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WFAN's 'Carton & Roberts' to begin SNY simulcast on May 24

Craig Carton on air on the first "Carton

Craig Carton on air on the first "Carton & Roberts" afternoon drive show on WFAN in the station's Manhattan studios on Nov. 9, 2020.  Credit: Entercom/WFAN 101.9 FM/660 AM

The YES Network has been carrying talk radio simulcasts since 2002, and MSG did so for three years in the early 2010s. But SNY had been a holdout among the local cable sports networks.

Not anymore.

The channel will carry two hours of WFAN’s afternoon program starring Evan Roberts and Craig Carton beginning on May 24.

The simulcast was announced in March, but not the start date, which awaited details such as a new studio design.

"For Evan and I, it’s a validation that the show works, that the show’s good," Carton said on the air after making the announcement, confirming an earlier Newsday report. "We already know that, because ratings are good, but to have another media outlet want the content of the show is very satisfying and validating to the work we’ve put into it and what we put into the show . . . We’re pumped."

Steve Raab, SNY’s longtime president, in the past has not been a fan of televising radio shows. But he said in a phone interview last week that this opportunity fit so well he warmed up to the idea.

"I think it would take all those boxes to check for me to say, ‘OK, for us this is a good deal,’ " he said. "We never came close to it in the past — never."

Among those boxes was the show’s ratings popularity, its time slot leading into Mets programming — SNY will televise only a 4-to-6 p.m. slice of the five-hour program — and the improved technology for such endeavors.

"And I like the idea we’re truly selling the program together in an integrated fashion," he said. "We’ve already sold a presenting sponsorship together for both mediums." (It will be Grubhub.)

Why only two hours instead of starting at 2 p.m., when the radio show begins? YES carries the entirety of ESPN New York radio’s "The Michael Kay Show" when it does not conflict with Yankees and Nets programming.

Raab said two hours felt right, at least initially.

"[Even] two hours is a lot, to dedicate 10 hours [per week] of something new to our air," he said. "Too much of a good thing, of anything, becomes diminishing returns. But if two hours proves to be terrific and the FAN and SNY, we both decide that there’s a reason to look at expanding it, I’m sure we’ll look at that.

"But two hours felt like a pretty big commitment. It also just seemed to make sense for us, no great magic to it."

Raab said when SNY first began talking to WFAN, Carton and Roberts were early in their ratings rise. The show debuted in November, and for the quarterly winter ratings book it surpassed Kay’s show among men ages 25-54.

"We probably started the conversation as you could see the upward trajectory, and by the time we finished the deal, they were already in my view entrenched in that spot," he said.

Kay long has said that his YES simulcast ratings should be included in assessing his show’s popularity relative to WFAN. Now both in theory will lose some listeners to television.

Raab believes that will have a minimal effect on Carton’s and Roberts’ radio audience.

"I don’t see huge numbers of people whose pattern is to have listened on radio jumping over," he said. "Most people at that time of day don’t really have a choice of mediums anyway.

"It’s a radio show that’s being simulcast. It’s not being turned into a TV show. Sometimes it’s fun to see them. I get that. But I don’t see it as something that’s going to take away from radio ratings."

As for Carton himself, Raab said he respects him as a performer and is not concerned about his history of boundary-pushing content or viewers rejecting him because of his recent one-year stay in prison upon being convicted on federal fraud charges.

"I think he’s a pro," Raab said. "We’re not here to change his show or to change how he and Evan go about their show or who they are, because what we’re partnering with is who they are and what their show is.

"Do I think our audience will have an issue with Craig? I don’t think our audience is drastically different than the FAN’s audience, and they seem to have welcomed him back quite warmly."

New York Sports