David Kaplan, an omnipresent voice at NBC Sports Chicago since 2008, will leave the network Dec. 30 after accepting a buyout from parent company NBCUniversal. He announced his decision Thursday on his evening show, “Unfiltered with David Kaplan,” which debuted April 4.
Kaplan was among the NBCU employees who qualified to receive the buyout based on tenure. NBCSCH did not want him to leave, but he said the opportunity was too good to pass up.
“This presents me with a chance to pursue the next chapter of my career,” Kaplan said. “It will also give me a great opportunity to spend more time with my wife, Mindy, and our four sons and their expanding families. I will continue to be very active in the Chicago sports media world.”
“Kap is one of a kind,” said NBCSCH vice president of content John Schippman. “He’s made enormous contributions to our network, and his passion, opinions and love of Chicago’s teams have made him a beloved and respected figure, not just with fans, but also his colleagues. We wish him the best and look forward to seeing what’s next.”
Kaplan, who will turn 62 on Saturday, said he isn’t close to retiring and will continue co-hosting the morning show on ESPN 1000 with Jonathan Hood. He also will continue producing videos for his YouTube channel, which has almost 41,000 subscribers.
Kaplan has two years left on his contract, and NBCSCH’s rights agreement with the Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox expires in October 2024. There’s no guarantee the teams will remain with the network, so taking advantage of an attractive buyout is a prudent choice.
NBCU offered buyouts, or voluntary early-retirement opportunities, companywide to employees who are 57 or older and have worked there for at least 10 years. It’s unknown if other NBCSCH employees are accepting the offer, which comes at a time of belt-tightening in media companies amid the country’s economic uncertainty.
Kaplan has hosted countless shows and events at NBCSCH. He hosted Cubs pregame and postgame shows until the team left the network in 2020 to launch Marquee Sports Network. He hosted “SportsTalk Live” before it was canceled in August 2020, he has hosted BetCasts that have aired opposite Bulls games and he has been hosting “Football Aftershow,” the station’s Bears postgame show.
“Unfiltered” and “Football Aftershow” will continue after Kaplan departs. NBCSCH is assessing options to replace him.
Kaplan still will appear on TV as the analyst for the Missouri Valley Conference basketball game of the week. But for the time being, his regular workday will end after his ESPN 1000 morning show, rather than stretch into the evening. Kaplan is known for his endless energy and enthusiasm, so he might need to adjust to the extra downtime.
Not long ago, his days included hosting on ESPN 1000 from 9 a.m. to noon, then hosting “SportsTalk Live” at 6 p.m. and Cubs shoulder programming afterward.
He got his first TV job in 1987. An analyst assigned to do a DePaul basketball game couldn’t make it to Chicago because of a snowstorm. The network carrying the game called Kaplan, who came recommended. Though he had never been on TV before, he assured the network he had. His performance earned him encores.
But those are over on NBCSCH, which continues to feel the effects of its parent company’s struggles to navigate through an evolving media landscape.
“The past 15 years have been an amazing ride filled with so many incredible memories and friendships,” Kaplan said. “I look forward to continuing to forge these relationships as I move into the next phase of my career. There are so many people that I have to thank for allowing me a front-row seat to live out my dream of covering sports on TV in my hometown.
“Stay tuned for my next adventure, wherever and whenever that may be. Thank you for allowing me the privilege to come into your homes every night. You, the amazing Chicago sports fans, make this such an incredible way to make a living.”