Longtime ESPN host Dan Le Batard is leaving the network early next year “to pursue a new opportunity.”
What that is, we don’t know.
The ESPN Radio finale of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz will be Jan. 4, the same day Le Batard will host his last episode of the weekday commentary show Highly Questionable – which will remain on ESPN.
“It was mutually agreed that it was best for both sides to move on to new opportunities and we worked together closely to make that possible,” said ESPN evp and executive editor Norby Williamson. “We thank Dan for his many years and contributions to ESPN and wish him all the best going forward.”
Le Batard said, “Gracias to ESPN for unleashing Papi and Stugotz upon an unsuspecting America, and for lending its substantive credibility to our careening clown car,” Le Batard added in a statement. “Can’t believe Stugotz finally achieved his dream of becoming a high-priced free agent. I’m forever indebted to Erik Rydholm, Matt Kelliher and their vibrant team for providing a creative oasis across a decade, and for expanding the Le Batard family to include so many brilliant colleagues who have become forever friends, bonded eternally by laughter and love.
Want to also extend my gratitude to Chuck Salituro, Jimmy Pitaro, Traug Keller, Marcia Keegan, Connor Schell, Juan Diaz, Mike Foss, Amanda Gifford, Liam Chapman, Megan Judge, Elizabeth Fierman, the Hialeah-soaked crew at Imagina …and when did this become a droning acceptance speech instead of a quick goodbye? In short, thank you, Disney and ESPN, for a quarter century of absurd blessings. To our loyal army of concerned fans, and to everyone who walked along and played an instrument in our Marching Band to Nowhere, know that it is a very exciting time for us, not a sad one. And that you’ll be hearing our laughter again soon enough.”
On Jan. 5, Greeny, with Mike Greenberg, will move to the 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET timeslot, followed by Bart & Hahn, (hosted by Bart Scott and Alan Hahn) which will join the national ESPN Radio lineup from 12 – 2 p.m. every weekday. The show has aired on 98.7FM ESPN New York since its debut in January. Both Greeny and Bart & Hahn will be simulcast on ESPN+.
“Greeny’s move will provide fans with a seamless transition from Get Up to Mike’s more in-depth takes on radio. Bart & Hahn has a great following in New York and we’re excited to bring that show to a national audience on a regular basis,” said ESPN svp of production David Roberts. “Highly Questionable will also continue to build on its success, engaging with fans every weekday afternoon, led by a contributing team of signature personalities.”
According to ESPN, Highly Questionable will continue to be a part of the network’s daytime lineup featuring a contributing team, including Elle Duncan, Domonique Foxworth, Israel Gutierrez, Bomani Jones, Mina Kimes, Katie Nolan, Sarah Spain, Pablo Torre and Clinton Yates. The show will continue to be produced remotely due to Covid-19, but will be based long term at ESPN’s New York Seaport Studios. Le Batard and his father, Gonzalo “Papi” Le Batard, will host their final episode of Highly Questionable on Jan. 4.
Many had a feeling this day was coming. ESPN had already moved Highly Questionable to an earlier, less desirable time slot during the day. ESPN executives trimmed the radio show by an hour, and moved the simulcast to ESPN+. (It was previously simulcast on Fusion).
One of the 300+ ESPN staffers who were part of the November job cut was was one of Le Batard’s producers, Chris Cote. According to New York Post sports media columnist Andrew Marchand, Le Batard said he was “blindsided” by the move and it was the “greatest disrespect of my professional career.” Le Batard is taking on Cote’s salary as his personal assistant with a raise, filling a position recently vacated.
Needless to say, there’s been friction between Le Batard and the powers that be for a while. It was only a matter of when, not if Le Batard and ESPN would part ways.
In addition to zany sports talk and commentary, Le Batard made some poignant moments on his program. A Cuban-American, he broke down on his show back in 2016 after playing a clip from SportsCenter. Bob Ley was broadcasting live from Havana in the 6 p.m. hour of SportsCenter when several Cuban dissidents threw several pamphlets in the air.
“Lord knows how long that dude is going to be rotting in a Cuban prison for throwing some papers up in the air,” Le Batard said, adding, “Have I ever cried on radio?”
Le Batard launched Highly Questionable on ESPN2 in 2011 after a lengthy run as a Miami Herald sports columnist and radio host on local Miami station 790 The Ticket.