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Podcast: The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz

Network: ESPN Audio

What Is It?: It’s the podcast of ESPN Radio’s national midday show. Aside from the three national hours (10 a.m.-1 p.m.), the podcast feed also includes a local hour and the “best of” podcast.

Who’s The Host?: The show’s title gives away its hosts, as Dan Le Batard plays ringleader with help from Jon Weiner, known by his nickname of Stugotz.

Miami Herald columnist Greg Cote co-hosts on Tuesdays.

What’s a Normal Episode Like?: This is particularly difficult for me to answer because there’s so much content pushed out every day, with over three-and-a-half hours of content coming to my phone. While I am all for both quality and quantity, this might be too much to have on the same feed. ESPN used to have separate feeds for “best of” shows, such as “Best of Mike & Mike,” but that feed doesn’t exist on iTunes. PodcastOne gives its popular sports talk shows separate “best of” feeds with the DP Daily Download and the Eisen Extra; apparently ESPN would rather have people sift through everything on their app.

In all, I am surprised how much of a leash Le Batard has for talking about things other than sports. On Friday, there was a guest promoting his book on the un-extinction of the woolly mammoth and the talk leaned more toward viral videos than any sort of legitimate sports topics. On Monday, the show focused more time on other ESPN personalities than previewing the NCAA Tournament. And Tuesday had Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill answering animal questions from callers. I am not a “stick to sports” hard-liner, but I do think it’s a 180 for ESPN Radio, who used to force hosts like Dan Patrick to really put the sports in sports talk.

While I, as a Clevelander, may not always agree with Le Batard, I respect most of his opinions because I think he has perspective. He tries to have lighthearted fun with segments, though this comes at the expense of actual sports talk. I can only handle so much of Stugotz’s vacation recap, or animal talk with Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill, when the World Baseball Classic, NCAA Tournament, NBA season, NFL free agency, and MLB spring training are all going on.

The “best of” show is cut rather oddly. In the 90-minute show from last Friday, the “best of” included two SportsCenter updates in the first half-hour and two more later on, along with what felt like a ton of live reads and a handful of ad breaks. Also, it isn’t much of a “best of” as it is a compilation of the three national hours, cut together with only a few minutes of poll talk taken out. At that point, I might as well listen to the three separate national hours and not miss any moments.

Who Is It For?: The local hour is for a Miami-area audience, not a national one, which makes it tougher to draw me in. The show was local-only from 2004 until it went national in 2013, so this hour is meant for the most loyal of listeners. It feels like fan service and should be treated as its own podcast, especially with how much the producers talk on-air.

After that, the three national hours are for typical sports fans. The hosts will fill you in on the major stories without getting into the nitty-gritty or trying to explicate the news into anything it’s not. Le Batard and Stugotz almost have an apathy toward making listeners smarter, which means little-to-no NCAA Tournament preview. In fact, the show poked fun at other hosts possibly faking it because they can’t possibly follow this much college basketball all season. So they’ll focus on reacting instead of prognosticating, which is one option, but maybe not the most fitting for the late morning/mid-day timeslot.

The show is also for listeners who want to feel like they have a community. It has more polls than a strip club. On Monday, @LeBatardShow tweeted out 13 polls, which is a ton more than most other sports talk shows. The account tweeted out another dozen or so polls on Tuesday. Aside from tweeting out dissenter’s profile pictures, polls comprise a majority of the account’s posts.

Who Is It Not For?: The pace is slow. I find the 1.5x- and double-speed features on my iPhone’s podcasts app get a lot of work during this show because of how slowly the hosts talk and how long the pauses can be. It’s a good pace in the background while doing desk work, which fits its timeslot since most people on the east coast and midwest are starting the workday.

Le Batard also has his share of controversy with the show, and I know plenty of Cleveland fans who want to put duct tape over his mouth and never remove it. That it has any controversy is surprising, however, because Le Batard and co. never seem to spend much time on difficult topics that could get a host in hot water.

