Monday, February 22, 2021

NYC Radio: Popular WFAN Voice Has Nothing To Do With Sports

Traffic Reporter Karen Stewart
One of WFAN’s most popular on-air personalities does not follow sports.  Fortunately, that is not her role, according to Neil Best at Newsday.  Her job concerns a matter more urgent than whom the Mets should sign next or whether Robert Saleh will turn around the Jets.

Stewart does traffic reports, twice an hour on WFAN on weekday mornings in addition to her six-times-an-hour updates on WFAN’s corporate sister station, WINS.

But what makes her stand out is her style, which "cuts through all the clutter," said Mark Chernoff, senior vice president of WFAN’s parent company, Entercom New York.

That is thanks to an approach straight out of her Flatbush upbringing: blunt, cynical and bitingly funny. Most of all, it is the fact she feels listeners’ pain.

"I’m from the city," she said. "I work in the city. I’ve been stuck in all the delays that all these people are stuck in in the morning. And it’s just very frustrating stuff. It’s really just plain old disgust, is what it is.

The more you listen to Stewart talk traffic, the more evident it is that this is no shtick. She really, truly hates it and wants to help people navigate it.

"I’ve always tried to approach it from, ‘Look, I got you, I see you, and it sucks and I’m sorry and here’s the best thing you can do about it,’ " she said. "It’s genuine. I really do feel for them. I mean, some of these people are stuck in traffic for two hours. It is out of hand.

Fans on Twitter have quoted her reports, such as, "Avoid the inbound GWB like it’s the plague that it is," and "Just forget that the Throgs Neck Bridge exists. It’s that bad," and "Look, we are backed up everywhere for over an hour. Just stay home today."

One person tweeted her reports "are incredible. You can feel the frustration as if she is sitting in the traffic with you." Another suggested she handle color commentary for Jets games.

Stewart has been heard on WINS on and off since 1991, as well as many other area stations, including WFAN. She became a full-time Entercom employee in 2017 and has been a WFAN morning regular since then.

Chernoff said he has "always admired her talent, quick wit, comedic style when called for, and her great voice. She gets it when doing traffic reports on the ‘Boomer and Gio’ show, as she adds some humor and color rather than just the straight traffic."

Stewart has been working from home during the pandemic, so for now she is not personally experiencing her listeners’ pain. But she empathizes, as always.

"These are rugged people we’re dealing with in the morning." she said. "These are not beginners as far as rush hour, so they really need somebody who’s going to feel what they feel . . . I’ve been doing this for over 30 years. You grow a lot of sympathy.

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