You probably know Tony Kornheiser from PTI, but he’s also spent nearly a quarter of a century doing radio in Washington D.C.
Well, those days are over.
Indeed, Kornheiser, 68, is leaving radio to start his own podcast. It wasn’t an easy decision, but Kornheiser believes it’s the right one.
“I think I’m going to lose the 65-and-up crowd and maybe make up for it by getting the 40-and-down crowd,” he said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “My sense of this is that people today want things when they want it. They want it on demand, for lack of a better term, so I’m trying to explain that what I’m doing now is on-demand radio. It’s just not automatic that at 10 o’clock in the morning or 2 o’clock in the afternoon or 6 o’clock in the evening you have to tune in to get it. You can get it when you want it.”
If you’re curious, Kornheiser was not canned at ESPN 980. In fact, he cut his contract short.
“I left two years of money on the table,” he said. “I’m an idiot. Nobody does this. Two years left on a contract at pretty good dollars and now I’m going to make absolutely no money and now I have to pay other people. So it’s economically speaking the dumbest thing ever done, but it strikes me that it’s a better way to build an audience. Ultimately, if it does well, I get to own my own content, which my dear friend Mitch Albom always told me was the most intelligent thing you can do. So you take a hit for a while and you see what happens. I’ve got a pretty loyal following and many of them were out of market and they’ve been podcasting for years and years and years. So I think the base will stay there, and we hope to expand it. My son is going to work with me, and we’re going to start to use social media. I don’t ever do that. I don’t know the difference between Instagram and Facebook and Twitter. I don’t know that stuff, but he does. And he believes that there is an audience out there that can grow if you get them where they live, which is social media.”
Kornheiser will remain honest and opinionated in his new venture. He’ll have more freedom to say what he wants and how he wants to say it, but he’s not going to say something for shock value.
“You want to walk up to the line; you don’t want to walk over the line,” he said. “And in a podcast circumstance, of course, it’s sort of like the difference between HBO and CBS. Am I going to be provocateur just for the sake of showing you I can do it? I don’t see any need to do that anymore. I’d like to do a smart and funny show, I’d like to do a subversive show, but I’d also like to do a show that stays on the air every once in a while.”
Kornheiser also spent a few minutes discussing a variety of sports topics, including his beloved Nationals (59-42), who are 3-6 in their last nine games. Bryce Harper has fallen off a cliff and is hitting just .237 on the season, while Jason Werth (.246) and Anthony Rendon (.255) haven’t been much better.
“Bryce Harper can’t hit,” Kornheiser said. “Joe Maddon got in his head in the first series, walked him 13 times in four games and since then he’s batting about .210. So he’s not the same player that he was last year. Jonathan Papelbon, who should never be on this team because he choked Bryce Harper in the dugout, has blown his last two save appearances in a horrifying way.”
Papelbon’s last two appearances have resulted in three walks, six hits and six earned runs – all while recording just two outs.
“He’s a disaster,” Kornheiser said. “They haven’t fixed anything. They got really fortunate that their 23rd choice in free agency, Daniel Murphy, is a great player, and I guess nobody saw that coming. They still have great starting pitching, but their bullpen is every bit as bad as it was last year and some of the guys who were counted on to be big hitters are very, very average. Jason Werth is old. Ryan Zimmerman is not a sold as Jayson Werth but acts as if he’s older. Anthony Rendon hasn’t done much this year. Harper, really, is struggling tremendously. And they did not go out and get Aroldis Chapman. They let the Cubs get him. They’re in competition with the Mets, the Cubs and the Giants, and they just let the Cubs get Aroldis Chapman. So I don’t think everything is fixed by any stretch of the imagination – and I watch them like an addict, which is terrible.”