You know what’s good for business? Sports radio feuds!
Wednesday morning, ESPN analyst and Montgomery County boy Tim Kurkjian did a spot with 106.7 The Fan’s Sports Junkies. Wednesday afternoon, I wrote about it, since Kurkjian had a few interesting things to say about the Nats and Stephen Strasburg. By Wednesday night, Kurkjian had told the Junkies that he could no longer appear on their program.
So what happened? According to ESPN 980 director of programming Chuck Sapienza, someone at the ESPN mothership in Bristol saw my blog item, and asked Sapienza if he minded Kurkjian appearing on the competition’s airwaves.
(Thanks for reading, ESPN person!)
“I said I’m not gonna tell him he can’t, but of course I’d prefer him not to,” Sapienza recalled. “I have no authority. Tim Kurkjian’s not my employee. I can’t make him not do it. They asked me my opinion, and I said I’d prefer him not to.”
Among Sapienza’s reasons: his station occasionally honors larger-than-life D.C. sports personalities with a “Lunch With a Legend” event, a banquet with two hours of interviews. They had asked James Brown to be a featured guest, and he was told by CBS that he was not allowed to be on ESPN980’s air.
(106.7 The Fan, of course, is a CBS radio station.)
ESPN 980 has also been told it can no longer have Charley Casserly as a guest.
Meanwhile, the Junkies discussed the Kurkjian news Thursday morning — coupled with the fact that Kurkjian was on Tony Kornheiser’s ESPN 980 show this week — and they didn’t find it hilarious.
“Tim has actually been told before not to come on, but he’s our friend, and he’s come on through the years,” Eric Bickel said on the air, while discussing the news. “But we would never want to pressure him and put him in a bad spot, so he may not be on for quite a while. It is disappointing. What can I say?”
“I wouldn’t put it past Kornheiser to [complain to] somebody about a guest being on another show,” Jason Bishop said. “It was someone involved with their show. That we do know. But I’m not surprised. They’re thin-skinned and threatened by us for some reason.”
“It’s just silly,” Bickel said. “He’s our friend, too. I know that ESPN has a policy where they like their hosts and their people to only go on ESPN shows. I get that. [But] he’s been on our show for probably close to a decade.”
“And I guarantee you, we do a much better interview with Kurkjian than Kornhole does,” Bishop said.
“It’s just silly, if it did come from Tony,” Bickel said. “The guy’s been so successful, has made so much money — why would you worry about a little old show like ours? I mean, c’mon. Get over yourself already. If you had the career Tony Kornheiser’s had, would you be as miserable and curmudgeonly?”
For the record, I asked Sapienza about this on-air accusation that Kornheiser was the source of the decision.
“It absolutely had nothing to do with Tony, zero to do with Tony,” he said. “Somebody from Bristol reached out to me.”
Anyhow, “it is what it is” seems to be the concluding sentiment of the day.
“I don’t want to put him in a bad spot,” Bickel said of Kurkjian. “So it is what it is.”
“And he was very apologetic,” Bishop added. “I said our listeners love you. And it’s sad that somebody else in this market is going to destroy a relationship like that. Unbelievable to me.”
(First reported by Sportsyack.)