Sirius Paying ESPN "Licensing Fee" for Stephen A. Smith's Show on Mad Dog Radio

By Jason McIntyre

But it’s not nearly as simple as that.

Let’s go back to early May. Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, during a radio rant, foolishly explained that the reason there weren’t any African-American sports radio hosts on his Sirius radio channel (Mad Dog radio) was because there weren’t any good black sports radio hosts.

"“What would you like us to do? There are not a million candidates. Would you like us to put on a black host for the sake of putting a person . . . an African-American so we can say we have a black host on?” Russo said on the air. “Or do you want to see if we can find a black host who is worthy of doing a national talk show?”"

He was lambasted, and later tried to clumsily stand by his comments in an interview with the Daily News.

Sirius quickly scurried to find an African-American sports radio host to get on Mad Dog Radio, and Russo set his sights on Stephen A. Smith. The two are similar – blustery, obnoxiously loud, and both have a penchant for playing to the lowest common denominator crowd.

But how could Sirius pry a big name like Smith from ESPN? I imagine the internal conversation went like this:

Sirius: Hey, how about we do a quirky deal where we let ESPN produce the show, and we pay them?

Sirius Brass: Say what?

Sirius: Yeah, that’s pretty much the only way.

ESPN: Sure, yeah, let’s do that, right now.

ESPN’s press release today says nothing about Sirius paying ESPN for Smith’s show. You have to read between the lines on this quote from an ESPN suit: “This is an exciting new business opportunity for ESPN Audio.”

Sirius is paying a licensing fee to ESPN for the content, industry radio sources confirmed to The Big Lead.

Just how much is that fee? If we find out, we’ll let you know.

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