ESPN launched Grantland with Simmons at the helm in 2011. But the Disney-owned sports programmer cut Simmons loose after publicly feuding over his coverage of controversial topics, and shut down Grantland in October of last year.
Last month, Simmons unveiled the Ringer — staffed with a number of ex-Grantland employees — with the site slated to debut in late spring or early summer. The Ringer now has a team of 23, with additional hires on deck, according to a rep.
On Monday, Simmons and Ringer editor-in-chief Sean Fennessey announced several new hires for the content website via Twitter. Those include staff writers Katie Baker, Jason Concepcion, Allison P. Davis, Sam Donsky, Alison Herman, Jonathan Tjarks and Lindsay Zoladz; articles editor Molly McHugh; associate editor Sam Schube; researcher Megan Schuster; and Jason Gallagher, who will head up social media and video.
Previously announced hires include executive editor Chris Ryan, deputy editor Mallory Rubin, managing editor Juliet Litman, deputy editor for culture Amanda Dobbins, copy chief Craig Gaines, editor-at-large Bryan Curtis, articles editor Ryan O’Hanlon, associate editor Danny Chau, assistant editor Riley McAtee, digital audio director Joe Fuentes; and Tate Frazier, assistant producer of digital audio.
Also Monday, the Ringer debuted its first email newsletter. Simmons, in an introductory note, revealed that discarded names for the publication included “The Curve,” “The Hot Hand,” “Brainwreck,” “Binge Mode” and “The Leap”; Jason Concepcion wrote about pressing questions in the upcoming season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones”; and Jonathan Tjarks looked at what it takes to win the NCAA tournament.
Late last year, Simmons inked a multiyear deal with HBO anchored by a weekly TV show set to debut in 2016. Under the pact, Simmons also will produce content for HBO’s digital platforms.
The Ringer is launching under the purview of L.A.-based Bill Simmons Media Group, led by president Eric Weinberger (formerly with NFL Network) and COO Geoff Chow (previously CFO of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group).
The parent company encompasses TheRinger.com, the Ringer Podcast Network (launched last fall as the Bill Simmons Podcast Network) and all future digital, branded and social projects, as well as a production unit for scripted and non-scripted content. Since launching in October, Simmons’ podcast has been downloaded more than 35 million times with guests that have included Michael B. Jordan, Judd Apatow and Charles Barkley.