Old gag: They call radio a medium because when it’s well done, it’s rare.
WFAN is much like ESPN in that all these years later — since 1979 in ESPN’s case, 1987 in FAN’s — both by now should be much better than they are.
Seems that every change in hosts turns WFAN flatter, less sufferable or sustains the dreary status quo. Management seems short on the ability to hire the genuinely creative, knowledgeable, driven, clever, personable and those with better ideas. As Maynard G. Krebs said, “Strictly Dullsville, man.”
OK, an absence of sports doesn’t help but there is an absence of growth that is heard, at best, as stagnation.
The pairing of Maggie Gray with Marc Malusis brings a daily dose of dull. Malusis, who was pretty good on SNY shows, is now tongue-tied, stuck to complete a thought without a string of “ums” and “ers.”
The endless tangents they often go on — one was whether those named for their dads should be called “Jr.” — don’t even seem to interest them.
They do emit flashes. Yesterday’s spirited exchange about the latest in the MLB-MLBPA war sounded both rare and welcomed. But the flatness — perhaps a lack of self-confidence — returned.
Now promoted to afternoon drive, the Joe Benigno-Evan Roberts team has not grown in substance or creativity since first formed in 2007. They daily respond to what they read in newspapers but with no greater insights or perspectives than entry-level sports fans.
They provide no audio evidence that they prepare to do anything beyond the vapid. It’s “The Kill Time With Evan & Joe Show.” Look deeper into a story? Do more than complain about the Jets? Tell us something we didn’t already know? Not a chance.
The morning drive Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti show seems tired, even if Weekday Boomer tries to enliven it with childish vulgarities. Giannotti’s humor is often heard as cruel. The show has run dry of both legitimate humor and talk-appeal.
Sports consumer issues are left untouched on WFAN. Those would take some research and some caring. Besides, if ticket ripoffs don’t afflict the hosts why should they worry? How often do you hear a WFAN host going to bat for the batless? It’s not as if someone was sitting in Mike Francesa’s usual front-row seats.
The pandemic has not served WFAN’s finances well, either. Before the plug was pulled, the station had become saturated in sports gambling ads, including personal endorsements from WFAN hosts who wouldn’t know a parlay from a teaser. But type in their names for a free bet!
And it was Benigno who fairly recently personalized ads for DraftKings until it was scandalized by allegations of an inside gambling scheme.
“I’m illiterate with this stuff,” he then confessed. “I want nothing to do with it.”
Too late. He was in it. And now, despite the phony advertising, he’s the evening drive-time co-host on WFAN-NY. That’s progress.
Old MLB games remind fans how good it used to be
The problem with the word “if” is that it’s a very iffy word. It can mean the midpoint between success and failure, hope and despair, or be a two-letter abridgement for “I just don’t know.”
If, for example, the MLB season soon starts in some shape or form, will it attract enough viewers to justify the cost of its patchwork?
Based on the emails I’ve received throughout the pandemic, many folks have lost their taste for modern baseball. They may watch its return as a curiosity at first, but no matter where it’s played and how many customers are allowed to enter the park, they seem willing to write this season off as a total loss.
After all, MLB’s fans are again being taken for granted by both labor and ownership, not even a flake of the negotiations serving the best interest of fans.
As Queens reader Tim Dooley put it, “Watching MLB Network replay of Game 7 of the 1986 Red Sox-Mets World Series. Jesse Orosco drove in a run in the bottom of the eighth. Didn’t he realize it wasn’t his inning?”
Orosco pitched the eighth and the ninth. Dooley: “I told my stepson, ‘You will never see anything like that again.’ ”
ESPN’s “First Take” co-host Max Kellerman exercised his freedom of expression last week when he declared, “No one really cares about hockey.”
Given that’s demonstrably untrue, Kellerman sounded, well, excuse the expression, bigoted.
But this is where the big “if” enters: Had ESPN still owned NHL rights, would Kellerman have dared say that? ESPN on-air staffers are expected to sell everything held by ESPN, ABC and Disney with as much phony gusto as they can muster.
Finally, reader Tom Fox asks us to recall April 1976, when Dodgers outfielder Rick Monday ran down two protestors to rescue the American flag they were trying to burn. What, asks Fox, do we suppose the reaction to that would be if it happened today?
I’m afraid America would be divided between celebrating Monday as a patriot and condemning him as a suspected fascist and racist. Even if he did apologize.
Cancel culture is total cop-out
So shortly after a statue of a Texas Ranger — the lawman, not a ballplayer — was removed as racially insensitive, the TV show “Cops” was lost to the PC after 32 years.
The New York Times reported that the show was “criticized for glorifying cops,” which it often did, especially those who risked their lives for their communities.
A few years ago I interviewed the co-creator of “Cops,” John Langley, who acknowledged that the show has been attacked for including so many minority suspects. He said that he wished it were different but that he doesn’t have the blessing of foresight to choose the suspected criminals in advance.
The most unforgettable, powerful “Cops” episode I saw was of a black cop, one of dozens featured on the show, demanding that a burglary suspect comply with his order to halt. Clearly seen on the cop’s vest camera, the suspect, a black man, whirled and pumped four bullets into the cop.
The officer was bleeding out until white cops arrived to stanch the blood, encourage him to remain conscious and to save his life.
Meanwhile the wife of the cop, following the shooting on a police scanner, called to hysterically beg her husband to hang in their, “Don’t die!”
The officer, after months of rehab, returned to the force and was interviewed. He said he made a near-fatal mistake by allowing the perpetrator to get the jump on him.
Yes, “Cops” often glorified cops, often those who earned it the hard way.