WFAN Timeline: 1987 – 2012
WFAN signs on at 3pm, July 1st, 1987. WFAN was located at 1050 AM as the station (owned at the time by Emmis Broadcasting), formerly known as WHN flipped formats (from country music) and changed the call letters (to WFAN). Suzyn Waldman was the first voice heard on WFAN (after the new jingle for WFAN was played) as she did the sports update at 3pm.
Greg Gumbel was hired as the first morning show host. Jim Lampley as the midday host (10am-1pm) with Art Shamsky (former Met) as the 1-3pm host. Pete Franklin was hired to do afternoon drive but had a heart attack and did not do his first show until September 14, 1987. WFAN filled his slot with guest hosts including Jim Lampley who did the first few days (including July 1st) as the afternoon host before moving to 10am-1pm. Later in 1987, Lampley moved to 1-3pm and Spencer Ross hosted from 10am-1pm. Howie Rose was the original host of 7pm-midnight and stayed in that slot until 1994 (Howie is currently the main play by play announcer on WFAN’s Mets broadcasts). Steve Somers was the original overnight host and stayed there until 1995. Since then, Steve hosted middays for a few years before settling in as the night-time host (6:30pm-1am…much of it around Mets, Devils, or Nets games).
October, 1988: during the National league Championship Series, WFAN made two game changing moves. WNBC, which was broadcasting at 660 AM was sold by NBC to Emmis. Emmis than moved WFAN from 1050 AM to 660 AM. Since WFAN was broadcasting Mets games (inherited from WHN and still on WFAN to this day!), the “switch” was pulled to put WFAN on 660 AM before the Mets/Dodgers NLCS game. At the same time, Emmis signed Don Imus to a contract. Imus was working at WNBC from 5:30-10am and all he had to do was move his studio location from Manhattan to Astoria (Queens) where the WFAN studios were located. Imus actually “pulled the switch”. So, it was Imus in the Morning on 66 WFAN.
Also in 1988 WFAN becomes the flagship station for the Knicks and Rangers.
The next big game changing move was in September, 1989 with the debut of Mike and the Mad Dog to replace Pete Franklin. Mike Francesa had joined the station in the late summer of 1987 (so he’s only a couple of months short of being here the full 25 years). Chris Russo joined in 1988. Mike did the midday show for a while with Ed Coleman. Chris Russo (Mad Dog) was doing weekends. Both Mike and Chris also did morning sports for Imus for a period of time. The show was a major change in sports broadcasting having two co-hosts. It set a standard for much of sports radio around the country as new sports host “teams” were built. Mike and Chris worked together for 19 years. Chris left in August, 2008. Mike continues solo in the afternoon hosting from 1-6:30. The Mike and the Mad Dog show and later on the Mike Francesa Show have been simulcast on the YES Network since 2001.
In 1989 WFAN broadcasts its first annual Radiothon to benefit Tomorrows Children’s Fund and raises over $1.2 million. These Radiothons continue through 2007 and raise over 40 million dollars. Charities later joining the Radiothons are the CJ Foundation for SIDS and the Imus Ranch for Kids with Cancer.
1993: WFAN signs the Jets and begins to broadcast their games in August. Our deals with the jets continue through the 1998 season.
March, 1993: Len Berman and Mike Lupica are hired to do a joint midday show but we decide to split them up. Lupica does 10am-noon. Berman noon-2pm. WFAN begins 20/20 sports with updates at the top of the hour, 20 past the hour and 20 before the hour.
March, 1993; Sweeny Murti is hired as a board operator and producer. Sweeny leaves a few years later to gain on-air experience and then comes back to WFAN as our Yankees beat reporter and is still with us today as our Yankees Beat Reporter.
May, 1993: John Cloghessy, update anchor leaves and is replaced by Bill Daughtry to anchor night-time sportscasts.
June, 1993: Imus syndication officially began on June 21st with the show simulcast on Infinity’s WQYK-AM in Tampa. Other station joining in July included WEEI, Boston; WWRX, Providence, and WTEM, Washington, D.C.
July, 1993: Bob Heussler hired as an update anchor and is till with WFAN. Len Berman decides it’s too much to host a midday show along with his duties as WNBC-TV’s weeknight sports anchor and additional duties on the morning “Today” show. His last day was July 22nd. Paul Olden is hired as the Jets play-by-play announcer. Ian Eagle is named as host of the Jets pre-game, post-game and half-time shows.
August, 1993: Imus suffers a collapsed lung on August 2nd. He spends most of the month recuperating at Cornell Medical Center but manages to do many call-ins until he returns to the studio on September 7th.
August, 1993; Chris Moore, a part-time host leaves become the play-by-play announcer for the NHL’s Florida Panthers. He continues to do some work for us when in town over the next two years then rejoins WFAN in 2012 as a part-time host.
August, 1993: Mike Lupica now hosts from 10am-1pm. Mike and the Mad dog 1-6pm and Howie Rose from 6pm-10pm (or midnight when Mets play).
October, 1993: Mike Lupica resigns as a WFAN host to concentrate on his newspaper duties and book writing. Russ Salzberg is hired to do middays and starts on November 1, 1993.
1993-1994 WFAN broadcasts the Knicks and Rangers. The Rangers go on to win the Stanley Cup on June 14th and the Knicks get to a game seven in the NBA finals (which ended on June 23rd).
February 17, 1994: President Bill Clinton appears on the Imus in the Morning program. On February 21st, Imus announces his impending marriage to his fiancée Deirdre.
