the podcast in which Redick and James were discussing analytics and three-point shooting. At one point, James pushed back against the analytics by asking what would happen if a team missed 27 straight three-point shots, as the Houston Rockets did in Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Redick quickly replied by asking if it had happened since, leading James to admit that he was right.

“Now how that plays in the locker room at halftime when you’re down 17 to the Charlotte Hornets and everybody’s tired, who knows,” Woike said. “That is a huge question, but I think, to be quite fair, there was going to be elements of question with that with Dan Hurley too.”

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ESPN LA 710 Announces New Fall Lineup

This follows announcements made earlier in the week which saw play-by-play partnerships added with USC and the LA Kings and a new contract for afternoon show co-host Scott Kaplan.

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Logo for ESPN LA 710 and a graphic for their new fall lineup
Graphic Courtesy: ESPN LA 710

ESPN LA 710 announced more news today, introducing a new lineup which will start on Monday, September 9. This follows announcements made earlier in the week which saw play-by-play partnerships added with USC and the LA Kings and a new contract for afternoon show co-host Scott Kaplan.

The new lineup will see morning drive start with Mike Greenberg’s Greeny , followed by Travis Rodgers and Allen Sliwa moving back an hour to start at 9a PT. Steve Mason and John Ireland will then air from 12p to 3p PT followed by the afternoon team of Jorge Sedano and Scott Kaplan moving to 3p-6p PT.

In addition to USC and the Kings, the station has play-by-play agreements with the Lakers, the Rams, the Angels and LAFC.

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