The man many people perceive as the “face of ESPN” is reportedly bringing his voice back to ESPN Radio.
In all likelihood, Stephen A.’s final show for Mad Dog Radio will be Friday. In his return to ESPN, his show is expected to be on at 1-3 p.m. ET on the New York affiliate and Sirius XM channel 80, and also broadcast at 10 a.m.-noon PT on the Los Angeles affiliate.
It sounds like Smith’s show will take a bite out of the ratings of Russillo & Kanell, which occupies the 1-4 p.m. ET slot nationally on ESPN Radio. He will reportedly displace Hahn and Humpty in New York and Thomson & Trudell in L.A.
It makes sense on several levels for ESPN to get Smith back on the network’s radio airwaves. For one thing, ESPN Radio has notoriously struggled to draw ratings in major cities, and Stephen A., who has as much name recognition as anyone in sports media, could help ESPN compete with local outlets in the country’s two largest markets.
Plus, Smith’s return to ESPN Radio allows the company he’s most associated with to double down on its commitment to him. Smith, of course, hosts First Take, which is moving from ESPN2 to ESPN, and the network loves to give him facetime across platforms. For better or worse, Smith is a big brand name in sports talk, and now ESPN owns everything he says and can cross-promote him to its heart’s desire.
ESPN has already made very clear over the past few years that it’s comfortable with Smith being the network’s most famous talent. Now the network is officially all-in.