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.

Hoosier New PD Of Sports Radio And "Soft Rock" In Indianapolis? It's Greg Rakestraw

 

 

 

 

 

 

Veteran sports broadcaster Greg Rakestraw, shown here with Marian University president Dan Elsener, is the new program director for "1070 The Fan" in Indianapolis. He had previously served as PD of another sports radio station in Indy from 2002-2009.

Veteran sports broadcaster Greg Rakestraw, shown here with Marian University president Dan Elsener, is the new program director for “1070 The Fan” in Indianapolis. He had previously served as PD of another sports radio station in Indy from 2002-2009.

Once in awhile, there will be a sports broadcaster that will land in a market, and work a host of sporting events in the area. In New York, it was Marv Albert. In Los Angeles, it was Dick Enberg.

And in Indiana, the person that best fits this description could be Greg Rakestraw.

His play-by-play resume consists mostly of college athletics; you may have seen him calling a game on ESPNU. He’s also served as pregame and postgame host on the Indianapolis Colts radio network, based at WFNI-AM/”1070 The Fan.” He’s actually been aligned with the station for a couple of years. Prior to, he had toiled at two other sports radio stations in Indy: WNDE-AM 1260, where he was a producer and reporter from 1996 until 2000; and WXLW-AM 950, the market’s former ESPN Radio affiliate, where he had been a jack of all trades, notably program director, for seven years (2002-2009).

Indy’s current ESPN Radio affiliate, Emmis Communications’ “1070 The Fan,” recently launched an FM translator at 107.5 FM which simulcasts some local programming, and also clears some shows from “the mothership”; local hosts on 1070 include ESPN announcer Dan Dakich.

Some of Rakestraw’s tasks at “The Fan” since 2011 include subbing for Dakich’s midday show, as well as the afternoon program hosted by John Michael Vincent (best known by his initials, “JMV”) when neither host is available for whatever reason. He’s also maintained a blog on the “Fan” website, titled “Rake’s Take.”

And now, Rake has but a giant take: he’s taking the program director position at the “Fan” tandem, a return to the PD chair for the revered local personality.

And even if he isn’t taking calls or doing play-by-play, Rakestraw will have a say in what you hear on the stations somehow.

“If you hear it on the air, Greg one way or another will have influence over it,” commented Bob Richards, the operations manager for Emmis’ cluster in Indianapolis, which includes WYXB-FM/”Soft Rock 105.7″.

In fact, as an added bonus, Rakestraw will be given the keys to operate the adult contemporary formatted music station as well.

This must be a first: a female-targeted music station that will be programmed by a man who’s worked in sports broadcasting for the last two decades. While the idea may sound far-fetched, it’s the current economics of the radio business that mostly dictates one person being a PD for two or more radio stations, regardless of the stations’ individual formats, and regardless of the programmers’ background in formats on radio.

That being said, Rakestraw’s following across the Hoosier State, combined with “Soft Rock 105.7” usually being the top-rated radio station in Indianapolis not playing country music, should make for a winning team. It’ll be an odd pairing, but with Rake’s involvement in the station, they should continue holding their own.

As for Emmis’ other station in the Indianapolis market, news/talk WIBC, which had been heard for seven decades at AM 1070 before migrating to 93.1 FM, their new PD is the old “Fan” PD, David Wood. So the entire cluster will not be under Rake’s watch. But something tells me he would be open to the challenge.

I’m sure Greg Rakestraw would somehow find a way to balance Steve Simpson, high school basketball, and Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love.”