Michael Kay

It was a busy week for ESPN New York radio host Michael Kay, fending off retirement rumors and threatening to have producers fired.

There’s always been somewhat of a friendly rivalry between The Michael Kay Show and ESPN New York’s morning duo of Rick DiPietro and Dave Rothenberg. But last week, the discourse reached a new level of personal insults when DiPietro & Rothenberg producer Ray Santiago committed friendly fire by taking a swipe at The Kay Show’s recent ratings stumble.

“I got to throw this out there. Is it the fear that this show is now on the rise, and that show’s kinda going in the other direction lately?” Santiago asked Friday morning. “There’s a lot of personal shots being taken there.”

The “personal shots” Santiago referred to stemmed from both shows trading insults about their athletic abilities. Santiago, however, appeared to strike a nerve when he went for the low-hanging fruit that is Kay’s recent ratings slide. When a very vengeful Kay went on-air with co-hosts Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg Friday afternoon, he sought to end Santiago’s radio career.

“Ray Santiago made a comment about ratings? Do you realize, Ray, that all I’d have to do is make one phone call, and you would be on the unemployment line. You have the nerve to say something like that about this show? One phone call, which I’m considering making and you will be fired!” Kay ranted. “Remember Ray, I am really, really sitting on the fence right now about getting you canned, opening your mouth when you shouldn’t have.”

“You’ve told me for years to swing it around and this is gonna be the ultimate swing,” Kay continued before boasting about having Robert Iger and Jimmy Pitaro in his phone, asking if he should contact them to get Santiago canned.

That’s Michael Kay’s ultimate swing? He may be highly regarded by ESPN, but asking Robert Iger or Jimmy Pitaro for help in dealing with a local radio producer from a station owned by Good Karma Brands seems like a bad look for Kay.

Most of the banter between ESPN New York’s morning and afternoon shows usually feels like a promotional bit. This latest battle, however, appeared to be real. Santiago was attempting to play into their running feud and went too far by citing ratings. Kay probably isn’t about to get Santiago, a station employee for 15 years, fired, but his anger with the longtime producer sounded legitimate.

Clearly, ratings is a sensitive subject for Kay. In the fall of 2021, The Michael Kay Show beat WFAN’s afternoon show hosted by Craig Carton and Evan Roberts 5.7-4.6. In the latest ratings period, Kay was trounced by Carton and Roberts 8.3-2.8.

Even with the ratings fall that Santiago cited, Kay remains the MVP of 98.7 ESPN New York, having carried the station for more than two decades.

[The Michael Kay Show]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to bcontes@thecomeback.com