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Carton Talks Career, Prison Sentence On ESPN NY

“For one full commercial-less hour, Carton sat in studio next to Peter Rosenberg and Don La Greca while Michael Kay joined the trio from Minute Maid Park”

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Dressed in a hoodie and baseball hat, wearing headphones with just one ear covered, Craig Carton looked like the same radio host that entertained the city of New York for a decade.  Instead of boisterously dominating mornings on WFAN, Carton was a guest on ESPN New York’s afternoon show to answer questions about his derailed life.

The last time he was heard on New York sports radio, the audience didn’t know he committed fraud or about his gambling addiction, Craig Carton himself wasn’t even aware of the hole he was digging for himself.

For one full commercial-less hour, Carton sat in studio next to Peter Rosenberg and Don La Greca while Michael Kay joined the trio from Minute Maid Park, where the sounds of batting practice regularly bled into the conversation.

At times Carton looked uncomfortable, but rarely seemed like a person heading to prison for three and a half years.  Right away Craig echoed Boomer Esiason’s earlier statement, saying he did contact WFAN about doing a sit-down first, but they declined to have him.  Both Boomer and program director, Mark Chernoff felt the WFAN morning show had moved on and didn’t want to put Carton’s successor, Gregg Giannotti in an awkward position.  

Carton still felt it was important to make a New York sports radio return and apologize to the listeners.  ESPN NY gave him that platform, which was a surprise considering Carton and Kay Show co-host, Peter Rosenberg had a number of feuds over the years as WFAN battled with Rosenberg’s Hot 97 morning show for ratings.

On Monday, Rosenberg understood Carton’s crimes, putting the pieces together of someone being an addict and “doing stupid stuff to protect ridiculous debt,” but Peter didn’t ignore the issues he’s had with Craig in the past.  Referring to Carton as an “a-hole” during the interview, Rosenberg took issue with the way Carton lied and treated people during his radio career.

“Never was a fan of you, never would have told you that in my life.”

“Ehh, you’re a litte bit of a fan,” the former FAN host said with a smirk in the most Carton-like comment of the interview.

“Not even at all,” a straight-faced Rosenberg replied as he mentioned Carton’s NJ 101.5 radio bits such as encouraging listeners to report illegal immigrants. Carton admitted there were times he forgot the people he attacked on-air had families of their own, his only goal was to make good radio. 

Because of his own bombastic style and willingness to test limits, Carton takes no issue with anything that’s been said about him since his arrest.   There are certain people Carton went after that he now feels bad about, but the former FAN morning host was careful to admit, without being on the receiving end of those attacks, his feelings wouldn’t have altered, adding “if you don’t change, you’re not human.”

In talking about WFAN, Carton was very complimentary of how they handled his situation, also admitting Mike Francesa has been kinder to him than he would’ve been in a role reversal.  Carton acknowledged he’s happy FAN’s morning show has seen a drop in ratings since his departure, only stating that he and Boomer are “fine,” with no follow up question from TMKS.

Carton briefly spoke about his own family, including the difficult task of explaining his mistakes and now repercussions to his four children who range between the ages of eight and eighteen.  Carton said his wife loves him and hates him at the same time, adding they’re legally separated and he’s not sure if it will conclude in a divorce.  

On September 6th 2017, Carton was arrested on charges of conspiracy, wire and securities fraud after convincing hedge funders to invest millions of dollars for his ticket resale business.  The lines of his legitimate ticket resale business and his gambling addiction blurred when he used investment money to feed his sickness.

“I told people what I was using their money for and I didn’t always use it at the exact right time, or exact time,” Carton said during his Monday appearance on ESPN NY.  “The hedge fund wired two million dollars for tickets that I was gonna buy to Barbara Streisand and Metallica concerts, I bought every one of those tickets, albeit on my credit card and I used their money, when I got it, for gambling.”

Carton did state that being arrested saved his life because without that September 6th, 2017 day, he wouldn’t have recognized his problem.  “There certainly would have come a point when I would have borrowed money from the wrong person,” the former morning radio star added.

As far as whether or not his experiences have changed him to the point that it would affect a future radio career, “I think I’d be number one tomorrow,” Carton told TMKS late in the interview.  “Going to prison, acknowledging what I’ve done wrong, taking full ownership of it, I don’t blame a damn person but myself… and being real about that, I think will have great credibility, especially with a male-dominated audience in New York.”

In three and a half years Carton could get an opportunity to test his theory.   As much as people have criticized where Carton is in his life today, his radio talent has never been questioned, but the industry’s landscape will continue to change with more of an emphasis on gambling, something that Craig would not want to encourage himself. 

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports Radio News

NBC Sports Names Al Michaels To Emeritus Role

The partnership will keep Michaels on for the Olympics and NBC’s NFL playoff coverage.

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Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

NBC Sports, which had been the home of Al Michaels since 2006, will still feature the veteran broadcaster despite Michaels’ moving to Amazon for Thursday Night Football.

The network announced that Michaels will still be a part of NBC Sports’ high-profile broadcasting properties including the Olympics and NFL Playoffs. Michaels’ last broadcast with the network had been Super Bowl LVI in February, his eleventh Super Bowl.

NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua said in a statement, “Revered by viewers and colleagues, Al has been the soundtrack for many of the greatest moments in sports television history. We are thrilled that he’s staying in the family and raising the stature of our events for years to come.”

“I’m looking forward to continuing my longtime NBC relationship while also launching the Thursday Night Football package on Amazon this fall. A special thanks to NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua and the folks at NBCUniversal for their help in making this happen,” Michaels said.

Michaels moved to Amazon Prime Video this season for their Thursday Night Football package. He will be paired with ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit. This season will mark his 37th NFL play-by-play campaign in primetime.

Following another historic broadcasting moment in which Michaels deftly demonstrated his expertise and versatility, he became just the second sportscaster in history to receive a News Emmy nomination for his coverage of the San Francisco earthquake during the 1989 World Series.

In addition to the 11 Super Bowls, Michaels has worked nine Olympics and called eight World Series.

In December 2020, Michaels was honored with the 2021 Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Michaels is one of only five distinguished broadcasters to be recognized with the baseball honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Award (Dick Enberg, Lindsey Nelson, Jack Buck, and Curt Gowdy).

One of television’s most respected journalists, Michaels has covered more major sports events than any sportscaster, including 20 years as the play-by-play voice of Monday Night Football. He is the only commentator to call the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and host the Stanley Cup Final for network television. In addition, Michaels called the classic 1985 championship boxing match between Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns and “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler.

Among his many accolades, Michaels has captured eight Emmy Awards – seven for Outstanding Sports Personality – Play-by-Play and one in 2011 for the Lifetime Achievement Award, and has three times (1980, 1983 and 1986) received the NSSA Award from the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association; he was inducted into the NSSA Hall of Fame in 1998. Michaels was named Sportscaster of the Year in 1996 by the American Sportscasters Association, and, in 1991, he was named Sportscaster of the Year by the Washington Journalism Review.

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Sports Radio News

Thom Brennaman Continues to Search for a Second Chance

Brennaman has been searching for a broadcasting gig since he spoke a homophobic slur in August 2020 on a Cincinnati Reds broadcast.

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USA Today

The last time Thom Brennaman sported the microphone for a major broadcast was August 19, 2020. It was game that featured a doubleheader between the Cincinnati Reds and the Kanasas City Royals and in between the two, Brennaman blurted a homophobic slur that has thus far kept him off radio and television.

Brennaman has struggled to find his footing since that error. Recently, Brennaman recorded an episode of Tell Me A Story I Don’t Know, a podcast hosted George Ofman. That episode was available Tuesday and in it, Ofman asks where Brennaman thinks he’ll be in six months.

Brennaman said, “I have no idea. I really don’t. There were a couple of times I thought that maybe somebody out there was going to give me a chance to broadcast again and then this same thing comes up again.”

Brennaman sounded baffled that he’s still searching for work, citing other influential local leaders and what they opined in the days after the incident. “You know what you find out George, the guy who’s considered to be the leading voice of the LGBT community here in Cincinnati, he’s a big executive with Johnson and Johnson, a guy named Ryan Messer. He had written, and I had never met Ryan Messer at this point in time, like two days after what I said, he wrote a letter to the editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer, local paper, that Thom Brennaman should not be fired. There is room for growth here in so many areas and a great opportunity for him, for the gay community, for the Reds, for our society.”

Brennaman added that the two met as well as did Brennaman with other leaders in the LGBT community at the time. “I reached out to the guy and made contact with him and he’s the guy who’s house we went to that I made reference to earlier in listening to a bunch of the stories with some gay leaders. But anyway, I said ‘if you have people there – and I know you do – that are gay that work there, I would put up the amount of hours that I have spent in the gay community in some form or fashion over the last year against anybody you have that works in that office that’s gay’.”

Despite his efforts, the broadcasting veteran is dismayed that it’s failed to sway opinion, “it’s almost like in some cases it just falls on deaf ears.”

Regardless of where he is at now, he’s confident that eventually he’ll be afforded another opportunity. “But I ‘d like to think there’s somebody out there – and there will be and all it takes is one – is just to say ‘you know what, this was a mistake. Here’s the documentation of what the guy’s tried to do since then. We’re going to take a chance – answer some tough questions – and take a chance and get him back in the booth.”

And if another opportunity doesn’t present itself? “If it doesn’t happen, it’s not going to be the end of my life.”

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Sports Radio News

The Rundown With Jeff Michael Coming To SportsMap Radio

“The Rundown with Jeff Michael will debut on June 6.”

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Jeff Michael is getting a promotion at SportsMap Radio. He is moving from the part-time staff into a new midday show.

The Rundown with Jeff Michael will debut on June 6. The network describes the new two-hour show as energetic and fast-paced.

“Sports talk radio always meant the world to me,” Jeff Michael said in a press release. “Having an opportunity to reach such a large national audience is something I do not take lightly. While I’m so grateful for the opportunity, my focus will always be on creating captivating and informative content.”

Michael has been with SportsMap Radio since 2020. He has also been a prolific host in the podcasting space.

“I feel this is a perfect format for Jeff to excel,” CEO David Gow added. “From listening to fill-in appearances, you can tell he has tremendous command of his audience. You cannot easily teach what Jeff Michael already possesses.”

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