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Craig Carton Set to Leave WFAN

“I’m a radio guy at heart – always have been; always will be. Yet the challenge of trying to do a successful national morning show on FOX Sports 1 is something that appeals to me.”

Barrett Sports Media

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Courtesy: Audacy

WFAN’s signature afternoon duo of Craig Carton and Evan Roberts will be revamped in the coming weeks. Carton, who returned to WFAN after serving time in prison for wire and securities fraud, will be leaving the radio station to join FOX Sports’ FS1 channel full time as the host of The Carton Show. The news was first reported by Andrew Marchand of the New York Post. Carton announced on Thursday afternoon that his final show at the station will be on Friday, June 30, and that the decision was made for personal reasons.

“While I’m looking forward to the future, there’s an aspect of this that I’m melancholy about,” Carton said. “When I first left WFAN, it was under much different circumstances. I was in trouble and I was going to go away. This time it’s on my own volition, but it doesn’t make it any easier. WFAN has meant the world to me. [If] WFAN didn’t give me the opportunity to come back and restart a career, no joke, I’m unemployable.”

The disparate salary difference between WFAN and FOX Sports was reportedly too great to turn down – and Carton will now be making seven figures with FS1. Barrett Sports Media has confirmed the news, and learned that the future of the afternoon show will be announced in the coming days. It suggests a decision may already be in place about the next iteration of the drive time slot, although no pairing has been announced nor confirmed. “Everything’s on the table,” Roberts said on the air.

The primary motivation for Carton’s decision to leave the station, he explained, was being able to have more time to devote to his family. From the moment he was arrested, he became estranged from his wife and was not allowed to regularly see his children. Since he was released from prison and has taken steps to right the wrongs he committed towards his family, friends and the audience, Carton is back home with his family and is able to spend time with his children. Now, he is doubling down on that commitment by walking away from his daily hosting commitments on WFAN and focusing on one job full time, something he has referred to as a challenge he feels he is up for taking on.

“I wish I could go back in time and figure out why I made the bad decisions I made,” Carton said. “I didn’t treat them like the amazing kids that they are, and I wasn’t around enough – and even when I was around, I wasn’t there because I was focused on gambling and money and things like that. So I have this great opportunity now that’s been provided to me to be a better dad; to be a better husband; to be a better brother; to be a better son; to be a better nephew; to be a better friend, and I don’t think I can do that doing both jobs.”

Carton’s contract with WFAN had expired in November 2022, but he has been working under the agreement that he would eventually have to choose between radio and television. There is a chance Carton’s television show could be simulcast on FOX Sports radio, although that still remains to be seen. The restructured contract with FS1, according to Marchand, will allow him to pay the $5 million he owes in restitution for the crimes he committed.

“I’ve been here without a contract for the better part of the last nine months,” Carton revealed. “I come to work every day because he and I shook hands, and that handshake was when we figured things out; when I figure out how I’m going to work both jobs – WFAN and FOX Sports – one that he and I would then sit down and discuss contractual parameters, but I’ve been here without a contract since November 1 of last year.”

Roberts is expected to remain on the afternoon program as the station searches for a new full-time partner of the show. Names such as actor Jerry Ferrara, who has filled in for Carton before, along with midday host Tiki Barber are up for consideration. Mike Francesa will not be making a comeback to the station as he continues to host his eponymous BetRivers podcast. Throughout his protracted message to listeners, which the show would have preferred not to have to make on sudden notice when they learned of the New York Post story coming out, he thanked Roberts for accommodating him in difficult circumstances.

“You were not our first choice as you know,” Carton told Roberts, “but looking back on it, I don’t think it would have worked with anybody else. So on a personal level, while I know I’m kind of taking your career and risking it to a point where you’re going to have to rebuild a new show with whomever they decide to partner you with, here’s what I know. You will be successful. This show was not successful just because I’m 50% of it; it’s successful because you’re 50% of it.”

Carton will remain with the station to host his Saturday program, titled Hello, My Name is Craig, about the risks of sports gambling and addiction. He will record the podcast from the WFAN studios in New York, N.Y. on Thursdays, presumably after his FS1 morning show concludes. Through the podcast and continuing to remain present, he hopes to maintain “an active, amazing relationship with the radio station,” its management, personnel and listeners.

