The Worldwide Bleeder: ESPN Cuts Hundreds Of Staffers One Week Removed From Its Glitzy Upfront

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hundreds of ESPN employees were laid off today. The cuts were necessary so that the company could meet its profit margin, according to a source. Also, programs such as "Unite" will become extinct as a result of the layoffs.

Hundreds of ESPN employees were laid off today. The cuts were necessary so that the company could meet its profit margin, according to a source. Also, programs such as “Unite” will become extinct as a result of the layoffs.

It’s never a good thing when a person loses his or her job.

It’s especially sobering considering the source of hundreds of job cuts is ESPN.

Yes, the network that just got finished flaunting its new multi-million-dollar studio and its new “SportsCenter” bus at its annual upfront had laid off approximately 300 to 400 people exactly one week later.

The gas for the bus isn’t going to guzzle itself, I guess.

But seriously, this is what happens when ESPN pays more than it can print to secure broadcasting rights for sports programming, including college sports, which will be the basis of the new SEC Network, due to launch next summer. They also operate other regional channels like Longhorn Network in Texas.

Incidentally, on the very same day of these cuts, ESPN announced that they are bringing in Paul Finebaum for duties at its mediums, including a video simulcast of his radio show that will air on the aforementioned SEC Network. He will be based in Charlotte, where the ESPN Radio affiliate is on a spotty AM signal. (Charlotte is one of the few major markets left without an FM sports station, but that’s another blog for another day.)

Could these cuts pave the way for possibly adding big-name talent down the road, like, say, Keith Olbermann? Yes, I’m aware they’re investing in live sports programming, but when in doubt, take the cash from your viewers in the form of a hike. Hey, I wouldn’t be surprised if the network’s already highest per-subscriber rate at $5.25 will probably balloon to $7 in a year from now.

Anyway, the cuts appear to be coming from Disney corporate, according to a staffer who had suddenly found himself out of a job. A great deal of ESPN’s cuts will impact its sales department – because, really, it’s cheaper not to have a fully-stocked sales staff, because ESPN just sells itself, doesn’t it? The network’s technology sector is also going to take a hit.

As far as on-air content is concerned, one casualty of this round of layoffs is the ESPNU late-night show, “UNITE.” ESPN analyst Danny Kanell, who co-hosted the program, will likely remain with the network in other capacities, but comedian Reese Waters and others involved with the program will presumably exit stage left.

And other programs could join the list, as the network will be reviewing its studio programming over the next month or so. Sadly, “First Take” will likely remain unscathed.

You can say ESPN has done its share of cold things, but unexpectedly dropping the ax on 10% of your staff has to rank right up there with, well, anything Rick Reilly has ever done.

As for the hundreds of now-former ESPN employees, I have but one tip for you: I’m sure Fox Sports is still hiring. It would make for a revenge game that ESPN has no choice but to cover.

ESPN Upfront 2013 Message: Destroy Fox Sports 1 Or Bus(t)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Among other things at their 2013 upfront presentation, ESPN introduced a new bus, as well as a new million-dollar "SportsCenter" studio. Fox Sports 1, launching this summer, likely had a hand in these being created.

Among other things at their 2013 upfront presentation, ESPN introduced a new bus, as well as a new million-dollar “SportsCenter” studio. Fox Sports 1, launching this summer, likely had a hand in these being created.

Before I paint the picture of ESPN’s annual upfront presentation for 2013, let me first give you a quick recap of last year’s edition: the place was packed with advertisers and sports media observers (of course, the show is mostly for the advertisers). The headliners were “stars (including would-be ESPN analyst Ray Lewis), a marching band (the one belonging to The Ohio State University) [and] mascots (Mr. Met and Al E. Gator, among others).” Many of the announcements last year included the unveiling of a new ESPN Radio app, and the expansion of Bill Simmons’ Grantland franchise.

You could say that this year’s ESPN upfront presentation was just a little bit different: oh, sure, the ad buyers and sports media flacks packed the house again, and sports stars were once again present; in fact, New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera “closed” the event (watch the righty, currently in his final year in the major leagues, shadow Lewis and become an analyst next year; in fact, bank on it). And yes, there was some more mascot mischief.

