Boomer Esiason, the famed quarterback, who found a second career in broadcasting, and Craig Carton, have been having fun as morning show hosts on WFAN for four years. However on September 14, 2010, the duo took the show to the MSG Network for a daily simulcast.
This week, the cable network threw a party for the personalities to mark the one-year anniversary.
“We knew it would be successful, and it’s been every bit as successful as we kind of dreamt,” Carton tells FishbowlNY. “We couldn’t be any happier where we are going into year five.”
Esiason, who already has many years on TV, primarily with CBS’ The NFL Today, knew he was going to be part of a special partnership.
“I felt there was something very unique about our relationship from the first time I met Craig,” Esiason admits. “Four years ago when we met, I’d like to think that I told the powers that be at CBS [Radio], “You’re going to have a number one show,” Esiason says.
He says management, led by operations manager Mark Chernoff, laughed off his proclamation.
Boomer and Carton replaced Don Imus, who was fired after a media frenzy over comments he made about the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team.
Esiason says, though, there was no need to start their program with awkwardness.
“We all understood why Imus got fired,” Esiason recalls. “Whether we agree with it or we don’t agree with it, the bottom line is we were replacing a legend.”
Getting past the ghost of Imus, Esiason says he and Carton are genuine on the air.
“It’s real, it’s spontaneous, and most of it, 98 percent of it, is completely off the cuff,” Esiason admits.
Though their chemistry is at times indescribable, Carton is never at a loss for words.
“I’ve allowed myself to bring what’s simply an ego-maniacal quarterback in the radio world and tame him,” Carton deadpans.
After poking fun at his cohort, Carton gets serious.
“He clearly needed my guidance and my direction,” Carton admits. “I think I’ve done a good job harnessing Boomer in what he brings to the table.”
Esiason says the radio magic works because, as they say, opposites attract.
“[We’re] the odd couple, Felix and Oscar, Abbott and Costello…It’s the athlete, the non-athlete,” Esiason says.
And yet, the one-time Jets’ signal caller has found a good balance with Carton.
“We do have a lot in common, though,” Esiason says. “We’re both dads, we both take that part of our life very seriously.”
Another common trait they share–having a thick skin—many times with each other digs.
Although they talk sports throughout the morning, he says that’s not the glue.
“The ‘meat and potatoes’ of it is he and I, our relationship, the relationship with our group of family members all on the air with us, and that has manifested itself over four years into kind of a sorority, fraternity kind of act.” Esiason says.
Now that the show has performed so well for ‘FAN, they welcomed the chance to show viewers the inner-working of the presentation. But Carton cautions, they are radio hosts on television.
“The show hasn’t changed one little bit,” Carton says. “We do it as though the cameras aren’t there… If the cameras were turned off tomorrow, I’m doing a radio show.”
There is one change, now the Carton is a “TV star.”
“We have a full-time make-up girl,” Carton jokes. “Without her, I look like shit.”