If you're among those who dial up 103.3 on your FM dial every morning at 11 a.m. expecting to hear Michael Irvin, do not be surprised when you hear Ben Rogers and Jeff Wade -- otherwise known as Ben and Skin -- instead today. ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz tells Unfair Park this morning that Irvin's contract was up, his ratings were down, and he's out effective immediately.
"We had previously decided to cancel the show, and determined this morning to make it effective today," he says. And, yes, Krulewitz acknowledges: The news that the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver has been accused of rape in a civil suit filed yesterday in Broward County expedited his firing.
"Obviously it was part of the overall decision here," Krulewitz says. "But I want to be clear: The decision was based on the fact his contract is up, and the show did not perform. The point of that is: We had previously decided to cancel Michael's show."
I haven't seen the latest ratings -- that's more Richie's beat -- but the ESPN spokesman says that "from fall to fall, to take that as a snapshot since it's the heart of Cowboys season, we've seen a 25 percent decline in ratings. From December '08 to December '09, ratings were down 28 percent alone." He adds that those tuning in at 11 a.m. will hear a message from station general manager Pete Dits addressing the situation.
It was but one week ago that Irvin told Barry Horn, upon the second anniversary of Irvin's show, that "I have no plans to end my radio career, period. I can't stress that enough."
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Update: Irvin has countersued Nicole Mustafa in Dallas County District Court. Irvin wants $100 million and claims her initial suit, filed in Florida, amounts to little more than extortion. In other words, he's been Letterman-ed.