But when you’ve got a competitor in Fox Sports 1 launching in a few months – perhaps the first network in the Worldwide Leader’s existence that can call themselves a legitimate competitor – not only do you have to top your previous upfront, oh, no: you also have to top Fox Sports 1’s upfront in March.

Yes, there was your average slew of announcements – new slate of “30 For 30” documentary films; new football (“NFL Insiders”, replacing the incumbent “NFL32”) and soccer (“ESPNFC”) programs; new “ESPN The Magazine” “body issue” featuring San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in all his tattooed glory, much to the chagrin of David Whitley.

But there were two gigantic things that ESPN unveiled at this year’s upfront.

First, starting next year, ESPN’s “SportsCenter” shows will emanate from a brand new, state-of-the-art – make that continent-of-the-art, it’s so huge – 193,000 square foot studio, being billed “Digital Center 2.” Estimated cost to erect the set: $125 million.

Yes, cable subscribers, that is where your hard-earned inflated cable bill dollars is going.

Oh, and you’ll also be footing the bill for fuel that ESPN will be needing to get around in their brand new bus!

The vehicle, dubbed “SportsCenter On The Scene,” will be mobile for many sporting events year-round. Among its features, according to the network, are “satellite technology, bureau kit camera, lighting and equipment to do a live shot.” Yes, but will it prevent the trajectory of rogue water bottles being thrown in its direction?

By the way, ESPN’s “SportsCenter On The Scene” bus is said to be the first vehicle for the Worldwide Leader since Stephen A. Smith’s old late-night talk show on ESPN2, “Quite Frankly.”

And ESPN president John Skipper was quite frank in talking about the soon-to-be-launched Fox Sports 1 and other competitors that are already in battle (CBS and NBC Sports Network, just to name a couple) in the sports cable trenches. “We like competition,” he admitted. “It makes us better.”

Well, if it took Fox being committed to a new national sports cable network for ESPN to make a dramatic upgrade in their “SportsCenter” set and add a pair of wheels, what took them so long?

Yes, who needs the duo from the Canadian version of “SportsCenter” (that would be Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole, who will be leaving TSN to anchor Fox Sports 1’s nightly “Fox Sports Live” program) when you can watch who we have in a breathtaking new structure!

There’s ESPN bidding aggressively on sports broadcasting contracts – and it is these contracts, as well as long-term carriage deals with cable companies, that Skipper says is the backbone of ESPN’s success – and then there’s flat-out largesse.

A bus? Really? Were plans for a “SportsCenter In The Sky” helicopter a little out of hand?

In a related item, earlier in the day, Fox Sports fired a salvo and announced that when the current Speed channel morphs into Fox Sports 1 on August 17, its action sports-themed network Fuel will indeed be transformed into Fox Sports 2 on the very same day. A third Fox Sports network (Fox College Sports?) can’t be far behind at this point.

But for now, with its splashy “look at how much money and talent we have” upfront, ESPN wins the day in the end.

The question is, will they win the fight with the elephant in the room that will be Fox Sports 1?

ESPN New York Radio Host Convinced Rangers Played Penguins In NHL Playoffs (Audio)

 

 

 

 

 

 

What game was Robin Lundberg watching? The early-morning host on ESPN Radio 98.7, the New York Rangers' flagship station, said several times on the air that they had played the Penguins in the playoffs, when they were actually playing the Capitals.

What game was Robin Lundberg watching? The early-morning host on ESPN Radio 98.7, the New York Rangers’ flagship station, said several times on the air that they had played the Penguins in the playoffs, when they were actually playing the Capitals.

The National Hockey League has seen more than its share of disrespect in the media. We’ve already experienced the botching of team players and the botching of team logos.

But what was heard early Thursday morning on New York’s ESPN Radio 98.7 really takes the cake.

Robin Lundberg, who hosts a daily, one-hour show at 3 AM – I’ll give them credit for putting on live, local talent in overnight hours, but just one hour? Come on – had asked listeners several times to comment on the previous night’s playoff game between the New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. (They’re actually playing the Washington Capitals.)

