Steel Dreams: Pittsburgh's "93.7 The Fan" Opens Airshift Up To The Listeners







Pittsburgh's "93.7 The Fan" will be holding public auditions for future air talent at various Steel City locations. The winner will be selected on the air on June 27. The process is similar to New York sister sports station WFAN's "Fantasy Phenom" contest, which current WFAN host John Jastremski (shown with Mike Francesa) won in 2011.

Pittsburgh’s “93.7 The Fan” will be holding public auditions for future air talent at various Steel City locations. The winner will be selected on the air on June 27. The process is similar to New York sister sports station WFAN’s “Fantasy Phenom” contest, which current WFAN host John Jastremski (shown with Mike Francesa) won in 2011.

Pittsburgh’s three-year-old FM sports talker, KDKA-FM/”93.7 The Fan,” is seeking an actual fan to host a weekly show.

The station has organized a contest, “The Next Fan Host,” which invites residents of the area, aged 18 or older, to show up at any of five designated locations, starting with Beer And Pop 4 Less this Saturday afternoon, or any of four other taverns, eateries or wireless phone stores over four nights between May 29 and June 18.

All they’re required to do is give opinions on the hot sports topics of the day (you know, kinda like what we do here at SportsRants).

The ten best entrants from these open auditions will be selected to compete in a semifinal round, with the top four advancing to a live final during Andrew Fillipponi’s nighttime show on Thursday, June 27.

If this process sounds familiar, it’s because KDKA-FM’s parent company, CBS Radio, has been implementing this concept at the original “Fan” of sports radio, New York’s 660 AM/101.9 FM WFAN. Dubbed “Fantasy Phenom,” the grand prize is the same as that of Pittsburgh’s “Next Fan Host” contest: a position on the iconic sports radio station for a year.

And it appears that all three “Phenom” winners are still with WFAN in some capacity. The first winner, Gregg Sussman, is still listed on WFAN’s website, as he occasionally can be heard doing weekend and swing duties; he’s still overseeing sports talk programming on a college radio station in Maryland, according to his LinkedIn page.

The second “Phenom” champion, John Jastremski, is the most visible of the contest’s three winners by far. He’s heard regularly on overnights, usually on weekends, and has also been heard nationwide on the CBS Sports Radio Network. And here’s a scary thought: just last week, he celebrated his 25th birthday – which makes the radio station he works for slightly one year older than him. But when you listen to “JJ After Dark,” with the energy in and on the air, you forget that you’re listening to a 26-year-old radio station – one that’s been an AM station for most of its existence (and CBS Radio is looking to fix that, in due time).

The announcement of last year’s “Phenom” champ, Joe Giglio, was about as low-key as his current association with WFAN, where his presence is mostly through a weekly column on the station’s website. But for the lead baseball writer of Bleacher Report, that’s fine with him.

There’s no plans currently available for a “Fantasy Phenom 4” contest, which would be the first one held during WFAN’s history on FM, but you can expect them to be unveiled sometime next month.

As for who will decide “The Next Fan Host” in Pittsburgh, I can’t help but wonder if “93.7 The Fan” morning co-host Gregg Giannotti – an alumnus of WFAN who has been with KDKA-FM since its inception in February 2010 – will somehow have a say in it.

Details on the contest, as well as the official rules, can be found here.

Mike Francesa Talks Islanders Hockey, And A Fight With Michael Kay Breaks Out







WEPN/New York's Michael Kay thought it was a mistake for his rival, WFAN's Mike Francesa, who beats him handily in the ratings, to open his show by talking about the New York Islanders.

WEPN/New York’s Michael Kay thought it was a mistake for his rival, WFAN’s Mike Francesa, who beats him handily in the ratings, to open his show by talking about the New York Islanders.

Mike Francesa is the most popular sports radio host in New York. In fact, he’s strong enough to carry a list of sports talkers coast-to-coast.

