WFAN already faced an uncertain future with Mike Francesa’s deal set to expire in December, and no slam dunk candidates to replace him, when they learned that popular morning co-host Craig Carton had not in fact called in sick today:
— Mike (@NTLTreasures) September 6, 2017
Make no mistake: This is a seismic event in New York sports media. Boomer & Carton have been on the air for over a decade, and rated well enough that Carton was on a multi-million-dollar-a-year deal. It happened on the eve of NFL season, with the Yankees in the MLB playoff hunt.
Now, if the strong allegations of operating a ponzi scheme and committing wire and securities fraud are indeed accurate, Carton will be be doing real jail time.
This Spring, it felt like Mike Francesa was checking out. He opined strongly on topics that he clearly had not researched, was more ornery than normal with some callers, and came way too damn close to losing to Michael Kay in the ratings.
I thought at the time that WFAN might want to release him from his deal early and move on with their lives. Now WFAN has almost no choice but to try their damnedest to extend Francesa, if only for a year. This won’t be easy, as Francesa has remained adamant that he is DONE this year — and the last thing WFAN boss Mark Chernoff wanted was the Pope with a mountain range of leverage — but these are desperate times.
WFAN was a pioneer in sports talk and is such a powerful institution that it’s nearly impossible to see it receding into nothingness in the near term. However, with ESPN champing at the bit, satellite radio expanding, and the growing reality for drivers to bluetooth whatever content they wish on demand through their dashboards, they are in a major bind right now.