ATLANTA – Mike Francesa opened the door on Monday to a potential departure from WFAN to focus solely on his app, saying the dual role “has become overly complicated.”
After first discussing the matter on the air, the afternoon host clarified his position to Newsday after his show, saying, “As I said when I returned, I did so to utilize my WFAN base to promote my new app. In negotiations and applications it has become overly complicated. That is one reason why we still don’t have a [contract] deal.
“I returned to restore FAN’s sagging ratings and revenues. That I have done in top-rated fashion. But it is awkward and there are conflicts. If I leave one, it will be the FAN. But I want it known, I really like the Entercom people. I won’t hurt them, nor will I hurt the FAN.
“If I leave it will be exclusively for the app. I will not compete locally against WFAN. I have to figure out what is right for all concerned, especially the audience.”
Earlier in the day, Francesa abruptly brought up the subject late in a monologue that primarily focused on Madison Square Garden’s decision to ban its personnel from stations owned by Entercom, WFAN’s parent company, after critical comments by Maggie Gray in August aimed at Garden executive chairman James Dolan.
He also acknowledged that his return to WFAN on May 1 after a four-month hiatus has been more awkward and uncomfortable than he anticipated.
“I tell you, it’s been an ugly 14, 15 months for WFAN, and I feel bad about that, I really do,” Francesa said on the air. “ A lot of it has nothing to do with me, and if any of it does, me coming back, if that was part of it, internally it probably was, because I think I upset the schedule, upset the apple cart.
“Maybe that was the wrong idea, maybe it wasn’t right. I knew it was going to be uncomfortable. Maybe it was more uncomfortable than I thought. It probably has been. It’s been successful. We’ve done what we had to do. I think from a business standpoint they’re thrilled.
“But still, it’s not the most comfortable thing. And we haven’t even come to a deal yet, which makes me think that maybe the app and the show don’t work together and that’s something that we’re going to have to adjust, one way or the other.
“We’re going to have to wait and see about that, because we still don’t have a deal. So maybe the app and the show can’t work together. Maybe that’s possible. And if it is, we’ll adjust.”
Francesa launched his app, at a price of $8.99 per month, in late August.
Later in the afternoon Francesa said on the air, "The app is doing extremely well. It is highly profitable in its first year." He said Entercom has been negotiating to purchase a piece of the app, which currently is owned by Francesa and CAA, the agency that represents him.