SBJ/July 22-28, 2013/Media

NFL Net retools after staff departures

Network lost 15 full-time staffers who went to FS1

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NFL Network lost around 12 percent of its production staff in recent months, as around 15 full-time staffers bolted for Fox Sports 1, which is based just two miles away in Los Angeles.

Another 10 to 15 permanent free-lancers also left for the soon-to-launch channel.

“In the last four months, we turned over more staff than I’ve turned over in 10 years,” said NFL Network executive producer Eric Weinberger.

NFL Network already has filled most of the open positions — only three to five slots remain open. But the amount of turnover — happening around the same time — irked network officials, who believe the moves could have been handled better.

“We got phone calls in the middle of the night from people saying that they were leaving,” Weinberger said. “They were done so quickly, our team would say it was messy.”

Ironically, most of the staffers who left had previously worked for Fox. Even Weinberger had worked for Fox for about eight years before joining NFL Network in 2003.

“People move to what they hope are better opportunities every day,” said Fox Sports spokesman Lou D’Ermilio. “As we recall, a significant number of people who launched NFL Network were hired directly from Fox Sports and FSN.”

Defections include coordinating producer Kent Camera, who left in December, and senior producer Bardia Shah-Rais, who left before the draft.

NFL Network director Geordie Wimmer, “GameDay” director David Faller and operations director Rod Conti also left for FS1.

“We lost some great people,” Weinberger said. “A lot of them are going to be working on football. So when I put my NFL hat on, they’re going to make the National Football League look great.”

Weinberger said most of the defections occurred around the NFL draft, which is the busiest time of the NFL’s offseason. “It was a daunting task to restaff this,” Weinberger said. “We’re a small shop.”

To counter the defections, NFL Network has brought in a bevy of new talent, including Scott Henry, who was hired from the CBS affiliate in Los Angeles to be coordinating producer of “NFL Total Access,” and Allan Flowers, who was hired from Fox Sports Midwest to be coordinating producer of “Thursday Night Kickoff.”

Other hires include Richelle Markazene, who produced ESPN2’s “First Take.” She will be a producer for “Around the League.” NFL Network hired Richard Isakow from MLB Network to be a producer on “NFL Total Access.”

Betsy Riley was hired from NBC Sports as a feature producer on “GameDay Morning” and Aisha Chaney was brought over from ESPN as a segment producer on “NFL Total Access.”

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