Mind you, ESPN 98.7 is only the flagship station of the Rangers.

So for Lundberg to make this mistake not once, not twice, not three times, but four times in twenty minutes probably won’t sit well with hockey purists, much less Rangers fans.

Click here to listen to an audio montage – the slip-ups are at 2:10, 3:15, 4:48 and 5:15.

The most baffling of these gaffes has to be the third one, which follows a minute-long conversation with his producer who provided insight on Game 4 of the Rangers/Capitals series. At two points (4:15 and 4:35) during the chat, Chris Mitchell mentions “the Capitals.” Seconds later, Lundberg takes a call and asks him, “What were you watching? Heat/Bulls or Rangers/Penguins?”

It took a tweet halfway through Lundberg’s one-hour show informing him of his repeated mistake. Then and only then did he acknowledge, “I know that. I misspoke because the Islanders play the Penguins” on Thursday night, in a playoff game that will actually air on ESPN 98.7 (the Islanders’ usual radio home is Hofstra University’s 88.7 WRHU).

If you “misspeak” one time, fine. But to do so four times in 50% of your radio show (did I mention it’s only an hour long?), all while assuring listeners, “I’m not trying to insult any hockey fans” (2:55), is downright mind-boggling.

You saw the Rangers game, Robin Lundberg. You said so several times on your program. But it looks like you weren’t paying enough attention to the Rangers’ opponent in that game.

I wonder if he’s going to Habib “Islanders/Capitals” on his next show.

ESPN Might Restore Faith On "Monday Night Football" (Hill, That Is)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear not, football fans: Faith Hill, legs and all, may once again be gracing TV screens before football games - perhaps on ESPN, which revolutionized the form with Hank Williams, Jr. on "Monday Night Football."

Fear not, football fans: Faith Hill, legs and all, may once again be gracing TV screens before football games – perhaps on ESPN, which revolutionized the form with Hank Williams, Jr. on “Monday Night Football.”

Last month, Faith Hill announced a “difficult decision” to depart as the artist performing prior to “Sunday Night Football” on NBC for six seasons.

On Tuesday, NBC announced that another country recording artist, Carrie Underwood, would replace Hill on the broadcasts starting with the season kickoff game on September 5.

I would not be surprised if this news did not sit well with Faith Hill. This video from a country music award show tells you all you need to know:

Anyway, I have a gut feeling that Faith will eventually be back in the game before long.

Because there are two other nationally televised weekly football broadcasts that could definitely use her services as an upgrade.

And who are ESPN and NFL Network to say no to the woman who belted out a loose version of a Joan Jett song customized for the opponents of that night’s game on the top-rated show in primetime?

Last year, in conjunction with “Thursday Night Football” expanding from eight games per season to thirteen, NFLN brought in Cee Lo Green to perform a theme song to the beat of The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop.” As far as we know, the deal is for at least one season.

But with Faith Hill being a free agent, NFLN could very well tell Cee Lo, “forget you” – or something similar, anyway.

Then, there’s ESPN, whose “Monday Night Football” was for years the model for this device, with Hank Williams, Jr. being known for asking that burning question to viewers, “Are you ready for some football?” The song had been performed before “MNF” starting in 1989 on its original network, ABC, carrying over to ESPN in 2006, until he decided to compare President Obama to Adolf Hitler on the morning of October 3, 2011 – which happened to be a Monday; his intro was yanked from that night’s Buccaneers/Colts game. ESPN would later drop the singer from their “MNF” broadcasts altogether. Since then, they’ve been leaning on production pieces (similar to the “Journey” series on Fox’s NFL pregame show) and comedy bits airing before the game.

It’s clear that they can’t go this route forever; the current period of pregame pieces should act as a buffer between Hank Jr.’s tenure on “MNF” and his eventual replacement; further, there would be less backlash to let time subside before deciding on a new “MNF” artist, as opposed to just dragging a singer off the street to replace Hank Jr. on the October 10, 2011 broadcast. Certainly, Hank Jr., with his updated version of “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” being crooned into living rooms and bars for over two decades, has etched himself into football lore, and ESPN respects that.

