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Mike & Mike’s decision to ignore apparent feud illustrates what’s wrong with sports talk radio 05.23.17 at 2:27 pm ET
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Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic didn't address their reported feud on Tuesday's show.  (David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)

Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic didn’t address their reported feud on Tuesday’s show. (David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)

On Monday, Sports Illustrated published a lengthy report about the apparent rift between Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic. In it, media writer Richard Deitsch cites several sources who talk about the “poisonous atmosphere” on “Mike and Mike,” which may not remain on the air until its scheduled end in December.

But when Greenberg and Golic turned on the microphones Tuesday, neither host mentioned the story. Instead, they discussed Manu Ginobili playing his final game and the NFL changing its overtime rules. It was the embodiment of everything wrong with national sports talk radio, which is painfully vanilla and inoffensive.

There was palpable tension in the air when Greenberg and Golic announced their long-rumored breakup last week. Golic didn’t even look his longtime partner in the eye while he talked cryptically about the end of the show. “The last year and a half have been somewhat interesting, if not eyebrow-raising, as well,” he said. “For me, it’s not my story to tell. I’m going to continue doing this exact same show. It’s for others to tell who made this decision if they want to tell it and how they want to tell it.”

According to Deitsch, Golic is upset that Greenberg didn’t confer with him before accepting an offer to host a new morning variety show on ESPN, which will launch in 2018. Golic will stay on ESPN Radio, partnering with Trey Wingo and his son, Mike Golic Jr., who will join the program every day from 6:00-7:00 a.m.

“From Golic’s perspective, he thinks Mike [Greenberg] should have come to him and told him he wanted to do his own thing,” said an anonymous ESPN employee. “But Greeney is very non-confrontational, truly a nice a guy, and he would say that it wasn’t incumbent on him to tell Golic everything about what he wanted to do professionally. I guess I can see both sides.”

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Read More: ESPN, Mike Golic, Mike Greenberg,
Report: Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic barely speak to each other, show atmosphere is ‘poisonous’ 05.22.17 at 7:34 pm ET
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The relationship between Mike & Mike has reportedly deteriorated. (David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)

The relationship between Mike & Mike has reportedly deteriorated. (David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)

Armchair psychologists had a field day last week when Mike Golic didn’t look his longtime radio partner Mike Greenberg in the eye while addressing the show’s long-rumored breakup. As it turns out, there was apparently a lot of festering animosity behind the slight.

Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch reports the two “Mike & Mike” hosts, who have been together since 2000, are no longer pals. In fact, sources say they barely talk to each other off the set or during commercial breaks.

One ESPN staffer described the environment as “poisonous,” speculating the show won’t run until its contractual end, which is believed to be in December. ESPN announced last week Mike Greenberg will host a variety morning show out of New York City in 2018, while Golic stays in morning drive with Trey Wingo. Mike Golic Jr., who hosts overnights on ESPN Radio, will join the program every day from 6:00-7:00 a.m.

While there are reportedly multiple reasons for the on-set friction, one source told Deitsch Golic is peeved that Greenberg didn’t talk to him about pursuing his own television program. “From Golic’s perspective, he thinks Mike [Greenberg] should have come to him and told him he wanted to do his own thing,” the ESPN employee said. “But Greeney is very non-confrontational, truly a nice a guy, and he would say that it wasn’t incumbent on him to tell Golic everything about what he wanted to do professionally. I guess I can see both sides.”

When the hosts announced the breakup last Wednesday, Golic’s son ripped ESPN in a number of tweets. In perhaps the most telling sign about the Golic family’s feelings about the split, the tweets are still up.

Read More: ESPN, Mike Golic, Mike Greenberg,
Mike Golic’s son rips ESPN for breaking up Mike & Mike 05.17.17 at 1:48 pm ET
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ESPN is breaking up Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic.  (David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN is breaking up Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic. (David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)

The long-rumored Mike & Mike breakup was confirmed Tuesday, when ESPN announced Mike Greenberg will host his own morning variety show beginning in January. His longtime radio partner, Mike Golic, will be paired with Trey Wingo and his son, Mike Golic Jr., going forward.

When the two discussed the news Wednesday, Greenberg kept his remarks brief. Golic, meanwhile, was a little more cryptic.

