Friday afternoon on WFAN, a familiar voice took the airwaves for his final show on the station’s airwaves. Craig Carton, the former morning host who received a second chance at the station following a turbulent arrest, remarked that he was at the top of the mountain and fortunate to redeem himself with the audience as he bid farewell for the final time. The reason Carton is leaving WFAN is to focus on his FOX Sports 1 morning television program, The Carton Show, on a full-time basis. Because of the ability for FOX Sports to garner exclusivity for his media rights, Carton will reportedly be paid a higher salary and, by virtue of working one job, have considerably more time to spend with his family.
“We started this show in November 2020, and here we are damn near three years later, and I am the most privileged and blessed person, I think, on the planet earth,” Carton said to open the program, “to have been given a second opportunity at a job here on what is, without dispute, the greatest sports talk radio station in America.”
Carton had long dreamt of working in New York City on WFAN, and it was his ultimate goal when he began hosting on WGR in Buffalo, N.Y. Following stops in Cleveland, Ohio; Philadelphia, Penn.; Denver, Colo. and Trenton, N.J., Carton was hired by WFAN in the summer of 2007 to join Boomer Esiason on its morning program. From the start of his WFAN career to the finish, there have been many highs and lows, but through it all, he has been able to draw an audience. Being able to say goodbye to his colleagues and the listeners on a last show is not an opportunity everyone in sports radio is afforded, and Carton made the most of the moment.
“When you do sports talk or any talk radio and if you do it really well, you build a very personal connection with an audience member – 99% of [whom] you will never meet in your lifetime even if you wanted to,” Carton said. “….It’s very intrusive, but it’s also what separates really great talk shows from anything else that’s out there in the media.”
Boomer & Carton consistently ranked at the top of the radio ratings and became a trusted, reliable source for information and entertainment. Everything changed a decade later when Carton was arrested for wires and securities fraud, part of a scheme that defrauded investors. As a result, he was suspended indefinitely from WFAN and resigned from the station. Shortly thereafter, Carton was convicted and then sentenced to three-and-a-half years in federal prison, along with being required to make restitution of $4.8 million.
One year later, Carton was released from prison after he completed a 500-hour cognitive behavioral therapy course expediting the process. After spending time in a halfway house and in home confinement, he was officially released from federal custody in June 2021. Before that time though, he had rejoined WFAN following conversations with Audacy New York market president Chris Oliviero.
“I always knew I could do radio,” Carton said. “I thought I could still just show up and do a really good, entertaining radio show. The question mark we both had, and he impressed upon me was, ‘There’s no guarantee that the audience will accept you back because you hurt them,’ because they loved [Boomer & Carton] so much.”
The second departure of Carton, which took much deliberation on his end, led WFAN to revamp its programming lineup following Boomer & Gio, most notably moving Tiki Barber to pair with Evan Roberts in middays. Replacing Barber in his midday slot is Sal Licata, who will pair with Brandon Tierney with the hopes of bringing an explosive dynamism to their new show. The new lineup takes effect on July 24.
Carton returning to WFAN and experiencing the success that he did would have been considerably more difficult had it not been for Roberts agreeing to host with him. It was a decision that he deliberated with his family, friends and trusted advisers, and has ultimately paid dividends in further establishing him as even more of a beloved, impactful radio personality.
Roberts is slightly incredulous towards the move, not yet accustomed to the fact that his time hosting with Carton has come to a close. In the early stages of the process, Roberts remembers thinking that he would be miserable transitioning from Joe Benigno to Carton, but hastily realized the fears were askew. Contrarily, Roberts has thoroughly enjoyed his time working with Carton and knows, by virtue of their connection, will call him crying sometime in the next week or two.
“What’s weird is that it hasn’t sank in yet that I’m not doing a show with you on Monday, and I think it’s one of those things where I will get emotional,” Roberts said. “Because I really did; I had a great time doing the show with you, and that’s not just me giving you something nice to say. I genuinely did and I’m going to miss you, but right now, it doesn’t feel real.”
On the air, Carton conveyed that he was offered the ability to immortalize his microphone at the station with it being dipped in gold and put on display. While he was humbled to have been considered for such an honor after everything he endured and caused at the station in the past, Carton declined the opportunity. Instead, he hopes future hosts on the station remember the legacy behind the microphone and do the radio medium its proper justice. There was one moment, however, where Carton was genuinely nervous if the show would be accepted by the audience.
