Dan Le Batard Bomani Jones Highly Questionable Credit: ESPN YouTube

Highly Questionable is one of the more adventurous shows ever to appear on ESPN, and host Dan Le Batard revealed Friday he wanted to adapt it into an even more risky and exciting project after his father and co-host departed in late 2019.

After Gonzalo “Papi” Le Batard left the show in November 2019, Dan Le Batard said he met with ESPN super producer Erik Rydholm to “lobby hard” for a new direction for the show: Making it ESPN’s version of The Daily Show.

Le Batard believed it would make the show better for audiences while also giving talented, highly paid ESPN personalities a new creative outlet.

“There were only a certain number of seats left anymore on television, and they had all these people they were paying but didn’t fit in the places where they made their television,” Le Batard said alongside Katie Nolan on his South Beach Sessions interview show.

“My suggestion might have been better, but it might not have been better.”

People like Nolan, Sarah Spain, Pablo Torre and Elle Duncan frequently filled in on HQ for ESPN but after several rounds of layoffs and restructuring, had little opportunity to make their own content. Le Batard believed they could tell stories and do interviews in the field in the mold of popular Daily Show correspondents like Roy Wood Jr. or Jordan Klepper.

Rydholm explained it was expensive and time-consuming to produce a show that way. And ratings would likely be similar if Le Batard and co-host Bomani Jones simply chattered from a studio.

“The format is you talk on television, and people don’t want something new all the time,” Le Batard bemoaned. “It could have failed. And we didn’t end up going that route. But I was hoping to find a place for (Nolan) where you could feel more supported.”

Many ESPNers fill this void today by hosting solo podcasts. Nearly all of the HQ squad is no longer at the company.

Was it a missed opportunity or a reminder of what works on ESPN?

It probably comes down, like many things, to ESPN’s hesitancy to embrace digital media until recently.

[South Beach Sessions on YouTube]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.