Michael Kay: Chance to put ‘black mark’ on Francesa’s legacy
ESPN New York’s 98.7 FM Michael Kay thinks that his longtime sports talk show nemesis Mike Francesa might regret his comeback.
In Kay’s mind, Francesa potentially could put a black mark on his legacy if Kay and his teammates ever climb past Francesa in the ratings. Kay’s show never beat Francesa’s.
“Bring it on,” Kay told The Post. “Let’s go. Let’s do it. Let’s see who wins now. If he wins, he wins. If he loses, it really does affect his legacy. He has never lost before with Dog [Chris Russo.] He has never lost to anybody [in sports]. I wonder if he is going to regret it if he comes back and loses.”
The competition is expected to begin again soon, as Francesa could be on the air as early as next week from 3-6:30 p.m., going head-to-head with Kay. Kay, with partners Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg, squeaked by Kay’s replacements, Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott, in the winter ratings book. CMB is expected to be moved to the 1-3 p.m. slot to make way for Francesa, but CMB’s hours are not fully set yet.
Francesa, 64, went over the heads of executives at WFAN and asked the president of the station’s parent company, David Field, for his job back, accepting a significant pay cut from the around $3 million he previously made, according to sources. The move may have been made, even if CMB had won, because Entercom is taking advantage of Francesa’s rating prowess at a discounted price. Francesa could have remained on many occasions at his former salary, if he had decided earlier to back out of his “retirement.”
The “Kay Show” beat CMB in the winter book, but it was bittersweet for Kay because it was not Francesa, and he personally likes the CMB trio. He is not as close with Francesa.
“If we can beat him, I don’t think it affects his legacy, but it puts a black mark on it,” Kay said.
Kay previously took Francesa’s YES simulcast from him, which has improved his show’s reach, though, in terms of the radio ratings, he thinks Francesa still has the count in his favor.
“One of the thing he hangs his hat [on] is that he never loses,” Kay said. “And those sycophants who follow him, they lap it up, hook, line and sinker even though he lost in his last book. He lost to Lite-FM. He has lost before.
“He has just never lost to another sports station, but, at ESPN, people don’t want to hear the truth, there are a lot of obstacles that you have to overcome. First off, we are competing against a legacy station. We are competing against two signals that are allowed to combine both of their ratings to get their ratings — 660 and 101.9. And because we are a hybrid of local and national, I’ve always had a national show lead into us. Although the [Stephen A. Smith] show is good, New York is more of a local sort of radio market when it comes to sports, and we battle a lot of the odds. In truth, I think we have done phenomenally. Would we like to win? Of course, we would.
“It is not just the pennant standings in baseball they will be following, but radio ratings, which is kind of odd, but it is exciting. It has become a thing the last year or so.”
Kay thinks it was wrong what Entercom executives did to CMB, demoting the program after just one ratings book.
“You essentially hire three people to do a job, you gave them four months to do it,” Kay said. “You had one guy [Carlin] leave a really good job he had in Philadelphia. You pull the plug on them after one book when they are getting their feet on the ground. It is unconscionable what they did to those people.”
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