07.28.09

Hansen : I’m Not ESPN’s Puppet

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Journalism, Sports Radio at 11:40 am by

Well, not at his former salary, anyway. WFAA sports anchor Dale Hansen walked out on his afternoon radio gig last week with 103.3 FM, an ESPN affiliate. The Dallas Observer’s Randy Whitt reports Hansen was either unaware or chose to ignore a parent company edict that a civil suit against Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger not be mentioned on air.

Last Wednesday Hansen somehow didn’t receive the directive from Bristol, Conn. and spent 20 minutes on his “Hour of Hansen” 6-7 p.m. show dissecting the ramifications before producers read him the office memo during a commercial break.

In other words, his departure was ultimately a combination of ESPN corporate censoring its reporting and ESPN local not relaying that censorship.

“The directive was the fuse, but the fact nobody told me was the match that lit it,” Hansen tells me. “I don’t want to be identified with being one of ESPN’s puppets. I refuse to be anybody’s puppet. Well, Channel 8 might get to pull my strings but ESPN can’t do that for $2,000 a month.”

Hansen ignored Roethlisberger the final half-hour of his show and afterward sent an email to ESPN program director Tom Lee announcing his resignation.

Of course, that was made easy by the fact that for the last six months Hansen worked without a contract.

“I agreed to a new deal with a serious pay cut,” Hansen says. “But for whatever reason they never sent it to me. This was just another example of how I was an afterthought over there. So I finally walked.”

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