Ratings loss at WFAN post Craig Carton's exit & Mike Francesa's return is painful | Bob's Blitz

Ratings loss at WFAN post Craig Carton's exit & Mike Francesa's return is painful

We recognize the interest in the Francessa vs Kay story but in only talking about that the critics are missing the forest for the trees. The real story brewing here is the ratings demise of WFAN since Craig Carton's departure in the fall of 2017. While most people think of Mike Francesa as the anchor of the station the facts seem to point out that it was actually Carton.

So we turned to a man we know in the radio know who we've turned to in the past and asked him to sum up WFAN 2018 for us. Could Carton and Michael Kay one day be teammates?


Fall Ratings are typically the bread and butter for a sports talk station. Baseball Playoffs, the return of the NFL followed quickly by the NBA and the NHL. The Fall ratings period is typically the three month period that sports talk stations excel and are able to set their advertising rates for the following year. The Spring Ratings period is second most important followed by The Winter and then Summer.

There is not a single show on WFAN with ratings over a 6.0 share. That has not happened in over a decade.

You may remember the stories about WFAN back in March when the rationale for lower than usual ratings was the fact that there was nothing going on in sports and the station was in flux. Of course that rationale was never used nor did it need to be when Carton was hosting the morning show and leading it to first place ratings.

No doubt it takes a new show some time to mesh together but the reality is that with the sinking ratings of the morning show, the station has failed as well. The importance of a highly rated morning show directly impacts the rest of the day. It goes to reason that the more people that listen in the morning translate to more potential listeners the rest of the day.

According to Neil Best of Newsday, the morning show of Greg Giannotti and Boomer Esiason had a 5.6 share of the men 25-54 audience. That is the lowest Fall Ratings the morning drive slot has had in over a decade (and by a considerable amount). Last year with the specter of Carton's arrest and potential return the morning show, co-hosted by Jerry Recco and Boomer Esiason, maintained its ratings. For a fair comparison - in Carton's last Fall Book [which was 2017] the morning show received a 7.3 share men 25-54 and they were number one the following Winter, Spring, and Summer. Note that they never added or even mentioned listeners to the station on 'the stream' back then. It seems that the stream has only become a relevant issue now that the radio ratings are off by 40% or more.

The impact goes far beyond just mornings as Mike Francesa is now under a 6.0 share on his three hour show and there is no record of him ever having a sub 6.0 share Fall rating in over two decades.

Only one show achieved a 6.0 share in the ratings and that was the shortest show on the station, CMB. After much debate on the merits of putting Bart Scott, Maggie Gray, and Chris Carlin together -- they can proudly say they are the highest rated show that WFAN has. I'm not sure that a two hour show should be compared to 4 hour shows but the numbers are what they are.

WFAN has become a boring straight forward sports talk station with little to no entertainment value on a consistent basis. Repetitive Beningo and Francesa impersonations and afternoon hours of nothing but taking calls haven't become must listen to radio and Neil Best claims that the show with the highest stream is Joe and Evan with a 0.6 share, meaning that no show has truly attracted and or kept a younger listener who listens primarily online or through an APP.

Say what you want about Carton and the charges filed against him. His talent and ability to build a loyal and rabid fan base is undisputed. It's clear that he was the engine that drove not just the Boomer and Carton show but the station as a whole. When he is available to return to work...it makes sense for not just WFAN to want to pick him up from whatever prison he seems destined to go to, but ESPN Radio as well (if ESPN Radio NY ever wanted to really compete in New York). If they did, could you see them scrapping the Golic and Wingo show solely from New York and bringing Carton in to destroy his former partner and station? His presence would no doubt help the Michael Kay show as well (not to mention the floundering midday show) and give ESPN New York a chance to firmly take over as the voice of record for the NY sports fan.

Carton brought WFAN a full decade of top ratings and multi millions in revenue and when he is sentenced in late February it will be a full 18 months since his last New York show and it stands to reason he will be "away" from the microphone for even longer based on his conviction (pending appeal), but while he is away he still looms as the biggest radio figure of them all. There is not another radio personality with his track record of success in NY and as such he is the one guy who would make a guaranteed instant impact in the market place - unless of course a company like Bleacher Report or dare I say Fox Sports 1, et al. decided to get involved.

What's almost as stunning as the WFAN drop sans Carton is how bad their 'younger listener should be on' app / online streaming ratings overall have been since July. Try July 0.2, August 0.2, September 0.1, October 0.2, November 0.2 and December 0.3 bad...

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