It’s been too long since WFAN had a good radio war, and there may be a mini one brewing between Craig Carton and Boomer Esiason.
On Thursday, a listener called into WFAN’s morning show with Esiason and co-host Gregg Giannotti to ask if they heard Carton complaining about a joke Boomer made at his expense. Esiason acknowledged he was aware of Carton’s gripe, and stated that his former co-host likes to hold grudges.
Earlier in the week, Giannotti was late to WFAN’s morning show, prompting Esiason to note the last time his co-host was late, he never saw him again. That was a reference to Carton’s 2017 arrest for securities and wire fraud, which subsequently concluded in a year-long prison stay and the end of the duo’s dominant morning radio run.
“They heard it, of course they did,” Esiason said. “Just so you know, we listen to them, they listen to us. Well I don’t know if Craig does anymore, because he’s doing some show somewhere. I’m not really sure where it is, but he’s doing some show somewhere in the morning.”
The morning show Esiason cryptically referred to is Carton’s national TV program that airs on FS1 from 7 – 9:30am EST. Esiason and Giannotti previously stated they didn’t view Carton’s TV show as competition, but he is on FS1 at the same time WFAN’s morning show simulcasts on CBS Sports Network.
The Carton Show launched on FS1 last Tuesday. According to Nielsen, its first five episodes averaged just 17,400 viewers. That number has to be considered a major disappointment. But no one will push the panic button after just one week.
In terms of his relationship with Esiason, Carton acknowledged he can have a sense of humor about his past, but added, “I do have a receipt now, and one day, when it’s least expected…I will remember, because I never forget.”
“He’s keeping receipts,” Esiason said Thursday morning. “I guess he has a long memory.”
“People who have wronged him, he remembers,” morning show producer Al Dukes said.
“How did I wrong him?” asked Esiason. “Didn’t I do his documentary? Didn’t I give him nice quotes when he was away? Didn’t I give him good quotes when he came back? Didn’t I call them up as a guest on their first day and say ‘You guys will be number one before you know it? I guess we don’t remember those things. I mean, I bought him mackerel in prison.”
WFAN has had an unusual amount of camaraderie within its weekday lineup since Mike Francesa left his afternoon post in 2019. When Carton returned to WFAN in the fall of 2020, there was reason to believe it was only a matter of time before he engaged in a feud with his former morning show brethren.
“Here’s the reality, there’s going to be a war,” Carton told his afternoon co-host Evan Roberts nearly two years ago. “There’s going to be a war, I just don’t know when it’s gonna happen.”
While the current issue between Carton and Esiason fails to reach “radio war” status, both hosts boasting about their receipts doesn’t scream of friendly camaraderie.
“He likes to hold grudges,” Esiason added Thursday morning.
Carton has always used radio wars and competition as content fuel. And now that WFAN’s Carton and Roberts successfully blew past ESPN New York’s The Michael Kay Show in the afternoon ratings war, it may not be long before he sets his competitive sights on Esiason and Giannotti.