Every so often, there are reports of a brush-up between Dan Le Batard and ESPN. The most recent one was news to the popular radio and TV host.
Last week, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported that Le Batard could be on the wrong side of an ESPN programming "shakeup." According to the report, the network could elect to end his daily radio show, which is also simulcast on ESPN News. Per the report, the more comedic, variety-style show that Le Batard hosts, which often goes segments without actual sports talk, doesn't fit the "tastes" of ESPN executive vice president Norby Williamson, who heads up radio.
Marchand reports that Mike Greenberg could get a new radio show and simulcast in the 1-3 p.m. ET slot, along with his role on Get Up. The long-rumored departure of Trey Wingo from his morning slow with Mike Golic was also brought up.
Earlier today, Le Batard addressed the speculation, against the wishes of the network, he said. “ESPN’s not telling us what to talk about,” Le Batard said during the segment, posted on YouTube below by Outkick the Coverage's Ryan Glasspiegel. “That’s always been the case here.”
Less than a year ago, Le Batard re-upped at ESPN for a reported $3.5 million per year. He's a major asset for the network.
On top of the radio show, he hosts daily TV show Highly Questionable. With the new deal, he also launched a successful podcast network for ESPN, featuring many other popular personalities in his orbit, including his radio co-host Jon "Stugotz" Weiner, Mina Kimes, and Sarah Spain. With over two years left on the deal, it seems very unlikely that a radical change is going to come, something Le Batard brought up during his response, which mocked the report and chastised his bosses who don't want him discussing the report. He also said that he has been told that it is completely false.
"Anyone who's followed us at ESPN knows I've negotiated freedom, not money. I negotiate the ability, as a child of exile, to talk about the things I want to talk about. And so, the idea that there would be a newspaper story, and that any executive would have any issue would have a problem with me commenting on a newspaper story about us, when I'm in the radio content business, I'm not really going to ignore that one.
"When the story is not flattering to us, when ESPN's fired an employee (Adnan Virk) for talking to the media about us, and then you get a weird story in the New York Post during a pandemic talking about whether we're going to be here any more... we've got two-and-a-half years of an expensive contract that makes it kind of ridiculous, the whole story. To not talk about it, it is one of the objections I've always had. ESPN doesn't like to cover itself the way it covers others, but hell if you're going to do that to me.
"I'm a journalist, they wrote a story about us. I called some people, they said it's not true, they said it's a false story."
Dan Le Batard also doesn't shy away from the clashes he has had with some of the higher ups at ESPN. He got really worked up over the idea that he should "stick to sports," rather than do things like his weekly segment with Zoo Miami's Ron Magill, as well as serious discussions about things like journalism and race, during a pandemic that has shut down the sports world.
"We've always fought with parts of the regime at ESPN. There's a culture, a subculture of people who have argued about us having an animal guy... It you're going to come at me during a pandemic, with 'Sports! More Sports!' when there are no sports? Get out of here. "
That part is pretty hard to argue.
It wouldn't be a huge surprise to see Le Batard depart sometime in the future, but nine months into a new deal seems unlikely.