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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

ESPN 980’s The Man Cave back on after Dan Snyder speculation, prank call

Dan Snyder keep the name shirt

Earlier this month, former Washington Post columnist Jason Reid announced that he was leaving the newspaper to join ESPN 980’s (WTEM-AM) new morning show “The Man Cave.” The Washington, D.C. radio station had heavily promoted the March 16 debut of the show, but it never aired.

After a two-week period where no explanation was given, the Washington Post reports that the show is set to air on Monday. Some initially speculated that Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, who is the primary investor in ESPN 980 parent company Red Zebra, had stepped in and squashed the show because Reid has been so critical of Redskins management in recent years.

There were also some prank phone calls from someone pretending to be ESPN president John Skipper. As the Post notes, someone posing as Skipper called ESPN 980 and managed to convince Red Zebra executive chief Rick Carmean that he was actually the ESPN boss and did not want “The Man Cave” filling a time slot that was previously filled by the nationally-syndicated “Mike and Mike in the Morning” show.

In one of the calls, the imposter threatened legal trouble for the station and possible financial penalties if it bumped “Mike and Mike” for “The Man Cave,” according to three people with knowledge of the calls.

While it seemed odd that someone as high-profile as Skipper would meddle with programming at a local affiliate, the imposter was apparently convincing to Carmean, who took the calls. In addition to mimicking Skipper’s accent (Skipper is a native of North Carolina), the caller also knew details about the station’s inner workings and called from a number with an 860 area code — in Connecticut, where ESPN is headquartered.

Redskins president Bruce Allen then made calls to Skipper to address his concerns, which is when it was discovered that Skipper had no issue with “The Man Cave” and had not made any calls to the station. Longtime WTEM program director Chuck Sapienza has since resigned from his position (even after learning that the “Skipper” calls were bogus), apparently because he feared that the future of “The Man Cave” was in doubt.

We have seen Snyder do some incredibly stupid things over the years (remember this clever stunt?), so we wouldn’t put it past him to make life difficult for one of his critics. But if the debut of “The Man Cave” was delayed by a prank phone call, that is pretty damn embarrassing.

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