So it probably doesn’t matter if he even watches hockey, let alone discuss the NHL on his show.

On Wednesday’s edition of his WFAN radio/YES Network program, he actually did something that few people expected him to do: Not only did he talk about the New York Islanders, in the midst of a first-round series, tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins at two games apiece, he actually led his show with the Brooklyn-bound NHL squad.

Perhaps it was because center John Tavares, who scored in two straight playoff games, was scheduled to appear on Francesa’s program in the first half-hour.

“John Tavares on with Francesa in the first segment of the show? After a Knicks win? That’s big time,” tweeted known sports radio tweaker @AirChecked.

But there was a big-time tweaking at Francesa a couple of hours later from the fingertips of his rival, WEPN/”ESPN 98.7″ afternoon host Michael Kay:

And yes, at one point, Francesa actually fielded a call from a listener asking him of he was aware of what people on Twitter were saying about him and his radio opponent.

Anyway, here’s more Twitter feedback regarding Francesa vs. Kay:

Mike Francesa Attended Easter Mass At A Long Island Church (Photos)







WFAN/YES Network's Mike Francesa appeared at a Manhasset church for Easter Sunday mass.

WFAN/YES Network’s Mike Francesa appeared at a Manhasset church for Easter Sunday mass.

Yes, today is April 1.

However, this year, April Fool’s Day happens to fall right after Easter Sunday.

And there just so happens to be a couple of photos circulating of Mike Francesa attending an Easter Sunday mass at a Manhasset, Long Island church.

One reason to be skeptical is that being largely unavailable to the public is one of Francesa’s specialties. And even when he does make a public appearance, he can’t get any peace and quiet, it seems.

But according to one of Francesa’s fellow parishioners, it doesn’t seem like there was any holy hecklement hurled his way. In fact, he even sang along with some of the psalms, says the testamental tipster.

Rather than scare him away by saying “hello,” he decided to stealthily snap a couple of photos and send them in to Barstool Sports. (It’s important to point out that Barstool has the original photos, because, well, I don’t want to be accused of ripping them off, or anything.)

And if it was a doppelganger that looked a lot like Mike Francesa and not the “Sports Pope” himself? Well, it wouldn’t be the first time he punked us (or he would have you believe, anyway).

Net Worth: Boomer And Carton Shine Working Brooklyn Nets Radio Broadcast On WFAN







Boomer Esiason might have been following his beloved New York Rangers, but he and his WFAN colleague Craig Carton gave it their all during their radio broadcast of the Brooklyn Nets/Washington Wizards game.

Boomer Esiason might have been following his beloved New York Rangers, but he and his WFAN colleague Craig Carton gave it their all during their radio broadcast of the Brooklyn Nets/Washington Wizards game.

Boomer Esiason has worked alongside notable announcers during his decade and counting working the radio broadcasts of “Monday Night Football”: Howard David, Marv Albert, and currently, Kevin Harlan.

On Friday night, Boomer would add another name to that list: Craig Carton.

That’s right: The top-rated (and should-be-syndicated, IMHO) morning duo on New York’s WFAN were working the radio broadcast of the Brooklyn Nets/Washington Wizards game. It was clearly an experiment that the station agreed to do with the Nets, who produce their own radiocasts and purchase airtime for clearance on WFAN. Before Friday night, Carton has had no play-by-play experience on his resume that we know of (late in the game, Esiason noted that Carton called a game “once every five years”). (Update: I’m told the two also worked a Nets/Celtics radio broadcast for WFAN last year. So this apparently was not their first rodeo – well, it was in Brooklyn; last year was the Nets’ last in New Jersey.)

But the Nets certainly knew what they were getting.

Who knows if that was also the case for their foe for the evening, the Wizards, who own one of the worst records in the league. In fact, they’re third in the Eastern Conference’s Southeast Division, if you can believe it, and that’s by virtue of two other teams, the Orlando Magic and the Charlotte Bobcats, owning even worse records than the Wizards (in fact, with the Miami Heat winning their seventeenth straight game on Friday night, they’ve already clinched the first berth for this year’s playoffs – and there’s still another month or so of regular season games to be played).

