As WFAN scheduling shake-ups go, it was not exactly Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton replacing Don Imus in 2007, or Maggie Gray, Bart Scott and Chris Carlin replacing Mike Francesa in 2018.
That never was the idea with the station’s latest lineup changes. Rather than a radical departure, it was a shuffling of familiar face cards triggered by Carton’s departure from the station last month.
So when the new shows premiered on Monday, there was plenty of sports talk comfort food served up by well-known characters.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Brandon Tierney and Sal Licata debuted a show called “Brandon Tierney and Sal Licata,” for some reason, rather than the catchier “B.T. and Sal.”
Next up, from 2 to 6:30 p.m., was “Evan & Tiki,” starring Evan Roberts and Tiki Barber, with Shaun Morash in a key supporting role.
Of the five voices, only Morash, who grew up in Bay Shore and came over from CBS Sports Radio, was a change of pace for regular WFAN listeners.
Is all this good, bad or indifferent?
Time will tell, especially as we learn whether ESPN’s “The Michael Kay Show” now can make ratings inroads after getting pummeled by Carton and Roberts.
The most interesting question in the new era is how the shows will walk the fine line between sports and general talk — a line the popular morning show increasingly has crossed onto the general side.
Carton was a master of non-sports sports talk, while the Xs-and-Os oriented Roberts adapted in that direction to meet him in the middle.
With Roberts now the dominant voice in the afternoon, it will be up to him to navigate that road.
He did some of both on Monday, including doses of Yankees and Mets talk and a chat about the state of the NFL running back market, a topic on which Barber naturally was strong.
But there also was plenty of general talk, including a long segment on movies that began with a daily segment on which Morash will present a five-item list at 5 p.m. to open new dialogue paths.
The freewheeling Morash is the wild card in the trio and could be a pivotal figure given Barber’s level-headed personality.
On Monday, the show sent him on an off-site stunt to run from third base to home at a baseball field near the studio to see whether he could do so faster than the Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton did Sunday against the Royals.
He could not, but he was not far behind Stanton, whom the show timed at 4.8 seconds.
“I eat doughnuts, I’m a slob and I’m one second slower than Giancarlo Stanton,” Morash said.
When SNY’s simulcast came on at 4 p.m., Roberts noted the new generic signage that read simply, “WFAN on SNY.” Keeping options open?
The midday show in recent years has been more meat-and-potatoes than the morning or afternoon programs, and Tierney and Licata followed that path.
Their show focused heavily on the state of the Yankees as they prepare for a two-day visit by the Mets this week.
Tierney is a Yankees fan and Licata roots for the Mets, a dynamic they leaned on early and often.
Licata spent the day pushing the buttons of concerned Yankees fans like Tierney by repeatedly expressing confidence in the team’s late-season prospects.
It began with a tweet in which he crowed, “Salstradamus correctly predicted a Yankees sweep on Friday when no one else believed. A METS fan teaching Yankees fans about their team. Get used to it.”
There were multiple nods to the fact both midday hosts have reputations for volatility.
“We’re wired in a very similar way,” Tierney said. “News flash for the audience: Two maniacs for the same show.”
The mood was mostly friendly, but Tierney joked about how that might not last long.
As the show signed off, he said, “Get the octagon cage up. Today we played nice.”
See you Tuesday!