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The Media Industry Pays Tribute To Kenny Mayne

Everyone has their guy on SportsCenter, and Kenny Mayne has been mine since I was 16 years old.

Demetri Ravanos



Photo credit: Alamy

I was writing for a local entertainment blog around the time Tom Petty died. At that time, I wrote that no piece of clothing ever looked as cool on anyone as apathy looked on Tom Petty. The blog has since been taken down and my writing lost to the whims of internet history, so you’ll just have to trust me. The line really was that cool.

I was thinking about that column and that line when I heard that Kenny Mayne would be leaving SportsCenter. His final show aired on Monday and while there was plenty of emotion on air and support poured out on the internet, I couldn’t help but remember the apathy.

Kenny Mayne got moved to the 11 pm SportsCenter when I was in high school. The replay of that show is what I watched every morning as I put on my prep school uniform and literally dreaded the day in front of me. I wasn’t dumb. I just couldn’t muster up the energy to pretend to care about academics or understand how they were useful to me. I recognized a kindred spirit in Kenny.

When I say I remember the apathy, that is not to say that I don’t think Kenny Mayne cared if he did a good job or didn’t work hard. I just mean that the persona he presented on air was one of “I don’t care if you’re having fun. I am. You can come along for the ride or not. It doesn’t matter to me.”

It was charming in just how effortless it was. It was so funny because it was just so dumb. How had no one ever thought to shout YAHTZEE! during a home run highlight before?

Everyone has their guy on SportsCenter, and Kenny Mayne has been mine since I was 16 years old.

With that era finally at a close, I asked people from all around the sports media to share their favorite memories of Kenny Mayne. I asked former colleagues to share stories about how he made their time at ESPN better. I asked acolytes to tell me how he influenced them and what he meant to them. Here is some of what they had to say.



Kenny Mayne might have influenced generations of aspiring broadcasters. Problem is, no matter how much they wanted to be like him, no one ever could. Kenny was too talented, too funny, too unique. There is no other Kenny Mayne, and never will be another one.

Kenny had a style all his own, all the way to his last SportsCenter appearance Monday night. He was the star of ESPN’s SportsCenter commercials, the face of the network at ad sales upfronts, and the man who entertained us for 26 years. Others will try to replace him, but no one ever will mimic him nor his success. He was, and always be, the wilder world of sports.


The thing about Kenny I loved the most, was not his great ability to tell us what was going on in the sports world, but the way he did it. He made it fun, you laughed, you were entertained.

I will also say I had him on my shows as a guest many times, and that is an experience, because you never know where he is going to go, but you eventually get there, and you were smiling all the way.

JOHN CLAYTON – Washington Post

I go back to the very beginning with Kenny. He worked at the TV station that was right next to my newspaper, the Tacoma News Tribune. I covered the Seahawks. I remember standing next to him watching Seahawks practice. He showed the letter he sent to ESPN about getting a job. The letter was funny, creative and caught everyone at the network by surprise. ESPN hired him for the start of ESPN 2.

He’s a star. His career was amazing. We’ll all miss him on the air but I will still see him because he lives eight miles away me in the Seattle area. 


The first show every day with Kenny Mayne what is a SportsCenter…

I was new to the television broadcasting world as I had just retired several months previous to that show. It was the day Minnesota Vikings tackle Kory Stringer passed away and I had the task of talking about it on Air. Kenny could tell that I was nervous and he told me that everything will be OK just to speak from my heart.

I always appreciated his approach his sense of humor and it’s passion to help others. Kenny is a dear friend and a great mentor and one of the funniest/quirkiest humans on the planet.

Photo Credit ESPN Images


I worked with Kenny for a long time on ESPN2’s Sports Night and then he was a frequent guest on my radio show. (Note – Kenny, I’m sorry I kept butchering the name of the web-site you had up and running to keep people updated on the book you were writing. Was it ‘ Was it Something like that. I didn’t drive much traffic there. My bad. But that URL, I mean COME ON MAN.)