But with the Wizards trailing by upwards of twenty points in the very first quarter, as Nets point guard Deron Williams converted on seven three-pointers en route to a record nine treys in a half, and falling one shy of the single-game record of twelve, it predictably provided fodder for Carton’s work at Barclays Center. After Wizards point guard A.J. Price got his first points of the game, pulling his team to within 19 points of the Nets, it was an opportune time for a “TV timeout” with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the quarter. Or, as Carton saw it, “All you have to do is score a basket, and [Nets head coach] P.J. Carlesimo says, ‘I’ve seen enough’.”

When the first quarter was completed, Carton took radio listeners to break by alerting them, “this is not a typo,” and after announcing the score after a dozen minutes of play was Nets 38, Wizards 14, he joked, “You can go home now.”

And while the Wizards would ultimately lose to the Nets, 95-78, they almost served up a little humble pie to Carton, who likened the Wizards to “a D-League team” that the Nets had “better beat… by forty points”: Washington outscored Brooklyn 25-15 in the third quarter, much to the chagrin of Carton, who midway through the third quarter feared the Wizards would actually go on a run and turn this into a competitive game.

With the Wizards trailing the Nets by just sixteen points as the final quarter started, Carton admitted: “I can’t believe they made it a game… but they made it a game.”

There are some that thought Carton, in particular, was a bit too harsh on the 19-41 Wizards, with ten of those wins coming over their last nineteen contests. “I thought Craig Carton was beyond unprofessional in calling the Nets game,” tweeted noted WFAN listener Leslie after the game. “It was disgusting to even hear what he had to say about the Wizards… He was a jerk.”

Some could easily share that opinion. But really, what else do you expect from a team that ranks dead last in the league in scoring? And with all due respect to Washington, what New Yorker didn’t enjoy this one-liner from Carton as WFAN returned from a Wizards timeout, after the team was trailing 22-2, which included a six-pack of three-pointers by Williams: “If your subway was late getting to the building, you missed everything!”

Esiason also showed some of that color analyst luster that he exhibits on “Monday Night Football.” As the third quarter winded down, a quarter in which Williams went just 1-6 with a turnover, he acknowledged: “I think Williams is getting a little tired.”

That one shot Williams did convert during that quarter, naturally, was a trey – and it was at that point that Carton finally decided to work the familiar “Hello! La la la” phrase from his radio show into the call.

Williams would make his final three with 1:39 to go. But he would get the opportunity to take another outside shot. Carton: “They’re trying to get him the record. Frankly, that’s a bit offensive.”

And of course, the duo would display that same chemistry that they normally do for four hours every morning. “Deron Williams is feeling it right now,” Esiason said after the player made his seventh trey in the first eight minutes of the game. Countered Carton: “I’ve never had a night like this.”

The low points, in my opinion, were when each of them went off the beaten path during live reads – Boomer, after assessing the Applebee’s slogan “See you tomorrow” vowing, “Well, I won’t be there”; Carton struggling through the pronunciation of the name of a Brooklyn hospital, Maimonides. While even I will admit that, at first look, “Maimonides” could be a bit of a pronunciation challenge, keep in mind that sports, and radio, is a business, and keeping the sponsors happy is vital. I would have practiced how to pronounce “Maimonides” on the side during a timeout, but that’s just me. Also, Carton pronounced the first name of Deron Williams as “Darren” way too often throughout the game (and when Williams claimed the three-pointers-in-a-half record as his own, the Barclays Center crowd chanted, “De-ron,” which led Carton to debate out loud whether or not they were chanting “De-ron” or “Darren”).

