Calling it a “weird” and “sad” day, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott opened their WFAN mid-afternoon show on Friday by paying tribute to Chris Carlin, their former partner, who was let go by the station effective Wednesday.
The show opened shortly after 1 p.m. with the familiar “CMB” music, which then was stopped short in favor of the sound of crickets, and an audio snippet of someone saying, “awkward.”
“We have to laugh to keep from crying,” Gray said, then added, “Man, I’ll be honest with you, it is weird, and it is sad today.” She began to choke up, then said, “He is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had.”
Said Scott, “It is awkward. It’s a tough day, but we’re going to move on and we’re going to champion our good friend Chris Carlin.”
Ever since Mike Francesa returned to the station on May 1, 2018, displacing Carlin, Gray and Scott after four months, they were in limbo, with contracts befitting afternoon drive time hosts but a schedule that had them working on-air from 1 to 3 p.m.
Carlin widely was viewed as the most vulnerable of the three as their contracts neared expiration this December, and that view was confirmed this week.
Scott and Gray are expected to remain at WFAN, or at least at Entercom, its parent company, into 2020, in roles to be determined.
“We’re going to be a meaningful part of this radio station moving forward,” Gray said during Friday’s open.
The exact makeup of the 2020 lineup cannot be finalized until Francesa finalizes his status. He said 11 months ago he might leave WFAN again and has been in discussions with management about his future ever since.
“This is so difficult, because he’s such a good guy,” Gray said of Carlin. “You guys know Chris. He is so talented as a broadcaster. He makes it look easy and it is not. Behind the scenes he’s even better than behind the mic.
“We’re going to miss hanging out with him every day. This is a trio, and now we’re down to two.”
Scott said that he will continue to consider Carlin part of the show through the end of the year, and that if the show earns a bonus for its ratings, that Carlin would earn a part of it. The fall ratings period began on Thursday. Gray and Scott were preempted by the Yankees that day.
“This is not an easy place to walk in the door if you’re an outsider, especially with the way we came in, with a lot of scrutiny and really under a huge microscope,” Gray said.
“Having Chris Carlin is like having a WFAN passport. It’s like going to a foreign country where he speaks the language, and he brought us in. He made it so that we were accepted around here, and then by extension the audience at large, because they knew him. He was familiar to them and then they got comfortable with us.”
Carlin is a former “Mike and the Mad Dog” producer, but his relationship with Francesa has been strained for several years.
Gray and Scott both said they spoke to Carlin this week.
“I talked to the big fella; he’s good,” Scott said.
“He’s more concerned about us than himself,” Gray said, “That is him, and anyone who has a chance to know him knows that is 100 percent true.”
Said Scott, “[I am] eternally grateful for him. I’ve worked with some special hosts before, and James Brown [at CBS], I would put in that category. But now I put Chris Carlin in there as well . . . He allowed us to be us.”