Carton’s ratings for the first year of his television show struggled compared to other programming, but recently experienced its best month last March with an average of 33,000 viewers. FS1 had been aiming to secure exclusive media rights for Carton, but his steadfastness towards WFAN and the radio medium made the decision especially difficult. In the end, WFAN will begin the fall ratings book with a new afternoon duo after Carton helped restore its afternoon time slot following the departure of Mike Francesa.

“I’m a radio guy at heart – always have been; always will be,” Carton said. “Yet the challenge of trying to do a successful national morning show on FOX Sports 1 is something that appeals to me. It’s a challenge that I want to conquer, and at this stage of my career, I feel like I’m up for that challenge.”

Yet the possibility of Carton leaving had been on the table for several months, and the afternoon host was open about the difficulty of continuing to simultaneously work two media jobs. Carton had been hosting his FS1 show at 7 a.m. EST each morning in New York City, requiring he wake up at 2:30 a.m., and then was working afternoon drive at WFAN until 6:30 p.m. He has been returning home afterwards for a 20-minute dinner with his children, and then is going to bed by 8:30 p.m. to receive six hours of sleep so he can rinse and repeat the process on each weekday.

“I do what I can to repay the people I owe money to and to try to support my family,” Carton explained. “My job working is what I’m supposed to be doing to try to start righting all the wrongs in my life.”

Being able to ease his strenuous schedule was a factor involved in the decision, and Audacy New York market president Chris Oliviero reportedly approved Carton’s choice to leave the station. Oliviero, who Carton referred to as a “saint,” visited him while he was in federal prison and made him a solemn and sincere promise.

“He told me if I ever got my life back in order, and figured out why I made the bad decisions I made, he would be there for me,” Carton said. “[There are] no guarantees of a job, but that he would never stop being my friend. Having a guy like that as your friend, I’m the luckiest guy in the world. Not only is he my friend, but he paved the way for me to come back to WFAN.”

Rival ESPN New York 98.7 host Michael Kay recently inked a contract extension with the station that will continue The Michael Kay Show for the next several years, and Carton’s departure could prove to be an opportunity for the station to make up ground it had lost in the ratings. In the winter book, Carton & Roberts ranked third in the New York market with a 7.7 share, while The Michael Kay Show ranked 15th at a 2.9 share, although the two shows do not compete directly with each other throughout the entire afternoon.

“This was never a seesaw battle,” Carton said referring to ratings. “It burns me to my core that anybody can refer to the ratings battle between us and ESPN as seesaw…. Our first full ratings period, to be fair to both sides, was January of 2021. You’ve got four books in ’21 ratings books; you’ve got four ratings periods in ’22; and now we’re about to finish our second ratings period in ’23…. We have won nine of the 10.

“It’s comical to me that anyone could think of them as competition; as good; or anyone I care much about when they’re in 18th place and they have lost nine out of 10 ratings periods. If I do the math on that, that would be that we have won 25 of 28 months. If I do the math further on that, we have won 2,473 weeks and they’ve won two; something like that. I do take great pride in that.”

WFAN’s parent company, Audacy, was nearly delisted from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) since its average closing price finished below $1 over a consecutive-day trading period. The dwindling advertising market, accruing debt and changes in consumption habits have made declaring bankruptcy a legitimate possibility for the company, although chief executive officer David Field believes the transitory peril will pay off in the long run. Shareholders of the company approved a reverse stock split to prevent the delisting, however, at a recent meeting.

Carton does not currently have a regular co-host on his FS1 program despite the network trying to hire Damien Woody away from ESPN. Throughout his time on the show, Tim Hardaway, Cody Decker and Brandon Jennings have served as panelists. It remains unknown if FS1 is searching for someone to join Carton regularly on the air to improve the show’s ratings, or if the content of the program will become more streamlined. Carton was reportedly close to joining MLB Network before the deal was closed with FS1.

“I want people to know more than anything else how special WFAN is to me; the listeners are to me; and all the people in this building, and how I recognize how fortunate and lucky I am,” Carton said. “That I have WFAN in my life [and] WFAN allowed me to change my life for the better, and the fact that they’ve been with me in lockstep for the last nine months trying to figure this out…. I’ll never again make the bad decisions that I made a number of years ago because I don’t get a third chance nor do I deserve one.”

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Adam Copeland Steps Down as KNBR Program Director

We have great momentum, thank you to everyone in the building for your work and passion keeps us pushing forward.

