Mike Francesa

For the second time in three years, Mike Francesa is leaving his afternoon show on New York City’s WFAN. Francesa first “retired” in December 2017 after a 23-month goodbye tour, but came back to his old job just four months later. Things have been going a bit rougher for him recently, though, as ESPN New York’s Michael Kay posted outright month wins over Francesa in December 2018 and January 2019 and has gotten close in multiple full ratings books (not winning, unless you’re ESPN PR, but making it close) and beat him handily (even with Francesa’s streaming counted) in the first month of this year’s fall book.

That’s added to the long-running conversation (first throughly discussed by Andrew Marchand of The New York Post in September) that Francesa might leave his regular drive-time show (3 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Eastern, Monday through Friday) to focus on his app and on WFAN parent Entercom’s Radio.com platform (which bought his app in September and made it free). Neil Best of Newsday broke the news Tuesday that Francesa will be doing exactly that:

While Best’s tweets and Francesa’s on-air explanation make it sound like this was initiated from his end, this also may not be all that objectionable to WFAN management. They’ve been killing ESPN New York in pretty much all the other daytime programming blocks, but while Francesa’s return led to some good initial ratings, his numbers have been trending down since then and Kay’s have been rising. There’s also been a lot of criticism for Francesa’s show lately, and as Funhouse (maybe the most dedicated Francesa listener out there, and certainly the most dedicated chronicler of what The Sports Pope says) pointed out, this feels like a move whose time has come:

What’s interesting is that we still don’t know what Francesa’s new role will look like, though. Entercom’s statement didn’t add much:

However, Francesa did manage to make this announcement during the last two days of the second month of the fall ratings book, though, so that may help him draw some extra interest and post some extra numbers against Kay. (And hey, he probably posted some pretty good numbers Monday as well with the whole #Fartgate controversy.) We’ll see how that turns out, and we’ll see what Francesa’s new role is, and who replaces him in drive time (speculation appears to largely be current midday co-host Evan Roberts, but it’s unclear if Roberts would be paired with someone else, and if so, who).

Hopefully, this will be a little more of a permanent move than Francesa’s last WFAN departure, though; it would be highly unfortunate for a lot of people if he just decided to come back to his old role again when April rolls around.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.