If you like the radio show’s music, you’re gonna be out of luck, as the podcast is not allowed to use it. The hosts addressed the issue on Monday’s show.

Can I Jump Right In?: Yes and no. Sure, the show is three national hours every weekday, so there’s plenty of new content to prevent anything recent from getting stale. But inside jokes, gags, and acclimatizing to the hosts’ personalities takes some getting used to.

What’s Not Great?: Most of this show is really good. For a national radio show, it doesn’t feel like it panders to Boston/New York/Los Angeles teams, which makes sense since it is based in Miami.

Personally, I highly respect Le Batard as a writer and read his columns relatively often considering they don’t overlap with the teams I follow. I also think Highly Questionable is among the most palatable of “embrace debate” studio shows.

That said, I am having my time wasted in this format. Why do I need multiple hours for Le Batard’s takes when I can get them on his 22-minute TV show and in his writing? (Note: Le Batard hasn’t written any new columns since the passing of José Fernández in September, but some of his work is worth a read whenever.)

Stugotz and the producers are a wild card, but they give me little reason to get this much more Le Batard, a side of him that doesn’t interest me a ton compared to his writing and television work.

Lastly, the podcast feed format sucks. I said it before: having the local hour, the three national hours, and the “best of” show on the same feed is redundant. Separate the three into separate feeds so subscribers can pick and choose what they want to hear instead of getting all or nothing.

So, Should I Listen To This?: For those who want a new national sports talk show to listen to, The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz is a compelling option. The hosts give listeners at work a chance to respond to polls and tweet into the show, and they have fun, a missing piece of many sports programming.

The issue is how much of Le Batard you can handle. I like him, but not enough to digest what amounts to three-and-a-half hours of podcasts, especially when I am satisfied with 22 minutes of Highly Questionable. At double speed, I can burn through the “best of” show in about 45 minutes, which could work for those with a longer commute. Should Le Batard and ESPN choose to split the show into three separate feeds, I would be more inclined to recommend each of them to different audiences.

If you’re still reading this review, you’re probably just scrolling to the comments section to tell me I’m off base with any criticisms of the show. Not only is The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz reportedly the most popular podcast from ESPN, it’s also the most requested podcast Awful Announcing readers have wanted me to review. So I know how vocal this fan base can be.

In an era of so many sports talk podcasts, Le Batard is engaging and funny. As good as it is, the show is a notch below the transcendence necessary for me to urge you to subscribe. That is mostly due to the sheer amount of content pushed out on the feed every day, but it’s also because the show seems to lack a truly serious side for discussing hard issues at extended length.

Bottom Line – TL;DR: If you need to fill a daily sports talk void, The Le Batard Show with Stugotz is a strong option because of its light-hearted irreverence.

About Alex Kaufman

Alex Kaufman is a News Producer at ABC6/FOX28 in Columbus, Ohio. A 2017 graduate of Denison University, Alex has been published on ESPN.com, profiled by SI.com, and writes for Awful Announcing and The Comeback.

  • Agarda

    They recently got dumped by ESPN NY radio, where I thought it was a terrible fit. I think it was getting creamed and, like the reviewer, I could only handle so much of it. It was really hit and miss for me.

    • OTOH, it was essentially replaced with Stephen A. I didn’t really love the show (even if I find Le Batard’s contrarian approach to sports refreshing in print), but it sure was better than two hours of the mouth that roared.

      Then again, its slot was taken over by Hahn, Humpty, and Canty. Di Pietro has become one of my ESPN-NY faves.

      • Agarda

        This is true – I enjoy Hahn, Humpty and Canty, I avoid Stephen A.

        Right now early afternoon sports talk in NY is brutal.

  • Scott Johnson

    “I can only handle so much of Stugotz’s vacation recap, or animal talk with Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill, when the World Baseball Classic, NCAA Tournament, NBA season, NFL free agency, and MLB spring training are all going on.”

