Drama circles the New York sports radio airwaves again as WFAN’s Mike Francesa and ESPN NY’s The Michael Kay Show are both claiming to have won the winter ratings battle.
The outcome and reactions were anticipated for weeks and while both shows have the ability to claim victory, an inarguable fact is that the ratings gap between them is next to “nil.”
Nielsen reported a 5.9 winter book rating for Kay and a 5.5 for Francesa in the male 25-54 demo, but what used to be straight forward now includes variables as ESPN adds their streaming audience to the number, while Entercom does not. When including the digital audience for both WFAN and ESPN, Francesa out-rates Kay 6.2 – 5.9.
Nielsen reporting a higher number for Kay led to an ESPN celebration, sending out a press release stating The Michael Kay Show beat WFAN in the winter ratings book. Shortly after, Francesa tweeted, “Everybody in the industry knows the “official” number. To count their stream and eliminate our stream would be ridiculous. The sports competition got beat..like it always has.”
“I have nothing but sadness and pity for you that you would actually claim a victory that wasn’t real,” Francesa said during his Monday show. Kay responded with “pity” for Francesa, adding “move aside because we kicked your ass.”
What once was an easy quarterly victory for Francesa has now become a down to the wire battle, sending the WFAN afternoon host scrambling to make decisions about his future. In recent weeks, the New York radio icon admitted his daily WFAN show and the Mike’s On app might not be compatible, also acknowledging he could bring on a second voice.
While The Kay Show celebrated with cake and champagne, the New York sports radio drama continued as Francesa was prompted to detail a behind-the-scenes outburst which was first discussed by WFAN’s morning show, Boomer and Gio.
Last Wednesday, after Gregg Giannotti finished an impression of the afternoon host, Esiason said “Al, did you hear about the screaming and yelling going on around here…I heard somebody wanted you fired.” Esiason eluded to Francesa being upset with a post from their morning show Twitter account regarding Craig Carton.
“The morning show tweeted on their website they didn’t feel Carton had stabbed them in the back, which I said how absurd is that,” Francesa commented on Monday, referring to the below tweet.
Regarding Craig going on with Michael Kay today https://t.co/VGOAbgIDWp— Morning Show with Boomer & Gio (@WFANmornings) April 8, 2019
Andrew Marchand of The New York Post added the incident in his ratings report, leading Francesa to claim inaccuracies, while also confirming the story. According to Francesa, Entercom approached him about allowing Carton on his show for a tell-all, which the afternoon host declined.
Francesa said management told him he was their first choice for the Carton interview, a claim he later found out was a lie. Carton instead did what Francesa considered to be a backstabbing move to FAN and joined Michael Kay’s afternoon program, a show the former morning host regularly mocked.
Francesa confirmed that he yelled at Entercom regional president Susan Larkin and VP Mark Chernoff in a crowded FAN newsroom over the Carton situation.
“I don’t raise my voice around here very often,” WFAN’s afternoon host said. “I did at the bosses here over the fact, first of all, that I felt they were silly to go to court and support Craig and then have Craig go to a competitor when he had just been given support by them. And that’s what I said to them, I said you got played.”
With no shortage of sports topics, the hottest discussion on WFAN and ESPN NY was about each other and odds are this won’t be the last time they sling arrows while debating who out-rates who. However you view the numbers, a ratings battle that for well over a decade wasn’t close, is now separated by tenths of a point, regardless of who’s in the lead.
Doug Gottlieb, Nick Wright Feud Over College Sports NIL Issues
“Gottlieb caught wind of Wright’s rant and let his disapproval be known.”
FOX Sports hosts Doug Gottlieb and Nick Wright definitely do not see eye-to-eye when it comes to money going to college athletes.
Despite both being employed by the same company, Gottlieb, who is never afraid to voice his opinion, fired back at Wright Friday regarding his take on college football’s NIL rule in the wake of Alabama head coach Nick Saban’s claiming Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher “brought” his recruits.
On Wright’s morning show, First Things First, the colorful broadcaster had a two minute rant about how he’s happy that schools are finding workarounds under the new NIL rules implemented by the NCAA to pay the players for their name, image and likeness. He said the universities have been taking advantage of college athletes, particularly black student athletes from rough backgrounds, for years and now that the tide has shifted, people are freaking out.
