ESPN Radio will likely have a different daily lineup by 2018, three people with knowledge of the situation tell The Big Lead. Unauthorized to speak publicly on the matter, the people requested anonymity.
Clay Travis reported earlier today that Bomani Jones’ show had been dropped by 90 affiliates in the 4-7 p.m. drive-time slot. He also reported that the show was being canceled. However, my understanding based on speaking to several people independent of each other is that the chain of events was different, and that the end of this show would be a decision initiated by Bomani as opposed to by the company. There has not yet been a final decision to end the show.
Several weeks ago, Bomani approached ESPN management with the aim of leaving radio to host a daily digital program, feeling that a podcast was better suited for the cultivation of his large social media audience than terrestrial radio. If, hypothetically, Bomani’s new podcast had synergies with Cycle, the digital ad agency with whom ESPN recently announced a partnership, it could have upside profit potential. Additionally, Bomani’s television show with Pablo Torre is slated to debut this spring.
An ESPN spokesperson emailed the following statement: “We cannot comment at this time about specifics, but Bomani continues to be an integral part of our audio strategy and is a key player across a wide variety of ESPN platforms.”
As of now, nothing has been finalized in terms of a replacement plan for radio. One potential framework that has been discussed by ESPN is to have Ryen Russillo pair with Will Cain from 4-7 p.m., and potentially extend Stephen A. Smith’s show for another hour.
Currently, Russillo and Stephen A. Smith have solo shows that overlap; Stephen A. is on the main Sirius XM channel and on the New York and Los Angeles affiliates from 1-3 p.m., while Russillo’s show is on most other affiliates from 1-4 p.m. Cain has co-hosted Russillo’s program with relative frequency of late, and the two have good chemistry.
Furthermore, next month will see the end of ESPN Radio’s longtime anchor program Mike & Mike, whose final show together is set for Nov. 17. Mike Greenberg will host a morning program with Michelle Beadle, Jalen Rose, and others beginning next year. Mike Golic will pair on radio with Trey Wingo.