One time Kenny and I were on the same flight out of Hartford for Los Angeles. We sat a row from each other and talked for a bit but I fell asleep really fast and woke up when the flight attendant walked by us briskly and said ‘Put your trays up we’re landing in a few minutes.’ I was excited because I thought “Wow, I just slept all the way to L.A.!” Nope. The pilot announced our plane lost an engine, and we were diverting to Albany. It was white knuckle time for like 20 minutes, and Kenny kept his sense of humor all the way through it. I was wondering ‘Do I need to call my wife right now?’ And Kenny said to me ’These planes are all made to fly with one engine. It’s like getting a kidney taken out – you can do just fine with one. I wouldn’t recommend it but it’s live-able.’ 

We eventually land and Kenny (“Look, the rescue vehicles were a good hundred yards away in case we blew up!”) calls ESPN to say he wants to rent a car to drive BACK to Hartford to then fly out of there again for Los Angeles. Suffice it to say I don’t think the travel department was happy with that idea. When I asked him “Why don’t you just fly out of here on the next flight?” Kenny said “What’s the fun in that? I can get in a car and we’re RACING (His NASCAR catch-phrase) back to Hartford to see if I could make it in time!”

I should’ve taken that drive with Kenny. I’m going to miss him.

(*Checks internet, sees Kenny isn’t dying, only leaving ESPN.*)

Oh, I may see him soon here in L.A.! Nobu’s on you.


Most underrated talent I’ve ever been around. Much more clever than most anyone in the business and we all know it! Kenny, should be in our living rooms every night!  What a great friend and human! Top shelf! Networks should stand in line for his skills! Love him and wouldn’t miss this show! He’s been a great watch/listen! 


I love Kenny Mayne. I love his humor. I love his savvy. I love the way he delivers a highlight. You can tell how much he loves sports and loves being an anchor on SportsCenter.

The DP and Kenny Mayne team was incredible. His catch phrases were always the best. Mayne’s interviews were always great. The Marshawn one was my favorite. And I loved his love for his Seattle teams. One of my all time favorites! 

Photo Credit Getty Images


I’ve always enjoyed watching Kenny Mayne co-host SportsCenter and his unique, creative style of delivering the day’s sports news. He had a great run at ESPN and I’m disappointed to see him go. I’m sure he will take it to the place of residence in his next endeavors. So bring him your finest meats and cheeses. After all, he’s good at sports broadcasting. Now I must go back to what I had been doing….whatever that was. 


Kenny Mayne changed the game. Anyone who ever felt a bit like an outsider but loved sports saw him as their guy. He did it his own way and had multiple generations of sports fans laughing and quoting his ridiculous wit. 


Kenny Mayne always reminded me that sports are supposed to be fun. Sometimes we get caught up and make the toy isle of life way more serious and important than it actually is. Kenny Mayne never lost sight of that. His lightheartedness was both grounding and refreshing and will certainly be missed on ESPN. 


Kenny Mayne showed me you could be different and work in this business. Specifically, Kenny showed us you didn’t have to be a classically trained, cookie cutter broadcaster to succeed in this industry (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but we all know the prototype).

He still commanded the studio and had a firm grasp on how to lead a broadcast, but he was quirky. He marched to a different beat. He was monotone but hilarious; dry but brilliant in his timing and delivery. Kenny disarmed his interviewees with an approach none of us were used to, and the athletes/coaches he interviewed seemed more at ease talking to Kenny.

ESPN is letting go of a legend, and I hope his career continues prominently elsewhere because my sports watching experience is better with Kenny Mayne apart of it. Thanks for the ride, Mayne.

News: Kenny Mayne, Berman, NHL hires and more - Sports Media Watch
Photo Credit: Kelly Backus/ESPN Images


At times I’ve had an issue with taking myself too seriously even though I’m working in sports talk radio. Kenny Mayne has been a constant reminder for almost three decades that this is fun. Enjoy it, laugh at yourself and remember things could be much worse. He’s entertained me for a long time and I look forward to seeing where he’s headed next. 