And now that Bocephus is pretty much out of the football picture (his recent doubling down on Obama will all but cement that), it’s easier for ESPN to move on to a new artist for the “Monday Night Football” intro.

Could you imagine the innovator of the primetime football game open standing pat with generic intros, while the weekly primetime NFL broadcasts on NBC and NFL Network have artists belting one out?

I say, ESPN shouldn’t stand for being upstaged by the likes of Cee Lo Green. And by hiring Faith Hill to continue her career as an NFL kickoff singer, that would mean NFL Network will have to stand for, well, Cee Lo Green.

Of course, this is all contingent on whether or not Faith Hill’s schedule can accommodate getting back into the grind of recording a song for several weeks. She’d likely need to learn a new one, no doubt. She could also decide to take a year or two off from the NFL.

But something tells me the selection of Carrie Underwood to replace her on NBC is going to speed up this process rather quickly.

Are you ready for some… catfight?

A Ringing Endorsement For Warren Sapp

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp will be inducted into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Ring of Honor on Monday, November 11. Sapp played defenstive tackle for the Bucs for nine seasons.

NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp will be inducted into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor on Monday, November 11. Sapp played defensive tackle for the Bucs for nine seasons.

2013 is turning out to be a banner year for Warren Sapp.

And a welcome one, considering the hellish 2012 he’s endured.

Just three months after he was voted into this year’s class of Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees, the team that made his NFL career possible, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who drafted him 12th overall in 1995, is inducting him into their Ring of Honor – a ring whose occupants will actually double, with the late Lee Roy Selmon being its lone inductee (2009).

Sapp will have his number 99 retired during the Buccaneers’ first Monday night game since the post-Hank Williams, Jr. era abruptly began. The ceremony will take place at halftime of the Bucs’ matchup with the Miami Dolphins on November 11. Everything about this is symbolic, not only because Sapp’s alma mater was the University of Miami, but Sapp is also known to tweet “11:11 Yes Zirr” at 11:11 local time on any given day.

“Full circle for me,” Sapp, currently an NFL Network analyst, opined on “NFL Total Access” last week. “11/11, 99 in the rafters… hanging over the stadium… what can be better than that?”

One thing that doesn’t top it is the New York Jets’ current quarterback situation. During Sapp’s appearance on “Total Access” on the day of the Ring of Honor announcement, host Andrew Siciliano threw some red meat at him in the form of the circus that is Gang Green.

“I tell all my Jet fans, relax: you have a Florida boy at the helm,” Sapp said of recently drafted quarterback Geno Smith. “Don’t worry, Geno got you covered. You’re in good hands, Rich,” he added, tweaking colleague Rich Eisen.

One thing that would make this year a true blessing for Sapp is if the network extended his contract long term. You may recall around this time last year that NFLN was reportedly dropping him from their squad; obviously, that never materialized. I would think this is the perfect time for NFLN and Sapp to agree to a new deal that would give him financial security for the foreseeable future, now that his bankruptcy case is behind him. I think he’s learned his lesson for calling players “snitches” on their air.

But you know what the best thing about being inducted into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor is?

Unlike the Super Bowl and national championship rings he won with the Bucs and the Miami Hurricanes, respectively, Warren Sapp can’t lose this one.

2013 NFL Schedule: The Primetime Games: Broncos, Falcons, 49ers, Giants, Patriots, Redskins Have Five Games Each

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins will play five games in primetime this season, starting with the 2013 opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 9 on ESPN.

Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins will play five games in primetime this season, starting with the 2013 opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 9 on ESPN.

Here is the list of all the primetime games scheduled for the 2013 NFL season.

Commentary to follow… Actually, I’ll get the back-patting out of the way early: I called the Ravens/Broncos opener on September 5, and I called the Washington Redskins getting five primetime games this season, up from just one last year.

