ESPN has pinned much of its recent fortunes (or lack thereof) on embracing debate and showcasing the likes of Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman, and Bomani Jones. But on the flip side of that are personalities like Dan Le Batard and Jon “Stugotz” Weiner.
The hosts of ESPN Radio’s The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz are the eccentric, goofy counterbalance to the super-serious debating that takes up so much of the company’s programming. They’re the ones you look to when you want to hear Joe Buck tell a pot brownie story, hear fake rants that everyone takes way too seriously, and poke fun at other ESPN personalities.
.@Stugotz790's half-baked Eli take gets plastered all over ESPN social media and it leads the show to think about how he brainstorms some of his points. #WithAllDoRespect
– Lorenzo pic.twitter.com/U8SNF3A7d1
— Dan Le Batard Show (@LeBatardShow) November 30, 2017
Le Batard, who also co-hosts Highly Questionable with his father, “Papi” Le Batard, can also be a refreshing voice of reason for The Worldwide Leader, keeping them in check when they make questionable decisions. He has called out ESPN for giving John Calipari a recruiting platform, criticized the network for broadcasting MLB’s trip to Cuba, given away his Baseball Hall of Fame ballot to make a point, and blasted his local affiliates for censoring him.
Regardless of the criticism, ESPN certainly seems to appreciate their work and has signed both talents to multiyear agreements to remain with the company. Per a tweet sent out by the show’s account, the deals are for four years.
Four years, fools. Or until we get fired. Or until @Stugotz790 can no longer keep away the feds.@AllysonTurner @billygil @MichaelRyanRuiz @chriscote954 @roybelly @charlie_hulme @ThatGuyZo, @790TheTicket @angelresto28 @LeboArt @gregcote https://t.co/GAk0SarLRk
— Dan Le Batard Show (@LeBatardShow) June 28, 2018
That means they’ll both continue to host their Miami-based radio show from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. ET on ESPN Radio and ESPNEWS and Le Batard will continue to work on Highly Questionable. A new wrinkle is that Le Batard will “conduct six longform interviews each year that will go across multiple ESPN platforms including TV and digital.” The announcement noted that Stugotz will continue to make appearances on SportsCenter as well as hosting and guesting other ESPN Radio shows.
“ESPN has given us ridiculous freedom to have fun, and made us more popular than we deserve,” said Le Batard in the announcement. “A whole lot of people have supported our nonsense in a way that isn’t always easy to support but easy to grow. As an added bonus – and we’re especially thankful for this – they also pay us.”
Added Weiner: “I was hoping for the lifetime contract, to be honest. I’m a little disappointed. Maybe next time.”
It’s a real no-brainer for ESPN as The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz is one of their top-rated programs, heard by 2.2 million people a week across 258 stations in 151 markets. The podcast version of the show is also the network’s No. 1 show-to-podcast, with more than 53 million downloads in 2017. Not only does it make sense for ESPN to keep two of their top-rated talents happy, it also ensures that they won’t be considering a jump to FS1 or any other burgeoning sports outlet anytime soon.