Sal Licata on air at WFAN.

Sal Licata on air at WFAN. Credit: Audacy/WFAN

Most people appreciate a job promotion, naturally. Then there is Sal Licata.

To say that he is looking forward to his new assignment as a midday co-host at WFAN would be a vast understatement.

“To get this opportunity, it’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened,” he told Newsday.

That is a mouthful for a 43-year-old who is married with a 2-year-old daughter and has been in the business for 20 years.

But that is Licata, whose passion is a large part of his appeal to listeners, most recently on the overnight shift.

Starting on July 24, he will take that enthusiasm to the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. show, where he will join Brandon Tierney, whose longtime partner Tiki Barber is moving to afternoon drive time to succeed Craig Carton alongside Evan Roberts.

The Connetquot High School alumnus grew up in Ronkonkoma listening to and calling WFAN and after a long, winding journey now feels part of the core roster.

“Oh, this is the greatest opportunity in my life,” said Licata, who still lives on Long Island. “I always wanted to be on the air and do a show and be like ‘Mike and the Mad Dog,’ but you don’t really think it through that it’s ever possible.

“It's really hard to believe and to put it into words, but I do feel a great sense of accomplishment and I could not be more excited to be on when more people are going to hear me.”

Sal Licata on air at WFAN.

Sal Licata on air at WFAN. Credit: Audacy/WFAN

Speaking of “Mike and the Mad Dog,” Licata credits former afternoon host Mike Francesa as a key early supporter and mentor.

“He’s the first person outside of myself that ever believed in me as an on-air talent,” said Licata, who both worked for and appeared on Francesa’s shows.

“He wears his emotions on his sleeve,” Francesa said of Licata. “I think to a large extent it’s that he’s personable, so he brings that, too.

“He gets a little emotional. He’s a little fly-off-the-handle type. But that works sometimes, too. When I was around, he still needed to mature, but I always got a kick out of Sal and I always thought he had something that would translate into a show eventually.”

Licata began as an intern in 2003 and hosted his first show on the Christmas Eve overnight in 2006.

WFAN fired him in 2010, when he was working as Francesa’s board operator, an event he now views as a blessing in disguise.

He was accused of threatening a station sponsor in an email, something he describes as a misunderstanding. But he also said WFAN was right to fire him.

“I made a stupid mistake that put the company in a bad spot, and I totally understand their decision,” he said.

“It was so ridiculous, and looking back, more of a miscommunication than anything else. But learning from that experience was the most valuable thing that's ever happened to me in my life and in my career.”

The pivotal moment, he said, was when his late father, Joe, who he thought was going to excoriate him, instead was supportive.

“It was the turning point in my life,” he said. “You think, ‘Oh, my God, my Dad’s going to kill me.’ And he says, ‘Don’t worry. It’s fine. You’ll be OK.’”

Licata found a path back initially on SNY — where he still works — then at WFAN in 2013, and after a detour to WOR-AM, back to WFAN.

He was named overnight host in 2021, a lifestyle he said was challenging for him and his wife, Marina.

“I feel like my life has kind of been on hold, just plowing through and dedicating myself to this so I could move up and now I have that opportunity,” he said.

“I give my wife a ton of credit for being able to deal with having a newborn while I'm working a new schedule on overnights.”

He will continue to do double duty on WFAN in middays and SNY’s “Baseball Night in New York” in the evening.

Licata and Tierney both have strong personalities, and many expect the show to feature fireworks. But Licata believes that narrative is overblown.

“This idea that we couldn't work together or it's putting two explosive guys in the same room at once and it's going to be chaos, I don't think that that's going to be the case,” Licata said.

“I think it's going to be a passionate, energetic, knowledgeable, entertaining show . . . I don’t feel like just because we have similar personality traits that it's going to be this combustible mix, nonstop yelling at each other for four hours a day.”

Licata has filled in on other shifts awaiting the official launch on July 24. He’s ready.

“I legitimately was a listener, was a caller and this was my dream,” he said. “So you better believe that every time I'm on the air, I'm excited to be on the air and to get this opportunity.

“I still can't even believe that I'm going to be part of the midday show. It's just very hard to fathom.”

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