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A photo of Adam Copeland
Courtesy: Cumulus Media

Adam Copeland has stepped away from his duties as program director of KNBR, KGO and KTCT in San Francisco, Barrett Sports Media has learned. In an internal memo obtained by Barrett Sports Media, Cumulus San Francisco regional vice president and market manager Larry Blumhagen divulged that Copeland will continue hosting his afternoon drive show, Tolbert and Copes, alongside Tom Tolbert.

“We have great momentum, thank you to everyone in the building for your work and passion keeps us pushing forward,” Blumhagen said in the note.

Copeland began working in the program director role last November while continuing his afternoon drive hosting obligations, a role he had held since 2022. He has been a member of KNBR since 2009, beginning as an intern in the promotions department before he was hired as a part-time board operator. Copeland previously produced KNBR Tonight and hosted The Leadoff Spot, while also producing and board operating for Murph and Mac. One month after he was named program director, KNBR cut several members of its staff, including hosts Paul McCaffrey and F.P. Santangelo.

A recent column by Barrett Media President Jason Barrett drew attention to Copeland’s questionable behavior on social media. The decision comes four days after the column was published on the BSM website.

This is a developing story. More information will be added as it is learned.

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Charles Barkley: ‘Morale Sucks – Plain and Simple,’ TNT Screwed Up NBA Media Rights Negotiations

“We just won the [Sports Emmy for] ‘Best Studio Show’ – but these fools turn us from Inglenook and Opus into damn Boone’s Farm and Ripple. It’s crazy.”

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Charles Barkley
Courtesy: Jamie Schwaberow, NBAE via Getty Images

As negotiations for media rights to the National Basketball Association continue throughout the postseason, there have been recent reports claiming that the league is formalizing deals with The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal and Amazon. The league ostensibly looks positioned to nearly triple its existing rights fee; however, the issue of Warner Bros. Discovery deciding to match an offer and the scope of such a right remains somewhat ambiguous. Nonetheless, many basketball fans are loathing a potential end to Inside the NBA, the Emmy Award-winning studio program within the NBA on TNT. Hall of Fame forward and studio analyst Charles Barkley recently appeared on the Dan Patrick Show to provide his perspective on the negotiations.

Barkley currently works alongside host Ernie Johnson and analysts Kenny “The Jet” Smith and Shaquille O’Neal on Inside the NBA, adeptly blending esoteric knowledge and lighthearted repartee to the set. The program is currently closing out its year covering the Western Conference Finals on location from Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn. while consistently receiving messages about its end. Patrick simply asked Barkley about the sentiment at the company, to which he gave a candid and straightforward response.

“Morale sucks – plain and simple,” Barkley said. “I just feel so bad for the people I work with, Dan. These people have families, and I just feel really bad for them right now, these people I work with. They screwed this thing up clearly. We don’t have zero idea what’s going to happen. I don’t feel good – I’m not going to lie – especially when they came out yesterday and said, ‘We bought college football.’ I was like, ‘Oh damn, they could have used that money to buy the NBA.’”

TNT Sports will be sublicensing College Football Playoff games from ESPN under a five-year agreement ahead of the tournament’s expansion to 12 teams. Under the deal, TNT Sports will broadcast two first-round College Football Playoff games during the 2024 and 2025 seasons, along with two additional quarterfinal games beginning in 2026 and ending in the 2028 season. As soon as the deal was closed, Barkley thought about how the money could have been allocated to fund a new NBA media rights deal. Warner Bros. Discovery entities – which began with TBS – have been broadcasting NBA games since the 1984-85 season, rendering the venture the longest-standing rightsholder.

Patrick then offered the idea of Barkley, Smith, Johnson and O’Neal to start a production company and continue to broadcast Inside the NBA in Atlanta, Ga. with the existing personnel. From there, the program could be licensed to NBC or Amazon while owning the production company itself. Barkley replied by stating that he had spoken to his colleagues about signing with his production company and would love to do it should TNT Sports lose the rights to the league. He first saw the suggestion on the internet and thought of it to be a great idea.

“My two favorite wines are Inglewood and Opus, and these clowns I work for, they’ve turned us into Ripple and Boone’s Farm and Thunderbird,” Barkley said. “We’ve got the best studio show. It’s so funny – we just won the [Sports Emmy for] ‘Best Studio Show’ – but these fools turn us from Inglenook and Opus into damn Boone’s Farm and Ripple. It’s crazy.”

