Free Mr. Tony!

UPDATE:  See below for Mr. Sapienza’s latest reply

I thought I’d share my email exchange with Chuck Sapienza, programming manager for ESPN 980:

My original email:

Why are you now delaying podcast releases for 24

I try to listen to The Tony Kornheiser Show live via internet stream, but AS I HAVE A JOB, sometimes I’m in meetings or otherwise not at my desk between 10 and 12.

When that happens, I like to catch what I missed on podcast in the afternoon or on my commute home.  With this new, ahem, *policy*, I can no longer do this.

Not sure who made this very lame decision, but I really hope he or she will reconsider and go back to the timely releases.

Thank you.

Mr. Sapienza’s response:

Thank you for e-mailing regarding our new podcast policy. I understand
and hear your frustration. Over the last 12 months we have seen an
increase in our radio listening, for that I thank you.

In order for our business model to work, we need people to enjoy our product on the radio or on the web when it originally airs. I am sure you understand the importance of sticking to your business model and for that reason; unfortunately, we had to make this change. The good news is you can hear all of our shows live (via 980am, 92.7 and 94.3 FM) or streaming live at We have even created a phone number for you to call and listen live…free of charge. That number is 712-432-1980. No ads, no fee. Just free listening. The podcasts are not going away, just being delayed.

We would like to thank you for supporting our programming.

My reply:

Mr. Sapienza,

I’ve been thinking about how to reply to this email.  You present well-reasoned arguments.

Which I completely reject.

Your stream advertisers are crap. Remember the “WE BUY ANY CAR!!!”? Thank God that was short-lived.  And I’m never going to go to those windshield fix-it guys no matter what, so that’s a waste of time and money for everyone.

You know who I *have* bought products from?  Bagel City (frequent customer) and Window Nation (replaced 18 windows in my house last year, and would never had even heard of them if not for Mr. Tony’s endorsement).  Which, by the way, are in-show READS (in case you don’t listen to your station’s own programming).  So those ads are heard regardless of whether I’m listening to the show live or on podcast.

And if advertising is SO important to your world-view, why do you bother to remove them from the podcasts?  Leave them in.  Sure, people will probably skip through them, but maybe not.  And besides, the ESPN player allows pausing the stream, so it’s possible to skip the commercials when listening “live” anyway.  So I’m not sure you’re really gaining all that you think you are.

Thank you for your assurance that the podcasts are not going away.  They’re just being time-shifted into irrelevance.  The latest gossip, commentary on the story of the day, previews of that night’s games and PTI show lose all meaning when listened to after the fact.

Besides, in case my original email was not clear, IT IS NOT ALWAYS PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE to listen to your programming live.  Thank you for the option to call a phone number to listen to the show from my cell phone, but I don’t think my boss would appreciate me doing so when she calls a 10 AM meeting.

Again, I urge you to reconsider this policy.  Until you do so, I will not patronize ANY advertiser of ESPN 980, and I will encourage all my fellow Mr. Tony fans to do the same.

Mr. Sapienza’s reply:

Thanks for writing back. The advertisers you hear….Bagel City; Window Nation; etc…..are advertisers of the radio station not the podcast. The podcasts generates next to zero revenue. Even if we put forth all of out efforts towards selling the podcast…that would net us around 1% of our yearly revenue….in other words…we would be out of business. If we are out of business, the radio show goes away and so does the podcast. We have to protect the radio show because that is the vehicle that drives everything else. We, legally can not leave ads in podcasts…the union will not allow it. I know it is tough to understand but this plan was discussed for months. We have tried to avoid this but we have to protect the radio show. We are not in the podcast business, we are in the radio business. We have to make our $$ on the radio side 1st so we can provide the podcast. Thanks for writing.

3 thoughts on “Free Mr. Tony!

  1. Thanks for sharing these. It is clear that they have no idea how valuable the Kornheiser brand is and how to use it. That’s not our problem, that’s THEIR problem. It is time to start unsubscribing from WTEM podcasts, unfollowing @ESPNRadio980 and contacting their advertisers to let them know that the station they pay to help grow their customer base aggressively dismisses those very same customers. #FreeMrTony

  2. Chuck’s response is typical of why talk radio is dying, along with newspapers and magazines. If they cannot sell ads for the podcast, then they have a crappy sales force and/or they simply do not understand how valuable the podcast is. Oy.

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