Mike Francesa Caller's "Homosexual Catcher" Crank Call Dumped Out By YES Network (But Not Quite)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza is the butt of a joke from the latest in a long time of prank callers to Mike Francesa's show. But the joke's on YES Network, which didn't dump out of Francesa's rebuttal to the caller.

Former New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza is the butt of a joke from the latest in a long line of prank callers to Mike Francesa’s show. But the joke’s on YES Network, which didn’t dump out of Francesa’s rebuttal to the caller.

The presence of prank callers on Mike Francesa’s WFAN/New York radio show is starting to rival that of the Steve Urkel character on the show “Family Matters”: what was rare when he first hosted the show solo in 2008 has suddenly become an everyday occurrence.

On today’s edition, “Nick from Bohemia” sounded like a genuine caller, starting with a valid point about the Mets. But then he focused on former Mets catcher Mike Piazza, who once again addressed rumors that he was gay, as he is set to release a new autobiography.

That provided fodder for “Nick’s” crank call.

“Do you think if it does come out that he is gay, that he’d be, the, ugh, you know, the best homosexual catcher we’ve ever seen?”

Francesa’s answer: “I would think he would be the best homosexual catcher. I would agree with that, yeah.”

It was a modest reaction to a prank call – either that, or he, like the Mets, has no clue what a “creampie” is:

While that entire call was heard on the radio, the censors at YES Network pulled out a bit too early, dumping out of the caller’s entire question, but not Francesa’s response:

Could you imagine the conversation between YES Network president Tracy Dolgin and the network censors over this?

“You let Mike Francesa say the word ‘homosexual’ on our air.”

“Did I do that?”

Mike Francesa Calls Out WFAN Co-Hosts For Leaving His Studio In Disarray (Video)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Francesa rants about his studio being left “a mess” by WFAN colleagues Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts, and suggests the station “fumigate” the studio between their shows.

Since WFAN in New York signed on the air back in 1987, virtually all of their live programming emanated from a studio located in a basement in the Kaufman Astoria Studios in the borough of Queens.

Eventually, WFAN became under the ownership of CBS Radio, which decided that all of their radio stations in the New York market be housed into one central building. And so, as of late 2009, WFAN’s talent have been doing their shows from studios in the TriBeCa section of lower Manhattan. However, since morning duo Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton and afternoon host Mike Francesa conduct shows that are simulcast on television (MSG Network and YES Network, respectively), they require their own exclusive studios, each possessing a distinctive aura.

Enter the CBS Sports Radio Network, which started broadcasting this week and operates out of New York. And it looks like CBSSR is also being run in the same building as CBS’ New York news, talk and music stations. That much was revealed at the beginning of Mike Francesa’s show on Friday afternoon, as he complained about what used to be his personal studio being left unkempt by the WFAN co-hosts that precede him every weekday, Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts.

“We have everybody in the same studios now,” Francesa explained. “We don’t have enough room here, because the network’s next door.”

Time will tell if such rants will become a regular occurence on “Mike’s On”, or if CBS seeks out additional space for its broadcasting properties.

“It’s disgusting,” Francesa said. “I’m neat. I can’t deal with that stuff.”

Looks like there’s a real-life version of “The Odd Couple” on sports radio in New York.

The full transcript of Francesa’s rant is below – but it’s worth hearing what some are already calling “the best opening in sports radio history.” The person at YES running the Twitter account dedicated to Francesa’s show seems to agree.

“I’ve gotta fumigate when I come in here now. Everyone uses my studio now. And now, they, it, it, they can’t e — oh, my God. Have your producers clean up after you if you can’t clean up. Geez! Coffee stains, garbage all over the place, God almighty. Ugh. I have to — we have everybody in the same studios now, because we don’t have enough room here, because the network’s next door. So, I’ve got Joe and Evan on top of me, and they can’t even come in the studio before 1 o’clock, and then the place is a mess. I gotta spend ten minutes cleaning it before we come on the air. So… fixed the things, everything’s knocked down, I mean, it’s just unbelievable. I’m glad – I’m glad I don’t let them in my house. Geez. My God. Microphone, ugh. God. I need a half hour in between (our shows) to fumigate it. Geez. All right, we begin on a Friday — nice way to start, but you know, listen, the place is a me — come on, there’s coffee stains all over the place, there’s stuff, there’s papers… you know, tissues, ugh. It’s disgusting. I’m neat. I can’t deal with that stuff. Ugh.”

