It is not yet time to declare this a one-sports talk radio station town again, but it is close.
WFAN is WFAN again, at least in terms of results. Craig Carton and Evan Roberts are trouncing ESPN Radio New York’s trio of Michael Kay, Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg in afternoon drive. Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti have no peers in the morning. Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney are doing what they were hired for in middays.
It looks bleak for ESPN Radio New York. And you wonder sometimes, with its slapped-together mix of national and local programming, if they even care. But it has one last chance to avoid being completely buried by WFAN. Not a great one, but a chance.
Kay and company won the Fall 2021 ratings book, remember. That was the biggest score ESPN has ever notched. Not Kay’s win over an uninterested, almost unlistenable Mike Francesa in the waning hours of the big guy’s second retirement from the seat. And as we head toward the fall again, there is a scintilla of a shot what currently works against Kay could spring a reversal of fortune.
Kay does a traditional sports talk show. Or he at least gets much closer to that mark than what Carton and Roberts are currently providing. He has whined about this in the past, alleging they can get away with spicy content — WAG Wednesday, sexual innuendo, guy talk, etc. — he cannot as part of the classy ESPN empire. And many have criticized WFAN’s duo for the approach. But it is working. Until, ESPN prays, it isn’t.
The Mets and Yankees will be bidding for deep postseason runs this fall. The Giants and Jets will be playing intriguing transition seasons, with the former trying to figure out its quarterbacking future and the latter a dark horse playoff contender. And the Knicks could be on the verge of debuting a big three of RJ Barrett, Jalen Brunson and Donovan Mitchell.
In short, there is going to be a lot of sports to discuss. Fans may be seeking Xs and Os analysis and interviews with on-field and -court newsmakers (an area Kay has long been superior to WFAN in). And we know La Greca is good for a viral moment or three. Kay and crew did it before. They could do it again.
Would we bet on that? No. Everything is going in WFAN’s favor at this point. It will take a whale of a turnaround for ESPN to even make this a fight. But they still have a flicker of hope in the fall. Once that is snuffed out, though, it’s Radio Nowhere again.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]