Steve Somers, WFAN’s longest-serving daily host, will be leaving the station "more sooner rather than later," he said on the air early Thursday morning.
After he made several allusions to his imminent departure early in the three-hour show, callers asked him for more details in the final half-hour or so, and Somers described the decision as a "mutual thing."
"I’m at peace with it," he said. "I’m not being fired."
Somers, 74, said he was offered a return to his old overnight shift but declined it.
Shortly before 2 a.m., he told a caller, "What I’ve done before, I don’t want to do again, working five hours overnight. They made it clear that they wanted to keep me around, but the bottom line is the time period. I would need to recharge the batteries and so forth and so on.
"One thing I don’t want to do is have a farewell tour. [Mike] Francesa had that, and Joe Benigno had that, and I don’t want to go through all of the gladhanding, the hugging and the kisses and all that stuff. That would embarrass me, number one, and number two, I would rather share the information with those people who gave me the support and gave me, really, a life and gave me a career as far as that goes and that’s the audience late at night."
WFAN did not set a date for Somers’ last show. Chris Oliviero, a senior vice president for Audacy, WFAN’s parent company, issued a statement that said, "Yes, sadly it is true. Steve will be wrapping up his full-time run at WFAN sometime this fall. He is without a doubt one of the most important building blocks in the history of WFAN.
"Steve and ‘the FAN’ became stars together. The voice, the wit, the humor, the catchphrases, all iconic. Now we have to convince him to give us all, especially the listeners, a chance to celebrate him, because he is worthy of the accolades."
In a subsequent phone interview with Newsday, Oliviero reiterated his priority to arrange a proper sendoff, saying, "We do really want to do something big for him. That’s my job to coax him to do something. I’m going to make that my personal challenge."
Somers said he might return for occasional appearances as a fill-in and reiterated he will leave on good terms after speaking to WFAN executives Oliviero and Spike Eskin.
"You want to give people a chance who are young and who are talented, and this station is doing that," he said.
In an interview with Newsday in March, Somers called himself "the last one standing" from the original roster of hosts and indicated he might not be at it much longer.
"Maybe I’m the next one not standing, who knows?" he said.
He added then, "I understand where the direction of the station has gone, and I don’t have any ego problems at all, certainly not at this stage . . . I think so many of the young people at WFAN, both on the air and on the other side of the microphone, are very bright and very, very talented.
"You want to keep up with the times, and again, I totally understand where I’m at at this stage of my life and this stage of my career."
Among other things, Somers is known for his friendship with regular caller and Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld. "Jerry from Queens" returned to the show in April after a long absence.
Somers had been upset with Seinfeld for several years over what Seinfeld characterized as a misunderstanding, telling Newsday, "Ridiculous. I love Mr. Somers."