[Quoted] Dan Le Batard and ESPN ‘mutually’ agree to move on

“Dan Le Batard put up ESPN’s best podcast numbers by far. Curious to see (a) if he lands with Spotify, Ringer, etc. and (b) if ESPN has new plans for the podcast space or if it returns to being recycled radio shows…”

Sports talk radio has been playing in the background most of my life. I listened because I wanted to be them, then because I was them, and later because I missed being them.

The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz has been my fix for the past – oh goodness – at least five years. It’s occasionally smart social commentary wrapped in stupid morning zoo radio. Like Jim Rome or Scott Van Pelt, they never take sports too seriously.

But that irreverence and continued meandering into the culture war was a relic of former boss John Skipper’s ESPN, not Jimmy Pitaro’s strict “stick to sports” network.

So it wasn’t surprising at all to learn that Le Batard and ESPN were parting ways. What I was most curious about as a media researcher is how it would affect the podcast space. Digital audio is where Le Batard increasingly found himself resigned, but he turned it into an impressive brand rivaling that of Bill Simmons.

I think, like Simmons, it’s going to help Le Batard become a rare post-ESPN success story. Meanwhile ESPN has to decide if it’s going to devote resources to developing new names and ideas that play to the unique podcast space, or just toss in replays of Mike Greenberg and PTI and call it a day. Is it worth it to a media enterprise that is focused on TV and streaming video, owned by an even bigger media conglomerate focused on all of that plus movies and theme parks?

It’s a lot to consider. Thanks to Brian Stelter for using my questions to get the conversation started.

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[Weekly Rundown] Muhammad Ali tributes; Uncle Verne and Joe Buck; a Christian rocker comes out; what is tronc?

Today, we’re sports-heavy – honoring The Greatest, more Baylor fallout (now featuring Mississippi State), and sports broadcasters accused of bias. That, plus a Christian rocker comes out, social media faces censorship, and something called tronc.

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Sports

Muhammad Ali died Saturday night. If you only knew him as a boxer, I hope you’ll take all the tributes as an opportunity to learn more.

The news broke as I was finalizing this week’s rundown, but people more attuned to great sports writing have been curating your must-reads. I recommend this list from Don Van Natta and Jacob Feldman’s Sunday Long Read newsletter.

From a sports media perspective, ESPN did something I can’t recall seeing before. They went live in the wee hours Saturday with their top journalistic talent. Bob Ley and Jeremy Schaap anchored a SportsCenter that was relaxed in pace, letting both men and their guests share longform stories about Ali. Deadspin, who loves to hate on the Worldwide Leader, offered praise, and captured a 12-minute segment for you to watch. SI’s Richard Deitsch has the behind-the-scenes look at how the late-night broadcast came together.

This probably isn’t your first time to see the photo at the top of today’s post. It was taken by Neil Leifer for Sports Illustrated in 1965, and remains one of history’s most iconic sports photographs. Many stories have been written about it since. Here’s a longread by Dave Mondy published about a year ago that explores the photographer and the fighters he captured. Continue reading “[Weekly Rundown] Muhammad Ali tributes; Uncle Verne and Joe Buck; a Christian rocker comes out; what is tronc?”

[Video] Did ESPN commentators call Mississippians poor?

Mississippians are passionate about our state. We know more about our famous alumni than most colleges. We celebrate our successes in spite (or because) of our status as the perennial underdog. And that means that when someone on the national stage disparages Mississippi, we attack… like Bulldogs, perhaps.

Midway through the first game of the College World Series finals, social media simmered with reports that the ESPN broadcast had taken at shot at the poorest state in the nation:

Even the university got in on the action:

 

I’ve reviewed the tape; here’s what was said:

Continue reading “[Video] Did ESPN commentators call Mississippians poor?”