The suits running ESPN-98.7 are licking their chops watching WFAN up against the ropes like a radio version of some tomato can.
While there have been months of uncertainty in afternoon drive over who will succeed Mike (Sports Pope) Francesa, if he actually does leave FAN in December, the station now faces another major quandary after morning Gasbag Craig Carton was arrested Wednesday by the FBI on charges he duped investors out of millions to cover his gambling debts.
All this static can’t be good for business, and could eventually lead to perennial broadcast bridesmaid ESPN-98.7 gaining ground, or even over-taking FAN in the ratings. Still, it would be foolish to bet against WFAN, even at a time when the station is in a state of chaos. Even when other radio executives are saying this latest blow, delivered by Carton, could “destroy the station.”
That’s not going to happen. The story of Francesa’s future has lingered on for months. Now there’s the mystery of morning drive to go along with it. Believe it or not, all this drama sells.
Fans addicted to these inner workings, who spend time wondering what will happen, will not soon be bailing out on FAN. For the station is now not only a place to talk sports, it’s a circus, a reality show. And if Carton’s suspension lingers on, which it will, the big guessing game in town will be who is going to take his seat next to Norman Julius Esiason.
Will some of the mouths who auditioned for Francesa’s gig be in play for the morning job? For example an edgy/opinionated Gasbag like Chris Simms.
His dad, Phil, worked with NJE on Thursday and produced a few yucks inside a more traditional sports talk format. However, it’s not likely Phil Simms will want to make 3 a.m. his daily wakeup call. The man who invented sportstalk radio, Brandon Tierney, was solid working Friday on the morning shift.
What management must decide is whether it wants to try duplicating its successful morning show format of a former athlete working with a comedian who is into sports. Or if it wants to do a more hardcore sports show.
Could they go outside and checkout a guy we have written about before, the clever/hilarious Jon (Stugotz) Weiner, Dan Le Batard’s wingman on ESPN Radio? Or could they go straight for the comedy/sports jugular with actor, comedian, sports guy Michael Rapaport? And what about a solid pro already in place, Jerry Recco? More names are bound to surface.
Get it? The twists and turns of the search will keep interest high in the morning show.
“The Fall (ratings) book is important, but CBS is concerned with the long-term here,” a network executive said. “That said, I know they would rather get something done (in morning drive) sooner rather than later.”
As all this goes on as Francesa’s departure clock winds down. We have already reported the possibility of him staying on past December to help WFAN in its time of turmoil and need. We fully expect there will be discussions between the Pope and CBS suits to try and make that a reality.
There’s nothing like a good TV conspiracy theory.
Yet the notion that the NFL manipulated the Ezekiel Elliott investigation so he could end up playing in primetime on NBC Sunday night against the Giants is ridiculous.
History shows the Cowboys don’t need much more than the star on their helmet to generate hefty ratings. And Elliott, or any other Cowboy, is not going to change that fact. If anything, NBC needs Odell Beckham Jr. to be on the field.
When it comes to players who capture eyeballs outside the N.Y. Metropolitan area, the Giants only have one — OBJ.
PROTEST TOO MUCH
Those Red Sox charges of YES having a camera trained on their bench coach to steal signs seemed pretty funny until Michael Kay went nuts over them.
That’s when we wondered if Boston’s allegation was true. Why would Kay use his ESPN-98.7 soapbox to go ballistic on the Red Sox, especially after Joe Girardi laughed the charge off saying there was no truth to it. Why would Kay unravel over a notion Joey Loose Leaf tossed in the garbage.
Whether he likes it or not, Kay, who is the play-by-play voice of the Bombers on YES, came off as nothing more than the Yankees’ highly-paid attack dog. He called the claim “totally fraudulent.” The only evidence he produced to substantiate that claim was his contention that: “I know I would have heard about it if YES was involved.”
That’s funny. If he actually did hear “about it (a YES camera being focused on Gary DiSarcina)” would he have gone on the air and blown the whistle on YES and the Yankees?
And when it comes to the Yankees using YES cameras to suit their agenda, there is precedent. In 2003, after Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer ripped George Steinbrenner during a radio interview, The Boss ordered YES suits to make sure their cameras did not focus on Zim during games.
Perhaps Kay conveniently forgot about that episode.
As baseball’s postseason closes in, look for a change in TBS’ playoff booth.
Cal Ripken Jr., who worked with Ernie Johnson Jr. and Ron Darling, won’t be returning, according to an MLB source. Last season, TBS had the Iron Man positioned outside the broadcast booth at field level to work the game. Ripken also worked the studio during his time at TBS, which began in 2012.
Turner confirmed the news saying it was a mutual decision with Cal actively involved with his foundation and other business ventures.
While he didn’t create many memories behind the microphone, we always found Ripken to be a solid, albeit vanilla, voice.
The guess here is TBS will use Darling and Johnson in a two-man booth and not add a third voice. For those (including us) who believe three is a crowd this would be a welcome move.
Phil Simms has said all the right things since he was replaced by Tony Romo as CBS Sports’ No. 1 NFL analyst. Still, not being behind the microphone at a game site for the first time in nearly two decades will feel strange for the former Giant QB.
At least he will be in a football environment, making his debut on CBS’ “The NFL Today” pregame show. Simms has a big mouth and many opinions. This venue should work for him.
He might have a problem adjusting to the fact he actually has to split face/mouth time with four other Gasbags, including his alter ego N.J. Esiason.
Simms has always found a way to make himself heard. This new endeavor won’t be any different. We only hope he can wake up the cast of “The NFL Today” and bring some confrontation to the set.
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DUDE OF THE WEEK: SPORTS BROADCASTING FUND
For its charitable efforts on behalf of victims of Hurricane Harvey. SBF has already raised close to $50,000 and continues to help those in Houston’s sports TV industry who are trying to recover after the hurricane. “This is exactly the kind of situation we are here for as we help those in need pay bills related to disasters, medical issues and more,” said Ken Kerschbaumer of Sports Video Group, the company that established SBF in 2012. In a business as competitive as Sports TV, it’s good to see competitors come together in a time of need.
DWEEB OF THE WEEK: GASBAGS ENCOURAGING JETS TO TANK SEASON
The words roll off their lips easily. Yet does anyone issuing these proclamations realize consumers are paying their hard earned dough to attend Jets game? Doesn’t ownership of the Jets need to be held responsible for putting the best product possible on the field? It’s easy for a portion of the media to push losing. No sweat off their backs. They get into the games free. It’s easy for them to say wait until next year, when they really don’t know if any of these college QBs, destined to be the No. 1 pick, will be any good. Here’s hoping the Jets rack up more victories than expected if only to satisfy their fans who still believe in winning.
What Eli Apple said: “He (Ezekiel Elliott) is crazy in the head.”
What Eli Apple meant to say: “He enjoys acting like a jerk.”