Get Up is a unicorn. In ESPN's half-life in a sports media watchdog petri dish, no show has been as breathlessly promoted and scrutinized. Its missteps far away in the rearview mirror, Get Up emerged as an even more essential morning anchor in these pandemic times. It's tough to overstate its importance to the network and the serendipity of it hitting its stride right when needed most.
And its influence may be expanding into other verticals. With Mike Greenberg's move to ESPN Radio looking more likely, the airwaves are becoming a second haven for those who have been showing up and delivering on weekday mornings. Keyshawn Johnson, who is reportedly being targeted for a radio show with Max Kellerman, has been appearing on AM 710 in Los Angeles daily since the fall, but his standout performances on Get Up are of equal if not greater importance when the calculus of making him a vital cog in the platform's future is considered.
Greenberg, of course, is a radio legend already. He certainly didn't need any help sailing his audio ship again. But he's seen his star rise with a star turn on the flagship program. He's indicative of a larger and plainly obvious trend that's been at work for some time.
Get Up is a launching pad. Those who excel there will be given opportunities to excel elsewhere. Consider Emmanuel Acho, who rocketed his ceiling to untold heights. Or Dan Orlovsky, who has used his time to fuel a serious Monday Night Football bid. Or Laura Rutledge. Or any number of voices who are infinitely more front-of-mind than they would be if only appearing on specialty sports show in the afternoon. This trickles down to reporters as well. Jeff Darlington, Jeff Passan, and Brian Windhorst are three examples who have taken their opportunities and run with them.
One need not be a knee-deep observer of media waters to understand that it's the show that matters most right now. It's the center of the wheel, sending its top performers out to other spokes. It appears that will include radio, a medium that will need a total overhaul after significant personnel turnover.
All the above feels noncontroversial and rooted in cement. But now, for a big take on some shifting sand. It's one I really believe in but could end up choking on later.
Get Up, with its ever-expanding influence and tone-setting, could go down as the most important program not called SportsCenter in ESPN's history. And there should be no pushback on that internally because, if that proves true, it will mean that it led a rejuvenated reinvention network-wide. It will mean Get Up was the rising tide that lifted all boats, even in choppy waters.