It was a long and winding route, but Ryen Russillo will finally be heard on 850 AM in Boston.
When Russillo started working at the old 1510 The Zone in 2003, the Martha's Vineyard nativequickly established himself as a future star. His passion and knowledge of sports coupled withan ability to intelligently make his points in a coherent fashion made him an anomaly in sportsradio. Until the station ceased local operations in October of 2005, he was the best thing thestation had going for it.
Many felt that his talents were sorely needed at WEEI, which dominated the market, yet didn'treally appeal to the intelligent sports fan. An incident in which WEEI morning host John Dennisleft a creepy, threatening voice mail for Russillo which became public probably ended anychances for him at WEEI. It did cost him a spot on the Patriots pre-game show, where hisposition, which had already been announced, was suddenly terminated. Rumors had Dennisleaning on his contacts with the Patriots to get Russillo fired.
Still as years went by, Russillo even as he moved on to bigger things, would still be connectedwith WEEI by wishful listeners desperate for intelligent sports talk. Russillo joined ESPN Radioin February 2006, and has hosted NBA Sunday with Jamal Mashburn, The Baseball Show, andthe NFL Draft. He has also filled in on talk shows including Tirico and Van Pelt, and The Herdwith Colin Cowherd. and then, beginning in 2009, on The Scott Van Pelt Show as co-host.
This summer as his contract was up, Russillo was again linked with WEEI, when Chad Finn ofthe Globe reported that Russillo had talked with the station. He ultimately chose to remain withESPN, and this week his new deal was officially announced. Along with the new deal, ESPNannounced that the name of the show was being changed from The Scott Van Pelt Show toSVP & Russillo, reflecting Russillo's co-host status.
"...it's a bit of a misnomer because this guy, does just as much work, it's an equal partnership"Van Pelt said of the show's old name on Thursday. "and in fact because of my schedule, beingaway a lot, a lot of people always said why isn't his name on the show?"
ESPN remedied that, and satisfied both Van Pelt and Russillo by giving them new multi-yearcontracts and changing the new of the show to reflect that partnership.
"Over the last three years The Scott Van Pelt Show has been my number one priority, and Icouldn't be happier, that for the next few years it will remain my priority," Russillo says. "I believein the direction of this show and am really looking forward to where we are going."
Van Pelt and Russillo both acknowledged that they had options elsewhere - Russillo was alsoreportedly pursued by the new NBC Sports Radio, ironically broadcasting locally on 1510 AM -but were committed to remaining together to continue what they had built at ESPN.
Russillo also hosts ESPN Radio's College GameDay on Saturday's from noon to 7:00 p.m.during college football season.
Beginning today, he can also finally be heard at the 850 AM frequency in Boston. With theirWEEI lineup firmly entrenched over at 93.7 FM, Entercom Boston recently announced plans tobring ESPN Radio programming to 850 AM. Thus, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. weekdays, the SVP &Russillo show can be heard on the local airwaves.
It will be a somewhat triumphant return for a local guy who should've been a bigger star in thelocal market a long time ago.