Patrick perceived Barkley to be genuinely angry, a sentiment that he confirmed in his subsequent response. He reminisced about how he has seen the crew grow around Inside the NBA over his 24 years with the network and watching their children progress as they visit the studio. Barkley remembers meeting newborn children and seeing them years later as college graduates.

The familial relationship that has been formed around the show is something he evidently cherishes, and he would be disappointed to see the program end. It led Patrick to ponder over just how TNT Sports erred in the negotiations, leading Barkley to reference a previous comment made by David Zaslav, Warner Bros. Discovery president and chief executive officer, at an RBC investor conference in 2022.

“When we merged, that’s the first thing our boss said [was] ‘We don’t need the NBA,’” Barkley explained. “Well, he don’t need it, but the rest of the people – me, Kenny, Shaq and Ernie and the people who work there – we need it, so it just sucks right now.”

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SiriusXM Signs Exclusive Podcast Agreement with Dirty Mo Media

“We are very excited to team up with Dale Jr. and the team at Dirty Mo to bring several of the leading NASCAR podcasts into the SiriusXM Podcast Network.”

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SiriusXM; Dirty Mo Media
(Illustration) | SiriusXM Logo – Courtesy: SiriusXM | Dirty Mo Media Logo – Courtesy: Dirty Mo Media

SiriusXM has reached a new, exclusive podcast agreement with Dirty Mo Media, the multimedia content platform founded by Hall of Fame NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. This new deal will provide exclusive advertising and distribution rights to Dirty Mo Media for its slate of programming on the SiriusXM Podcast Network, along with opportunities for crossover events between Dirty Mo Media and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Earnhardt Jr.’s podcast, the Dale Jr. Download, will also air twice per week on the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio channel beginning in early June. Both entities will collaborate on special event broadcasts during the year as well, including at the forthcoming Daytona 500.

“This is a great day for our company,” Earnhardt Jr. said in a statement. “This agreement allows us to continue producing the shows we want to produce and telling the stories we want to tell to an audience that values our brand of originality, passion and candor. This also brings my relationship with SiriusXM full circle. I first started hosting my own show nearly two decades ago on XM Satellite Radio. We did it for a couple years. Since then, nothing has changed other than I’m now a married father of two, I don’t race as much, XM is called SiriusXM, and I am bringing an entire media company back with me.”

Earnhardt Jr., along with executive producer Mike Davis, founded Dirty Mo Media in 2013 and has become an enduring, impactful platform in sports media. In addition to constructing its podcast network, Dirty Mo Media also created and produced a television series titled Lost Speedways where Earnhardt visited and explored several abandoned racetracks across the United States. The company is also working with Amazon’s Prime Video and Imagine Documentaries on a four-part documentary that will tell the story of his father, legendary racecar driver Dale Earnhardt Sr. Earnhardt Jr. will also serve as an analyst for coverage of NASCAR racing for Prime Video and TNT Sports beginning in 2025, concurrent with the start of its new seven-year media rights deal reportedly worth a total of $7.7 billion.

“One of our main areas of emphasis over the past year has been increasing our collaborations and expanding relationships,” Davis said in a statement. “A lot of that is simply knowing who we are, what we are trying to be and where we can be most effective. For Dirty Mo Media, we are a relatable, personality-driven brand of content creators and documentarians. Combine that with the reach, resources and credibility of SiriusXM, this relationship will produce fruit and serve our fans well.”

SiriusXM Media, the advertising division of the company, has gained exclusive global advertising sales rights to the Dirty Mo Media lineup of sports podcasts. These include the aforementioned Dale Jr. Download, Door Bumper Clear and Actions Detrimental with Denny Hamlin among others. The podcasts will join the SiriusXM Podcast Network, which the company states reaches one in two podcast listeners in the United States every month.

“We are very excited to team up with Dale Jr. and the team at Dirty Mo to bring several of the leading NASCAR podcasts into the SiriusXM Podcast Network,” Sarah Van Mosel, senior vice president of podcast strategy at SiriusXM, said in a statement. “This not only bolsters the strength of our podcast offerings, but the addition of the ‘Dale Jr. Download’ to the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio channel enhances the programming available to our SiriusXM subscribers. This is another great example of the unique ways SiriusXM and talented creators like Dale and his team can work together.”

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