“The last year and a half have been somewhat interesting if not eyebrow-raising, as well,” he said. “For me, it’s not my story to tell. I’m going to continue doing this exact same show. It’s for others to tell who made this decision if they want to tell it and how they want to tell it.”

Greenberg was more verbose earlier this year, when he told the Sporting News he regrets how the then-rumored breakup had been handled.

While Golic tacitly expressed disappointment about the breakup Wednesday, one of his sons went all-in on ESPN management. Presumably, the WorldWide Leader won’t be employing a second Golic boy any time soon.

Read More: ESPN,
ESPN announces new weekday lineup, led by Mike Greenberg’s morning variety show 05.16.17 at 10:42 am ET
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ESPN continues to shake things up. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN continues to shake things up. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

For several months, there have been rumors about a big shakeup coming to ESPN’s weekday lineup. Those reports were confirmed Tuesday at the network’s annual Upfront event.

ESPN president John Skipper announced Mike Greenberg, who recently signed a new contract that will pay him a reported $6.5 million per year, will host his own variety show from 7:00-10:00 a.m. EST. The program, along with all other lineup changes, will begin in January. Trey Wingo will take Greenberg’s spot alongside Mike Golic on “Mike & Mike,” and the two will be joined by Mike Golic Jr. from 6:00-7:00 a.m.

“First Take” will remain in its 10:00-noon time slot, and a show hosted by Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre will air from noon-1:00 p.m. ESPN’s block of afternoon program will remain the same.

The success of this lineup largely depends on Greenberg’s New York City-based show, which will feature several co-hosts and guests. It was originally rumored that Sage Steele would join Greenberg, but ESPN announced Monday she’ll be hosting “SportsCenter: AM” weekday mornings on ESPN 2, beginning in late August.

Given all of the options for morning television, including partisan cable news programs drawing record numbers in the Trump era, it’s difficult to see where Greenberg will find his niche. While the affable anchor’s inoffensive style meshes well with a certain percentage of people, the networks  –– CBS, ABC and NBC –– already have the market cornered on breezy morning talk. It’s unlikely Greenberg’s show will be highlight-based, considering ESPN 2 will be airing a more traditional “SportsCenter” during that time slot.

Jones and Torre are rising stars at the WorldWide Leader, but they both subscribe to the same progressive worldview. It’s easy to see the program becoming an echo chamber.

Ratings for ESPN’s studio programs are on the decline, and while changing viewing habits are to blame for some of the drop-off, the quality of the shows must be looked at, too. “SC:6″ with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith has received the brunt of criticism, with Yahoo Finance writer Daniel Roberts noting recently that roughly half of the 3,000 comments on a story about ESPN layoffs were people advocating for their firing. Since March, the show’s audience is down an average of 12.6 percent compared to last year’s 6:00 p.m. “SportsCenter.”

In a memo, ESPN management seems to grant commentators more leeway to talk about polarizing social issues. But as of now, none of these new shows feature hosts with divergent viewpoints or new faces. It seems to be a reshuffling of the deck chairs more than anything else.

After undergoing mass layoffs last month, it’s clear ESPN is invested in this new weekday lineup. The network is going more towards opinion, but it’s uncertain if these shows, outside of “First Take,” will provide much in terms of debate.

Read More: ESPN,
ESPN announces big changes to ‘SportsCenter’ 05.15.17 at 2:28 pm ET
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Mar 2, 2017; Boulder, CO, USA; General view of an ESPN broadcast microphone before the game between the Stanford Cardinal against the Colorado Buffaloes at the Coors Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN will unleash a brand new 11:00 p.m. “SportsCenter” June 5. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

Change is sweeping through ESPN.

Less than one month after undergoing mass layoffs, the WorldWide Leader announced Monday it’s making major alterations to the “SportsCenter” franchise. Amidst sagging TV ratings, the highlight-based program will make a strong digital push, launching “SportsCenter Right Now,” a short video update that will appear multiple times per hour on ESPN’s app and homepage. The segments, which will begin in August, will also air twice hourly during the network’s daytime programming.

In addition to the renewed digital focus, ESPN will also shuffle around several signature personalities. Veteran anchors Kenny Mayne, John Anderson, Steve Levy and the recently re-signed John Buccigross will host a daily 11:00 p.m. “SportsCenter,” leading into Scott Van Pelt’s midnight airing. The arrangement will start June 5.

