Andy Pollin, the dean of Washington sports radio, said Thursday that his contract at ESPN 980 won’t be renewed, ending his run there a few weeks shy of his 25th-year anniversary.
Pollin and his longtime friend and partner Steve Czaban had reunited as “The Sports Reporters” in May of last year, doing a three-hour afternoon drive program that took advantage of their close relationship and Pollin’s wealth of local knowledge. But his contract was set to expire in February, and he never got any indication that the Daniel Snyder-owned outlet was interested in a new deal. He said he was told after Thursday’s show that it would be his last, keeping him from saying a final goodbye on the air.
“I’m not in any way bitter about this,” he said. “I’m disappointed that it wouldn’t continue. I thought Czabe and I were humming along there in our second run, but it didn’t happen. That’s life.”
The two men had done their “Sports Reporters” show at WTEM for 13 years, until Chris Cooley took Pollin’s place on 980 in the summer of 2013. That eventually led to Pollin getting his own morning show on SportsTalk 570, which he did for about a year and a half. Then came yet another shakeup, with the ill-fated “Man Cave” program taking over morning drive at 980, and ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” bumping Pollin off 570. Pollin thus held his second goodbye show, which seemed to signal his end at Redskins Radio, until the latest shakeup last spring, which reunited Pollin and Czaban on afternoon drives.
Czaban posted a lengthy statement Thursday evening on Twitter, writing that he was “gutted by the decision,” and that “I owe my entire career in sports radio” to Pollin.
“I have no doubt Andy has more chapters to write in his broadcasting and journalism career here in D.C.,” Czaban wrote. “I would hire that guy tomorrow. I’ll miss him tremendously as a sounding board on all things sports, radio — and life.”
Pollin started at Washington’s first sports-radio station in March of 1992, and helped launch WTEM as the station’s original sports director two months later. A veteran of New York’s WFAN, Pollin helped put the new Washington outlet together, making hires and becoming the first local voice on the air after that year’s Indianapolis 500.
He eventually became one of Tony Kornheiser’s foils, which led to time on national ESPN Radio and a weekend show with Mel Kiper Jr. But Pollin probably made his biggest mark locally with his encyclopedic knowledge of Redskins history and his married-couple routine with Czaban. The two even launched an (uncensored) podcast version of their show when it was off the air, and their chemistry wasn’t at all diminished when they finally reunited.
(Full disclosure: I’ve been listening to Andy on the air since I moved here in 1998. And while we often disagreed — especially about the Caps — it’s impossible not to respect his comprehensive knowledge, his passion and his radio skill. He’s also been consistently kind and helpful to me, and I consider him a friend.)
Pollin said Thursday that he hopes to continue his local radio career elsewhere — “this is a young man’s game, but there may be a place for me,” he said — but he added several times that he has no regrets.
“It was great — start to finish, it was a great run,” he said. “This is a fact of life in the radio business, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had to do it under various ownerships and managements. I still have great friends over there, and I hope they’ll do well.”
Czaban declined to comment on what comes next for his program, but he wrote that he will remain on afternoon drive, and that “I hope [listeners] give the show that emerges from this change a fair hearing going forward.”
Meanwhile, D.C. sports radio personalities from both local stations paid tribute to Pollin on Thursday night.