Two shows into Carton & Roberts, an article was written about the radio ratings and how the show had not gained traction. Carton affirmed that he was brought to WFAN not only for a second chance at a radio career, but also to reestablish afternoon dominance on the air and defeat The Michael Kay Show. In the end, Carton & Roberts only lost one of the ratings books to Kay and his co-hosts Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg and achieved what they sought out to do.
“I’m very proud to say, because the audience bought into the notion of me being back and you and I working together, that we’ve not only beaten them; we have put them out of business essentially,” Carton said of ESPN New York 98.7. “We have dominated Michael Kay and Don La Greca and that little no good weasel that works with them, and I’m very proud of that. When I look back at my career, that’s one of the great accomplishments, egotistically, of my career that I had a job to do and we did that job together.”
Carton ensured to emphasize how that no matter how many people disagree with his hosting style or do not like his return to WFAN, he will still have the tangible satisfaction of dethroning the rival local sports radio station. Throughout the segment, he understood he was being, in his own words, cocky, arrogant and egotistic – and even deemed himself guilty on all three counts. Nonetheless, he took the time to acknowledge the show’s success and made sure to thank the listeners who made it possible.
“I will tell you from January of 2021 through essentially July of 2023, you have not only accepted me back, but you have accepted the concept of Carton & Roberts, and I am forever grateful to the men and women who make up our audience. You proved that second chances are possible; that redemption is possible, and if you are honest and transparent about the mistakes you made and you lean on the audience to support you, the audience is there for you. I am forever grateful to the listeners of WFAN who said it was okay for me to be back.”
As Carton’s show reached his conclusion, he reflected back on his journey and expressed his gratitude for everyone who believed in him throughout his journey on the radio. The people who spew negativity do not impact him, instead choosing to focus on those supporting him as he embarks on the next chapter of his career.
“If nothing else, I truly believe and hope that my story and my comeback paves the way of thousands of comebacks and thousands of positive stories like mine, and I do believe it is a testament that once you start living your life honestly and openly and take ownership of your mistakes and are willing to ask for help and are willing to put the work in to not only get help; to make yourself a better person; to try to rebuild relationships, you can achieve anything you want in life.”
In the final moments of Carton & Roberts, Carton effusively thanked the listeners for giving him a second chance and accepting him into their everyday lives. While he will continue hosting his public service program – Hello, My Name Is Craig – he will no longer regularly be on the WFAN airwaves, although he would not be surprised if he returns to radio one day in the future. For now, FOX Sports 1 is the place where he will garner the pulse of the people and try to elevate his program to success.
“I will miss WFAN a great deal, and I appreciate all the support – and I will leave you with those two words: Thank you.”
92.9 The Game Enjoys Ratings Growth in Atlanta Summer Book
In weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p), the station finished 2nd overall with a 6.8 share.
The summer ratings book is out in Atlanta, and 92.9 The Game once again turned in a strong quarterly performance with Men 25-54.
In weekday prime (M-F 6a-7p), the station finished 2nd overall with a 6.8 share for the book. For the full week (M-SU 6a-Mid), the station remained 2nd with a 5.6 share.
Looking at the weekday shows, in mornings, the summer book represented the second ratings period for the station’s show helmed by Tiffany Blackmon, Mike Johnson, and Beau Morgan. The Morning Shift saw a slight drop from its first book, finishing with a 7.1 share for the quarter. That figure was an 8.4 share in the spring book. Nonetheless, the program remained in a strong position, 2nd overall in the market.
In middays, the station had a pair of shows finish 2nd, with The Steakhouse — featuring Steak Shapiro and Sandra Golden –enjoying an uptick from a 6.9 in the spring to an 8.1 in the summer. Shapiro and Golden are heard weekdays on the station from 9a-11a.
Additionally, middays with Andy Bunker and Randy McMichael generated a 7.1 share, which was one tenth of a point off from its spring book. Similar to The Morning Shift and The Steakhouse, Bunker and McMichael secured 2nd place in their time slow.
The venerable 92.9 The Game afternoon duo of Carl Dukes and Mike Bell, which airs from 2p-7p, saw a slight dip this quarter to finish with a 6.6 share, good for 3rd in the market. In the spring book, Dukes & Bell were 2nd with a 6.9 share.
Ratings information for 680 The Fan was not made available for the summer book.