Did Mike Francesa Actually Cancel The New York City Marathon?

The biggest critic of the New York City Marathon being run in the wake of Hurricane Sandy was WFAN/YES Network host Mike Francesa. Which is why many are attributing its eventual cancellation to his irate on-air rants, including one former NYC marathon runner, who says Francesa “never ran more than ten steps in the last thirty years.”

As Superstorm Sandy (nee Hurricane Sandy) swept into the Northeast, paralyzing millions of residents in terms of their power, their gas tanks, their living quarters, or worse, many events were either canceled or postponed, from campaign stops for both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney as the number of days until the election shrinks into the single digits, to an all-important Google event. (And really, who doesn’t like them some Google?)

In addition, there were several sporting events, particularly in the New York area, that were affected by Sandy: what was supposed to be the first major sporting event in Brooklyn in 55 years on Thursday night, a crosstown matchup between the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets (nee the New Jersey Nets), will actually be a Barclays Center opener on Saturday night vs. the Toronto Raptors. The Knicks’ home opener at Madison Square Gardem on Friday night went on as scheduled, and the Giants’ game against the Pittsburgh Steelers is a go for Sunday afternoon, despite the Steelers’ inability to stay in the New York area the night before the game, or some means of transportation not being restored this weekend, which could serve as an inconvenience to fans attending the game.

But there was one annual event that was scheduled to take place this weekend. It’s an event that has encapsulated all five boroughs of New York City since 1970: the New York City Marathon. Originally a single race, but split into two races for male and female participants in just its second year of existence, the marathon, like so many other landmarks in sports, have fallen victim to corporate sponsorship, having been known as the ING New York City marathon since 2003.

Three days before the 43rd edition of the marathon (42nd for the ladies) was scheduled to run, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was adamant that it would not be sidelined by Sandy, insisting “it’s a great event for New York.”

Which is true – but only if New York itself is in great shape.

Especially the borough of Staten Island, where the annual trot of thousands begins.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s steadfast stance on the marathon despite post-Sandy conditions did not sit well with Mike Francesa, the Mayor of sports in New York City (not to be confused with the Mayor of sports in San Antonio, Mike Taylor).

As WFAN added an FM simulcast, the station’s popular afternoon drive host did not mince words, spending a great deal of his program on Thursday and Friday bashing Bloomberg.

Some choice quotes:

“The fact that the marathon is still going on is mind-boggling… You have people with no power. (In) Staten Island, they’re still recovering bodies. It’s ridiculous. They’re trying to kick people who are displaced out of hotels for runners. Thank God there are some runners now who are not running in protest.

“How can you do this? And if the idea is to show that New York is above it, and to make the mayor look good, knock it off… Instead of putting people on a marathon, put them in places where they can help. Have people orchestrate to get more workers in here… We’ve got a crisis, this is not getting better… We’re not making a lot of progress.

“If Bloomberg’s ego is so big that he wants to show the world we can do this on his watch, you know what? You want to show us something on your watch? Get the power on… The city is still dark and you’re running a marathon. His legacy will be that he approved a marathon through a city that was dark, and they’re digging out bodies. Someone’s got to get to him, whack him on the side of the head and tell him, ‘Hey, mayor, listen, I know you’re bright and I know you think you’re a genius, but this is a bad decision.’

“This will be something that the mayor will regret forever if he doesn’t change his mind.”

Listen to the open of his November 1 broadcast and the entire hour of his November 2 broadcast below:

At just after 5 PM on Friday afternoon, or less than 48 hours before an estimated 45,000 runners were set to go, Mayor Bloomberg announced that the event had been canceled. In a statement, he argued that while resources used in the citywide recovery of Hurricane Sandy would not be diverted in any way by the running of the citywide marathon, “it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division… We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event – even one as meaningful as this – to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track.