Kenny Mayne was a staple of my childhood. He was one of the first anchors I ever saw who so naturally infused humor into his updates. Kenny, in a way, made sports fun again. I think he changed the industry in TV/radio more than people realize, including myself. 

BSM Writers

Disney Has One Logical Choice For The Future – Jimmy Pitaro

“If Bob Iger wants his next successor to come from the sports world, that is his guy. Hell, forget sports. Pitaro may be the best person available no matter how far and wide the search goes.”

Demetri Ravanos




Bob Iger’s latest tenure atop the Walt Disney Company fascinates me. The company begged him to come back to clean up the mess made by his handpicked successor, but it was made clear from the get-go that he has a very limited window to get this right and then go home. That is why, less than six months after Iger returned to Burbank, we are already hearing about who will be the next CEO of Disney.

There is reportedly a shortlist of candidates for the job and it is sports-heavy. Two of the four spots are occupied by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro. I see the value both men could bring to the job, but I think there is a clear frontrunner and obvious choice.

Jimmy Pitaro is already inside the Disney walls. He has already learned to operate within the Disney hierarchy. He has had to answer investors’ tough questions about budget and direction. If Bob Iger wants his next successor to come from the sports world, that is his guy. Hell, forget sports. Pitaro may be the best person available no matter how far and wide the search goes.

Adam Silver’s tenure as NBA Commissioner is the target of all sorts of criticism, mostly from people that don’t watch the NBA anyway. For all of the pissing and moaning about load management and player empowerment, people are still watching and the league is still as profitable as ever. By the metrics that matter to the people that matter (team owners), he is doing an excellent job. 

On a recent episode of Meadowlark Media’s Sports Business, John Skipper made it clear that he loves Silver and thinks he would make an excellent CEO for the Walt Disney Company, but that is a totally different world from the one Silver is currently thriving in.

“My advice would be to stay at the NBA,” the Meadowlark Media boss said. “It’s not a public company. You don’t have to face shareholders. You do have to face 30 NBA owners, but you don’t have activist shareholders. And I think Adam is a committed NBA commissioner. He’s been for a long time.”

The public posturing of Ron DeSantis will always get attention, but it doesn’t always have to be taken seriously. The moment he threatened to dissolve the special district in Central Florida that Walt Disney World operates out of, legal scholars were quick to point out that the proposal would create a major burden on the state and its citizens that no politician wants to be responsible for.

DeSantis wanted his culture war. Disney wanted the problem to go away. The two sides quietly found a compromise that made it look like the governor didn’t lose while Disney got to go on basically with business as usual. That is the kind of corporate policy war whoever takes over for Bob Iger will have to be ready to wage. 

Disney needs a salvager in that chair, someone who knows how to diagnose the problems of business relationships and find fixes that hurt each side just enough that both can say the other really took it on the chin. Pitaro is that guy. 

Look at ESPN’s relationship with the NFL when he arrived versus where it is now. The company needs someone that makes stars and creators feel like this company is one that it can trust and one that they want to be in business with. Look at what Pitaro has done to bring the Manning Brothers, Pat McAfee, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman under the Disney umbrella while simultaneously finding ways to keep stars like Stephen A. Smith and Bomani Jones happy with non-exclusive deals that allow them to grow their profile with new opportunities outside of the company walls.

Most importantly, no segment of the Walt Disney Company and arguably, no network on basic cable, has had to answer as many questions about the future of distribution as often as ESPN. Jimmy Pitaro has been asked about a future where entertainment is driven solely by the needs of the audience so many times that he has undoubtedly thought about the ups and downs of the streaming landscape more than just about anyone else on Earth.

Bob Iger will be atop Disney through the end of the year and into 2024. This isn’t a decision that is being made tomorrow. Even when it is made, Iger doesn’t just get to write a name down on a piece of paper, slam down an “APPROVED” stamp and go home. 

Everyone on that reported shortlist will be vetted by Iger, his confidants, members of the Disney board, and shareholders. Some may wince at the fact they have no idea how Jimmy Pitaro envisions running theme parks and a cruise line, but the reality is that no one checks all the boxes for any job as big as this one until they have been in it for a while.

