Not everyone is thrilled that Mike Francesa is returning to sports talk radio station WFAN.
On Wednesday, “Boomer and Gio” hosts Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti addressed Francesa’s return to the station, and the possible shake-ups that it might cause. “It just looks pathetic … the whole thing, it looks pathetic,” Esiason said, later calling it “insane.”
“It ain’t going to be comfortable around here. It will not be comfortable,” Esiason said, referring to the trio of Chris Carlin, Bart Scott and Maggie Gray, who replaced Francesa’s time slot after he left in December. “They’re going to have to cross paths with a guy that basically is kicking them to the curb.”
“Radio can be a real sewer pit, and there’s a lot of backstabbing and knife-throwing and all that other stuff that goes on,” he added. “We try to stay above all that stuff, but unfortunately you can’t, and three people basically have gotten screwed.”
Following a lengthy farewell tour, drivetime host Francesa left the New York sports talk station where he had enjoyed early three decades on the air. He was replaced in the coveted afternoon slot by Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott, and his lead-in, the tandem of Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts.
The “Sports Pope” will take over the 3 p.m.-7 p.m. time slot, and 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. spot will be divided between Carlin, Gray and Scott, and Beningo and Roberts, according to the New York Daily News.
Esiason recognized that from the station’s point of view, it made sense to bring back Francesa: “This radio station feels more powerful this morning with him coming back.”
“He was the No. 1 guy. He’s a guy who’s been here a long time and whatever he does, he does it, and people seem to either like it or hate it, but they listen to it, which is important,” he said. “But the human toll is significant because basically three people here just got reduced roles.”
“This really, really sucks,” Giannotti chimed in, saying he wished Carlin would have addressed it on his show with more emotion. “You basically rip someone’s guts out and hand it to them and tell them to be nice about it.”
“It’s going to be very, very awkward,” Esiason said. “There’s just no other way to say it, it’s going to be very weird and very awkward for an amount of time.”
“The only people not getting more time and more money is us,” they joked.
“It is time to return to WFAN,” Francesa told Newsday on Tuesday.
The trailblazing sports radio host, who co-hosted the “Mike and the Mad Dog” afternoon show with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo until August 2008, dominated ratings for two decades before signing off what appeared to be for good in December. The duo’s combustible relationship was the subject of an ESPN “30 for 30” documentary in 2017 that bore the title of their iconic show. Francesa was replaced by Carlin, Scott and Gray on Dec. 19.
Since his “retirement,” Francesa has appeared on the Bill Simmons Podcast numerous times and teased he’d wind up elsewhere, but those plans appear to have never come to fruition. His return to WFAN would come after he received a year-long sendoff, coinciding with the release of a “30 for 30” documentary on ESPN.
Listen to Esiason and Giannotti discuss above.