Sports TV News
Mark Shapiro: ‘Whatever Scott Van Pelt’s Deal is, He is Underpaid’
“You can still get paid if you’re in that vein. That’s a true unicorn.”
When Mark Shapiro was running ESPN, news was still the network’s main attraction. SportsCenter was as iconic as any brand on television, and if you were one of the show’s standout hosts, you were a household name amongst sports fans.
In a recent appearance on Richard Deitsch’s podcast, Shapiro, who is now the President and COO of Endeavor, said that in that era of SportsCenter, hosts like Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann were the network’s highest-paid talent. It was the result of doing the most shows and having the most name recognition. He added that those distinctions eventually went to people like Stuart Scott, Rich Eisen, Kenny Mayne and others.
In 2023 though, becoming a star through SportsCenter is not easy.
“I think if you go into most focus groups, and there’s no slam at any SportsCenter anchors because there’s so many good ones, but there’s a lot of them and there’s not a lot of name recognition,” Shapiro told Deitsch.
Not easy does not mean impossible though. Mark Shapiro says that SportsCenter still has one megastar host and the network knows it. That’s why they put him on in the iconic 11 PM slot every night.
“Scott Van Pelt should be getting paid a lot of money. I don’t know exactly what his deal is. Whatever it is, I guarantee you he’s underpaid.”
Shapiro acknowledged that the economics of the sports media are changing. There was a time when SportsCenter anchors with a certain level of name recognition and a history with the company could expect to make in the low seven figures. Now, ESPN values personality. Research has shown that is what audiences respond to and Shapiro says it is the only path a talent can take and expect to make real money.
He is impressed that Scott Van Pelt has found a way to thread that needle.
“He’s entertaining. He’s a personality,” Shapiro said. “He’s got a point of view, terrific commentaries, great writer, but he’s also a personality, right? I mean, that’s what he is, and he gives them the consistency that they desire. So, you can still get paid if you’re in that vein. That’s a true unicorn.”
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.