Look, my fondest ambition in life was not to be the Tony Kornheiser beat reporter for The Post’s Web site. But things keep happening that cause readers to e-mail me for clarification, so I’ll bite yet again.
Here is Tony, from the beginning of Thursday’s show, discussing his work schedule:
“Everybody knows that in July and August, this show isn’t gonna be on the air at all. I mean, maybe three days. That’s it. Because I saved up a lot of vacation and I’m gonna take that. But it’s also not gonna be on the air next week because [a] decision was made by management — it’s a very complicated thing, and it’s business, ok? Understand that it’s business. Look, I don’t agree with it, but I’m not gonna go nuts like I would have years back. Or I might next week.
“I have a contractual arrangement that allows me to do a certain specific number of shows; I reached that number of shows. So economically, the station decided they’d rather have somebody else and not pay me any more money. You know, that’s fine. I would like to have done next week’s shows, only because for the first time since 1997 and now the second time since 1964, the United States Open is gonna be played around the corner from here, so I would have liked to have talked about that for a while. And I think that the NBA and NHL seasons might come to an end this weekend, they very well might, but you’ll get somebody else to talk about that. So that’ll work out. And these are business decisions.”
Damning! So I called ESPN 980 programming director Chuck Sapienza, who told me that Kornheiser had requested to be off the Thursday and Friday of the Open months ago. In balancing his vacation time, Sapienza decided it would be more interesting and valuable to have Tony on the Monday after the Open than the Wednesday before, and that having one full week of Tony would be better than two split weeks.
So Al Galdi will host next week’s shows on location from Congressional, and Kornheiser will return the following week. Tony was already scheduled to take most of July and August off; he will be replaced by Andrew Siciliano, who will do an exclusive 980 show for six weeks this summer. Still, Kornheiser will be on-air for nearly 20 days between June 1 and Labor Day.
“He’s not taking 10 weeks off,” Sapienza said, referring to some Internet reports. “We’re a better radio station when Tony’s on the air. We just had to work out his vacation schedule. That’s it. It’s as simple as can be.”
Of course, this didn’t stop Kornheiser from making snide comments about management as his Thursday intro went on.
“You’re consumers of the show,” he told his listeners. “You are consumers of the show. You’re very entitled to say we’re glad he’s not gonna be here, he stinks, we can’t stand him, or you’re entitled to take the other point of view, which is we’d like to get him on more often, we sort of like him and we’d like to have the ability to listen to his show....
“But you know, I don’t mind talking about it. I’m not gonna be condemning of anybody else who makes business decisions. I’m really not. I mean, that’s a business decision to not put this podcast out immediately. They want to drive you to the radio. There are people who will puff their chest out and think that they have reinvented the wheel by these decisions, and there are others who will look at them and say your chest isn’t that good, you know, stop trying to puff it out, you’re looking backwards and not forwards.”
So I asked Sapienza whether he minded getting sort of nicked by the talent like that.
“I like when Tony gets all riled up,” he said. “I think it’s good for the show. Tony’s at his best when he’s railing against somebody, and if it happens to be me, great. Tony was being Tony. He’s entertaining, that’s what he’s doing, and it’s fine, it’s perfectly fine.”