March 18, 1994; WFAN begins “Friday Night Hoops”—three months of NBA related shows hosted by Ian Eagle and Bernard King.
May, 1994: WFAN re-ups with the Knicks and Rangers for an additional five seasons.
June, 1994: Ian Eagle is named raio play by play announcer for the New Jersey Nets but continues his work on WFAN.
August 12, 1994: The Major league baseball lockout begins and continues through the rest of the season and on into the early part of the 1995 season.
October, 1994: The NHL begins a three month lockout that doesn’t end until January 13th with opening night on January 20th.
April 5, 1995: Al D’Amato insults Asian Americans by making fun of OJ Simpson trial judge Lance Ito on the Imus show and it becomes a front page story. Sen. D’Amato eventually apologizes on the Senate floor.
June 19, 1995: Steve Somers joins Russ Salzberg for the midday show, 10am-1pm.
September 1, 1995: Howie Rose last day as WFAN’s nighttime host. Bill Daughtry is named the new 6-10pm host.
September, 4, 1995: Joe Benigno begins hosting the overnight show.
September 6, 1995: Scott Ferrall begins a 10pm-1am show which is also syndicated through Westwood One.
1995-1996: Kenny Albert is hired as the main Rangers radio play by play announcer. Marv Albert still does a handful of games.
December, 1995: Bob Wischusen is hired as a part-time host and sports anchor.
March 21, 1996: Imus generates excitement as the after dinner speaker at the Washington, DC “Radio and TV Correspondents Dinner”. The White House intervenes to not allow a rebroadcast of the show on C-SPAN and it becomes front page news in the media giving Imus unprecedented publicity as what was originally a small item became major news—Imus “making fun” of President Clinton. A big piece on Imus ran on “60 Minutes” on March 31st.
April 16, 1996: Imus inducted into the NAB Hall of Fame. WFAN picks up the rights to the Giants in 1996. Games will be broadcast on WOR for the 1996 season but now WFAN is also “The flagship station for NY Giants football”. The Giants move to WFAN full-time beginning with the 1999 season.
July 17, 1996: We announce that Imus will begin to simulcast on the new MS/NBC network (was a partnership at the time with Microsoft and NBC and yes, the slash was in the name). Frist broadcast will be September 3, 1996.
1996: WFAN wins two Marconi Awards: major Market Station of the year and News/Talk Station of the year.
1997: Imus is named as one of the most 25 influential people in America by “Time Magazine”.
1997/1998: Ian Eagle does Jets play by play. Ian leaves after the 1997 season to broadcast NFL games on CBS TV. Howard David becomes the Jets play by play announcer for the 1998 season, the team’s last season on WFAN.
January 5, 1999: WFAN puts together a special broadcast the Yogi Berra Museum in New Jersey and George Steinbrenner appeared live and apologized to Yogi live on WFAN on the show hosted by Suzyn Waldman. Yogi once again became a fixture at Yankee Stadium!
February 18, 1999: WFAN breaks the Roger Clemens trade to the Yankees from the Toronto Blue Jays.
March 31, 1999—Ferrall’s last day. WFAN had only nominally broadcast the late night show due to many conflicts arising from our game broadcasts.
January 19, 2000: Mike Breen’s last day as the sportscaster on the Imus in the Morning program. He left due to his expanded game broadcasting duties. Warner Wolf does sports Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Patrick McEnroe does sports on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
1999-2000: Tiki Barber joins WFAN to host shows during the NFL off-season.
April 3, 2000: Mike and the Mad Dog expand their show from 6pm to 6:30pm.
2000: Russ Salzberg leaves, Steve Somers moves to 6:30-midnight and Suzyn Waldman and Jody McDonald take over the 10am-1pm midday slot.
January 4, 2001: Patrick McEnroe’s last day as a regular sports reporter on the Imus show as he leaves to coach the US Davis Cup (Tennis) team.
2001: Sid Rosenberg joins the Imus show and does morning sports twice a week.
September, 11, 2001: WFAN begins wall-to-wall coverage of the events of that day including eyewitness reports from Warner Wolf who lived a couple of blocks away from the World Trade Towers.
November 16, 2001: Suzyn Waldman leaves her fulltime midday hosting slot on WFAN to move to Yankees TV on the new YES network for the 2002 season. She is replaced by Sid Rosenberg.
March, 2002: Mike and the Mad Dog Show begins simulcasting on the YES Network. After Dog leaves, the show continues with Mike hosting by himself 9and it continues today).
October, 2002: Warner Wolf leaves the Imus show due to his increased duties at CBS 2. Sid Rosenberg becomes the full-time morning sports anchor on the program.
June 28, 2003: Tony Paige rejoins WFAN. He had been a part-time host at the station in the late 1990’s.
September 25, 2003: Bob Murphy, who had announced his retirement earlier in the season,
wraps up 42 years as a Mets play by play announcer.
2004-2005 season: WFAN’s first season broadcasting NJ Devils hockey and NJ Nets basketball. Both relationships continue to this day.
2004: Joe Benigno joins Sid Rosenberg as the co-host of the midday 10am-1pm show.
April, 2007: Imus leaves WFAN.
September, 2007: Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton are hired as hosts of the WFAN Morning Show 6-10am. The show begins its simulcast on the MSG Network beginning in September, 2010.
August, 2008: Chris Russo (Mad Dog) leaves WFAN and Mike Francesa remains as the solo host of the afternoon show.