ESPN New York is leaving the FM radio dial in a decision that some have seen as a declaration of surrender in the New York sports radio wars. However, host Michael Kay has a very different perspective.
As first reported by The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, ESPN New York will relinquish its 98.7 FM signal on Aug. 31, 2024, and put its focus on digital distribution for programs such as The Michael Kay Show and radio broadcasts of the New York Jets, Knicks, and Rangers.
The station will continue to be heard on 1050 AM, but their departure will leave rival WFAN as the undisputed NY sports talk radio choice on FM. The move also effectively ends the bitter ratings battle between the two stations.
While the move was criticized in some circles as a sign of failure on the part of ESPN New York and Good Karma Brands, which runs operations and sales for ESPN Radio and the company’s podcasts, they would say that the audio entertainment landscape is very different in 2023 and their focus is better served on digital products, apps, and video offerings than it is on trying to justify the heft price tag that comes with leasing an FM signal.
Kay took it one step further on his program Tuesday, insinuating that their rivals, presumably WFAN, would be making a grave mistake not to do something very similar.
After today's news that Michael Kay's show will soon be removed from the FM dial, Kay fires back by insinuating that his competition (WFAN/Audacy) will be bankrupt within one year. pic.twitter.com/uHwyk1Ac4h
— Funhouse (@BackAftaThis) September 19, 2023
“Can you explain to me what the logic would be in saying that us going to AM is somehow us waving the white flag,” asked co-host Peter Rosenberg.
“Our competition…I don’t even know if I should say this,” Kay responded. “But I really believe that within a calendar year…bankruptcy’s on the table. So would that be a failure of them, or just the industry has changed?”
We’ll have to see how the WFAN folks feel about that prediction as they will undoubtedly have some thoughts. (The overall financial challenges at WFAN parent Audacy have been long–discussed, though.) In the meantime, Kay and Rosenberg might have to get used to defending the shift-to-AM position in the year ahead, because it’s one of those situations where people will believe it was the right move when they see it.