When you know the perfect fit for a job doesn’t exist, you go looking for the person that is the best fit. I think Bob Iger and Disney have already found him in Bristol, CT.

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Michael Kay Couldn’t Leave 98.7 ESPN New York Just Yet

“I wouldn’t want to leave it the way it is right now.”

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When a New York Post report back in January suggested that Michael Kay was “seriously contemplating retiring from his 98.7 ESPN New York show”, maybe he was in a dark room in his home thinking about his future.

In his mind, his days of hosting sports talk shows were pretty much over.

“When that story came out, I thought I was definitely not going to come back,” said Kay during a phone interview with Barrett Sports Media. “I almost appreciated it a little bit when Aaron Rodgers said when he went on the dark retreat that he was 90% retired. Well, I’d say I was even more than that. I was probably 95% certain that I was going to walk away in September when my contract was up.”

But between then and now, Kay had a chance of heart and he announced this past Thursday on his show that he had signed a new contract with 98.7 ESPN New York and that his show would continue for “a good long while”.

The decision to stay was not an easy one and, as it turned out, it was his family that played a big role in staying at 98.7 ESPN New York. 

“It was really difficult,” said Kay who is also the television play-play-play voice of the New York Yankees on YES Network. 

“The most difficult part of it is that my kids are 8 and 10 so you want to see important things in their life. Even during the winter when I’m off from the Yankees, I’m out of connection from 3:00 to 7:00, so I had to reconcile with that. I talked with my wife and I actually talked with my kids about it, too, and they like me doing it so I decided to keep doing it.”

After initially feeling like it was time to step away after hosting The Michael Kay Show for 21 years, Kay began to reconsider but he also knew that he had to decide with his current contract expiring this September. The sales staff at the radio station needed to know because they had to inform potential advertisers who was going to host the show. Kay also owed it to his co-hosts Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg to let them know what his plans were.

Everyone at 98.7 ESPN New York needed a decision.

“The radio station has to make contingency plans,” said Kay. “What’s going to happen if I, in fact, do leave? All of those people are impacted.”

Speaking of La Greca and Rosenberg, Kay’s sidekicks played a huge part in his decision to continue doing the show. There’s a tremendous amount of chemistry on the program and Kay wasn’t about to walk away from his radio family. 

“Don and I have been together 21 years,” said Kay. “That’s a longer relationship than my wife and I have. We’re really special friends. Peter is for about 8 years and I feel the same way about him.”

Kay also acknowledged the people behind the scenes like Program Director Ryan Hurley, as well as executives from both ESPN and Good Karma Brands.

“They certainly tried to appeal to me to stay and after a while, it got to me,” said Kay. “I said you know what I’m not done yet so I decided to re-up. The pull to stay was stronger than the pull to just kick back and relax.”

These are certainly interesting times to talk about sports in New York.

Baseball season is about to get underway and both the Yankees and Mets are expected to be playoff contenders.

Future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers could be on his way to the Jets while the Giants are coming off of a trip to the playoffs last season.

The Knicks and Nets are heading toward the NBA Playoffs while the Rangers, Devils, and Islanders could all be going to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But all of the local teams’ success wasn’t a factor in Kay deciding to continue talking sports.

“To be honest, it didn’t play any role because sometimes when teams are bad it makes for better talk radio,” said Kay. “The fact that they’re good and they could be playing in postseason, all of them, is intriguing but that didn’t play a role.” 

And now that Kay has signed his new contract, he can continue his quest to regain the top spot in the afternoon drive war with WFAN. The show has been losing the ratings battle with Carton & Roberts and it would have been difficult to retire with his show in second place.

It’s not the reason why Kay decided to sign a new deal, but he does now have some more time to become number one again.

“Obviously, I wouldn’t want to leave it the way it is right now,” said Kay. “We had beaten everybody that they put in front of us. We beat Mike (Francesa), and we beat Joe and Evan. People conveniently forget that we also beat Carton & Roberts. Carlin, Maggie, and Bart…we beat them all. Our ratings, for some reason, have not been comparable to what they were before the pandemic hit.”

