Michael Kay is apparently about to leave the stage.
The Yankees play-by-player and longtime ESPN Radio New York host is “seriously contemplating” stepping away from his afternoon drive program, according to The Post’s Andrew Marchand.
Kay’s radio contract is up in September. He has apparently indicated to ESPN suits he plans to move on after 20 years. But ESPN is interested in retaining him, according to the report, and is working to extend him. Kay would maintain his YES Network role, according to the report.
This is not surprising news. Kay’s future has been a topic of discussion for some time. From ESNY’s 2023 local radio look-ahead:
Kay has lost to WFAN in the ratings for most of his 20 years at ESPN Radio New York. There were brief moments of glory against Mike Francesa (Fall 2019) and Craig Carton and Evan Roberts (Fall 2021). But for the most part, Kay and ESPN have had to settle for being competitive. And even that seems unattainable currently. They are getting walloped now.
WFAN tripled the audience of Kay, Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg in November. And while Francesa’s show gradually declined in quality to the point Kay could overtake him, Carton and Roberts figure to only strengthen their stranglehold on the time slot moving forward. So things look pretty bleak right now.
ESPN has never been all about ratings with Kay. As one prominent local voice once told us: How many guys get to lose as much as he has and remain employed? But it’s hard to imagine the station would re-emphasize local programming while continuing to roll out a hopeless flagship show. Kay’s contract is expected to come up in the new year. He already raised eyebrows with his extended sabbatical last summer. This could be the end of the road as he chooses to focus on calling the Yankees for the YES Network.
And you know what? That might be what ESPN needs. Kay has moaned and groaned about Carton and Roberts doing “guy talk” on several occasions. And yes, some of their content is low-brow at best. But if ESPN cannot fight back during an extremely newsy fall in the city with several playoff-caliber teams competing, it probably is time to do something different. Whatever that may be.
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