The ultimate utility man, Marshall Harris, who has been with NBC Sports Philly for 10 years, is OUT at the network, according to Jeff Blumenthal of the Philly Business Journal.
We heard last night there was another change at the network. Harris hasn’t tweeted about it and still lists the company in his handle, but it sounds like his contract was not renewed.
It’s hard to really extrapolate any takeaway from this since Harris is just the latest well-known personality to leave the network, but it seems somewhat surprising given his ability to fill just about any on-air role– anchor, host, reporter and so on. It seemed like he did a little bit of everything.
There’s a weird shift going on in mainstream Philly sports media, with each of the established players trying in their own way to embrace a shift to new media. WIP features its stable of loosely-connected podcasters and gives them traditional airtime. 97.5 has been a bit more organic in its shift, using Natalie Egenolf as sort of the face of its online presence. And CSN has been trying to loosen up its vibe with a shift toward #debate, relaxed-fit attire, and Michael Barkann’s blue glasses, while beefing up its streaming capabilities and offerings.
Philly.com has become largely irrelevant.
The problem, in some cases, is that traditional outlets are trying to graft online content formats onto mainstream platforms, or vice versa. The very nature of what makes a good podcast is stripped away when it’s put into traditional radio frameworks where it must adhere to all the business interests and sponsor-first segments.
Similarly, taking a bunch of folks who are really good at reading a teleprompter and putting them in informal settings has varied results.
The formats and incentives of new media and old media often don’t align and produce misshapen products when blended.
Regardless, it’s a touch unclear why NBC Sports Philly would let go of Harris, unless it’s strictly cost-cutting (we’re hearing Michael Barkann has been re-upped, and he ain’t cheap). He was, if nothing else, one of their younger (hipper?) personalities who seemed comfortable in most settings. He certainly wasn’t bringing deep, next-level analysis, but he also wasn’t wholly awkward the way some folks are.
All of that being said, John Clark has more or less become the face of the network, covering the big games, landing the best assignments, and having a truly stellar social feed (sometimes I get pissed how quickly he gets stuff up on social media). He’s like the unicorn who can do TV and master social media at the same time. Also, he’s not a source for me on anything, so I’m not kissing his ass– I just think he’s really good.
Anyway, Harris is gone as CSN continues to trim some fat and shift toward a multi-platform approach.