The ratings aside, Kay is happy with the content he, La Greca, and Rosenberg provide their listeners daily. While they have some catching up to do in the battle with WFAN, Kay is pleased with the product and that his show is good clean sports talk.

In Kay’s mind, business is business but he has his way of doing a show.

“Ratings tell you one thing and that’s how we keep score, but if you listen to what comes out of the speakers, in my opinion, our show is the best sports show in all the country. We not only talk about sports but we treat people with respect. We don’t have to go low-brow. Ratings didn’t have anything to do with (his decision) but it does give you a little more runway now to make up some ground. We have already proven that we can beat them.” 

Michael Kay has been a part of 98.7 ESPN New York going back to the launch of the radio station in September of 2001. Just like Aaron Rodgers, he was pretty close to calling it a career…but Kay didn’t want his radio career to fade to black just yet. 

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Xperi & Joe D’Angelo Are Ready For Radio’s Future

“I want this audience to see how they can leverage the technology that is nine times out of ten already going to be at their radio station.”

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In October 2022, Xperi Senior Vice President of Global Radio and Digital Audio Joe D’Angelo hosted the single most impressive radio presentation I’ve ever seen at the NAB Show in New York.

I wrote about my takeaways from the presentation after returning from New York, which essentially boiled down to: Xperi is looking out for the future of radio like no one else is. I don’t think that’s hyperbole. The company is making sure FM radio is in the best place to succeed as the audio space continues to evolve and see more and more emphasis placed on on-demand digital offerings.

D’Angelo will continue the conversation in a panel at the 2023 BSM Summit titled “How Radio Can Compete and Win in the Connected Car” on Tuesday, which will focus on the company’s DTS AutoStage platform. The offering from Xperi will revolutionize broadcast radio as automobiles become more and more technologically advanced.

“So many other platforms are much more crowded — mobile phones, smart TVs, smart speakers — there’s very low barriers of entry to building a brand, and getting content on those platforms,” D’Angelo said. “But broadcast radio has the unique advantage in the car and it’s incumbent on the publishers — the producers of content — to look for every opportunity to sustain and exploit that branding and that relationship with the car driver.

“We also allow and deliver internet-only radio — so streaming services for broadcasters — as well as catch-up content. So if you wanna make yesterday’s morning show available today, we create all the linkages there, as well as podcasts. If you’re creating podcasts, we create those linkages that aid in the discovery of that content and serve it up on your behalf on the dash of the car.”

DTS AutoStage will allow drivers to continue listening to radio stations even after leaving the broadcast range of a station, utilizing the station’s stream to continue a seamless audio delivery. Additionally, it will provide real-time analytics weekly to stations about the time spent listening, and a “heat map” of where your listeners live, work, and travel.

D’Angelo noted that the sports radio space is ripe with opportunity to promote and utilize the technology Xperi has worked on, adding that music has been co-opted by brands like Apple and Amazon to sell you more products, while sports radio is simply looking to share opinions and content with passionate audiences.

“The real opportunities now are accruing to the talk formats and sports is such a ripe opportunity with a passionate audience, and I’ll tell you from personal experience, finding sports programming on a platform like TuneIn is nearly impossible,” D’Angelo continued. “If you’ve ever used it and tried to search for a live event, you’re going to get a catalog of a hundred different things that might related to the team but have nothing to do with the live event.

“I’m coming here because we’re at a unique opportunity where I want to explain to this audience how what they do can benefit from the technology we’ve deployed…clearly, sports programming — live sports, sports talk, sports betting, local sports — is a really unique category for local radio and I want this audience to see how they can leverage the technology that is nine times out of ten already going to be at their radio station.”

At the BSM Summit, D’Angelo will showcase the real-time analytics available to stations who opt to share data with the platform, and will give attendees a look at a sample of what information is supplied to stations and companies by using data gathered by listeners of Washington D.C.’s 106.7 The Fan. BSM Summit attendees will get a first look at the information, before it’s released worldwide at Radiodays Europe on March 28th.

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