    I think the point they are making is if you want to hear about all of that on an endless loop, there are PLENTY of other options out there. They delight in feeding off of expectations about what a “sports talk radio show” is supposed to spend time talking about and then doing the opposite, in most cases (along the same lines as having his father on HQ? for the sole purpose of comedically interjecting random thoughts AFTER he and Bomani talk about something mainstream). Also, I stepped into the podcast in the past six months or so and I don’t get lost in the local hour. I listen to it because they reference it a lot during the national hour and, while they do tend to talk about the Heat and Panthers more than in the other hours, I generally can’t tell the difference between the local and national content.

    In short, sports talk is the worst. The LAST thing I would want is more endless analysis of… anything sports related. So, I’m his audience.

  • Honestly, I disagree with equating LeBatard Radio Show to HQ. HQ does treat the sports topics of the day, while the radio show actively avoids those topics. HQ also dedicates its non-serious segment to videos, while the show usually can’t do that because of the radio component (you caught the show at a bad time, since this week they’ve gone heavy on discussing them for some reason).

    I tend to listen to the show instead of HQ because, like Scott said, you can get serious sports takes from so many sources, so this is a welcome marriage of more casual sports talk interspersed with media and personal talk.

    • Scott Johnson

      Yeah, I forgot to bring that up; it’s almost disingenuous to say “I don’t need more LeBatard BECAUSE OF HQ?” If you don’t like him, fine. But 4 hour radio Dan and 22 minute TV Dan are two totally different animals. A lot of the time I wouldn’t understand his opinion on HQ? without having listened to him discuss it on the radio beforehand.

  • blackfriars1

    I can only handle so much of this show, and then I’m just done. LeBatard seems to try and make everything into a race topic, which gets really old, really fast.

    Also, he can be good with out-of-the-box questions to guests that get interesting answers, but sometimes he tries way too hard — like the time he asked Deion Sanders to talk about his sex addiction, which doesn’t exist. Like, what are you even talking about? Why do we care about that on a sports radio show?

  • YouAreWrongAndDumb

    I started listening to the show literally the first second it aired in 2004, but I have to say I stopped in the last year.

    Like you alluded to, this show has gotten too self deferential meaning, it becomes a show about doing a radio show a lot, which is extremely boring to me. Also, as the show evolves, it’s been adding too many voices from their really awful producers, whom I have no interest in listening to. Additionally, Stugotz has evolved into a cartoon parody of his original inclination which is completely grating to me as a listener.

    It’s too bad too, because Dan at his most thoughtful is interesting to listen to.

    • 66pugs99

      Excellent post and a fair critique. As a post incarnation new Lebatard fan, I have enjoyed what it has become. I have to admit, I didn’t like the show before as I felt Dan could get on a silly soap box way too often, and there was nobody to talk him down. With the new voices, there are now ways to stop Dan pretty easily from going into a tailspin, which actually now turn out many times to be very funny, when before it sounded like a over opinionated Dad yelling.

  • Rich Ward

    I listen to all four hours of the podcast daily. It’s smart disguised as stupid, often poking fun at the cathedral we make of sports. Le Batard has changed the way I listen and watch sports (and sports talk), for the better.

  • waynebeamer

    Alex: I was really happy when Dan Le Batard and Stu went national in 2013, because they soon became a perfect compliment for SVP and Ryen Russillo in terms of irreverence and fun within a sports talk format.

    Since SVP left the radio world and Ryen became stuck with a frat boy for a partner, I’m glad to have Le Batard and Stu on the air being funny and talking about everything but sports — I can watch ESPN or read newspapers/SI for that for that — in a nuanced, interesting way. Plus, their convos with smart people like Sarah Spain (a far better partner for Russillo in my opinion), Ron Magill, Greg Cote, John Amaechi, Dominic Foxworth and Amin El Hassan are so entertaining and addicting.

    BTW, count me in as a fan of the local hour too, and I try to listen to it live if I can.

