Give this to Mike Francesa on his second tour with WFAN, he hit for the cycle.
1. His overpriced app failed.
2. He has been mocked worse than ever on social media.
3. He is being crushed in the ratings.
4. And he has left WFAN in disarray.
As Francesa moves into semi-retirement, he leaves whimpering, even somehow addressing a published report of flatulence on the air. It is all very awkward.
The end of his full-time radio career will be a cautionary tale for future hosts, the same way baseball fans reference Willie Mays with the Mets. It has been ugly.
Francesa confirmed Tuesday what The Post first mentioned in September. In two months, he is moving most of his content base to Radio.com with a sliver remaining on WFAN.
At the moment, Francesa is being crushed by ESPN New York’s Michael Kay Show.
More than a few people in the industry thought Francesa sent word Tuesday to try to use a Semi-Retirement Tour, the sequel, for one late, final rally in the book. It may be a peashooter, but it is one last shot.
While Entercom had been in discussions with Francesa, there is no indication they knew that he would release a statement to Newsday on Tuesday.
Usually, these sorts of announcements are coordinated when a contract is completed. Entercom put out its own statement 90 minutes later, saying it was “still finalizing details.”
Entercom’s statement said Francesa’s role will be expanded on Radio.com, while continuing to be a part of FAN. This has been the plan since The Post’s report in September.
Entercom hopes Francesa can make Radio.com more relevant, but it is more likely to make Francesa more irrelevant.
The price for this app is right — it’s free. Francesa’s audience skews older, which generally means they are less likely to change habits.
Meanwhile, Francesa, 65, has left WFAN in serious disarray and ripe for ESPN New York — which is considering going more local — to make even more ground in the market.
With two months until a new FAN lineup is needed in place, Entercom is very leveraged after Francesa’s announcement. It has holes everywhere. In the morning, Boomer & Gio have become consistent ratings rocks in the morning. Gregg Giannotti, though, is still unsigned for next year.
In mid-day, Joe & Evan have built a nice business, but FAN has discussed breaking the pair up upon Francesa’s exit.
When Francesa left the first time, he was replaced by Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott. The show struggled in its only afternoon ratings book, losing to Kay. Entercom panicked and agreed to allow Francesa, who had no known substantial offers, to return.
CMB was moved to 1-3 p.m. and found its footing, creating a fun, easy listen. The trio, unlike Mike, sounded as if they really wanted to be there. So, Entercom fired Carlin.
Now, the executives there are considering restoring Gray and Scott to the afternoons, but potentially with a third person. That could be be Evan Roberts, one half of Joe & Evan. While nothing is close, EMB is a possibility.
There is another major issue. Scott is still unsigned. He has had talks with ESPN. Scott probably can’t wait to negotiate now.
Joe Benigno, 66, has repeatedly discussed retirement. FAN could leave him in mid-mornings, but it has no plans to build around him long-term. Up-and-comer John Jastremski could be a factor.
Radio is about stability. Francesa hung onto his ratings after Russo left and the show diminished because listeners have habits. They are difficult to change.
That is why ESPN has a major opportunity to improve its New York business. While Will Cain is the favorite, though not guaranteed, to replace Stephen A. Smith nationally, ESPN could clear that show in New York on 1050 AM, opening up a 1-3 p.m. local show on 98.7 FM.
ESPN New York’s midday show has three hosts, Dave Rothenberg, Rick DiPietro and Chris Canty. It could take one of the professional athletes and team him with Carlin in the middle of the day, giving Kay an even stronger lead in.
Francesa’s return after his retirement seemed a bad play from the beginning for FAN and him.
Francesa could’ve had his long retirement tour and joined Chris Russo in a part-time role at SiriusXM.
The legendary duo would have been able to bask in the glow of being an iconic radio show. They could have had some laughs. Their fans would have loved it.
In other words, Francesa could have gone out a king, not a jester.
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