Sage Steele will also make her rumored move to mornings, hosting “SportsCenter: AM” from 7-10 a.m. EST Monday-Thursday. The program will air seven days per week, with Jay Harris, Kevin Negandhi, Randy Scott, Elle Duncan and Matt Barrie joining Steele at the anchor desk. Steele, who came under fire in January for calling out those who were protesting President Donald Trump’s travel ban, was removed recently from “NBA Countdown.”

Mike Greenberg’s morning variety show wasn’t mentioned in the press release, but is still expected to hit the airwaves at some point in the future.

ESPN says it won’t make any changes to the 6:00 p.m. “SportsCenter” with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith, despite mixed reviews and tumbling viewership.

Read More: ESPN,
ESPN is dedicating its weekend to worshipping Derek Jeter 05.12.17 at 3:51 pm ET
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Derek Jeter's number will be retired this weekend.  (Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

The Yankees will retire Derek Jeter’s number this weekend. (Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

Few events will ever be more insufferable than the season-long Derek Jeter retirement tour the Yankees put everyone through three years ago. But the build up to his number retirement ceremony may come close.

The Yankees are placing Jeter’s No. 2 in Monument Park Sunday, along with 23 other franchise greats. The ceremony will take place prior to their Sunday night contest against the Astros on ESPN, which will provide coverage every step of the way. Check out the nauseating weekend rundown of programming, courtesy of Awful Announcing:

Friday: ESPN.com will promote the top 10 moments of Jeter’s career

Saturday: ESPN’s Yankees beat reporter, Andrew Marchand, will produce a piece on the only single-digit number the Yankees haven’t retired, No. 0.

Sunday Morning: “SportsCenter” anchor Sarina Morales will be live at Yankee Stadium starting at 8:00 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon: ESPN will air a “SportsCenter” special devoted to Jeter’s career at 3:00 p.m.

Sunday Pre-Game: A special 6:00 p.m. edition of “Baseball Tonight” will feature a live look-in at the number retirement ceremony. Clips from Karl Ravech’s interview with Jeter will air.

Sunday Night Baseball: There will likely be plenty of Jeter ass-kissing. Former Yankees skipper Joe Torre will sit in the booth as well.

Jeter, of course, is one of the greatest shortstops of all-time and won five champions with the Yankees. He deserves to be lauded for his greatness. But there’s a fine line between adulation and hero worship. And much like the coverage he received during his career, ESPN seems poised to cross the line this weekend.

But at least there won’t be a fake Aretha Franklin serenading him with “RE2PECT” –– we think.

Read More: Derek Jeter, ESPN,
Ratings for ‘SC:6′ with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith are tumbling at 11:48 am ET
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Jemele Hill and Michael Smith are seeing their viewership numbers tumble.  (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Jemele Hill and Michael Smith are seeing their viewership numbers decline. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN’s “The Six” with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith is one of the most promoted shows on the network. Despite that, ratings are tumbling.

The Big Lead published a breakdown of “SC:6’s” viewership numbers this week, comparing it to the 6:00 p.m. “SportsCenter” hosted by Lindsay Czarniak that aired during the same time slot last year. Though the program enjoyed modest gains in three of its first four weeks –– viewership increased by 2.67 percent from Feb. 13 – Feb. 27 –– it’s fallen ever since. Since March, the show is down an average of 12.6 percent compared to last year’s figures.

To be fair, ratings are down across the board for ESPN’s afternoon block of programming. Pardon the Interruption” has been hit especially hard, with viewership totals declining an average of 13.7 percent compared to 2016.

Since PTI leads into “SC:6,” Hill and Smith are drawing viewers to ESPN. They’re also attracting a more diverse audience. Yahoo Finance reported two weeks ago the 6:00 p.m. “SportsCenter” has increased its reach among black viewers ages 18-34 by 15 percent over last year. On the whole, the show’s audience is 41 percent black.

Those numbers are probably important to ESPN, considering the network’s emphasis on diversity. But on the whole, the show’s lackluster performance must be viewed as a disappointment.

What’s especially concerning is “SC:6’s” failure to attract viewers when big events are going on. The debut episode, which aired on the Monday after the Super Bowl, saw a 19 percent audience drop compared to last year. Programs that aired before or after the first two rounds of the Masters, NFL Draft and NCAA men’s basketball conference championships experienced an average viewership decline of 19.6 percent.

