Mike Francesa nap

Ever since Mike Francesa began his Fox Sports 1 simulcast of his WFAN radio show earlier this year, the relationship between the two parties has been rather tumultuous. Now it’s reaching the breaking point.

It’s been quite the week for Mongo Nation as Mike Francesa’s increasingly difficult simulcast situation with Fox Sports 1 is becoming increasingly strained.  Francesa first did not like having the last 2½ hours of his show aired on the lowly distributed Fox Sports 2, a situation that was somewhat rectified when Fox Soccer Daily was canceled and Francesa’s show expanded to four hours on Fox Sports 1 and 1½ on Fox Sports 2.

But that was the tip of Francesa’s frustration. He has been pre-empted regularly for live sports programming whether it be UEFA Champions or Europa League action or NASCAR practice and qualifying runs. As they are live events versus a New York talk show, the pre-emptions do better in ratings and viewership than Francsesa.

Through it all, Francesa has not been quiet, going public and fully discussing the situation with his audience. That apparently is about to stop. Francesa said on his show earlier this week that CBS Radio which owns his program, sent him a cease-and-desist letter threatening to sue him if he continued to discuss his simulcast situation. However, a CBS Radio spokesperson told Newsday’s Neil Best that no such letter was sent.

But naturally, Francesa responded on the air:

“There was a letter handed to me which basically said, cease, otherwise you will be responsible for all the money if the deal blows up and that is what is known in the trade as a way of threatening your talent. If they’re saying I didn’t receive a letter that’s a lie. I did.”

Fox Sports President Eric Shanks told Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch that he hopes to have the Sports Pope on the FS1 at this same time next year:

“We love the relationship with Mike and his voice in New York and nationally, he is widely regarded as one of the premier voices in not just sport radio but sports media,” Shanks said. “We continue to work with Mike. We want to be a place where people want to work and though he doesn’t work for us – he works directly for his radio station – we want to be a place people are happy to be a part of. We have been pretty upfront with what our schedule is and our commitments to live sports on certain days of the week. But if there is ever a point where he is not happy and we can’t make him happy…we will find a solution. We want Mike to be happy just like we want anybody to be happy that comes to work here.”

And even with the latest developments, any delay in Francesa’s program hitting the air is cause for concern. Today’s show on WFAN was delayed by an hour, beginning at 2 p.m. ET, but before it was confirmed that he would be delayed, observers thought it was related to Francesa’s speaking out.

But his producer, Brian Monzo went on Twitter with a message from the Big Man.

But afterwards, Francesa announced to Monzo that he would be back on at 2 p.m., earlier than expected.

As he began his show, Francesa said: “From the studios of WFAN and simulcast nowhere today, maybe tomorrow…”

Francesa said he had to take care of some personal things and was not related to his statements, but he added, “I cannot stop your imaginations from running amok.”

So he’s back on the air on WFAN for now, but we’ll see if this volatile situation calms down or if it explodes. One thing is for sure, the Francesa Follies are never dull.


About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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