WFAN celebrated its 30th anniversary Thursday at Grand Central Terminal, but two of its most prominent personalities made it clear the station is not one big, happy professional family.
First, morning co-host Craig Carton ripped afternoon host Mike Francesa for “ruining his legacy” and becoming “a caricature of himself” in his final months on the job.
Francesa responded by saying his “legacy is very much intact,” his show is “every bit as good as it’s ever been,” and that Carton and co-host Boomer Esiason are driven by jealousy to attack him.
Carton spoke shortly after his show went off the air at 10 a.m. as part of a wide-ranging interview in which he was asked to talk about Francesa’s legacy for a story planned for later this year.
Francesa, whose final WFAN show is set for Dec. 15, answered back after being apprised of Carton’s remarks shortly before going on the air at 1 p.m.
“I think he’s ruining his legacy,” Carton said. “I think that when you take stock of a 30-year career that’s had — like any other career, amazing highs and some really bad lows — I think what people are going to remember, good or bad, is how you went out.
“I think whatever legacy fans of Mike think he has, and he’s got, obviously, a storied career, I think he’s done great damage to the legacy. I think there are aspects of what he does that have become kind of a caricature of himself. I don’t think that he is what he once was, 15, 20 years ago, as the foremost authority on a lot of sports.
“I think he’s embraced that, too, which is an interesting dynamic for me, as somebody who doesn’t get along with him. But I think Mike Francesa of 10 years ago never would have made the mistakes he makes today and never would have allowed that rhetoric, which it is, to be said about him.
“But, listen, 30 years is 30 years. I would say as a radio guy I have tremendous respect for anyone who can stay in that position in this market for as long as he has.”
Later, Carton added, “It’s sad to me that when he walks out the door there’s not going to be a lot of people in the industry that are all that sad about it.
“To me, why not go out with friends and with people saying great things about you as opposed to, ‘Hey, look at him counting down the clock.’ . . . If you could write your own goodbye story, why wouldn’t you want to write it from a positive standpoint?
“All the great things you did, all the ratings success, all the people’s lives you may have touched, as opposed to guys who have these Twitter accounts, and they’re accurate, on the things you do wrong or how you might mistreat people, how you yell and scream at people for no reason. I just don’t know why he wanted to go out that way. That’s me, though.”
Said Francesa: “My show is every bit as good as it’s ever been. They dwell on any possible mistake I make, because they’re jealous and every part of their thing is just so possessed by everything I do.
“I have no interest in them, so when they make mistakes — and they make plenty — I would have no interest in even citing it, because I have no interest in their show. My show is as good as it’s ever been. That’s no question.
“My legacy is great, and that’s why they’ve always been behind me in every possible part of this business, whether it’s awards, polls, people’s perceptions, they’ve always been behind me and they’ll always be behind me, and that’s their problem, not mine.
“I don’t know if it’s Boomer’s as much as Carton’s, because I don’t listen to the show, but it’s clearly Carton’s, and you know what, it means absolutely nothing to me.
“Let the people that matter, the public and the people who do actually objectively judge things, let them decide. From that standpoint I keep getting voted No. 1 every year in every single poll, so unless people are just really not seeing what they should be seeing, my legacy is very much intact.”