Since 2016, Eagles games have aired in Spanish on La Mega 105.7 as part of the Spanish Sports Network. But that arrangement might be impacted this season thanks to a lawsuit and some apparent bad blood between two former partners.
Michael Sciore and longtime Eagles and Phillies Spanish broadcaster Bill Kulik formed the Spanish Sports Network in 2011, which had been broadcasting Birds games in Spanish called by Kulik, WIP’s Rickie Ricardo, and Gustavo Salazar (one of which went viral last year thanks to Ricardo’s “¡No, señor! ¡No, señor!” call during the playoffs).
In 2016, Sciore purchased La Mega to amplify the reach of the Eagles’ Spanish broadcast, but the pair separated in August 2018. Kulik created the Spanish Football Network with a new partner and signed a contract with the Eagles to continue broadcasting games in Spanish through the 2020 season. Sciore agreed to broadcast the games on La Mega and his stations in Atlantic City and Vineland. Other radio affiliates, such as WTTM 1680 and SportsRadio AM 1470 in Allentown, also carried the Eagles’ Spanish-language broadcast last season.
But late last year, Sciore filed a lawsuit in New Jersey Superior Court in Camden against Kulik, claiming his former partner owes him $5,500 as part of their separation agreement. Separately from the lawsuit, which makes no mention of broadcast rights, Sciore is also claiming that the separation agreement gives him the exclusive rights to broadcast Spanish-language Eagles games within the Philadelphia market, and wants to stop the games from being aired this season on WTTM 1680 (which remains an ESPN Deportes Radio affiliate until September, when ESPN plans to pull out of the Spanish radio business entirely).
“I own all the rights to exclusively broadcast the Eagles in Spanish in Philadelphia,” Sciore said. “Right after he signed the agreement with me he turned around and put it on [WTTM] 1680... that’s really a breach of his agreement."
Kulik denies this, saying Sciore’s comments were “100 percent false” and there was nothing in the agreement preventing him from broadcasting Eagles game on different Spanish stations in and around Philadelphia.
“With 100 percent certainty it’s not exclusive,” Kulik said. “[Sciore] is no different than any other affiliate we choose, including WTTM.”
Neither party would provide a copy of the separation agreement.
Kulik’s contract with the Eagles does not specify any specific AM or FM stations where the games must air. Kulik said he, Ricardo, and Salazar plan to call Eagles games next season, and it’s up to Sciore to decide whether the games appear on La Mega.
It remains unclear what impact, if any, the spat between the former partners might have on the broadcast.
“We have every intention of doing the broadcast and carrying it the same way we did last year, which is on [Sciore’s] stations. We have no plans to make any changes,” Kulik said. “As far as we’re concerned, we’re pressing forward.”
Dick Vitale called ESPN’s first-ever college basketball telecast back in December 1979, and it looks like he’ll be sticking around at the network for a few more years.
According to Front Office Sports’ Mike McCarthy, the 80-year-old broadcasting icon known as “Dickie V” has signed a contract extension through through the 2021-2022 season. Vitale told McCarthy, “I feel really great. I don’t feel any different than when I was 45 or 50. I really don’t.”
Elsewhere at the network, the future seems a bit more murky for Michelle Beadle, the host of ESPN’s and ABC’s pre-game show NBA Countdown. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reports that Beadle’s career at ESPN, which reportedly pays her $5 million a year, is “in peril” for not fulfilling her off-air responsibilities.
“The ESPN culture will put up with some things, but the place has a team mentality. If you stray from that, you’d better produce — big-time,” wrote Marchund, who spent 11 years at ESPN before returning to the Post last year.
Rumors have swirled that Beadle, who was removed from her high-paid spot on Get Up! last August, will be taken off NBA Countdown next season. ESPN didn’t exactly deny reports of her departure when it released a statement saying they’ve made “no decision about what we are doing next season.” But Beadle took to Twitter earlier this week to reassure fans she’d be returning to the problematic yet popular pre-game show next season.
• Philly sports talk hosts had very different reactions to the Eagles’ decision to hold just one open practice for fans and adding a $10 charge (which goes to charity). Most 97.5 The Fanatic hosts were highly critical of the decision (Mike Missanelli called it “sneaky” and Jaime Lynch said he felt like he got “spit in the face”), while hosts on 94.1 WIP (which airs Eagles games) barely brought it up, keeping most of the day’s discussion focused on the Phillies.
• Two more former NFL players have made the move to television: Former journeyman quarterback Josh McCown is joining ESPN as a studio analyst, and the NFL Network has hired ex-wide receiver Josh Hawkins as an analyst.
• Joseph Curtatone, the mayor of Somerville, Mass., is suing Barstool Sports and Boston sports talker Kirk Minihane under the state’s wiretapping statute for impersonating a Boston Globe reporter to obtain an interview. As you can imagine, there is a long backstory to this lawsuit, which Awful Announcing’s Andrew Bucholtz kindly laid out.