“The general sports public wants extra regulations and extra rules, is keeping their thumbs on college football and basketball players because their is an undeniable and always has been an incredibly uncomfortable racial context of the guys,” Wright said. “It’s mostly young black men from mostly really tough circumstances, generating billions of dollars. Who’s sharing in that?” Wright asked.
“An overwhelmingly white administration, an overwhelmingly white coaching staff, and an overwhelmingly white non-revenue sports. How do we pay for the tennis team and golf team, ah men’s football and basketball. What do they get? A scholarship. Be happy, we pulled you out the hood. Maybe you’ll have a better life if somehow you make the league or do something with your education.”
Gottlieb caught wind of Wright’s rant and let his disapproval be known. That resulted in a back and forth between the two sports personalities on Twitter.
Gottlieb continued, claiming the NIL rule puts exceedingly high expectations on the student-athletes before ever stepping on campus and are given something without having to “earn it.”
“The sad part is this push to pay SAs before they have even played a game, taken a class or assimilated to a school sets them up for failure in their post sports career. If you have been given before you earn, where is the motivation when you get to the real world?”
Wright then took a shot at Gottlieb, saying it always feels good that his take is the complete opposite of Gottlieb’s.
The dialogue continued with Gottlieb throwing shots at Wright, calling his take “embarrassing” and mentioning how he failed to point out the educational imbalance in society during his take. Wright asked Gottlieb what are some of the other “fake racism” takes that he claims are out in the media.
Gottlieb is no stranger to conflict with his FOX Sports colleagues. Troy Aikman called his opinion on Andrew Luck’s retirement “total bullshit” in a tweet from 2019. More recently, Gottlieb got into it with Speak for Yourself co-host Emmanuel Acho after Gottlieb ripped his brother Sam’s “Top 5 QB list” on First Take. He also called out Skip Bayless for name-calling.
Bob Cousy: ‘JJ Redick Is Untalented Using Me To Get Attention On ESPN’
Celtics legend Bob Cousy was not too happy with J.J. Redick dissing his game and credibility as an all-time great player.
During an appearance on First Take, Redick got into a fiery debate with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo about whether Chris Paul deserves to be mentioned among the best point guards in NBA history despite another disappointing exit from the playoffs. Russo claimed that Paul is “no Bob Cousy” which prompted Redick to retort, saying Cousy couldn’t even dribble with his left hand and called the players he played against, “plumbers” and “firemen.”
“Bob Cousy won championships when there were eight teams in the NBA and you had to win two playoff series,” Reddick said. “Let’s celebrate Bob Cousy in his era, but you can’t compare pre-1980 with the modern NBA.”
The 93-old Cousy made an appearance on SiriusXM Radio where he went scorched earth on Redick, basically calling the ESPN analyst “untalented” while listing some of the players that he went up against in his era.
“So when you respond to something like this, you play into their hands. I won’t do that, but I will defend the firemen and the plumbers that he referenced. And I’ll just give you a few of the names of these firemen that I played with and against during those years. How about Bill Russell, the aforementioned, not too bad a player. Wilt Chamberlain, remember that guy? He wasn’t bad. I guess he must have fought fires as well. But in any event, Wilt Chamberlain.
“Still the best, in my judgment, small forward that ever played the game, a guy named Elgin Baylor. A couple of point guards that weren’t too shabby, my colleague who also had an award created [in his name], guy named Oscar Robertson, who was pound for pound the best player perhaps in the game.”
Chris Paul is a 12-time All-Star compared to Cousy’s 13 appearances.
One thing Paul and Bob Cousy do have in common is their aptitude for leadership. Cousy developed and started the NBA players union in 1954, being named its first president. Paul served in that same role from 2013-2021.
The two men also share similarities off the court. Cousy was a stanch anti-racist advocate during the civil rights era 50s and 60s, when it wasn’t all that popular to so. Paul has also spoke out on issues regarding race, working with commissioner Adam Silver to address some of the issues facing the black community.
Maybe the two have more in common than either Redick or Russo would like to admit.