SBD/March 16, 2017/Media

Source: Impending Cuts To On-Air ESPN Personalities Creates Uncertainty In Bristol

The "fear and uncertainty" of potential layoffs at ESPN of its on-air talent has "set off a 'panic of biblical proportions,'" according to a source cited by Michael McCarthy of SPORTING NEWS. During the last round of layoffs in '15, ESPN "pink-slipped more than 300 production staffers." But things will be "a lot different this time." It "won't be Suzy in accounting losing her job," but rather "high-salaried on-air personalities." A source said, "Everybody's calling their agent. Nobody is safe." McCarthy noted ESPN employs "about ... 1,000 announcers, commentators, reporters and analysts for TV, radio and digital." One source said, "The analysts are responding very differently than the non-athletes. Ex-jocks are used to coming and going. The non-athletes are more panicked." A source added, "We know the Schefters and the Olneys are not going anywhere. But are (ESPN execs) going to sacrifice the other newsbreakers and investigative journalists? I will be real interested to see where journalism fits into all this." Former ESPN personality Howie Schwab, who was laid off in '13 after 26 years with the company, said the loss of experienced execs to layoffs in '15 has "hurt the quality of the product, whether they admit it or not." Schwab: "I'm noticing mistakes on air I can’t believe I’m seeing. ... One day I was watching the 'Bottom Line.' It had the same three stories for an hour. I couldn’t believe it. To be honest, I even tried to call in to tell somebody. Which I really shouldn’t have, because it’s not my job any more" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 3/15).
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