Thanks for posting.
- Didn't see this posted, if it is, just merge it.
The Sound and the Fury
The fall and rise of the first all-sports talk station, WFAN
Grantland put together a piece of WFAN's early history as told by a lot of the people involved
(basically everyone except Francesa who said "Since ESPN doesn't allow its talent to be interviewed on Mike's radio show, Mike simply didn't want to be interviewed for a piece that would appear on a site owned by ESPN. He kept saying it was a 'matter of principle' for him.")
They talk about the first 10-15 years, Imus, some of the callers including Jerome and Doris, Pete Franklin, Steve Somers, and so forth. It's in the style of the ESPN and SNL books that have come out in the past year, but obviously must shorter.
Just an incredibly fun piece to read.
Thanks for posting.
By Grantland standards, this is an incredibly poor piece. It takes little literary talent to string together a bunch of verbatims. I was wholly disappointed by the whole thing, although slightly amused at the Steve Somers bits (the only personality worth caring about on the entire network, IMO).
Going into the piece I was expecting a little more analysis at how sensationalist WFAN has become, from their remarkably cursory coverage of certain events to the "pig in a blanket" airtime of Mike Francessa. I mean, really, when their front man has been caught multiple times lying about his NFL picks record, not knowing Yankees minor leaguers, and acting as if he completely hates a New York football team for the sake of ratings, you can't write a serious piece about the station anymore. It's a circus, and not a viable news outlet.
This is my favorite part though, I can completely hear this happening in my mind -- I'm somewhere on the Cross Island in my imagination -- and it makes me smile every time.
Somers is the best.There is a famous caller named King George from the Bronx, who is a corrections officer. And Somers and him have been doing the same phone call now for 15 years. Somers says, "George, I'll never forget when I took you out to dinner and you inhaled a chicken." George answers, "I did not, Steve, I did not" — Oh this is a very sad talent I have. I can imitate some of the callers — "I did not, don't say it again, Steve, do not say it." Then Steve says, "You inhaled a chicken and then you were flirting with the 80-year-old cashier." To which George finally replies, "You swore you wouldn't say that again, Steve."
1. The piece was a oral history. That's exactly what they said it would be.
2. It was really about the early days of the Fan and how it became a trendsetter. Frankly, I'm not sure I'd be interested in why it's not good anymore, because this piece was writter for people who want to remember the "good ole' days".
Also, It looks spiteful to have a piece that takes swipes at Franseca after he decided not to be involved (which is a shame, too).
I guess I'm just a little disappointed; Grantland is usually one of the few places I know of on the Internet to get unfettered truth about sports. To read such a "glory piece" that doesn't acknowledge the station's current shortcomings seems like only hearing half the story. Plus, radio as a whole is facing a lot of challenges now unique to this day and age -- that's the type of techno-behavioral debate Grantland usually delves in to, but is lacking here. I suppose the article is worthwhile for taking a trip down memory lane.