Mike Francesa: Editorial control played role in his departure from YES

WFAN afternoon radio host Mike Francesa at the WFAN afternoon radio host Mike Francesa at the beginning of his show. (June 19, 2012) Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

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Mike Francesa confirmed Monday that his radio show no longer will be simulcast on the YES Network after Jan. 31, a development he attributed in part to . . . Alex Rodriguez!

"Was A-Rod an issue? I'm sure he was, at some level; I guarantee he was," Francesa said on the air, a reference to the in-studio interview last month in which Rodriguez gave his side in his ongoing dispute with Major League Baseball over his 211-game suspension.

Francesa appeared to be alluding to the Yankees' presumed displeasure with him for providing Rodriguez a platform on a channel they partially own, as well as for his relatively sympathetic take on the A-Rod controversy.

While Francesa's tone was appreciative and he praised YES for being "great partners in every way" since 2002, he suggested YES and/or the Yankees eventually grew tired of their inability to control his content.

"It never is one reason," he said. "You'll see [reported] that economics is an issue . . . Economics is always an issue; that's just the way it is. Is it the only issue? No, it's not the only issue. There are other issues.

"Editorial control is definitely an issue; it always has been an issue. It's always been a touchy issue. It almost ended the show a couple of times through the years . . . It's always been an issue. If they tell you it's not an issue, they're not telling you the truth."

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A YES spokesman declined to comment on those remarks.

The original "Mike and the Mad Dog" simulcast, which Francesa said was the late George Steinbrenner's idea, was a pioneering show in what has become a common practice. Now it will end just as WFAN becomes the Yankees' radio home for 2014, which would have been a natural fit.

Francesa's simulcast is expected to be replaced by another neat fit: Michael Kay's ESPN New York radio show. Kay is YES' Yankees play-by-play man.

(It is not clear where Kay will do the show during baseball season; CBS, which owns WFAN, has local radio rights at Yankee Stadium, and Kay has not been permitted to host his radio show inside the building.)

Francesa is likely to land on another television outlet, perhaps MSG, which made an offer for his show in 2009 that YES matched. He said he has not had any substantive discussions yet.

Francesa said he has known since the summer that YES would not renew its contract with his show. He said there had been no discussions about a new deal and acknowledged, "It's not a cheap show; it's an expensive show." Kay's is certain to come more cheaply.

"There have been a couple of rocky days through the years," Francesa said, "but I'd say for the most part it's been a wonderful, wonderful relationship. It really has."

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