While I won’t stop short of saying Esiason and Carton put the lotion in the basket (to borrow an idiom the latter of the duo used a few times during the broadcast), I must say they were certainly a stimulating listen. As someone who has not seen or heard a Nets game from start to finish since the 1990’s, this was more of an event for me than a casual sports event. And regardless of the opinion that the two are Knicks fans – and there was even a running bet that Boomer would be watching the Rangers game during his Nets assignment – I don’t think Nets fans would mind them returning to the radio booth again – perhaps against a more formidable opponent than the Wizards.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, the regular Nets radio announcing duo of Chris Carrino and Tim Capstraw were both in the building: Carrino was working the play-by-play on YES Network alongside Greg Anthony (YES’ usual Nets announcer Ryan Ruocco, who moonlights as a radio host on ESPN New York/98.7 FM alongside Stephen A. Smith, was at Barclays Center as well, tweeting updates throughout the game). After the game, Carrino and Capstraw reverted to the radio booth for the Nets postgame show on WFAN, and hearing Boomer and Carton assume their roles, according to Capstraw, was “a whole lot of fun,” adding that Carton in general was “really talented and entertaining.”

After the game, both Carton and Esiason thanked the Nets organization on-air. And Boomer thought his WFAN morning mate “did one hell of a job” calling the contest. “It just kind of came out naturally, and you did a good job.”

And for someone who exclusively works NFL radio broadcasts, Esiason did a commendable job analyzing this basketball game.

Even Al “Dukes” Hughes, who produces the WFAN morning program, was involved in this broadcast, providing “fun facts” about the year-old Barclays Center during the game. “This is pretty good,” he said. “I might start watching basketball games.”

If Craig Carton and Boomer Esiason made this a semi-regular thing, it might just make people start listening to basketball games.

Here’s a small sample of the game – including Dukes’ appreciation for the state-of-the-art urinals at Barclays Center.

Also, click here to listen to a composite of Carton calling all eleven Deron Williams three-pointers.

Mike Francesa To Deliver Sports Radio Keynote Speech At Talkers Magazine 2013 Convention







WFAN sports god Mike Francesa will be a keynote speaker at the Talkers Magazine seminar this year - but unless you're connected to the radio industry, you'll be getting the handwave treatment.

WFAN sports god Mike Francesa will be a keynote speaker at the Talkers Magazine seminar this year – but unless you’re connected to the radio industry, you’ll be getting the handwave treatment.

It only makes sense that the host that topped Talkers Magazine’s first-ever “heavy hundred” list devoted exclusively to sports, appears at the publication’s popular annual convention.

Talkers has confirmed that Mike Francesa, afternoon drive host on WFAN/New York (whose show is also simulcast on YES Network), is scheduled to give a keynote speech titled, “The Sports Talk Radio Phenomenon,” at their event this summer. Note that I wrote “a keynote speech”; there will likely be a popular personality from the general talk radio genre that will be giving an address at the same event.

But because sports talk radio has become a phenomenon – two new sports radio networks launching last fall, need I say more? – it’s apropos that Talkers reaches out to a sports talk radio phenomenon himself in Mike Francesa.

“The addition of Mike Francesa as the sports talk radio keynote speaker at this year’s conference puts it over the moon,” says Talkers publisher Michael Harrison. “One of the big buzzes of the business is the relentless growth of this exciting branch of the talk radio universe… We are delighted.”

In past years, WFAN talent like morning co-host Boomer Esiason, who just last year received an award presented by Talkers for outstanding community service, as well as Craig Carton and Richard Neer have made appearances at the magazine’s event, which in recent years had been dubbed the “New Media Seminar.”

But it’s true that in its sixteenth year of existence – a year in which the event will simply be called “Talkers New York 2013” – they’ve booked the current most sophisticated sports radio host to date. Why, in just the last few months, he single-handedly canceled the running of the New York City marathon in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, while on the other side of the coin, wasn’t all that concerned about the recent winter storm known as Nemo that rolled through the Northeast. (Of course, that wouldn’t be the first time he would be asleep at the wheel.)

