John Minko had been thinking about leaving WFAN 660 AM / 101.9 FM — or at least cutting back on his hours — for some time, Newsday reports.
But as WFAN’s parent company, Entercom, faced staff cutbacks this week because of the COVID-19 pandemic slowdown, he recalled what an early WFAN executive named Rick Cummings said when he saved Minko’s job in the station’s first year.
“I said, ‘There’s no way I can thank you for this,’ ” Minko said. “And he said, ‘Yes, there is a way . . . You could do this for somebody else someday.’ ”
“I thought that if I took it now, which was the right thing to do, if that prevented somebody else from getting fired, then I thanked Rick [for what he did],” Minko told Newsday on Thursday after announcing his departure on Mike Francesa’s Radio.com show.
The news led to an outpouring of appreciation on social media for “The Mink Man,” who has been a fixture on the station since its inception.
Minko, 67, started two days before the launch of the nation’s first 24-hour sports station, on June 29, 1987. He went on to a long run as the update man for “Mike and the Mad Dog” and later for Francesa’s solo shows, among other roles.
His final shift will be 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday. Asked what he plans for his final update, he said, “Stay tuned.” But he suggested it will involve thanking his many co-workers over the decades.
Entercom, the parent company of WFAN, announced on Thursday that it would institute layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts as it deals with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is not yet clear how many employees at WFAN will be impacted, but CEO David Field said in a memo to his staff that anyone making in excess of $50,000 a year would face salary reductions for the next three months. Field noted that advertising income has been severely impacted by the nationwide business slowdown.
The New York Post reported the proposed cuts would be tiered based on salary, with 20 percent being asked of those who earn more than $250,000, presumably including WFAN’s biggest names: Boomer Esiason, Gregg Giannotti, Evan Roberts, Joe Benigno and Mike Francesa.
Francesa said on his Radio.com show that management has not yet discussed the matter with him one-on-one.
Entercom also said it would temporarily suspend its dividends and 401K company match and eliminate bonuses for the first and second quarters, with the hope of restoring everything in the year’s third quarter.
Last week, WFAN had its contracted weekday hosts fill in on the weekend while putting on hold most shows hosted by non-full-time employees. That is the plan again this weekend.