R.I.P. WFAN for NY Mets Fans
By Lisa R. Neilson
One of my favorite Stephen King novels is entitled The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. It’s a story about a little girl named Trisha who gets lost in the woods somewhere in Maine (most of King’s novels are set in his home state of Maine) while on a hike with her mother and brother. Somehow Trisha is able to tune into the Red Sox game on her portable radio while she battles the demons of the dark and scary forest alone. How lucky Trisha is to find her favorite baseball team on a tunable frequency deep in the Appalachian Trails. The comfort of the sounds of the game and the fantasies of her hero, Red Sox reliever Tom Gordon, help Trisha to stay focused (and alive!) and eventually find her way safely out of the woods and back to her family.
Trisha’s scenario would be markedly different if she was a Mets fan in 2014 lost in the Catskills. In her attempt to locate the New York Mets game on the old familiar WFAN (660 AM on the dial), where the games have been covered for over a quarter-century, she’d be out of luck. That’s because sister station CBS Radio has recently severed ties with the Mets and has announced a multi-year broadcast agreement instead with the New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers’ games will be aired on WFAN in 2014.
Business is business, right? That includes the broadcasting of Major League Baseball games. Chief operating officer for the New York Mets Jeff Wilpon informed fans that this break-up is no surprise. The departure from WFAN has been in the works, notes Wilpon, but where the Mets will land remains undetermined at this time. The possibilities include ESPN Radio or WOR Radio, both of which are downgrades in audiences compared to WFAN. And it will most likely mean less coverage on the FAN in general—the top sports radio station in New York City—since the Mets will no longer be the station’s featured baseball team.
The severance of the relationship between the Mets and WFAN is unfortunate. One thing that has remained constant for this team is its affiliation with their radio broadcaster. WFAN has carried the Mets’ telecasts since 1987. Mets fans have consistently been dedicated listeners. In fact, in 2012, the Mets averaged 283,200 listeners per game while the Yankees averaged 240,000. But the Mets were reportedly losing money for WFAN, who was most likely paying more for the broadcasting rights than the revenue being generated from those broadcasting rights.
CBS Radio President and CEO Dan Mason practically beaned the Mets, saying, “There is no bigger name in baseball than the Yankees, nor an organization so steeped in tradition. As the nation’s premier sports radio station we look forward to capturing all the excitement surrounding the team, and bringing it to millions of fans for many years to come.”
In the revised scenario of King’s novel, Trisha, lost and afraid in her scary surroundings, will be unable to easily locate the voices of Howie Rose and Josh Lewin giving the play-by-play of the boys from Flushing. She’ll have to navigate the dark forest alone with no comforting sounds from Citi Field to ease her mind. It’s unlikely the voice of Yankees broadcaster John Sterling and his infamous miscues will be enough to save her.
Sadly, Trisha may never find her way out of the deep, dark woods.