- Last Updated: 5:26 AM, July 1, 2012
- Posted: 1:30 AM, July 1, 2012
This was a few years ago, autumn of 2008, standing around a batting cage with a few baseball scribes in the final hours of Shea Stadium, when one of us — I think it was our guy Joel Sherman — gave voice to precisely what makes WFAN what it is on every platform, in every context, you choose.
The Mets were at the end of a second-straight collapse, and it didn’t matter who you were listening to — the newly-on-his-own Mike Francesa, the angst-riddled Mets duo of Benigno and Roberts, Richard Neer, the overnight crew, Boomer and Carton — whenever they opened up the phone lines, you literally could hear the oldest cliché about telephone lines — you could hear them lighting up like Christmas trees.
“It’s like group therapy for sports fans,” Joel said.
That’s exactly what it was. That’s exactly what it is. Forget whatever else WFAN ushered in when it was born 25 years ago; that’s what it’s greatest public service is, as a great electronic gathering place, a radio Town Hall, for sports fans.
It isn’t just in bad times, either, but amazing times (it was never a happier place than in June 1994, or in the aftermath of three Giants Super Bowl winners) and in contentious times (the run-up to Jets/Giants last December is what I always have envisioned every saloon, water cooler, restaurant and Automat had to be like in the days of Dodgers/Giants/Yankees).
For sports fans the notion of an all-talk, all-sports station always was something that seemed preposterous, even for those of us who grew up on the nascent sports shows hosted by folks such as Art Rust Jr. on WABC, or John Sterling on WMCA, or a wealth of I-listened-to-them-when kids on WFUV, the Fordham station, or even Oscar Madison during his short-lived time moonlighting on radio while still pounding out columns for the New York Herald.
You mean you can call someone up at 4 in the morning to moan about the Mets, to kill the Rangers’ power-play unit, to vent your anger about Steinbrenner?
Look, the FAN isn’t, and hasn’t, been only about callers. And in fact, if you ask me what its greatest achievement across 25 years is, I would have to say this: In an era when, if you travel a bit, you discover that most sports-talk stations sound like they emanate exclusively
from frat houses, FAN’s sports hosts are universally focused on RBIs and ERA, not T&A (we’ll except the morning shows, because they clearly never have been devoted strictly to sports fanatics. But for all the crass bits Boomer and Carton do, for instance, when they decide to talk sports they do it awfully well — and clean).Follow @NYPostsports