Jon Ritchie: Joe DeCamara Deserves Credit from ESPN For Idea That Turned Phillies Season Around
Earlier this year, 94 WIP producer Jack Fritz received acclaim for sharing an idea that Philadelphia fans should give struggling shortstop Trea Turner a standing ovation. Morning host Jon Ritchie believes his partner, Joe DeCamara isn’t getting the credit he deserves.
During DeCamara and Ritchie Wednesday morning, the former NFL star argued that ESPN’s Karl Ravech got the story wrong in its retelling during the Phillies National League Wild Card Game Tuesday.
“This is good stuff. Last night during the during the broadcast, I started getting texts and tweets about this, but didn’t hear it live because I was at the game,” DeCamara said. “But during the broadcast, Karl Ravech and David Cone talked about what Fritz did and the Trea Turner thing.”
The show then played the clip of Ravech and Cone talking about Fritz’s idea of giving the standing ovation and how it helped turn Turner’s season around. Ritchie jokingly took issue with the fact that it was actually DeCamara’s idea.
“I guess (Fritz) did do the organizing, that is true, but the idea was hatched by Joe DeCamara on our show,” said Ritchie. “This was Joe’s idea. He hatched it. Let’s give him some credit here, and if Jack Fritz is gonna get a ring, why doesn’t Joe DeCamara?”
DeCarama joked Jon Ritchie just “wants to cause trouble”, before his co-host pushed him to say it was his idea.
“If I say yes, I seem like a bad guy. If I say no, I’m lying. So I will say no,” DeCamara said slyly.
Last week, during an appearance on the station, Turner thanked afternoon hosts Jon Marks and Ike Reese for helping turn around his year.
“Obviously, the whole thing happened and the rest is kind of history. Started playing a lot better and it was thanks to you guys and the crowd,” the Phillies star said.
98.5 The Sports Hub Delivers Strong Summer Ratings But WEEI’s ‘Greg Hill Show’ Closes The Gap in Mornings
“98.5 The Sports Hub remained the top overall station in the summer book but WEEI’s Greg Hill Show made up significant ground in morning drive.”
Boston has long been one of the hottest sports radio markets in America. With the latest summer ratings period now closed, we know it is also one of the most competitive between 98.5 The Sports Hub and WEEI.
In morning drive, Toucher & Rich still topped the market with an impressive 15.1 share. That rating is one that most shows would gladly take but after producing a massive 24.3 share last Summer, maintaining that performance was going to be a tall order. Though the show was 1st with a strong number, a decline of more than 9 shares year over year has to get the attention of the morning show and the management team. If anyone can rebound though and regain that past performance, T&R have shown they can.
Scott Zolak and Marc “Beetle” Bertrand continued to earn the number one spot in middays, garnering a 14.6 share for The Hub. That number was also down year-over-year but not as much as mornings. Zo and Bertrand turned in an 18.1 share in the 2022 Summer book.
Felger & Mazz — hosted by Mike Felger and Tony Massarotti — remains the best-performing show in Boston. The afternoon show held a 17.2 share to finish 1st in their time slot. The show did drop from a 19.7 share last summer but remains comfortably ahead of any market competition.
In weekday prime ratings, 98.5 The Sports Hub remained the top overall station with a 15.3 share. That number was down 25% year-over-year when it held a 20.4 share.
Meanwhile, WEEI rose more than 34% in weekday prime to a 7.4 share, up from a 5.5 in the same book a year ago. That placed them 3rd for the book.
WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show was the station’s biggest winner, more than doubling its share year over year. Hill’s program ranked 2nd with an 11.6 share this summer compared to a 5.2, 7th place finish last year. Only 3.5 shares now separate Hill from Toucher & Rich.
The midday pairing of Andy Gresh and Christian Fauria saw a slight increase for WEEI this quarter, moving to a 7.0 share. That figure was up from 6.3 last year. They were ranked 4th overall this quarter.
The afternoon pairing of Adam Jones, Meghan Ottolini, and Christian Arcand saw a noticeable drop, garnering a 3.9 share during the summer book. That put them in an 8th place tie during the summer book. Last year, WEEI’s afternoon show of Lou Merloni, Fauria, and Ottolini saw a 6.0 share in afternoon drive.
All numbers reported above are for sports radio’s target demographic of Men 25-54. The Hub did also have strong stories with Men 18-34 (1st for the full week, 2nd in prime), Persons 25-54 (1st for the full week, 3rd in prime), and Men 18-49 (1st for the full week, 1st in prime).