Tony Kornheiser announced Monday morning that the podcast of his ESPN 980 radio show will now be available without a 24-hour delay. The podcasts, he said, will be live shortly after noon; his show runs from 10 a.m. to noon weekdays.
“We just found out on Friday, the station manager Rick Carmean came in and said you can release the podcast, release the hounds, same day,” Kornheiser said, referring to the chief executive of Red Zebra Broadcasting. “So now you can all have the podcasts. I’m very grateful. I think that’s really nice. Really nice.”
The 24-hour podcast delay had long been ridiculed by Kornheiser’s loyal listeners, and was a frequent joke on his program. When the delay was announced in 2011, fans started a #FreeMrTony hashtag and complained frequently to the station (and to me).
Then-program director Chuck Sapienza was well aware that fans were angry, but insisted that his job was not to increase the station’s podcast listeners.
“I know this hurts people who listen out of town, but we’re trying to get people to listen on the radio,” he said in 2011. “We’re in the radio business, and we’re trying to get people to listen on the radio. And the more people who download podcasts, the fewer people who listen on the radio.”
But fans of the show who live elsewhere or who can’t listen during the late morning insisted this was lunacy. And Kornheiser ranted about the policy at least once, a few months later.
“The policy is gonna kill the show,” he said that October. “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.”
Sapienza stuck by his policy, and although he said last September that a solution was near, the 24-hour delay remained in place. Shows on rival station 106.7 The Fan are usually podcasted within a few hours of their completion.
But Sapienza resigned from 980 earlier this month amid the fallout from the indefinite postponement of Jason Reid and Chris Paul’s planned morning show. He has not yet been replaced, but his resignation apparently paved the way for this change in policy.
The podcast delay is NO more. Mr. Tony is free!
— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) March 23, 2015