If you wish to attend this year’s festivities, which will take place Thursday, June 6 at the Concierge Conference Center, it costs just $199 per registration per person.

And if the cost, which to some is quite reasonable, isn’t appealing, consider this: Talkers is only allowing “members of the working media” to attend the convention, which was originally a two-day weekend affair in New York open to everyone; as of last year, the event has branched out into both coasts, with an annual convention based in Los Angeles in the fall. Harrison himself told me that the event has “grown consistently over the years,” and the implementation of two annual events in the top two radio markets is proof.

Anyone with interest in the sports radio genre that has broadcasting connections should take advantage and make their reservations for this event. Speaking as someone who experienced the 2008 seminar, it’s a lot of fun if you’re into radio – talk radio, especially.

And if you don’t? Maybe you can win your way in by playing some Super Bowl trivia.

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 Defends Snow Job, Claims "No One Died" During Winter Storm Nemo







Mike Francesa's cluelessness was on full display as Winter Storm Nemo delivered up to 40 feet of snow - far more than the "three inches" he said it would bring. (Photo composite/credit: Matthew Funtime.)

Mike Francesa’s cluelessness was on full display as Winter Storm Nemo delivered up to 40 inches of snow – far more than the “three inches” he said it would bring. (Photo composite/credit: Matthew Funtime.)

Many people strive to give a 100% effort.

Mike Francesa, on the other hand, is perfect, only in his own mind.

There’s been several occasions where the WFAN/New York and YES Network afternoon personality has gotten it wrong. He once said after the New York Giants won Super Bowl XLII that he picked them to win, despite him actually saying he sided with the Patriots going into the big game. There was the huge exaggeration that Tim Tebow would not appear in the same room as Rosie O’Donnell due to “her lifestyle,” only to find the two within inches of each other on Rosie’s radio show, moments later. And Francesa claims that ESPN has banned their personnel from appearing on his show, and WFAN, in general; then, come Heisman Trophy time, who should come wandering into his Lionel train-laden but the Worldwide Leader’s dean of college football, Kirk Herbstreit.

His track record is so spotty, he should become a meteorologist.

In fact, as Winter Storm Nemo approached the East Coast late last week, Francesa actually seized that opportunity, as he nonchalantly predicted that New York City would only get “a dusting” once the dust, er, snow settled.

He predicted this on his show Thursday, as he went back and forth with a caller on his not taking the storm seriously. Toward the end of this clip, he has to read “the official weather forecast for the New York metropolitan area” in an attempt to cover his ass.

So the “dusting” that Francesa was prognosticating actually turned into forty inches of snow in Connecticut. And in New York, it was enough for airports to cancel thousands of flights, and for the Governor to declare a state of emergency. Oh, and there were close to 10,000 power outages over the weekend in New York, mostly in Francesa’s backyard of Long Island.

I wouldn’t be surprised if that generator of his was collecting dust last week.

So now, here we are on Monday, where Francesa had to spend the first hour or so of his program, not only making the argument that “I never told you how much snow was coming,” but he dismissed the New York Daily News item I linked right above the video as a “fabrication,” contending that “the idea that I made this huge prediction about how there was not going to be a big snowstorm is a total lie.”

And it was around that time that Francesa, flaunting the ice water in his veins, showed how cold-hearted he truly is by informing – or in this case, misinforming – a caller that there were no casualties as a result of Winter Storm Nemo. Listen as he utters at around 0:35: “No one died in the storm.”

No one, Mike? How about fifteen people? Or did you multiply that figure by your meteorology knowledge – which is zero?

This was the complete opposite of the angry, concerned Mike Francesa who urged New York City to cancel its annual marathon, which would have been run days after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc in the area.

This was a Mike Francesa who could not and would not admit that he was wrong.

When it rains, it pours.

And Mike Francesa sure knows how to pour on the ignorance.