ryen russillo-espn

ESPN Radio host Ryen Russillo will wrap up his show this week and fully depart ESPN next year, the network announced Wednesday.

In a statement, ESPN senior vice president of audio Traug Keller said Friday will mark Russillo’s final show on ESPN Radio but that the host will stick around through next summer to host a weekly podcast.

The ever-candid Russillo addressed his departure on his show Wednesday, explaining that ESPN was willing to extend him — but only at the same salary with added responsibility. He turned them down, saying he needs a better work-life balance.

“I just said, ‘Is there any way we can talk about an extension?’ ESPN said, ‘Absolutely. We’ll do this.’ I was offered an extension, and it was the same money that I made now. And in the grand scheme, in the way the world works, it’s a lot of money, and I get that, but my days were gonna be different. I was gonna be here on NBA hits for SportsCenter. I was gonna be here like 10 hours a day. I don’t have a lot of a life now. I don’t really have any balance. I’d be lying if I told you I’d been super happy lately. I know people who know me really well here, I don’t think they’re entirely surprised by this. So it would have to be something where I also felt like I was also growing creatively outside of ESPN Radio, some other entities, something else in television where I’m going, ‘I’m really, really growing here.’ I don’t know if that was going to happen.”

Russillo said his split from ESPN has been “super amicable.”

“A lot of time when your run is over or your job is over, it’s a weird thing, people get mad at each other. That is not the case right now. I’m having moments, I’ll admit, where I’m in the car being like ‘Are you seriously going to do this. And every moment of fear is trumped by a moment of excitement about what I’m going to do next.”

Russillo has had one hell of a year. He was reported to be part of ESPN’s layoffs in April, to the point he sounds to have been fairly panicked. After surviving those cuts, he was arrested in August after drunkenly wandering into the wrong apartment while on vacation in Wyoming. For that, he received a brief suspension before returning to the air with a frank apology.

When ESPN announced its 2018 national radio lineup last month, Russillo was listed as hosting an afternoon show with Will Cain. With Russillo’s departure, ESPN can either let Cain host that program alone or find him a new co-host.

Russillo has been on ESPN Radio since 2009, hosting alongside Scott Van Pelt, then Danny Kanell, until Kanell was laid off in April.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

  • Drew

    As a long time listener, this isn’t that surprising. He’s been talking about moving for a couple of years now and I bet the timeslot move was the straw that broke the camel’s back. ESPN never really promoted his work the way they did Mike and Mike, Cowherd, etc despite being better than all of them and of course, there’s been the constant co-host changes. If you’re a daily listener, you can tell in his voice he hasn’t been happy. He’ll land on his feet somewhere.

    In the mean time, ESPN continues to absolutely murder its own radio lineup.

    • Christopher Bates

      If, by “better” you mean “much worse,” then yeah.

      And, by the way, “worse than Mike Greenberg” is REALLY saying something.

      • PatHobby

        You can’t be worse than Mike Greenberg, It’s not possible.

        • Christopher Bates

          You have a strong argument.

  • Raymond Chuang

    Why do I have this feeling that ESPN Radio will soon be no more, done as a major cost-saving move? If I were FOX Sports Radio/FS1 I would seriously consider re-uniting Russillo with Danny Kanell on a 3 to 6 pm (ET) show.

    • ncpete

      Kanell has a show on SiriusXM now on ESPNU Radio (formerly College Sports Radio, a station owned by Sirius and not ESPN).

      • guestwho2

        True but I reckon he would jump at the chance to revive the partnership.

  • souvien

    Give Marty & McGee the timeslot….I’ll take Hillbilly Headlines any day over Will Caine’s pasteurized-Clay Travis act…

    • 66pugs99

      Will Cain is really, really bad radio. He’s the only person ever on ESPN radio that I turn off as soon as I hear his voice, his BS contrarian schtick is so bad.

  • PAI

    Rotillo…

  • JonFrum

    This guy was the voice of reason on that station – and he actually likes sports, unlike some ESPN radio hosts. He’s always wanted to develop TV shows, so he’ll probably go that way. Now ESPN can replace him with ‘You people are racists’ radio. I won’t know, because I won’t be listening.

  • newdog301

    I never understand the ego of people who are lucky enough to become successful in sports talk.

    No one who does sports radio or TV is better than anyone else. They all float virtually the same opinion, and then there are those who purposely say the opposite of the popular opinion, sometimes to be polarizing, other times to be different.

    So whenever someone says they’re unhappy making hundreds of thousands a year to talk about LeBron James and the Yankees I just call BS.

    • Parts

      Funny, I can’t imagine doing any of those jobs an NOT wanting to hang myself by my headphone cable every single morning.

      • newdog301

        I see what you’re saying, but at the same time we have those exact same conversations with co-workers, friends, family etc. I wouldn’t complain if I got paid to do them.

        • Parts

          Understood, but there are some things that are fun to do, yet become brutally oppressive once they become “your job”. I never want to *have* to watch sports/teams/events I would never watch otherwise. No thanks.

  • ncpete

    It would make a lot of sense for Russillo to end up at Barstool. Russillo has been friendly with the PMT guys and Barstool has their Sirius channel launching next month and will need content, and a known name like Russillo would make sense even if they have to wait until his contract is up. Russillo wants to live in California and as Barstool has been rapidly growing it would make sense to open up a west coast office.

    • Drew

      Barstool is a possibility but I think The Ringer makes the most sense for him. He’s already friends with Simmons so if he goes to The Ringer, he can get a big podcast deal like Simmons has while still living in LA to pursue any TV production opportunities. Plus, I think The Ringer recently announced it was looking to expand into producing documentaries as well so maybe he could get his hands in on that too.

  • guestwho2

    Russillo & Kanell were brilliant for college football and, to a lesser extent, NFL discussions. Kanell was secure enough to be the butt of a near-constant stream of Russillo’s acidic jokes about his playing career, wardrobe, etc. It also put the brakes on ESPN/Russillo’s worst NBA excesses, at least in the fall/winter. R&K were well on their way to a sort of breakthough, becoming more of a lifestyle/sports hybrid (similar to the current Barstool formula) rather than ESPN’s tired recipe of Xs & Os and amplification of tiresome Twitter wars among inarticulate jocks.

    Kanell’s departure came at a horrible time for him (obviously) and because it unceremoniously severed a show that was showing some growth numerically and stylistically. Russillo put on a brave face, saying personnel changes were part of the biz but he wasn’t the same after that.

    Contracts and long days might be blamed for Russillo’s decision but the addition of the insufferable, pompous Will Cain to his show was like throwing a drowning man an anchor.

  • Tigerblows.com

    time for him to go drinky drinky and get naked in the neighbor’s house!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Chris

    Rotillo!

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