When we first got to the station, our show, which was the same as it is today, was so different from anything else WFAN had on the air. We replaced Don Imus, who’d been kicked off the air for his “nappyheaded hos” comment, and as a result of replacing Imus and for no other reason, we were deemed lesser talents than him by our fellow hosts. Joe decided it would be a good idea to go on the highly rated afternoon show and attack me by telling their audience that he didn’t like me or our show.
I was pissed. Why would Joe, or anybody else for that matter, attack the new morning show? We are his lead-in. The better we do, the better chance he has of getting ratings. His attack made no sense to me. I listened to his comments a few times and then decided I would fight back. Joe attacked because he thought he would ingratiate himself to Mike Francesa, the longtime afternoon show host who also, by his own admission, went out of his way to try to prevent us from being successful.
In reality, Mike didn’t give a shit what Joe thought, but he certainly cared about how the station was reacting to us and to this event. So much so that when I called Mike on his behavior years later, he admitted, and I quote: “We were jealous of all the attention you guys were getting.” I was later told that as the WFAN newsroom listened to coverage of my walk, Mike came out of his office looking for the info on a story he wanted to talk about on the air later that day. When he couldn’t get anyone to turn away, he yelled, “Stop paying attention to some idiot walking across a bridge! I need a sound bite now!”
I had been in radio for nearly twenty years at this point and had been through my share of battles. Joe Benigno wasn’t going to attack me on the air and not be told how stupid it was. The next day I started attacking his age, his sound, and his show. He came into the studio where our producer sits, and probably was figuring I would bring him on the air and give him a chance to defend himself, but I gave him no such shot. I waited until we went to a commercial and then called him in.
Before the door could close all the way, I explained in very clear terms how ridiculous and offensive his baseless attack was and that we wouldn’t tolerate it again. Joe left the studio without saying a word.
Five years later, our relationship is more than cordial—although we are not friends—and I firmly believe the Joe and Evan midday radio show is the best midday show the radio station has ever had.
“Craigie is out of the car, and will begin the walk after five strikes of the triangle,” Boomer told the WFAN audience. When I was a high school sophomore, my parents made me join the New Rochelle High School Marching Band. I played the drums, but also at one point I had to play the triangle for a particular song. This fact made great fodder for our show, and I felt it only appropriate to relive those days. So out came the triangle, and five hits later, I was on my way.
There is something surreal about having people watch you walk. I not only became aware of how I walked, I became insecure about it. Do I walk funny? Do I have a cool, confident walk? Do I . . . ugh, stop! My brain was in overload. So I stopped walking, raised my bullhorn above my head, and chanted “J-E-T-S! Jets, Jets, Jets!” Luckily, the thousands of people behind me echoed my chant in broken unison. A simple chant, and I was back on my way. God, do I love Jets fans.
Find a copy of Craig Carton’s Loudmouth here.