Mass ESPN Layoffs Affect Radio Lineup

Paul Finebaum ESPN Radio SEC NetworkAs ESPN institutes mass layoffs today as part of a new “Content Evolution Strategy”, a number of well known personalities were shown the door today.

The 1-4pm eastern program hosted by Ryen Russillo and Danny Kanell will see changes as Kanell, who served as a college football analyst and co-host of the show, has been among the staffers dismissed. The Hollywood Reporter states that Russillo will remain with the program but in a reduced role at the network.

Also exiting ESPN Radio is 4-6am eastern co-host Robin Lundberg. He co-hosted “First and Last” with Mike Golic Jr. Lundberg also hosts a solo show on weekends for ESPN Radio and previously hosted early afternoons at “ESPN 98.7” WEPN-FM New York.

Other well-known personalities exiting “The Worldwide Leader” today include NFL Analyst Trent Dilfer, baseball writer Jayson Stark, NFL reporter Ed Werder, and host Jay Crawford, while anchors Karl Ravech and Hannah Storm will also see their roles reduced.

ESPN President John Skipper sent the following memo to staffers this morning:

ESPN has been actively engaged throughout its history in navigating changes in technology and fan behavior in order to continue to deliver quality, breakthrough content. Today, we are again focused on a strategic vision that will propel our vast array of networks and services forward.

A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions. Our content strategy – primarily illustrated in recent months by melding distinct, personality-driven SportsCenter TV editions and digital-only efforts with our biggest sub-brand – still needs to go further, faster…and as always, must be efficient and nimble. Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent—anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play—necessary to meet those demands. We will implement changes in our talent lineup this week. A limited number of other positions will also be affected and a handful of new jobs will be posted to fill various needs.

These decisions impact talented people who have done great work for our company. I would like to thank all of them for their efforts and their many contributions to ESPN.

Our objective in all we do is to best serve fans and their changing consumption habits while still maintaining an unparalleled and diverse talent roster that resonates with fans across all our platforms. We will continue to foster creativity and investment in the products and resources necessary to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.

Thank you as always for your continuing dedication to our work.

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Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

2 Comments


  1. Given that most ESPN radio shows had two co-hosts and many were just two or three hours in length, I thought ESPN would decimate ESPN Radio and lay-off most of the program hosts with the remaining shows being four or five hours each with (except for weekday morning drive) solo hosts.

    Those two moves could eliminate most of the ESPN radio’s on-air staff.

    But it appears that many of the layoffs aren’t taking place at the network’s Bristol, Connecticut headquarters. Quite frankly, I expected most of the layoffs to be in Bristol.


  2. I would think that ESPN Radio could go altogether, since Emmis is apparently trying to unload WEPN, and it would arguably be more valuable without an LMA.

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