Westchester County Journal News

It has always felt a tad lazy to say someone is complicated. It is kind of a prerequisite for being a person, you know? But in this instance, it is not lazy. It is apt.

Craig Carton is a complicated guy. Or, he is at least a complicated guy to define. But it is that polarizing mix — on-air star and convicted felon; community-oriented philanthropist and cruel bully; smart sports yakker and line-pushing shock jock — that has made him one of the biggest names in the history of WFAN. And as he departs our cherished sports talk radio station for the second time Friday — under much better circumstances this time around — his detractors and fans should be able to agree on this: The guy always brought it.

MORE: Where does Craig Carton rank in WFAN pantheon?

Carton never mailed in a show. He never lost the fire. He was a force in mornings. He was a force in afternoons. It did not matter if you tuned in for four minutes or four hours; he was going to find a way to make you laugh. And, more often than he was given credit for, inform you.

Yes, Carton often took things a bit too far or worked a bit too blue. But he could because he delivered nothing but results for his employer and for his listeners. And the fact he has to give up afternoon drive to focus solely on his FS1 morning show is, in our eyes, a sign of that employer’s diminishing standing. WFAN should be able to write whatever check it needed to keep Carton in the fold. And it clearly cannot.

What happened in the past still happened. And that knocks Carton down the board when assessing the WFAN pantheon. But there is no denying he exits as an all-time voice at the station. And that the station faces a colossal challenge replacing him. Again. Back after this.

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James Kratch can be reached at james.kratch@xlmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.