Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.
Boomer and Carton, unabridged
Newsday was nice enough to devote an entire page in the Friday editions to my story on WFAN’s morning show – and its relationship (or lack thereof) with the WFAN afternoon show.
Still, that was not nearly enough space for me to include everything I would have liked from my conversations with Craig Carton, Boomer Esiason and operations manager Mark Chernoff.
Here are some of the leftovers:
Carton on being No. 1 in key male demographics and sustaining that:
I could not be more thankful to the loyal audience . . . I do not feel any more pressure than I did the day we got here. Our goal, and our job, is to come in and obviously be prepared and to deliver a fresh show that people gravitate to. The fact we are No. 1, the only difference is that everybody is chasing us now. We’re really cognizant of that. I want to be No. 1 forever. I do not want to consider the prospect of not being No. 1.
Carton on whether Esiason will continue for the long term:
He loves doing the show. I have no interest in working with anyone else. He will be around. I believe he will be around and of course I want to be. I’m not going anywhere.
Carton on the relationship with Mike Francesa:
There is no relationship. We do our show, Mike does his show. He has done it for a long time. We want the radio station to be healthy, which it is, but we are consumed with the morning show. We all come in at different times of day. It is not as if we’re crossing paths in the hallway. Any time I ever have seen Mike it has been cordial. To me there are certain things that have gone on the past couple of weeks that everyone is now paying attention to. But I do not spend a lot of time worrying about any other day part other than I want the radio station to be healthy.
Obviously the thing that happened with not knowing things that happened on our show, I am going to comment on that because it affects our show. If Boomer and I break a story that is a major news event that revolves around us it is ridiculous to think another show on our radio station was completely unaware of that. Much like if any other show on our station broke a major story we would clearly be aware of it. You can say I don’t want to comment, but for any show to say they were unaware of what the morning guys did was clearly not true.
Carton on critiquing Francesa interview with Darrelle Revis:
I personally did not agree with the line of questioning, but I am sure people don’t always agree with my line of questioning. I commented on that because it was a news story. I was giving an opinion on a news story.
Carton on the fact the show appeals to a broad range of age groups, including middle-aged men:
I thought we would have a broad appeal. It just takes time to kind of rebuild the audience with men in that age group because like I would be at that age you are set in your ways. But if you listen to our show long enough we are two intelligent guys talking about issues beyond sports. At the end of the day, if it is entertaining people will flock to it. I don’t think the age is all that relevant. The great testament to our show is we are No. 1 in every single male demographic. We are blessed to have such a loyal audience.
Carton on walking a fine line with risqué topics:
I do not think we are ever close to the line of getting into trouble. I am cognizant there are things that can potentially affect people. Our goal is to entertain, to talk about New York sports and to talk about our lives as much as we can and be personal as much as we can be.
Carton on Esiason:
He has the best work ethic of any human being I have ever met. I think I have a great ethic but he really has just been an absolute joy to work with. I really couldn’t have been put with a better guy on and off the air. [Monday night] he’s going to be in Kansas City and [Tuesday] morning at a quarter to 6 he’s going to be in his office asking me what’s going on.
Chernoff on Esiason’s initial interest in the morning job:
My first reaction was to laugh, like yeah, you are an ex-quarterback, I can see you getting up every morning early. I knew Boomer, he did ‘In the Huddle’ with Chris Russo. He was very personable. He did fill in shows. I said, ‘I tell you what, I will put you on for a week. I just want to see if you can get up in the morning.’
Chernoff on the content of the show:
Here is what my rule was from Day One: Everything emanates from sports. We are not going to be Imus. Imus is an icon. You do not replace him. They are their own thing.
Chernoff on whether the content of the morning show sometimes makes him cringe:
Yes, yes, but in a funny way you almost expect that from a morning show. It is not what we do the rest of the day, but having had the experience first with Howard Stern, and Imus in the Morning, I’ve dealt with that. I know the morning show is a different animal.
There is always the love mail and hate mail or email, phone calls. The hosts where you do not get any comments are the ones you worry about because they’re kind of matter of fact.
Esiason on why the show works:
I think it is a show that is entertaining, first and foremost. I do not think there is any socially redeeming value to this whole thing. But the fact is we have fun when we come to work. People are listening to us laughing, Craig’s imitations and all the stuff he does and the laugh track underneath it and genuinely having a great time, I think it comes through on the radio, I really do.
This is not rocket science. This is not painful. We don’t need drugs to do this. You know what the drug is: The addiction is coming here and laughing. It really is. And I think that comes through the radio. Everywhere I go people say, ‘How do you work with that Carton guy?’ But then they say, ‘He’s hilarious.’ That’s how I work with that Carton guy, because he is hilarious.
There is a role we both play. I’m the 50-year-old straight guy who has two kids and lives in a square box, and he is the guy who is living life on the streets. But I am like the older brother who condemns him for some of his actions. I think people really enjoy the dynamic between the two personalities.
Esiason on getting up early for four years:
I cannot believe that I do not need an alarm clock to get up anymore. That is how bad my life is. My internal clock goes off at 4:15 every day, even on Saturdays, which means that for four years I have been all into this thing.
Esiason on the perceived rivalry with Francesa’s show:
Everything from the seat that I sit in is all tongue in cheek, even when I sign off and say now we are really going to do sports talk. We are serious, too, but it is a different element here. It is four hours of nonsense. It is, we are laughing, it is waking people at work and hopefully when they are home reading their paper and drinking their coffee and watching us we are entertaining.
Esiason on Carton’s off color humor:
I laugh at it because it is funny. I don’t quite describe it the way Craig does. I use other language. I think it is fairly evident on the air which way one person is going to go and which way the other will take it. But I don’t worry about.
Chernoff on on-air sniping between his show hosts:
I have just always felt it is not a great thing anywhere I have been. I think it is just not a good thing. I would rather people in general never do that. Sometimes people do, sometimes they don’t.
Remember, I worked with Imus, with Howard Stern. At any radio station I have worked at you cannot make people like everyone they work with. You hope that everybody gets along and I try to foster that environment the best I can and sometimes people take shots at other people. It happens .I absolutely discourage it.
Mike and Chris did not always get along with each other. I hated it when they fought. It really ate me up when they were not talking to each other. You do everything you can but you have to be professional on the air.