Ryen Russillo presumably didn’t expect to come back from his much-ballyhooed vacation with a sobering moment at the top of his show, but that’s what his audience received as he hit the mic again on Tuesday, just a couple weeks removed from a highly publicized arrest.
What the popular host got right after being dragged through the social media mud is that while the Internet may never forget, it has an abundant willingness to forgive.
Russillo was expected to make his return from holiday last week but was serving a suspension for an arrest that took place in the early-morning hours of August 23 in Wyoming. According to Deadspin, which also cites The Jackson Hole News & Guide, Russillo was found naked and intoxicated inside a condo—although Russillo describes it as a hotel room—occupied by two unnamed people.
Russillo reportedly refused to leave and was arrested and charged with criminal entry. The Jackson Hole News & Guide paints quite the picture in its report, citing official’s probable cause affidavit: “Officers found the defendant, later identified as Ryen August Russillo, lying on the bed in the south bedroom naked except for his pants around his ankles.”
The 42-year-old began Tuesday’s show by addressing that great big elephant in the room: “First, I need to address something. And we’re going to spend a few minutes on that, because that’s probably the most important thing, even though I want to talk football too.”
Russillo then launched into a heartfelt segment that included apologies to his audience and those who work at ESPN, especially those who have championed his cause over the ten-plus years he has been there.
As fans know, he isn’t one to delve into hyperbole or overt sentiment, often embracing the black-and-white aspects of sport without the fluff and polarizing statements other media personalities like to employ. It’s what makes him such a popular fixture on the radio and TV.
In that way, Russillo explains in plain terms how things went awry over his vacation: “But, one of the things I pride myself on this show and everything we try to do here is cut through all of the nonsense and tell the truth and be genuine; and that’s what I need to do. And this is something I never want to have to do in a radio show but I’m doing it now. Last week, I was suspended and I was suspended because two weeks ago that vacation that I spent all this time talking about—going out to Montana, and that part was great, and then getting to Jackson Hole—I got arrested the first night I was in Jackson Hole. I got arrested because I went out that night, drank too much and I went to the wrong hotel room and that’s how I ended up getting into trouble.”
The Comeback uploaded the audio capture of the segment, which includes the host explaining that an officer at the jail informed Russillo right away that the Internet was off and running with the story of his reported debacle.
While a lesson from all of this would be to not get in trouble, the realist understands that we all mess up from time to time. It’s only human to take a wrong turn or, in this case, pick out the wrong room after a long night of drinking.
The more useful wisdom in all this, especially for those looking to one day break into media and become a known brand, is to own your faults and missteps immediately and offer an apology in a sincere manner. You’ll find that a great many listeners, readers and fans are willing to forgive and move on.
Social media was generally kind to the host:
Well done and said today Wish others owned up like you did today when a mistake has been made. Welcome back and Go Buckeyes!#ryenrussillo
— Matt Smith (@smittymatt35) September 5, 2017
Ryen Russillo showing all the other public figures how to own a mistake and bury it in a 5 min segment. Dude tells it like it is.
— Ellis Redding (@TireWorldLou) September 5, 2017
Ryen Russillo takes a whopping six minutes to own his incident. This goes away forever now. This is how you deal with problems in 2017.
— Brandon Folsom (@folsombrandonj) September 5, 2017
Russillo continued: “The way I felt that day and every day since has been tough but the thing about screwing up is it can be hard when it’s just you, but that’s actually what’s made this easy is that it’s only my fault. I have no one else to blame…It’s all on me. There is no one else. I can go through a timeline of events that this happens, this happens, maybe this whole big thing doesn’t happen, but then it’s going to sound like I’m making excuses and that I don’t get it. Trust me, I get it. I understand that this is a big mistake, because I’m a public figure and I have my name on a show and I work at a place like ESPN and a place that I’m proud to come into work every single day.”
Russillo received a multi-year contract from ESPN in 2015, via Awful Announcing. During his time at the network, he has been co-host alongside the likes of Scott Van Pelt, who has since moved into a night SportsCenter slot, and Danny Kanell, who was let go by ESPN earlier this year.
The host continued the show’s opening with a set of candid and honest apologies: “So, I’m not saying this because my bosses are listening but I deserve the suspension, you know. I embarrassed you guys, I embarrassed myself and I just feel so bad about the people here…I don’t want those people in the room that have been fighting for me to give up on me…because I have let them down. So I’m sorry to them. I’m sorry to my family that’s been asked about this non-stop and I’m sorry to my friends.”
There is no better way to move past an unfortunate incident than to address it fully. With media abundant on smartphones and tablets, every last fan knows of an arrest or similar circumstance as quickly as their device can send a push notification. Treat your audience likes adults and apologize.
If you do truly own it as Russillo has, you can just as easily move on to the task at hand. As he states before jump-starting the show anew, “Again I’m sorry and let’s talk some football.”
Most of us are eager to do just that, allowing Russillo to put this incident in the rear-view mirror and finally concentrate on the more important aspect of life and that’s what lay ahead.