Katie Nolan has signed a new contract with ESPN. But Nolan went on her podcast on Nov. 17 to share how “devastated” she is that Ashley Braband, co-host of “Sports? With Katie Nolan,” is being laid off by ESPN.
Nolan said she renewed her deal before learning her show producer was being let go.
Braband’s pending departure in January “f—— sucks,” Nolan said.
The Worldwide Leader in Sports recently announced the worst job cuts in its 41-year history, laying off 300 staffers and letting 200 open positions go unfilled.
On her Nov. 17 podcast, Nolan and Braband discussed the “gigantic elephant” in the room. Namely, that Braband was losing her job as director of digital video after 13 years at ESPN.
“We didn’t know this was happening. Some of us didn’t know this was happening to the point where they recently signed a contract,” Nolan said.
“So we are now in a situation where this is the only thing I have to do — and now I have to do it alone, I think.”
During the episode, Nolan and Braband said they took a week off from their show since “emotions” were running high.
They discussed the challenge of looking for a new job in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic — and the resulting sports media recession which has sparked industry-wide layoffs, salary cuts, and furloughs.
“I am finding it hard to balance being devastated for you — and then being devastated for me at the loss of you,” Nolan said.
If Nolan had known Braband was out, she hinted she might not have signed her contract extension with ESPN.
“Finding a job in a pandemic is incredibly difficult. And I would say the No. 1 reason I signed a contract. It had a lot less to do with other factors I would normally take into consideration. And also the contract is a lot less favorable than one I would normally agree to,” Nolan said.
“I guess I didn’t realize how much I was settling because I didn’t know Ashley was going to be gone. But it is very difficult to find a job right now.”
Nolan predicted her podcast would not be as good without Braband, a widely respected production executive. But Braband urged listeners to be patient.
The show will continue to excel because of its main star. “Every time you touch content, it’s good content,” Braband told Nolan.
Mike Golic Sr. opens up on ESPN’s cancellation of “Golic and Wingo,” breakup of “Mike & Mike” and his pending free agency come Jan. 1.
As she searches for a new job, Braband won’t appear on all of the pod’s remaining episodes this year. The twice-weekly show’s last episode in 2020 is scheduled for mid-December.
Nolan is not the only ESPN star surprised to learn that one of their key staffers was swept up in the recent layoffs.
Dan Le Batard was insulted that ESPN laid off Dan Cote, one of his show producers in Miami, without telling him first.
“We were blindsided by him being let go. It’s the greatest disrespect of my professional career that I got no notice, no collaboration,” Le Batard told the New York Times. “I would’ve loved to have worked something out if somebody had told me, to protect him.”
Le Batard then announced he would rehire Cote — and pay his salary out of his own pocket.
Nolan jumped to ESPN from Fox Sports in October 2017. As part of her new deal, Nolan will continue to make cross-platform appearances on shows like Le Batard’s “Highly Questionable” and Tony Reali’s “Around the Horn.”
ESPN declined to comment.