The clock will strike 12 one last time for "Captain Midnight" on Friday, and Steve Somers is at peace with that.
"I’ve been blessed," the WFAN host said in an interview with Newsday about his 34 1/2 years at the station and his upcoming final show. "Most people don’t last this long or want to last that long.
"But the bottom line is, this was my goal. This was my dream. This was my destination. I was able to realize it."
He credited a combination of timing, luck and skill, and an openness to his quirky style and self-described "shtick."
"I’m not talking only about management at the very beginning, but also the audience," he said. "They gave me a chance. They gave me some breath. They gave me a life and they gave me a career."
Somers, 74, hinted in an interview with Newsday in March that his days at WFAN were numbered in the wake of a youth movement and the recent departures of several familiar names.
Then he confirmed last month that he would leave before the end of the year, which has inspired tributes from callers and elsewhere, a reaction he called "overwhelming."
"It’s been a blessing," he said. "It’s been an honor. It has been flattering. It’s been all of the above."
Somers said WFAN executives Chris Oliviero and Spike Eskin offered him his old overnight shift, from midnight to 5 a.m., rather than his current evening/late-night slot, and he declined.
"You know the line from ‘The Godfather,’ that ‘I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse?’ " Somers said. "They made me an offer I could refuse . . . At this point in the career, I didn’t want to do that."
But Somers described the meeting and its outcome as amicable.
"It was like sitting with two friends that I had grown up with," he said. "It was warm. It was engaging. It was light-hearted. It was matter-of-fact. It was business. But it was very, very comfortable."
He added, "I wish there had been something else [available], but there wasn’t."
Rather than have Somers sign off for the last time in the wee hours of Saturday morning after his 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift, the station scheduled a special farewell hour with guest callers for 1 to 2 p.m. on Monday.
Somers is a WFAN original and an original personality whose approach fit nights and overnights, which allowed time for his elaborate opening monologues and for getting personal with callers.
"The Schmoozer," as he was known, had a knack for consoling callers in times of stress. He said he once asked his most famous regular caller, Jerry Seinfeld, whether the actor/comedian thinks he is funny.
"He said, ‘Sometimes, but more than that, I think you have heart,’ " Somers said. "The most notable calls that I’ve ever had were basically talking to somebody who wanted to reach out, looking for a little bit of company, looking for a little bit of direction moving forward after the loss of a loved one."
Seinfeld will be on Monday's final "schmooze," a source told Newsday.
Somers said the personal connections were what made the job "a labor of love." He said he often thinks of his late parents and the brother he lost in 2019 when speaking to grieving callers.
"You sometimes think you’re never going to recover, that your heart is never going to be whole again, you’re never going to laugh again, you’re never going to be happy again," he said.
"I thought that, but my father told me, ‘You’re going to honor your mother moving forward, and you’ve got great memories of you and her, and you will move forward and progress.’ "
He added, "I know that after 34 years at this great radio station in the greatest city in the world, my mother, my father and my brother, too, would be very, very proud of me."
Somers praised his younger colleagues at WFAN, seeing in them his young, hungry, willing-to-do-anything self, who started in his native San Francisco but early on started looking east for his future.
He believes the station and the broader genre are in good hands. But his turn is over.
"What people are saying and what [the show] means to them, it blows me away," he said. "It’s not false humility. It’s been overwhelming . . . And we’re not talking ‘Mike and the Mad Dog.’ We’re not talking Imus. We’re talking some schlub working late at night, not prime time.
"But I always took overnight and late night, you name it, and approached it as if it was prime time. Always."
“The most notable calls that I’ve ever had were basically talking to somebody who wanted to reach out, looking for a little bit of company, looking for a little bit of direction moving forward after the loss of a loved one.”
— Steve Somers