Mere weeks out from spring training, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) — the regional sports network that airs Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles games — is making major cuts to its on-air product, slashing on-air talent and major elements of its game broadcasts.
As part of its budget cuts, MASN is eliminating its pre- and post-game coverage for both teams, as detailed extensively in a report from Britt Ghiroli in The Athletic on Friday. Now it appears those cuts will also include parting with Nationals broadcasters Dan Kolko, Bo Porter and Alex Chappell.
MASN made no mention of the broadcast trio in a release announcing its new streaming app on Monday. It did say that Bob Carpenter, F.P. Santangelo and Mark Zuckerman would continue to be a part of its Nationals coverage, on air and on its new streaming service.
The Nationals confirmed MASN’s decision to part with Kolko, Porter and Chappell in a sharply worded statement to Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post. In it, the Nats called it a “gross understatement” to say they are “incredibly disappointed” by MASN’s decision, while also making clear that “these decisions were made by MASN and against our wishes.”
“MASN has notified us that they are parting ways with Dan Kolko, Bo Porter and Alex Chappell,” reads the Nationals’ statement to Dougherty. “In addition, MASN has cut Nats Xtra to just 15 minutes pre- and post-game. To say that we are incredibly disappointed and upset by MASN’s decisions would be a gross understatement. To be clear – these decisions were made by MASN and against our wishes.
“As we have expressed to both MASN and Major League Baseball, we are very concerned about the negative impact these decisions could have on our fans, especially now when content shared via broadcast and digital channels is vital for them to stay connected with our team. We want to thank Dan, Bo and Alex for their professionalism and for being good stewards of our team’s story over the years. They are part of the Washington Nationals family and we wish them all the best.”
As Ghiroli notes in her reporting, the news comes as the Nats and Orioles continue their nearly decade-long legal battle over rights fees. The Orioles have majority control over the shared network, while the Nats only hold a small piece and are owed annual rights fees from the Orioles in order to broadcast Washington games.
In 2019, an arbitration panel established by Major League Baseball ruled that the Orioles owed Washington an additional $100 million, a ruling the Orioles appealed to the New York Supreme Court’s appellate court, which upheld the ruling. The Orioles are still trying to appeal the ruling.
“This is a cash-flow problem,” a source told Ghiroli in her report. “And there’s apparently not a lot of it.”
Per Ghiroli, the Orioles made talent cuts to its own broadcast as well, parting with Jim Hunter, Mike Bordick, Dave Johnson, Tom Davis, Rick Dempsey and Gary Thorne.
Kolko and Chappell both commented on Monday (the former, to The Post):
“MASN will continue, as we have for the last 15 years, to broadcast more than 300 baseball games and 600 30-minute pre- and post-game shows,” said John McGuinness, Senior Vice President of Marketing and General Sales Manager of the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, in its announcement. “The network’s investment in live streaming expands our ability to deliver premium content and provide deeper engagement opportunities for fans and marketers alike.”
Byron Kerr, who has been with MASN for 12 years in various roles — including fill-in pre- and post- host and sideline duties — says last Friday was also his last day at the network.
Kolko will continue hosting “Nats Insider” weekly on 106.7 The Fan, the radio flagship for the Washington Nationals, on Saturdays from noon to 1 p.m. beginning Saturday, March 20.
106.7 The Fan will continue to have pre-game shows, beginning 30 minutes before each game, and post-game shows with Nationals play-by-play announcers Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler, plus additional post-game coverage with Pete Medhurst and Craig Heist for 45 minutes after each home game.