“We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it.”

Social networking played a heavy hand in this decision. Millions of Americans, led by angry residents of New York City, some of which are still without power or shelter, took to Twitter to oppose Bloomberg’s original intention of running the marathon in Sandy-battered boroughs like Brooklyn. This was also the case on Facebook, where even the page of the marathon’s corporate sponsor, ING, had felt the wrath of incensed people.

There were also plenty of incensed folks checking in on websites such as Barstool Sports.

But certainly, the most incensed of them all was WFAN and YES Network personality Mike Francesa.

In fact, some believe his ire for Bloomberg in the wake of his original plan, his rants that were heard on 50,000 watts on the AM dial (and later 6,200 watts on the FM dial) and multiplied across the world via streaming, and of course, television, were so effective that people are giving him credit for single-handedly canceling the running of the 2012 ING New York City Marathon.

And it’s not just the expected callers that praised Francesa for putting a kibosh on the race. This was the vibe on Twitter in the 5 PM hour, moments after the race was called off:

Likewise, folks on Facebook believe the radio host was partly, if not fully, responsible for the cancellation of the marathon. Folks like Russel Harvey, a past NYC marathon participant who labeled Francesa “a fathead who blabs on the radio, and never ran more than ten steps in the last thirty years, and that was probably [able] to catch a cab.” He added that calling off the marathon “defeats the beauty and ideal of the sport” of running, and vowed: “If I were still living in [New York], I would run the course, on my own, and I encourage everyone who had intended to run on Sunday to do just that.”

So, was it indeed possible for a “radio fathead” to have major influence in the cancellation of the New York City Marathon? Consider the time it was officially called off: after 5 PM on a Friday afternoon, usually considered a “news dump” in terms of relevance of information. Yet it’s also considered peak listenership in afternoon drive programs, such as Francesa’s.

And note how Bloomberg labeled the outrage against the running of the marathon “divisive.” The definition of the word is as follows: “Tending to cause disagreement of hostility between people.” Well, Francesa was doing that on the air for twenty years with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo. And there have been many other radio hosts, be it sports talk or political talk, that have been referred to as “divisive” – including Francesa’s former WFAN colleague Don Imus by then-Senator Barack Obama. (Of course, what Imus said five years ago that earned those remarks from Obama were a different sense of divisiveness.)

Whether or not Mike Francesa wants to claim responsibility for the 43rd running of the New York City Marathon being canceled, you can’t help but think he had at least a little pull in the decision.

Looks like that new FM signal for WFAN is working wonders.

AUDIO/VIDEO: Don Imus Joins Mike Francesa On WFAN’s 25th Anniversary Show

Don Imus appeared on WFAN for the first time since his firing in 2007, as Mike Francesa brought him in as part of the station's 25th anniversary special. Imus thanked Francesa for putting his "job on the line" in the wake of the comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team that led to his departure from WFAN, as well as MSNBC.

WFAN is celebrating is 25th anniversary. And Mike Francesa has long argued that it would not even have lasted 25 months, had it not been for the show that Don Imus hosted every morning.

So naturally, Francesa welcomed the longtime WFAN morning man, whom he referred to as “my old friend” and “the smartest man I ever knew”, on the program, because as Francesa told listeners on WFAN, as well as viewers on YES Network, “it would not be a 25th anniversary program without” him.

In his first appearance on the station since his controversial ouster five years ago – though his likeness was actually heard on their air back when the station commemmorated their 20th anniversary – Imus, speaking by telephone from New Mexico, began by joking, “I’m out at the ranch currently, trying to figure out how to breathe.”

Certainly, WFAN was able to breathe a little easier ever since the move from AM 1050 to the blowtorch at AM 660.

“Emmis Broadcasting, Jeff Smulyan, I guess he bought ‘NBC,” explained Imus, because ‘FAN had already been established on 1050… which you can’t hear, by the way, if you parked next to the transmitter in your car.”

A laughing Francesa, in perhaps a veiled swipe at his competitor, ESPN Radio, which up until April had only been heard on AM 1050, replied, “That’s true.”

