Depending on how you want to look at it, it’s been a bad few months, couple of years, or several decades for media companies. COVID-19 disrupting the office, destroying revenue, and exacerbating the recession certainly didn’t help matters, as layoffs have spread quickly to even the top-tier of media organizations. But if you sift through the rubble and look very closely, you can occasionally find something nice. So it went with long-time Dan Le Batard Show producer Chris Cote, who’s being brought back to the show he was axed from, with a salary coming out of the host’s own pocket.
Cote was one of the 300 or so employees recently laid off by ESPN in a wave of coronavirus-related cuts that literally decimated the payroll of the company. A full 10% of employees were given walking papers by the Connecticut-based sports media giant.
“In the short term, we enacted various steps like executive and talent salary reductions, furloughs and budget cuts, and we implemented innovative operations and production approaches, all in an effort to weather the COVID storm,” ESPN’s chairman Jimmy Pitaro wrote in an email announcing the cuts. “We have, however, reached an inflection point.”
Cote had worked on the show for five years and announced on Twitter that his time was up.
Le Batard noted that the laying off of his long-time producer was done without consulting him.
“It’s the greatest disrespect of my professional career that I got no notice, no collaboration,” he said.
Le Batard announced on his popular show that he was hiring back Cote out of his own pocket, filling the role of personal assistant and giving Cote a raise.
"We have spent the last five days trying to figure out what it is that we can do with this,” Le Batard said, “and I’m actually happy to report—and this is a pretty cool thing to be able to report because some creativity was required from us in order to get here—but I’m going to hire Chris Cote as my personal assistant to fill the role, with a raise on his present salary to fill the raise vacated by Allyson Turner. I will cover the raise. I will cover the entire thing.”