Three years ago, WFAN host Craig Carton was arrested on securities fraud and wire fraud charges related to a Ponzi scheme was involved with to defraud investors by claiming access to concert tickets and access. Indefinitely suspended by WFAN, Carton soon resigned thereafter, ending a ten-year run as co-host of Boomer and Carton. It seemed unlikely at the time that he would ever set foot in a WFAN radio booth ever again, especially after he was convicted (even if Carton was always sure he’d be back).
In April 2019, he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and ordered to pay back $4.8 million to victims. In the end, he ended up serving 36 months before being released in June 2020 and rumors immediately began swirling about a return to the airwaves. Those rumors became factual on Thursday when it was announced that Carton would replace the retiring Joe Benigno become the new co-host of WFAN’s afternoon drive-time show from 2-7 p.m.
While the first proper airing of “Carton and Roberts” is scheduled to air Monday, Nov. 9, Carton appeared to the New York sports airways on Thursday to announce his return and set the tone for what listeners and critics can expect. Pretty much pick up where he left off, albeit with some new life experiences, it sounds like.
Oh yeah, we filmed the entire 70 minutes of @craigcartonlive's return to WFAN yesterday…and in the industry, we call this the "sizzle reel." pic.twitter.com/kCJ5pew41D
— WFAN Sports Radio (@WFAN660) October 30, 2020
Carton started by immediately taking some digs at Mike Francesa by using an abbreviated version of Chris Russo’s old opening while broadcasting from Francesa’s old studio. He reminded listeners that the two of them did not get along and noted that when producers for the HBO documentary “Wild Card,” about the radio host’s intense gambling addiction, reached out to Francesa to see if he’d like to be involved, Mike said, per Carton, “No chance.”
Carton also said he reached out to Michael Kay, whose radio program runs at the same time, and told him, “My job is to beat you, good luck.”
While Carton wanted to use the opportunity to set the tone for what listeners should expect and remind those who might have forgotten who he is, it’s likely that the schtick is going to rub a lot of people the wrong way. Despite the fact that he served his time, there are plenty of critics who feel as though Carton did not deserve to get his old job back, especially so soon. Given his crimes and issues, they might have wanted to at least hear a more contrite version of Carton come out of the experience. And while there was some remorse, he also sounded as “obnoxious as ever,” per the NY Post’s Andrew Marchand.
To be fair, Carton did address his gambling problems and how that intersects with the bevy of gambling advertising on sports radio and in sports media today.
.@CraigCartonlive opened up about a lot of his personal demons during his one-hour return to WFAN today. pic.twitter.com/s6ajKXGhwg
— WFAN Sports Radio (@WFAN660) October 29, 2020
And as for those who might not want to see Carton succeed or wish someone else had been given this opportunity, the radio host doesn’t appear to be losing sleep on the matter.
“Those of you that don’t want me to come back – I’m back. That’s on you to figure out how to deal with it.”
“There are also people I noticed in the business, people who are talk show hosts, and radio guys and gals who don’t like the fact that I got this chance and maybe they didn’t. And they wanted the chance,” Carton said. “What I would say to every one of you, whomever you may be – I was away for three years, I have not been on the radio in three years. I think Boomer said today, 1,150 days. You have had plenty of time to get better at what you do. You didn’t. That’s on you. That’s not on me. Got it? Good.”
Something tells us the phone calls on November 9 should be pretty interesting.
Thank you for all of the amazing feedback It felt great to be back in the building. Today was monumental for me and I can’t wait till November 9 to start with @EvanRobertsWFAN Plus @7BOOMERESIASON is now buying me a pony and I’m getting my shortstop spot back. What a perfect day
— Craig Carton (@craigcartonlive) October 30, 2020