Warner Wolf out at 1050 ESPN weekdays, still with Imus
Warner Wolf, who since December has been doing sports reports for both 1050 ESPN and Don Imus on WABC, has left 1050 on weekday mornings effective Monday after being asked by ESPN to choose between the jobs.
(Wolf still will do his Saturday morning show on 1050.)
1050 ESPN program director Aaron Spielberg said Friday the decision was made in the wake of on-air remarks by Imus Thursday in which he ripped the ESPN morning show, "Mike and Mike," in terms ESPN believed crossed a line from legitimate criticism to "off-color" personal attacks.
Wolf was given the choice of staying with 1050 or Imus, and opted for the latter. He has a longstanding relationship with Imus, for whom he famously reported from near the site of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
"I have to protect the integrity of my ESPN talent and I have to protect the integrity of our hosts,'' said Spielberg, who added it was an "overall decision" involving executives in both New York and Bristol.
"I couldn't put ESPN's brand name in a position where I felt like it was going to be compromised. I told Warner, 'Look, we love having you and we want to keep you.' But I just couldn't put him in a situation or my morning show in a position where wed be compromised.
"It's difficult when someone calls one of my hosts a ----. I dont want to be involved with that . . . I understand how Imus does his show and I appreciate that, but we dont subscribe to that. Certain people are going to be offended by it, and Warner is a representative of ESPN."
(Recently during one of Wolf's reports on the Imus show, Imus made remarks about the Cowboys' Pacman Jones that caused a stir because of its racial content. But Imus insisted he was satirizing the treatment of blacks by the police, not criticizing blacks themselves.)
Wolf appeared Friday on both channels - whose studios are located on the same floor of a Manhattan building - but will only be on with Imus Monday.
"I understand humor and criticism," Spielberg said. "You have to have a tough skin. Its just you get to a point with certain things that I have to protect ESPN."
Wolf did not immediately return a call seeking comment.