Pablo Torre is about to become a creature of two worlds.
The veteran ESPN writer and on-air personality is leaving the Disney sports-media giant — and he’s staying, too. Torre is joining Meadowlark Media, the content company founded by former ESPN chief John Skipper and the sports commentator Dan Le Batard. And yet, Torre is expected to remain a regular contributor to “Around The Horn” and “Pardon The Interruption,” two of the mainstay programs on the ESPN daytime schedule.
“They are looking to build another show directly out of ‘The Dan LeBatard Show,’ which is a monster,” Torre says of Meadowlark in an interview. Torre envisions a digital program with audio and video components that will allow him to “tell original stories, do a bit of journalism and figure out how to make that show a home that can fit all of the things I aspire to do creatively.” Torre will also contribute to Meadowlark’s unscripted efforts.
His time at ESPN — about a decade in all — has allowed him to test several media platforms. Torre joined the company in 2012 after a five-year run as a staff writer at Sports Illustrated. He has been a senior writer for ESPN.com, a contributor to ESPN Films and “30 for 30,” and a co-anchor of the daily daytime show “High Noon” with Bomani Jones. More recently, he hosted two popular podcasts: “ESPN Daily” and “Debatable.” ESPN was not able to offer immediate comment.
“Everyone in this industry knows Pablo’s work resides at the top of it,” said Le Batard, who gained new fame while hosting shows at ESPN, in a statement. “He’s an original thinker. A necessary voice. An unimpeachable journalist at a time that could use a few more of those. Very few people his age have his range and his resume. I’m honored and moved that he follows his heart to help us build something excellent. We don’t have to pay him, too, do we?”
The answer? Yes. Torre says he will receive a small equity stake in Meadowlark as part of his decision to join the company.
Torre has created a veritable audio library of work for ESPN, having hosted 700 episodes of “ESPN Daily.” But the lure of having creative control over his work as well as a broad platform upon which to base it, he says, was difficult to resist. “Meadowlark came to me with an offer, an opportunity to design my own job, which I found I could not refuse. CAA, which represents Torre, helped him negotiate terms with Meadowlark and ESPN.
Still, his deal is somewhat uncommon. Many ESPN personalities who find new roles for themselves tend to leave the company. Bill Simmons and Le Batard didn’t stay when they lit out to start new entrepreneurial ventures. But Torre gets to keep ties to his former full-time employer as he starts a tenure with a new one. It’s a distinctive circumstance that may have other sports-media personalities asking if they can achieve the same.
Some others have managed to carve out something similar. Many of the personalities who work for Amazon Prime Video’s “Thursday Night Football” have kept a spot at the companies for which they were previously working. Al Michaels continues to do work for NBC Sports, and Kirk Herbstreit still calls college football for ESPN. while Charissa Thompson and Taylor Rooks still hold forth for Fox Sports and Warner Bros. Discovery Sports, respectively. Colin Cowherd has kept his role at Fox Sports while playing an operating role at The Volume podcast network. Still, this pact will give Torre the ability to do something for himself and maintain a presence on a mass sports platform as well.