Francesa begins his old job with a new shift at WFAN 660 AM / 101.9 FM Tuesday after his 3-1/2-month “retirement.” The NY Post reports he took a pay cut and reduced his hours to return to radio.
Of course, making more than $1 million to talk sports is a pretty good deal. Now, at 64, he will probably do it on the FAN until people get sick of his voice.
“I think Mike can do this for as long as Mike wants to do it and as long as the audience wants him to do it,” said Chris Oliviero, the executive vice president of programming for Entercom, WFAN’s parent company. “That’s the two-way street in radio. You have to want to do it and the audience wants them to do it for them.”
Francesa’s audience is pumped for his return after it thought his FAN days were over following an 18-month “retirement” tour in which Francesa repeatedly said there was no turning back.
Francesa could have stayed at any point, but both publicly and privately turned down the chance to make everything much cleaner than the mess that became public a little more than a week ago.
Most notably, Francesa asked for a raise in the wake of Craig Carton’s arrest last September. Oliviero, along with WFAN and Entercom executives, said no, according to sources.
Oliviero would not go into what the difference in pay Francesa wanted then compared to what he received now. Whatever the exact number, it was too good to pass up for Entercom. That is certain; especially after Oliviero said the decision had nothing to do with Francesa’s replacements, Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott’s ratings and Oliviero praised CMB as the show of the future.
Francesa went over everyone’s head at WFAN and Oliviero’s, according to sources, and straight to Entercom president David Field to get the deal done.
Oliviero said bringing back Francesa had nothing to do with the fact the “Michael Kay Show” on ESPN New York’s 98.7 FM squeaked past CMB in the winter ratings book. Francesa never lost to Kay.
“This was not a ratings decision,” Oliviero said.
Meanwhile, Newsday reports Oliviero said on Monday that he believes all will be well, both in business and personal terms.
“Did we know it was going to be complicated moving pieces around? Yes,” said Chris Oliviero, executive vice president of programming at Entercom, WFAN’s parent company. “Did we know the Internet would explode with emotions? Yes.
The key to that balance was bringing back Francesa while finding a meaningful role for Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott, who succeeded him after he left WFAN on Dec. 15 and who are under contract through 2019.
Moving them from 2 to 6:30 p.m. to 1 to 3 widely and understandably has been viewed as a demotion. But Oliviero pushed back against that notion, arguing that a two-hour show on WFAN still is valuable radio real estate.
“Two hours of content on WFAN in New York?” he said. “Pretty cool, pretty important. What I’m trying to do in my conversations with people as the radio guy is try to make sure that people understand in the year 2018, it’s not 1998 or 1978 anymore, where radio shows need to be contained to certain four-hour blocks, afternoons, middays and mornings.
He added, “I need to be crystal-clear about this: No one at WFAN, no one at Entercom, any management up or down the food chain, had any interest in ending our relationship with ‘CMB.’ That was never, ever on the table — period.
“We believe in that show today with the same passion we did when we announced it last year and expect them to be part of FAN for years to come.”