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Craig Carton vows he will return to radio after prison: 'I think I'd be No. 1 tomorrow'

Carton appeared on "The Michael Kay Show," saying he would return to radio as a changed man following his sentence to more than three years in jail for running a ticket-resale Ponzi scheme.

Craig Carton, left, the former WFAN morning show

Craig Carton, left, the former WFAN morning show co-host, leaves federal court after receiving a 3 1/2-year sentence for defrauding investors in a ticket reselling business on April 5, 2019, in New York. Credit: AP/Mark Lennihan

Craig Carton, the former WFAN morning show host who last Friday was sentenced to more than three years in jail for running a ticket-resale Ponzi scheme, on Monday vowed to return to radio one day and reclaim his spot atop the ratings heap.

“I think I’d be No. 1 tomorrow,” Carton said during an hour-long appearance on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN 98.7 and the YES Network. “I think [going to prison] doesn’t change my skill set or what I bring to the table. I think I’d actually be a better talk-show host . . . Going to prison, acknowledging what I’ve done wrong, talking full ownership of it – I don’t blame a damn person but myself – and being real about that, I think will have great credibility, especially with a male-dominated audience in New York.”

Carton, 50, was convicted last November of fraudulently raising more than $5 million from investors by lying about ticket deals and using their money to repay massive gambling debts and former investors. A Manhattan federal judge sentenced him to 42 months despite his plea for leniency as a victim of the “demons” of childhood rape and gambling addiction.

Carton initially ignored Kay’s first question about “the hell that you have gotten yourself into” and explained why he was telling his story not on WFAN, but on its sports talk-show rival.

“I know there’s people that think this is some kind of shot from me towards WFAN by not going on there, so I just want to be very clear about it,” Carton said. “I did go to FAN first. WFAN as a radio station couldn’t be any better to me . . . It just didn’t make sense for them because, listen, they have a new show, it’s been 19 months since I was around, a little less than that since their new show started, and it was a little uncomfortable for them. They have every right to make that decision.”

Carton said he reached out to Kay and asked to be on his show. The hour was compelling radio as Carton apologized to his former listeners and talked about the intimate details of his, as Kay put it, “fall from grace.”

On Monday's morning show on WFAN, Boomer Esiason, who co-hosted with Carton for nearly 10 years before the 2017 arrest, said Carton had wanted to appear on his show first. Esiason has co-hosted the morning show with Gregg Giannotti since January 2018. (Carton said he “be lying” if he said he wasn’t pleased the new show’s ratings are lower than when he was the co-host.)

“I think he will be back,” Esiason said on the air. “He’s just too talented not to be back."

Coming back is apparently a plan Carton already has in mind. He vowed to return as a changed man – but still an entertaining one for the people who found him entertaining in the first place.

“If you don’t change, you’re not human,” Carton said. “I think we have shown as a society that we believe in second chances.”

-- With Mark LaMonica

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