Got a call back from former 103.3 FM ESPN radio host Dale Hansen yesterday afternoon, explaining how/why he kinda sorta abruptly walked away from the station last week.
Seems Hansen - who told me last month he wasn't happy at ESPN - quit amidst the worldwide leader's self-imposed muzzling of the Ben Roethlisberger story. 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.
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"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."
Not that he won't entertain the idea of walking back. Despite his disgust and frustration, Hansen said he's open to the idea of appearing on 103.3 FM ESPN during the football season as a guest contributor on various shows.
"After what I've been through, I'd wrestle with that decision," he says. "But the bridge isn't totally blown up."
To me, Hansen was flying down the freeway toward this inevitable destination. ESPN just suddenly built him a convenient off-ramp short-cut.