ESPN may be the self-described Worldwide Leader in Sports, but the media giant has been pulling back on some of its original content amidst some shifting of the network’s landscape. However, it was a bit of a surprise to learn this week they have decided to drop their national morning radio show featuring Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams, and Max Kellerman.
It’s part of a restructuring within the company, which also just inked podcasting star and former NFL punting great Pat McAfee to a long-term deal.
This move comes in the midst of ESPN preparing for significant layoffs that will affect the on-air lineup going forward in television, radio, and digital media. The changes are expected to take place as early as next week, based on the latest reporting by Andrew Marchand of the New York Post.
The company has not said anything at all about Johnson, Williams, or Kellerman being let go entirely. However, it does raise concerns about their futures at the Disney-owned network.
“(This) is one of a series of moves that are forthcoming for ESPN,” Andrew Marchand stated on The Post Sports YouTube channel. “ESPN is de-emphasizing national radio. That’s been apparent for a while now. In the previous layoff with behind-the-scenes people, they took a big chunk of their staff.”
He also stated that the trio being reassigned or possibly even released wasn’t really a shock, considering the way the winds are blowing at the sports conglomerate these days.
“The move now to get rid of the combination is not surprising. What’s coming next week is more talent layoffs and buyouts and when you talk about talent you talk about the on-air people.”
And while no big names have been let go yet, Marchand did point out one name out of the three that stood out in particular to him.
“You talk about someone like Max Kellerman, he’s probably not in a good place right now.”
Kellerman makes around $5 million per year, according to Marchand, and that’s money that could be dispersed among a new crop of fresh faces.
The Post reporter also stated that the move to sign Pat McAfee shouldn’t be underestimated, as it’s a sign of the change in focus at ESPN. He believes the network is shifting away from traditional broadcasters like the 49-year-old Kellerman to the more unconventional talkers like McAfee.
And it sounds as if the Professor of Pugilism won’t be the only network star who is packing his bags and taking his talent elsewhere.