The reviews for “SC:6″ have been harsh as well. Yahoo Finance writer Daniel Roberts noted recently that roughly half of the 3,000 comments on a story about ESPN layoffs were people advocating for the firing of Smith and Hill.

One of the show’s most ardent critics has been WEEI’s Kirk Minihane, who rails against the program’s politically correct tone. Last month, Hill said she wants to meet Minihane “face to face.”

Read More: ESPN, Jemele Hill,
Ex-ESPN reporter explains how he was laid off 05.08.17 at 10:16 am ET
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ESPN recently laid off more than 100 employees. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN recently laid off more than 100 employees. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

One of the more than 100 front-facing employees who ESPN laid off explained how the bad news was presented to him.

NFL reporter Andrew Brandt, in a recent edition of his podcast, detailed the call he received from a network executive on the day he was let go. Since Brandt was scheduled to appear on “Outside the Lines” the following day, he thought it was a logistical call to go over details about the show. Instead, a script was read to him while a representative from human resources listened in.

“[Jack Obringer] started reading and I just couldn’t help but realize what was happening, and broke in and said, ‘Jack. They just re-upped me. You guys just re-upped me if February,'” Brandt explained. “And he said, ‘And we will honor that.’ And continued with the script.”

Since many of the employees who ESPN laid off have non-compete clauses, they can’t take another job in sports media without forfeiting their salaries. That means those who want to get paid at the same rate will be forced to take themselves out of the job market for the duration of their contracts. It’s a difficult decision to make, especially for those with families.

Brandt, a contributor to The MMQB, said he interrupted the executive later in the call to ask why he was let go. When the question went unanswered, he realized he wasn’t going to get any insight about the process.

“I realized it was kind of a futile exercise to talk to him about anything but the script written by legal,” Brandt said. “He finished the script. I’m sure the last two words on the script were the following, because he said it very emphatically: ‘Any questions?’ And I said [as] the lawyer that I am and in the tone I usually have with these kinds of questions, I said, ‘Not at this time’ And that was the end.”

Read More: ESPN,
ESPN’s Sara Walsh announces lay off news on day she would’ve returned from maternity leave 05.04.17 at 3:10 pm ET
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ESPN laid off dozens of reporters last week. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN laid off dozens of reporters last week. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

It must have been a whirlwind couple of weeks for ESPN’s Sara Walsh.

The “SportsCenter” anchor was slated to return from maternity leave Thursday. But instead, she announced she was a part the company’s layoffs.

“I was truly excited to return to work today from maternity leave with the twins,” she said in an Instagram post. “Unfortunately, I will not be coming back as I was included in the recent layoffs. Much appreciation to those I worked with, and especially those who watched.”

Walsh joined ESPN in 2010. She previously worked in Georgia, Nashville and Washington D.C.

Several “SportsCenter” anchors have been included in the mound of layoffs, such as Jay Crawford, Jaymee Sire and Jade McCarthy. ESPN plans to pay laid off employees for the duration of their contracts, provided they don’t take another job in sports media.

Read More: ESPN,
Roger Goodell reportedly angered by ESPN’s Ed Werder firing 05.03.17 at 12:41 pm ET
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Former ESPN reporter Ed Werder says Roger Goodell reached out to him last week. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Former ESPN reporter Ed Werder says Roger Goodell reached out to him last week. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN’s decision to lay off several dozen employees last week sparked outrage across the sports media landscape. It also reportedly caught the attention of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who reportedly contacted one of the reporters who was let go.

On his “Doomsday Podcast,” former ESPN NFL reporter Ed Werder, who was the first prominent personality to announce his dismissal on Twitter, said a number of league executives and players reached out to him to express their condolences. One of the well-wishes was Goodell, which surprised the longtime reporter.

“He said he was angered by it,” Werder said. “I haven’t spoken to him yet, but that surprised me. And that tells me something about Roger Goodell as a human being.”

Werder went on to say he offered to be Goodell’s body guard if the commissioner visits Gillette Stadium on Opening Night. The Super Bowl champion Patriots host the Chiefs Sept. 7.

Ironically, ESPN’s gargantuan rights agreement with the NFL is one of the reasons why it was forced to trim millions of dollars from its payroll. The WorldWide Leader pays the league $1.9 billion annually to air “Monday Night Football” and use video highlights.

Read More: ESPN, Roger Goodell,