Imus: “So that was moved over then, to where we were at 660, which is where you guys are now, which is one of the great signals in the history of broadcasting; at night, you can hear ‘FAN in 38 states.”

“And then, we inherited you,” Francesa said to Imus.

“At that point, the sports talk thing, which is a great idea – it was Smulyan’s idea, I believe – was not taking off [due to] a number of things; they didn’t have any great talent, I don’t think they did, I don’t want to disparage anybody; and then, they had a horrible signal [on 1050]. So by coming to 660, getting us, I think that’s some decent talent, and then along came you and Mad Dog…”

“And the thing took off,” Francesa added, “thanks to you.

“As I always told people, how do you start a sports talk station? I said, ‘go get Don Imus, that’s the way you start, and you take it from there’, because without you, it never would have got off the ground. You carried us for a long time before any of us figured it out.”

And just as he had told Chris “Mad Dog” Russo earlier, Francesa let it be known that Imus has not only greatly influenced WFAN, but the “Mike And The Mad Dog” show, as well.

“There wouldn’t be a Mike and the Mad Dog, or an ‘FAN, without you,” Francesa informed Imus. “You carried us for a long time before we kinda figured everything out, so this is all credit to you.

“It was a wonderful run that I will never forget, both the years with Dog – which I’ve tried to forget through the years as much as I possibly could – and obviously, the time with you.”

Francesa remembered how, on some days right before his show started, he would spend quality time with Imus in his office, “and someone would come down and talk to us, and we’d have him running down the hall within five minutes.”

“I was a horrible influence on you,” Imus recalled. To which Francesa countered, “You taught me everything I knew, as a matter of fact.

Francesa remembered one morning, in anticipation of WFAN’s move to 660, doing the sports updates for Don Imus’ WNBC-AM show. “You couldn’t have been worse to me if –”

Imus: “That’s not true.”

“You were terrible to me that day.”

“That’s just lies.”

“Oh, you were throwing your gum at me and stuff –”

“That was a form of affection; it had to be.”

“And then after that, you learned to love me, so it’s unbelievable.”

Francesa also reminisced about when he started filling in for the precursor to “Mike And The Mad Dog” on WFAN, Pete Franklin. Imus immediately jumped in with a “Brief Franklin” crack – he had been on the air for about as long as WFAN was on 1050 – then added, “What a psycho.”

Imus then shared what may have been the weirdest moment during his tenure at WFAN – a moment that turned out to be an inpatient stay.

“[Mark] Chernoff was reminding me that one time… at ‘FAN, my lung collapsed when I was on the air.”

Francesa: “Is that true?”

“Yeah. So I’m doing the show, and Bernie and Lou are making fun of me, because I’m gasping for air… I didn’t know what it was… [Joel] Hollander and Chernoff take me to the hospital for a collapsed lung… Long story short, I had to have a lung operation, which was horrible… So Chernoff and Hollander would come see me all the time, they were great… They come over to see me, and they had moved me to another room for some reason. So they go in the room, the beds were all made up. I thought I was dead.”

“No,” Francesa advised Imus, “you got it wrong, they were hoping you were dead… after what you put them through.”

Imus: “They got me on the days I wasn’t drinking and doing drugs.”

Francesa told Imus that he remembered when “Imus In The Morning” emanated right from Imus’ hospital bed. “You went in, got your lung done, and you didn’t miss one show the whole time,” an amazed Francesa remarked. “I think you did a show from the operating room one morning.”

In closing, Imus had heartfelt words for Francesa: “I’ll always appreciate, for the rest of my life, the loyalty of both you and certainly Chernoff, and by the way, Mad Dog… You guys are very standup guys. A lot of people don’t know that you actually put your job on the line and tried to save mine, and I really appreciate it. It all worked out fine and God bless you.”

