Before starting this piece, it’s worth noting that Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News has long had a contentious relationship with Mike Francesa. When a caller inevitably brings this story up on Monday, Francesa will dismiss it with utmost condescension, as he’s done with Raissman in the past (“he’s wrong 90% of the time”).
Francesa has been talking on-air about his retirement recently. While he hasn’t named an exact date, he’s said he knows what it is and it’s sooner than we may think. MYSTERIOUS. Anyways, Raissman is now intimating that this is a ruse, and that Francesa wants out of WFAN, where he’s off speaking terms with his higher-ups, and apparently not getting treated with the respect he believes he deserves:
There are a variety of reasons why things have soured. The Pope has mentioned a few on the air. Stuff like, having his simulcast preempted by Fox and CBS’ role in that. Or about him and management “going in different directions.” Reading between the lines, and talking with sources at WFAN, there’s also the sense that Francesa does not get the kind of respect he once enjoyed, and still believes he deserves considering the contributions he’s made for close to three decades at the station. Management does not perceive him as its top performer. Everyone wants to be loved, even a contentious Sports Pope. The suits don’t cater to him the way they once did.
Some of this is due to the success of Norman Esiason/Craig Cartoon’s morning show (it generates more revenue than Francesa’s soiree) and the fact that they are easier to work with when it comes to marketing and promotional situations. It’s not a reach to suggest Francesa doesn’t like Esiason/Cartoon’s brand of sports speak or their mocking of him. Clearly, FAN management has not told them to stop. Ten years ago they would have.
Francesa’s contract runs until 2017, and CBS/WFAN wouldn’t just let him out of it while he’s still a ratings behemoth. Hence the posturing. However, it’s not clear whether Raissman is reporting anything in here. He uses language like “It sure looks like the pontiff badly wants out of his WFAN contract” and “Would anyone be surprised if Francesa has already approached CBS lawyers and asked out of his contract?”
So, while the theory makes some sense, it is, for now, just that: A theory. Francesa won’t make it an hour through his show tomorrow before he sets about debunking it. As far as where he’d go if he did leave his home of nearly 30 years, there’d certainly be suitors. Hopefully a simulcast agreement could be worked out.
PS – If someone intimately connected with the media business wants to drop me a line and explain to me how in the world Boomer and Carton drive more revenue than Francesa, it’d be greatly appreciated.