And here are the games:

Thursday, September 5 – Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Sunday, September 8 – New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 9 – Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins – 7:10 PM ET – ESPN

Monday, September 9 –  Houston Texans @ San Diego Chargers – 10:20 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 12 – New York Jets @ New England Patriots – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 15 – San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 16 – Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 19 – Kansas City Chiefs @ Philadelphia Eagles – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 22 – Chicago Bears @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 23 – Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 26 – San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 29 – New England Patriots @ Atlanta Falcoms – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 30 – Miami Dolphins @ New Orleans Saints – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 3 – Buffalo Bills @ Cleveland Browns – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 6 – Houston Texans @ San Francisco 49ers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 7 – New York Jets @ Atlanta Falcons – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 10 – New York Giants @ Chicago Bears – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 13 – Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 14 – Indianapolis Colts @ San Diego Chargers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 17 – Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 20 – Denver Broncos @ Indianapolis Colts – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 21 – Minnesota Vikings @ New York Giants – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 24 – Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 27 – Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 28 – Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 31 – Cincinnati Bengals @ Miami Dolphins – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 3 – Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 4 – Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 7 – Washington Redskins @ Minnesota Vikings – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 10 – Dallas Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 11 – Miami Dolphins @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 14 –Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 17 – Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 18 – New England Patriots @ Carolina Panthers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 21 – New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 24 – Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 25 – San Francisco 49ers @ Washington Redskins – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 28 (Thanksgiving) – Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Sunday, December 1 – New York Giants @ Washington Redskins – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 2 – New Orleans Saints @ Seattle Seahawks – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, December 5 – Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, December 8 – Atlanta Falcons @ Green Bay Packers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 9 – Dallas Cowboys @ Chicago Bears – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, December 12 – San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, December 15 – Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 16 – Baltimore Ravens @ Detroit Lions – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Sunday, December 22 – New England Patriots @ Baltimore Ravens – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 23 – Atlanta Falcons @ San Francisco 49ers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Sunday, December 29 – [Teams to be determined following Week 16] – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

TEAMS WITH FIVE PRIMETIME GAMES: Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins.

TEAMS WITH FOUR PRIMETIME GAMES: Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks.

TEAMS WITH THREE PRIMETIME GAMES: Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers.

TEAMS WITH TWO PRIMETIME GAMES: Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

TEAMS WITH ONE PRIMETIME GAME: Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans.

———————————————————————————————————————-

OBSERVATIONS: So, let me get this straight: The Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl, yet the runner-up gets one more primetime game in the ensuing season than the World Champions? Explain that to me.

Also, explain to me how the NFL didn’t greenlight the Denver Broncos going to Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. This was a given when the AFC opponents for the Cowboys were released at the top of the year. Or so I thought. Now, it’s going to be a chance to pass out with tryptophan in between another Packers/Lions matinee and the Ravens hosting another Thanksgiving night game, this time against the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

I wonder if Peyton Manning not getting a Thanksgiving date with Tony Romo was a byproduct of the Broncos actually hosting the NFL kickoff game.

Predictably, the Eagles/Chiefs game with Andy Reid bringing a new squad into Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia is an NFL Network Thursday night affair.

Predictably, that’s the Chiefs’ lone primetime game. The Jaguars’ sole primetime tilt in 2013 is also on NFLN, as was the case last year. Ditto for the Browns and the Bills, who actually play each other on an NFLN game; the Bills and the Dolphins killed two birds with one Thursday night primetime stone last season.

Thr Dolphins improve from one primetime game last year to three this year. Same with the Vikings. The Colts go from one primetime game last season to four this season. And I’ve already told you about the Redskins’ maxing out at five games, up from one last year.

Further proof NBC loves the NFC East: The Cowboys and Giants open the “Sunday Night Football” 2013 campaign. The Cowboys will appear on “SNF” three times this year, as will the Giants. Two of the Redskins’ five night contests are on NBC; two of them will air on ESPN. Eagles? Nowhere to be found on NBC’s initial schedule. Of course, the latter half of the season allows flex scheduling, so if the Eagles are actually a good team, they’ll likely see more than just the two games (down from five last year() they’ve been scheduled this year. In other words: the Cowboys/Eagles game that was not flexed out late last season might be the last time in awhile you’ll hear Al Michaels working an Eagles game.