In April 2007, after WFAN had fired Don Imus as a result of the backlash following his infamous “nappy headed hos” comment, the station had been placing various substitute hosts in morning drive for several months – for the first two weeks of this period, it was none other than Mike and the Mad Dog, who had actually done both the morning shift and their regular afternoon drive program on WFAN later in the day. And while Imus had been dismissed by WFAN and MSNBC, the program was still being syndicated via Westwood One for a short time thereafter, so some listeners across the country – that is, those who didn’t jump ship when Imus got the ax – got to hear “Mike and the Mad Dog” in Imus’ old timeslot – on Imus’ old affiliates.

And while Imus returned to national radio via Citadel (since acquired by Cumulus last year), WFAN is thriving in morning drive with “Boomer And Carton.”

So when Don Imus tells Mike Francesa, “it all worked out fine,” it has – on both sides.

The final words of Don Imus on WFAN on their 25th anniversary, five years after being fired from the station: “May the ‘Fan have 25 more.”

(Click here to watch video of Mike Francesa’s interview with Don Imus from the WFAN 25th anniversary show.)

(Click here to download Mike Francesa’s interview with Don Imus from the WFAN 25th anniversary show.)

AUDIO: Chris Russo Joins Mike Francesa On WFAN's 25th Anniversary Show

Chris "Mad Dog" Russo joined his former radio colleague Mike Francesa on WFAN's 25th anniversary show. The duo ruled afternoon drive during their radio run, which lasted just short of nineteen years.

The last time Mike Francesa and Chris Russo got together was at the Super Bowl in Indianapolis earlier this year. From that appearance, it was as if the afternoon drive show they hosted for nearly two decades on WFAN/New York, “Mike And The Mad Dog,” was still going strong. Their chemistry is that strong.

So, of course, when Russo appeared on a special six-hour Francesa program commemmorating the 25th anniversary of WFAN signing on the air, the two naturally picked up right where they left off.

“Dog and I have actually been apart since August of ’08, but it’s almost like you can flip a switch and start over,” Francesa told WFAN listeners, as well as viewers on YES Network.

“It’s amazing,” Russo affirmed.

Russo spent nearly an hour on Francesa’s program, as he and Francesa reminisced about their long-running WFAN show, which aired from the 5th of September, 1989, through the 5th of August, 2008. None of these years more impactful than year one.

“Our lives changed dramatically that first year,” Francesa told Russo.

“Mike And The Mad Dog” would also impact WFAN in many positive ways – billing being an important one – even though the vibe on the air may have been negative at times.

Said Russo: “I think the first time the fans sort of acknowledged the fact that they liked what they were hearing, it gave us, ‘You know what? If we’re making money, let’s not moan and groan about this. Let’s make it as good as we possibly can’.”

Russo also argued that “Mike And The Mad Dog” had benefitted from local sports teams performing well – especially since, once upon a time, WFAN was the only game in town when it came to radio play-by-play for most teams. There would be no ESPN Radio in New York until Francesa and Russo had their dozenth year in the bag.

“‘FAN became the place to go, because you had all the games on.”

In its inception, WFAN had been broadcasting on AM 1050. Then, NBC put WNBC-AM, along with their entire NBC Radio repertiore on the block. Emmis made an offer, and the rest is history.

“The turn right in the beginning, from changing the station to 660, inheriting Don there, and then having Mike And The Mad dog take off” were the three key variables that Francesa believed contributed to the start of WFAN’s success – “Don,” of course, being Don Imus, a holdover from WNBC-Am.

“Him getting there in ’88 was huge,” Russo said of Imus, “and the switch to 660, too…”

Even though Imus, and Russo, have long since moved on from WFAN, Francesa remarked that both of them will be a part of WFAN’s legacy – even though Imus has set up shop with another radio station and syndicator, and Russo is on SiriusXM Satellite Radio with his own channel bearing his likeness.

“You deserve a tremendous amount of credit,” Francesa said to Russo. “You were an enormous part of this station’s success, and that will never, ever change. This is always home to you, and it always will be.”

While it’s obvious that WFAN was the pioneer in sports radio, it’s amazing just thinking about the head start the station had on the landscape as we know it today (and with two new networks launching this fall, it keeps getting bigger).

“Look at everything out there,” Francesa advised Russo. “There’s so much there that wasn’t there when you and I started. I mean, we pretty much had the first ten years to ourselves… It was pretty much you and me, and that was it.”

