When ESPN 980 announced a 24-hour delay policy for its podcasts this spring, people got angry. Especially angry, near as I can tell, were Tony Kornheiser fans from other parts of the country who wanted their same-day Kornheiser fix.
The station’s programming director, Chuck Sapienza, told me the station was just trying to protect its ratings; that “Tony hasn’t railed against it and I think he understands; all we’re trying to do is get people to listen to his show when it’s offered, because that’s how we get rated.”
I’m not sure what the definition of “railed” might be, but on Monday’s show, after reading a long and angry anti-delay letter from an out-of-town fan, Kornheiser discussed the policy at length.
“The policy is gonna kill the show,” he said, with typical subtlety and restraint. “It’s simply going to kill the show....That is the problem. You’re listening to this a day late. That’s the solution around here, the solution to getting more people listening live. And by the way, there’s a great glee with which I am told that my ratings are bad. There’s a great glee. The people around here seem to think that this is charming, and that if I only did what they wanted, everything would be right in the world.
“But it doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t work that way, because of the way audio is delivered to America. It’s delivered on demand. And if when you demand it you can’t get it, you’re not going to listen to it.
“Here’s what’s going to happen in the next five or 10 years, boys and girls. There’s not gonna be football on television any more. It’s all gonna be in your computer. That’s the way it’s gonna work. It’ll be brought to you by people like Google, brought to you by people who are search engine people, and I know nothing about this. There’s no way to make any money any more doing it the old way. The old way is not just old, much like me — it is dead.
“That’s the old way. People don’t want that any more. They’re not going to sit around and wait for things....The people who run radio stations, they’re apparently not adapting to the new culture and don’t truly understand how it works and what people want….Management believes differently than I believe. I still do the show. I’m not running away from the show. I just wish it were more accessible, quicker, to more people.”
So I don’t think that Kornheiser likes the policy all too much, is my guess.