Sports TV News
ESPN and Jason Whitlock Part Ways
ESPN and sports commentator Jason Whitlock have parted ways.
After hiring Whitlock in August 2013 to be the founding editor for a still-yet-to-launch website (The Undefeated) on the intersection of race and sports—a talent acquisition that was also part of a spending spree to counter the launch of Fox Sports 1—ESPN has bought out the remainder of Whitlock’s contract. This ends the second go-around for ESPN and Whitlock, who worked from ESPN from 2002 to 2006 as an ESPN.com writer and frequently opinionist on its studio shows. The buyout was quietly negotiated a couple of weeks ago.
When contacted by SI.com on Sunday afternoon, an ESPN spokesperson forwarded the following from the company, “We have mutually agreed to part ways, which was Jason’s preference following the shift from his role as Editor-in-Chief. Jason is a talented print and television commentator, and we wish him success in his next chapter. ESPN remains fully committed to The Undefeated and plans continue toward an official launch.”
The troubled editorship and eventual ouster of Whitlock as the lead editor of the still yet-to-launch site has been well chronicled, from the New York Times to multiple longform pieces by Deadspin writer Greg Howard.
Here was ESPN’s statement at the time of Whitlock’s removal. Whitlock continued to appear on ESPN’s airwaves throughout this summer on Pardon The Interruption, where he is a favorite of executive producer Erik Rydholm and on-air staffers Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. It’s expected Whitlock will continue to appear on that show in the near-term.
What’s next? Well, given Fox Sports National Networks President Jamie Horowitz is a Professor Emeritus of the Morton Downey Jr. College of Television, given Horowitz shares mutual professional friends with Whitlock, and given the recent report from Sports Business Daily media reporter John Ourand that FS1 is looking for more opinionated hosts for its afternoon block, Whitlock appears to be a lock to re-join Fox Sports, where he worked from 2007 to 2013. FS1 is rebranding its afternoon format around Colin Cowherd and provocative sports talk in an effort toturn around low ratings. Whitlock could serve as a partner with Cowherd on a still-to-be built late afternoon show or co-host his own show. Will FS1 viewers watch a bloc of programming featuring ex-ESPN talkers? Time will tell.
A Fox spokesperson declined to comment.
Credit to Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated who originally published this article
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Sports TV News
Mike Breen: My Dream Was to Be a DJ at WPLJ
“I enjoyed being on the air and talking. So my initial thought was, ‘I’m going to be a disc jockey.’”
These days, WPLJ in New York City is a Christian station owned by the Educational Media Foundation. When Mike Breen was a kid in Yonkers though, it was one of the most influential rock stations in America and the man who is now known as the voice of the NBA wanted to be on the air there.
On the latest edition of Dan Le Batard’s South Beach Sessions podcast, Breen revealed that he always loved sports. His first introduction to broadcasting though came from a neighbor named Tony Minecola. He was a few years older than Breen and studying to be a radio broadcaster in college.
“He built a radio station in his basement and played disc jockey,” Breen told Le Batard. “’He had commercials, records, you know, everything. Like it was a real radio station, only it only went from one room to the next. That was what he was into, and that’s what he was going to college for. And we used to hang out in the basement all the time. And one day he says, ‘Hey, why don’t you come in? You want to you want to be the DJ for a little bit?’ And I’m like, okay, let me try it.’ And I fell in love with it.”
Mike Breen didn’t just fall in love with the idea of radio. He saw it as a viable career and knew exactly where he wanted it to take him.
“I enjoyed being on the air and talking. So my initial thought was, ‘I’m going to be a disc jockey.’ WPLJ was like the big rock station in New York back at that time, and I thought, ‘I’m going to be a DJ on WPLJ.’ That was my first goal.
Through the 70s and early 80s, WPLJ was an album rock station. Some of its most iconic on air personalities included Carol Miller, Pat St. John, Fr. Bill Ayers, and Mark Goodman, who was eventually one of MTV’s original VJs.
Breen said he loved the rock music of the time, especially Jethro Tull and Bruce Springsteen, but he realized that a broadcasting career could keep him close to sports too.
Obviously, he chose well. That is not to say that he couldn’t have been a great DJ if given the chance, but he went on to be the voice of the New York Knicks and has called more NBA Finals games than anyone else in history.
WPLJ was out of the rock business by 1983 when it became a pop station.
Sports TV News
New Episodes of Beyond Limits Coming to CBS Sports
The series, which first premiered in September 2021, is produced by the CBS Sports Race and Culture Unit, with senior producer Sarah M. Kazadi.
CBS Sports is set to premiere new episodes of its franchise Beyond Limits, which celebrates athletes who go beyond the implicit boundaries of sports and society. Three half-hour episodes will be hosted by CBS Sports reporter AJ Ross, and will also air on CBS’ linear channel and stream live on Paramount+.
The first episode of the season is titled “Who I Am,” and it will feature Byron Perkins, who is the first openly gay football player at a historically black college or university (HBCU). Perkins is a redshirt senior at Hampton University. The show will also discuss the relationship he has with his mother and how she has impacted him both as a person and an athlete.
Two more episodes will premiere throughout the season – one on making sports adaptable and accessible; and the other featuring athletes who have moved into executive roles. The latter show includes interviews with NBA Executive Vice President and Head of Basketball Operations, Joe Dumars; New Orleans Pelicans Vice President of Basketball Operations and Team Development, Swin Cash; and NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Troy Vincent.
The series, which first premiered in September 2021, is produced by the CBS Sports Race and Culture Unit, with senior producer Sarah M. Kazadi. Its first episode premieres on Sunday, June 11 at 1:30 p.m. EST/10:30 a.m. PST, and should provide fans with unique storytelling and spotlight into the journeys of various key figures in sports and media alike.
Sports TV News
ESPN Colleagues Pay Tribute to Neil Everett
“It was universal praise from the people that knew and worked with Everett.”
Neil Everett has become one of the faces of SportsCenter. After 23 years at ESPN, he announced that he is leaving the network.
Colleagues at the World Wide Leader took to Twitter to share their thoughts. It was universal praise from the people that knew and worked with Everett. Chief among them was his SportsCenter partner of fourteen years, Stan Verrett.
If Root Sports Northwest requires references, there are plenty ESPN colleagues past and present that were immediately ready to vouch for Neil Everett.
Everett was not laid off. He turned down a new contract that would have forced him to take a pay cut.
The Walt Disney Company is in the middle of layoffs effecting every division. CEO Bob Iger has tasked his leaders with reducing costs by $5.5 billion and cutting 7000 jobs.