    • 66pugs99

      I have to admit, I feel really sorry for Russillo, as his program now seems like the stupid jock sports show following Lebatard- the type that Dan himself makes fun of. I remember the day Russillo snapped after a particularly feisty Lebatard show, I think it was the Monday of the Super Bowl, when Russillo asked “What is sports talk becoming? Is it all about politics now? What am I supposed to be doing here.” .

      Rusillo’s show is like putting on an episode of “Friends” after an episode of “Seinfeld”. It just doesn’t look good in comparison, and makes “Friends” look really stupid. Even the silly parts of the Lebatard show seem much smarter than anything on new Russillo’s jock talk incarnation. SVP was an excellent match for Lebatard, while Russillo’s new show couldn’t be more of the opposite.

  • Ernest Quadrello

    YOU DON’T GET THE SHOW!

  • 66pugs99

    After the disingenuous contrarian BS Cowherd’s show became, Lebatard is like breath of fresh human air. His opinions seem honest, and not just trolling people, to keep the lowlifes and neanderthals happy. I completely stopped listening to ESPN because of Cowherd, and it’s nice to be able to listen to it again.

    Yes, Lebatard’s show comes with some schtick, but you soon begin to realize that most of the comedic regular bits happened pretty organically, in order to make sure the show and Lebatard stop from becoming too self-aggrandizing. It reminds me of the 4th or 5th season of the Dan Patrick Show, where it became more than just sports, but one of the best things on radio in any genre.

  • artielangesliver

    You don’t get the show.

    • Lee

      brilliant!!!!

    • Zach V

      He kind of gets the show…

  • Raymond Chuang

    The Dan LeBatard Show–or as Mike Greenberg of “Mike & Mike” calls it the “Stugotz Show with Dan LaBatard”–is a very acquired taste, because that show is so different than any other radio show on ESPN. As such, you either love it or hate it with a passion.

  • GSmith

    Here’s your real TL;DR- This refreshing and often hilarious show is a parody of an actual sports talk radio show, and if you take it really seriously, you’ve missed the point entirely.

    • 66pugs99

      Well said. Much of The Lebatard Show went right over the author’s head.

  • Michael Martinez

    YOU DON’T GET THE SHOW!

    Couple Quibbles:

    The podcasts combined average about 2:45 a day, not 3.5 hours (why would you listen to best of if you listened to everything else already?)

    “I can only handle so much of Stugotz’s vacation recap, or animal talk with Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill, when the World Baseball Classic, NCAA Tournament, NBA season, NFL free agency, and MLB spring training are all going on.” So you’d rather listen to talk about a made up exhibition with no stakes/games that haven’t happened yet/the most meaningless part of a meaningless NBA regular season/more meaningless pontificating about a sport where pregame, let alone preseason analysis is asinine/SPRING TRAINING TALK? Jesus, all that sounds boring as hell. I’d rather hear somebody crack jokes about a cruise or McGill talk about cool animal stuff.

    “That it has any controversy is surprising, however, because Le Batard and co. never seem to spend much time on difficult topics that could get a host in hot water.” Ah yes, because people love race/gender/socioeconomic discussions with their discussion of sports, never any backlash against those things being brought up.

  • Macey Grey

    You dont Get The SHOW!!!!!!!!!

  • tonyj1965

    Wow, just sat through 20 minutes of this show. There is 20 minutes of my life I will never get back. Not only are they boring, but the super thick accent to announce who is talking is annoying as hell.

  • Dusty Smith

    I haven’t been able to listen to this show much at all. The announcer, dad, uncle, or whoever he is, is only there to laugh AT, not with…..and that is sad. And I probably don’t get the show, but when they do a whole segment where they make a “tick” noise at the end of every sentence/statement…I mean, what’s there to get? And this segment went on “tick”..for the entire time…..”tick” I was getting ready….”tick”….for work….”tick”. And redo the intro…..Stugotz is not an object. You don’t have to put “a” in front of Stugotz……..”It’s the Don Le Batard show….with a Stugotz” Maybe if I were Cuban……”tick”