“No competition,” Russo responded.

So when will Mike and the “Mad Dog” be together again next? Will it be for WFAN’s 30th anniversary?

If the baseball gods have their way, we may not have to wait that long.”

As he ended his call with Russo, Francesa promised him: “If the Giants and the Yankees make the World Series… we’ll do a show together.”

Now that would be a home run.

Not as deep a home run as WFAN hit on the 1st of July, 25 years ago.

(Click here to download the third hour of WFAN’s 25th anniversary show, which includes all three segments of Russo’s appearance in their entirety. Also appearing on this audio file are former WFAN program director Mark Mason, and three people who had previously produced “Mike And The Mad Dog”: Bob Gelb, Chris Carlin, and Marc Malusis.)

Mike Francesa, Twitter Cop

Mike Francesa commented that not only do high-profile athletes and broadcasters have no business being on Twitter, but that it "should be against the law" if they use it. Meanwhile, the WFAN host has had no problem exhibiting Twitter-esque activity on his own radio show's smartphone app. (Image by "Matthew Funtime" via the Twitter account @MikeFrancesaNY.)

So on Tuesday afternoon, Mike Francesa had an interesting theory about Twitter. He’s of the opinion that it “should be against the law” for anybody with name recognition to be tweeting – specifically “broadcasters, media people and athletes.”

“Nobody needs to hear from any one of them,” Francesa ranted on WFAN/New York as well as on television via YES Network. “Including me, because you’re never going to catch me tweeting. It’ll never happen. I promise you, never.”

(Hear all eleven minutes of his Twitter rant here; right click to download.)

It’s a curious stand to take, especially when he swears that he will not sign up for a Twitter account. Could it be that he’s just gotten wind of the wildly popular Mike Francesa parody account on Twitter, that he’s taken such a harsh stance against the popular microblogging website?

The fact of the matter is, for such a high-profile personality on the premier sports radio station, Francesa joins Tony Paige – who hosts the overnight shift four times per week – as the only WFAN hosts without a presence on Twitter. Morning hosts Craig Carton and Boomer Esiason have operated their own Twitter accounts for years. Late morning hosts Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts share a Twitter account (though a disclaimer reads, “Ev does the tweeting”). Heck, even Steve Somers, who’s been with the station since its inception in 1987, is even on Twitter.

Meanwhile, YES Network operates a Twitter account dedicated to Francesa’s program. And once Francesa was off and running about his “Twitter should be illegal” rant, YES Network staffer Anthony Griek informed all 11,000+ followers of the account that the purpose of the @MikeFrancesaYES account is “to promote news about the show”, usually guests that Francesa is scheduled to interview on his show that day. With that, Griek also made a point to write, “For those asking, Mike does not tweet here.”

Like YES Network, WFAN has its own way of keeping listeners updated with upcoming guests. The station’s parent company, CBS, calls it the “Audio Roadshow.” Among the other features of the app, specifically designed for Francesa’s program, are a convenient WFAN audio stream, a “spot poll,” and on most days, the first thing you’ll see when you open up the app is… a sports comment written by none other than Mike Francesa? We’ve archived one from mid-February about how Francesa “saw Lin in person last night” at the Garden – as in Jeremy Lin… remember him? – on what would be the first game the Knicks would lose with Lin being a starter. (This, of course, led to unsavory headlines that got a bunch of ESPN personnel in hot water.)

“Unfortunately, I caught the Knicks on a night when they couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean,” Francesa wrote on February 18.

But wait a second… Wouldn’t Mike Francesa writing a brief blog about Jeremy Lin having nine turnovers in a game be equivalent to just going on Twitter and doing it? Even though he’s not officially on Twitter?

So Mike Francesa contends that “nobody needs to hear from” broadcasters, athletes and media types, himself included. So then why does Mike Francesa send these “un-tweets” through the “Audio Roadshow” app?

I suppose this wouldn’t be the first time Mike Francesa would be considered a hypocrite – in which case, he might get sent to Twitter jail for a long time.