Barry Jackson

ESPN lays off some familiar names; Local broadcaster who cracked the NFL Draft

Danny Kanell interviews Al Golden of the University of Miami Hurricanes on the set of SportsCenter.
Danny Kanell interviews Al Golden of the University of Miami Hurricanes on the set of SportsCenter. Joe Faraoni

Some media notes on a Wednesday afternoon in which a lot of good people lost jobs:

• A lot of talented reporters and on-air personalities lost their jobs on Wednesday when ESPN dropped 100 employees in a major payroll purge designed to offset rising costs and substantial loss of subscribers.

The cuts affected both the television and internet side of the company.

Among the most prominent layoffs: talk-show host and college football studio analyst Danny Kanell (pictured above, with former UM coach Al Golden), NFL studio analyst Trent Dilfer, longtime NFL reporter Ed Werder, former Washington Nationals general manager and ESPN.com contributor Jim Bowden, college basketball analyst Len Elmore, and longtime baseball reporter Jayson Stark.

“Poured my heart and soul into ESPN for last 8 years,” Kanell tweeted. “Moved my wife and 3 kids to CT to go "all in" 5 years ago. Bummed it ended in 3 minutes...But totally get it. All part of a business that is rapidly changing. Thankful for the opportunity I was given and people I got to work with! In grand scheme of things...I've still got what really matters. My faith and my family. And luckily I've got lots of experience getting cut!”

Among others who were dropped, based on published reports or in many cases, their own announcements on Twitter: SportsCenter anchors Jay Crawford, Jade McCarthy and Jaymee Sire, MLB analyst Doug Glanville, longtime college football and auto racing reporter Dr. Jerry Punch, legal analyst Roger Cossack, MLB reporter Doug Padilla, ESPN Dallas Columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor, soccer reporter Mike Goodman, Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky, golf commentator Dottie Pepper, ESPNU anchor Brendan Fitzgerald, NBA writer Ethan Strauss, Outside the Lines reporter Tom Farrey, New Orleans Pelicans writer Justin Verrier​ and Dallas Cowboys writer Calvin Watkins, boxing host Marysol Castro, Chicago columnist Melissa Isaacson, NFL reporter Ashley Fox, columnist Johnette Howard; espnW writer Jane McManus; NHL reporters Pierre LeBrun, Scott Burnside, and Joe McDonald and college sports reporters Brett McMurphy, Jeremy Crabtree (a recruiting maven), C.L. Brown, Eamonn Brennan‏, Max Olson, Dana O’Neil, Ted Miller, Jesse Temple, Derek Tyson, Brian Bennett, David Ching, Chantel Jennings‏ and Brian Bennett.

Also, The Hollywood Reporter reports that Karl Ravech, Ryen Russillo, and Hannah Storm will see their roles “significantly reduced.”

ESPN released the following statement: “ESPN has been actively engaged throughout its history in navigating changes in technology and fan behavior in order to continue to deliver quality, breakthrough content. Today, we are again focused on a strategic vision that will propel our vast array of networks and services forward.

A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions. Our content strategy – primarily illustrated in recent months by melding distinct, personality-driven SportsCenter TV editions and digital-only efforts with our biggest sub-brand – still needs to go further, faster…and as always, must be efficient and nimble. Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent—anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play—necessary to meet those demands. We will implement changes in our talent lineup this week. A limited number of other positions will also be affected and a handful of new jobs will be posted to fill various needs.

These decisions impact talented people who have done great work for our company. I would like to thank all of them for their efforts and their many contributions to ESPN.

Our objective in all we do is to best serve fans and their changing consumption habits while still maintaining an unparalleled and diverse talent roster that resonates with fans across all our platforms. We will continue to foster creativity and investment in the products and resources necessary to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.

Thank you as always for your continuing dedication to our work.”

DRAFT CHANGE

For the first time since 1986, Chris Berman won’t be part of ESPN’s draft coverage. Trey Wingo replaces him as host on all three days, alongside Mel Kiper, Louis Riddick and Jon Gruden on Thursday and Kipper, Riddick and Todd McShay on Friday and Saturday.

Rich Eisen, Mike Mayock, Stanford coach David Shaw and Daniel Jeremiah anchor NFL Net’s coverage.

• On local radio, FIU coach Butch Davis will join Greg Likens and D.J. Williams on 790 The Ticket’s draft show Thursday night. Alex Donno and Orlando Alzugaray anchor WQAM’s coverage, with Zach Krantz and Kevin Rogers reporting.

• The NFL doesn’t want ESPN or NFL Net reporters tweeting picks before they’re announced, and both companies will respect that request.

But others will tweet picks before they’re announced, and WINZ-940 host Andy Slater did that repeatedly last year and plans to again.

So has he cracked the league’s computer code to be able to announce all the picks before the league does or is he getting this from, you know, actual Earthlings?

“It's multiple sources,” he said. “It’s not like I’ve cracked a computer code. I probably could do every pick in the draft if I chose to, but I don’t want to clutter up anybody’s timeline through every single pick. I want to do relevant ones.”

Some have complained to him about this. “I've had people who say you're ruining my draft experience,” he said. “I don't write back to those people but if I did write back I would say feel free to mute me during the draft.”

What drives him to do it?

“I love being first,” he said. “I love having things before other people do. This is one avenue I excel in via multiple sources built over the past few years. I plan to do it for as many picks as I possibly can.”

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