The early plan for Mike Francesa’s complicated WFAN return
Mike Francesa is returning to WFAN, and, sources say, the plan will be for him to be back on weekday afternoons.
While it is not yet clear how FAN will configure the afternoons, initial indications are Francesa’s replacements, Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott, will not be let go, according to sources. They are expected to still be part of the afternoon schedule, although final plans of how the hours will be split up have not been communicated internally yet, according to sources.
Francesa is not expected to be on from 1-6:30 p.m., as he had been for the better part of the last three decades until he decided to have a “retirement” tour. A three- or a three-and-a-half-hour show would seem likely. Either 3 or 3:30 p.m. to 6:30, which would lead into the Yankees pregame on most nights.
However, the plans are in flux because of the volatility of Francesa’s personality, the fact he has recently feuded with the current FAN hosts, including Boomer Esiason, and Francesa and management having put Carlin, Gray and Scott in an extremely awkward and chaotic environment after only three months on the job.
After Francesa’s retirement, FAN reconfigured its lineup to add an extra hour to Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts’ show so it ran from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., while CMB goes from 2-6:30. FAN has the Yankees most nights, so the station can’t extend the programming out until late in the fall.
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The Post reported Monday that Francesa wanted to return to New York sports radio and was canvassing stations to try to find a home, with WFAN in play. When reached by phone and asked about WFAN, he said he could not speak about specific stations.
On Tuesday morning, he told Newsday he is returning to FAN and offered a cryptic message.
“This is for those who started this campaign in recent days,” Francesa said. “I didn’t decide to go back to WFAN until I was told I better not go back. For those behind it, that was the moment I decided to return.”
There is no evidence of a “campaign” or that anyone was telling Francesa he couldn’t go back. Francesa has made millions, so he is not in need of money.
After a more-than-year-and-a-half retirement tour, Francesa could have stayed at FAN on a few occasions, but he decided against it. When morning host Craig Carton was arrested in an alleged Ponzi scheme, Francesa offered to stay, but wanted a raise. Radio executives balked, and sources indicate that FAN felt it could be financially successful with CMB because the trio is believed to make a third or less combined of the around $3 million that Francesa was pulling in.
CMB are all signed to two-year deals.
Francesa also told Newsday he is working on a project with his new agency, CAA, but FAN will be part of it.
“I will do everything to work WFAN into an integral part of the project,” Francesa said. “It is time to return to WFAN.”
Francesa did not immediately return another call from The Post. WFAN program director Mark Chernoff also did not return messages.
At 64 and in “retirement,” Francesa has had trouble lining up projects to match his salary requests and his ego, which has led to his return to his old home. It is going to be dysfunctional one, to say the least.
Francesa and his old partner, Chris Russo, joked recently about FAN, kiddingly speculating about who might lose their jobs. Esiason called the duo “classless,” while CMB mostly took the high road without going after Francesa too badly. Francesa also left FAN very unpopular internally, which will make Chernoff’s job even more difficult in terms of the station’s morale.
Upon Further Review: We reviewed the “Real Sports” feature on Derek Jeter’s role as the head of the Marlins. The verdict? A 3.61 clickers out of possible 5. That is a good rating as it means it is not a must-watch, but it is an enjoyable one. Jeter is evasive, but Gumbel used his own status to go at him a little. Jeter fouled most of them off, with the best moment of the 15-minute piece coming toward the end, when Gumbel said Jeter may be delusional to think this year’s rebuilding Marlins can contend.
“Call me delusional,” Jeter said.
Jeter comes across well in the piece, even as his plan has been criticized. It is on at 10 p.m. on Tuesday on HBO.
The Nets may not be in the playoffs, but their broadcasters and ex-broadcasters are all over the place. Of the current broadcasters, Ian Eagle (TNT) and Ryan Ruocco (ESPN) are doing play-by-play, while also working are analysts Sarah Kustok (TNT/NBA Virtual Reality telecasts), Jim Spanarkel (ESPN Radio) and Mike Fratello (TNT/NBA TV). As for Nets on YES alums, there are Marv Albert (TNT) and Spero Dedes on play-by-play, plus Mark Jackson (ABC/ESPN) and Greg Anthony (TNT/NBA TV). Former sideline reporter Michelle Beadle is ABC/ESPN’s lead studio host. Hat tip to YES on Nets producer Frank DiGraci for pointing it out.
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