The idea of coming home, Bram Weinstein wrote after he left ESPN, “has been gnawing at me for some time.” He wanted to raise his two young children in his native Washington, and he wanted to get back into the D.C. sports mix. But for more than a year after his departure from the network, Weinstein was unable to find the right fit, and was unsure whether that homecoming would ever happen.
Then came a perfect confluence of events: a lineup shakeup at ESPN 980, the departure of Tony Kornheiser to run his own podcast and a midday opening at the station Weinstein had once interned for while he was a college student at American. The result? The “Bram Weinstein Show” will debut on ESPN 980 on July 25, running 11-1 on weekdays and giving Weinstein that homecoming he’s been dreaming about.
“I’m beyond excited,” Weinstein said by phone Monday morning. “It was always my first choice to come back here. It was just finding the right thing, and I’m just really fortunate that it’s worked out.”
Weinstein, a Montgomery County native and Springbrook High grad, spent the early years of his career in Nebraska, but he took off when he came back home and started working for WTEM in the late 1990s. He became the Redskins beat reporter and a local media fixture, with his own Saturday show, regular appearances on Comcast SportsNet and a midday show that eventually became Larry Michael’s “Redskins Nation.” (Some of his beat reporting was done at Red Zebra, before that company acquired WTEM.) Weinstein, a Redskins season ticket holder for about 20 years, also blogged about the team on his own time, while his “Covering the Redskins, I’m Bram Weinstein!” sign-off continues to follow him around.
Weinstein, 43, left for Bristol in 2008, and then parted ways with the network last spring in what he has said was his own choice. He’s since been freelancing while planning his next move. He is also the part-owner of a media consulting and coaching firm.
“Honestly, one of the reasons why I left ESPN was because I wanted to try to get back here,” Weinstein said. “What’s hard is things have changed here; some of these old positions that used to be really valuable and attractive, the times have changed. So I was stunned when [Red Zebra] called. . . . It was obvious that I wanted to come back and do it. It’s incredible, really.”
Weinstein, who will be joined in studio by longtime WTEMer Scott Linn, is a longtime fan of all the local pro teams. He called a Caps Stanley Cup title “my holy grail,” once starred with Stephen Strasburg in a “This is ‘SportsCenter’ ” spot, and said his show will venture beyond the Redskins, although “clearly they’re the dominating discussion point, so I’m going to honor that.” But he has emotionally defended Washington’s place as a sports town in the past, and he kept up his allegiances during his time at ESPN.
“I’m just happy to be back in a place where I’m passionate about the things we’re going to talk about and be a part of,” he said. “It was an honor and it was a privilege to work in Bristol, but some of the topic matter just became trite and old to me because I just didn’t care about it. So it’s nice to be back. . . . I’ve just been waiting for the right thing. And this is the right thing.”
As for the tenor of the show, Weinstein — whose ESPN broadcasts were peppered with one-liners — said he expects that to develop organically and to be an extension of his personality. Regular guests and segments have yet to be determined.
“Bringing Bram back to D.C. completes an incredible lineup of entertaining sports programming on ESPN 980,” Terry Bateman, chairman of Red Zebra Broadcasting, said in a statement. “Bram is guaranteed to provide listeners with a unique, compelling and entertaining approach to discussing the D.C. sports landscape.”