I know those of you who read my blog are probably not the same audience that listens to ESPN Radio 1250 sports talk show host Mark Madden. The two of us could not be more different, however we have gotten to know each over the years since we do work in the same building ( yes, WTAE and ESPN Radio are housed in the same Wilkinsburg structure ). We also have worked together. He did commentaries for a year on Channel 4 Action News and I brought him on board during the first-year of “Action Sports Sunday”.
All that being said, it did not surprise me that he was “dismissed” by ESPN Radio for controversial comments. Mark (“Big Sexy to his legion of “Madden Followers”) has always done more than walk the line, he has stepped on it when it came to taste and subject matter. What surprises me here is that he as fired for his comments about Senator Ted Kennedy. They were inappropriate and insensate, but hardly the worse thing I have heard him say.
Mark Madden, now formerly of ESPN radio 1250
The decision comes from the national office in Bristol Connecticut. Locally, he was suspended by ESPN radio 1250, but being the face and voice of the station it would be hard to fire him because of what he means to that station when it comes to money. Madden’s personality helped distinguish the station from the competition and soon made his name a household word in Pittsburgh. What the firing tells me is that the guys in Bristol finally saw the insensitivity that we have seen for years. However, instead of insulting people in Pittsburgh he took aim at a important figure who just happens to live less than two hours from the Bristol campus.
It’s a strange dynamic at work here. Madden was hired to shock people, take on the establishment and increase ratings. He did all those things. It’s those same requirements that led to him finally losing his job. However, even Mark knows there is a limit to what he can say on radio. We told him there was a limit here at WTAE. In the end, Mark crossed that line in radio. I’m sure he will find a job somewhere in radio because as long as you can draw listeners, you will always be employed. Don’t believe me? Last I checked, Don Imus was still making money more than a year after his comments about Rutgers became a national controversy.