Mike Francesa will return to his old Sunday morning time slot on WFAN, part of a sweeping change in weekend scheduling for the station as it grapples with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The changes, which will be fluid week to week as developments unfold, will feature heavy use of WFAN’s contracted weekday stars at the expense of part-time hosts.
This weekend’s schedule, posted early Tuesday afternoon, shows Joe Benigno hosting Saturday from 6 to 10 a.m., Evan Roberts 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti 2 to 6 p.m. and John Jastremski 6 to 8 p.m.
The overnight schedule features Steve Somers and Sal Licata, with Bob Salter and Rick Wolff early Sunday, then Francesa from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Damon Amendolara 1 to 4 p.m. and Maggie Gray and Marc Malusis 4 to 7 p.m., followed by Jody McDonald.
So every one of WFAN’s weekday regulars will work a weekend shift this week.
Francesa for many years worked Sunday mornings during the NFL season. The Twitter feed @BackAftaThis, which is known for chronicling Francesa’s work, first reported his imminent return to Sundays.
Francesa said on the air Tuesday that the station asked its regular hosts to help out, and that they will not be paid extra.
"Let's be honest, they're not selling a lot of ads right now," he said, later adding, "This is a way of cutting back expenses, as every business is trying to do right now . . . I do feel for the people who are not going to be doing their [weekend] shows, I really do."
It is not clear how long the new schedule will be in effect, but Francesa said he and the station have discussed bringing back his Sunday morning NFL show this autumn and that "it looks like it's going to happen."
Richard Neer and Chris Moore, two of WFAN's more prominent weekend/holiday hosts, announced changes in their status on their social media feeds late Monday.
Neer, a longtime Saturday morning host, wrote on Facebook, "I'm afraid I no longer will be with you on the FAN Saturday mornings, at least for the foreseeable future. I'll miss you all very much.”
On Tuesday morning, he thanked fans for their support and said he hoped that once the pandemic has passed, “we can spend Saturday mornings together again in some fashion.
“As I’ve written in my novels, radio is undergoing enormous changes economically and companies are pulling out all stops to survive. This virus exacerbates the problem and extreme measures are being taken.”
Neer added that he would let fans know “when we have locked down a role for me at the FAN.” He could be on as soon as Sunday night, and has the equipment in his home to allow that to happen.
In a link to his blog via Twitter on Monday night, Moore wrote:
“My WFAN shows are suspended for now, as the station, like the rest of the country, struggles with business decisions. One of the cathartic parts of being on the air in the format I'm in is being able to share myself with others and have them return the favor.
"I feel I've built a trust with my audience that is very meaningful to me and if I'm off the air for an extended period there will certainly be a void there. These are difficult times for sure, but if you have someone to share it with, feel blessed."
WFAN and ESPN New York hosts have been trying to navigate a time with no live sports using a mixture of sports discussion, current events and how they personally are dealing with the effects of the pandemic.