And for the first time in recent memory, there are no Saturday games scheduled. The Bay City Rollers will now have to find alternate ways to be preoccupied this year.

Red Sox Broadcaster Flips The Script: Jon Rish Leaving WEEI For Computer Career

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a surprise move, Red Sox radio broadcaster Jon Rish is leaving the broadcasting field. The ESPN alum is planning to become a software developer, and will begin taking a course this summer.

In a surprise move, Red Sox radio broadcaster Jon Rish is leaving the broadcasting field. The ESPN alum is planning to become a software developer, and will begin taking a course this summer.

Jon Rish is leaving WEEI for CGI.

He’s giving up the booth for a reboot.

He’s trading the Red Sox for Red Hat.

There are many more ways I could go with this.

But in the end, could you really blame him?

Rish has been a part of the Red Sox Radio Network, based at flagship WEEI in Boston, for the last eight years, serving as pregame and postgame host, as well as substitute play-by-play voice on the days where Dave O’Brien is taking care of business for ESPN, where Rish had worked for a half-dozen years – specifically, ESPN Radio – before joining WEEI.

However, it was at some point during the last season – Bobby Valentine’s lone one as Sox skipper – that Rish had an epiphany: He could continue working radio broadcasts for the Red Sox, which some may consider a dream job – and with them holding the most lucrative radio deal for a baseball team, higher even than the archrival New York Yankees, it should be a fine class to be associated with. And you would think that with the highest paying radio deal in MLB, would come a big fat paycheck.

But then he looked at the bigger picture: his family, including four children, ages 2 through 12.

And then, he probably noticed WEEI’s parent company, Entercom, making drastic moves, including the ouster of longtime Boston sports radio voice Glenn Ordway.

“It became clear towards the end of the 2012 season that there was a very real possibility that my future was not with Entercom.”

Why else would Rish officially decide that he would be announcing his plans to leave WEEI and the Red Sox Radio Network – albeit, a mere three hours before the first pitch was thrown on Opening Day at Fenway Park on Monday. Though the fact that Rish has been good friends with WEEI program director Jason Wolfe for the last two decades played a large role in the abrupt fashion of his impending departure.

“I didn’t want to tell Jason by phone,” Rish affirmed. “I wanted to tell him in person. He was speechless.”

I bet Rish was equally speechless when Entercom asked him to take a pay cut of 30% – one that he turned down.

“It wasn’t fair to me and it wasn’t workable for my family,” Rish said. “I will say I could no longer justify working for Entercom.

“But it was not as difficult a decision for me as you might think,” he continued. “It was not a difficult decision to explain to my wife.”

Five years ago, Rish disclosed to a Massachusetts newspaper his hopes for a full-time play-by-play job. “But when you wait for the opportunity for so long, you’re not picky.”

Now with a son entering high school soon, and three daughters that will eventually follow suit, working Red Sox games on an understudy basis just won’t cut it, and he doesn’t hear any other pro sports teams fighting for his talents, so Rish is going to leave sports broadcasting entirely.

He’s saying goodbye to sports media – and hello to software media.

That’s right. Through his alma mater, Boston College – whose athletics are another notch on his play-by-play resume – he consulted with a career coach, who encouraged him to pursue an opportunity in the technology field.

And starting next month, Rish will take a ten-week class on how to become a Ruby software developer.

If successful, two major perks come with the gig: First of all, software programmers are in high demand (you don’t see many sports teams hiring announcers mid-season); and more importantly, they could actually make more money than most sports broadcasters not named Joe Buck or Jim Nantz. But it’s not completely due to programmers’ vast knowledge and skills.

“The state of the radio industry isn’t what it used to be,” Rish admits.

Rish will continue working Red Sox games for just a couple more weeks, and then after a week to recharge the batteries, he’ll start reporting to Launch Academy for Ruby On Rails classes.

Jon Rish. Transitioning from sports programming to computer programming.

This month, RBI’s; next month, RGB.

Out: stats. In: stacks.

I think I’ve made my point.