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ESPN Bloodshed in Pittsburgh (Radio Version)

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by EagleMorph, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. EagleMorph

    EagleMorph Member

    While most of the talk and the job postings here have to do with print and online media, sometimes it's worthwhile to point out that some of the same issues ail our radio and television buddies.

    1250 WEAE-AM, an ESPN affiliate owned and operated by ESPN/Disney (one of five in the country), shut off all local programming today and will cease to exist as an ESPN affiliate on January 1, 2011. It'll move to the Disney Radio brand, currently being broadcast on 540 AM in the Pittsburgh market.

    Veteran Pittsburgh sports personalities Guy Junker, Stan Savran, and Scott Paulsen were among those fired today. Also gone: Steelers reporter Ken Laird, Chris Mack, former Steelers safety Mike Logan, and utility guy Tab Douglas, among other behind the scenes people. The station had three daily local shows: Stan and Guy from 10a-2p, The Drive with Paulsen, Mack, and Logan from 2-6, and Steelers 365 with Laird from 6-8. They also had weekend shows with Chris Peak of Pantherlair.com and Paul Zeise of the Post-Gazette.

    According to Logan on his Twitter account (mlogan31), while they knew there were some issues and a couple rumors and media reports surfaced over the weekend, the precise decision hadn't been relayed to anyone. No meeting, no last goodbye, nothing. Just a phone call from what he called "The Grim Reaper" telling people not to come in today for their show.

    Pretty heartless way to get fired, but we've all been there.

    Guess there won't be an ESPNPittsburgh.com coming our way any time soon.
  2. Mystery Meat II

    Mystery Meat II Well-Known Member

    Radio people get fired in the worst ways. They'll get the call at noon, and by 3 p.m. they'll be stunting some song on loop while dropping in teases to whatever their new tagline's going to be once the format change takes effect. It's pretty brutal stuff.
  3. Small Town Guy

    Small Town Guy Well-Known Member

    Yeah. I worked with a lady who got laid off from our paper. She subsequently got laid off at two more papers. Yet she says the newspaper business - including the way she left it - was heaven compared to the way she got let go while in radio.
  4. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    There was a local sports talk station when I co-hosted three times a week from 9 to 11. One Friday, they told during a break that they were changing formats and we were all fired. We had to finish the show without making mention of it.

    We were off the air at 11 and they were playing country music by 1.
  5. Gator

    Gator Well-Known Member

    Jesus. For some reason, that reminds me of that scene in Terminator 2, when the nuclear bomb goes off and all of the skin is just blown off the people at the park. Maybe I'm overstating it a bit in my head.
  6. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    I've got to think there is another sports station in Pittsburgh right? Still, you would think ESPN would want some presence in that market.
  7. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    Jesus, Stan Savran has been in Pittsburgh forever.

    I remember him when I was a kid. Paulsen left WDVE for this, right, or is he still at WDVE as well?
  8. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    Worst radio firing story I ever heard:

    Station manager calls a staff meeting for noon. Everyone gathers in his office. At exactly 12 o'clock, he clicks on a speaker and there's an ID for the station's new country format, followed by some twangy guitar song.

    And that's how everyone in the room found out there was a format change and they were out of work.
  9. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    Are radio managers born asswipes or do they learn that behavior?

    What's the problem with being professional and civil? Is it the fear of having someone near a hot microphone if they know they've been gassed? Can we at least assume that most people get paid for some period beyond the jerked-off-the-air termination.
  10. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    What would they have done to you if you had mentioned the firing on air?
  11. Pete Wevurski

    Pete Wevurski Member

    Tab Douglas and Guy Junker are class acts; I hope they land on their feet at a station pronto ... and I echo the comments about Stan Savran, who just might have been the most recognizable voice of the 'Burgh ever since Myron Cope died
  12. EagleMorph

    EagleMorph Member

    There were three: 1250 ESPN, Fox Sports 970, and 93.7 The Fan (CBS).

    ESPN was the most firmly entrenched in terms of name recognition but has a fairly weak signal outside of the Pittsburgh metro area. Fox Sports is practically non-existent. They have a little bit of local programming, but their ratings barely register. The Fan is new; it debuted in February to much hype and has been pretty underwhelming. Despite a significantly stronger signal on FM plus better financial backing from CBS, they've only managed to tie the ESPN station in the ratings.

    So, until today, it was really a two-horse race for sports radio in Pittsburgh, and this wasn't ratings related. It was all about money, and the suits argued that the ESPN station lost too much money.

    As far as some specifics on the situations on a couple of the on-air guys:
    - Stan Savran is a Pittsburgh media institution, and while he won't be on the radio, he'll still do his work for FSN Pittsburgh on TV.
    - Same with Guy Junker, another veteran in the 'Burgh. He's also the sports director for WTAE TV (ABC affiliate).
    - Scott Paulsen has been in Pittsburgh radio forever on multiple jobs. He was with WDVE for the longest time, left them, worked for a couple other stations, and finally found a new home on ESPN.

    Chris Mack has worked in several formats, although he really found a home alongside Paulsen and Mike Logan on their afternoon show. He'll find work somewhere, for sure. Logan, who knows. Some liked him, others didn't, but he's a former Steeler so he'll still be in demand.

    Ken Laird was the Steelers reporter, a full-time gig in this football obsessed city. He also does some work for a local high school network calling high school football games, so he'll still have things to do. He broke a few Steelers stories - also got burned on one where he said Bruce Arians was going to be fired - and is well-liked.

    Tab Douglas is a good guy and could probably find a gig almost immediately as an update/news guy, either in sports or on one of the news stations in town.

    Whatever the opinions on any of these guys and their abilities to talk about sports, they're almost universally well-liked as people. It was a really good group of on-air talent, and that's not including the likes of Eddy Crow, Eartha Jackson, Joe DeStio, or Jim Colony, who all were let go in earlier attempts to stop the financial bleeding.
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