The Kid & The Pope: A Day At WFAN
Two appearances on two shows, and a whole lot in between.
Thursday, June 8th. It’s seven in the morning and I’m up and wired. I’ve probably only slept five hours, I’m amped, too amped actually. In just a few short hours, I’d be in the SoHo section of Manhattan, at the studios of the first sports radio station to ever exist in WFAN, and maybe — just maybe — on the air.
I’d been previewing this day in my head for months.
I’d originally met the legendary Mike Francesa at FrancesaCon back in March and initially posed the question of joining him in studio shortly before he went to greet his rabid fans. At that point, he scoffed at my request and said no.
That was the end of that dream — or so I thought. On the Monday after the fourth edition of FrancesaCon (held in the infamous Irving Plaza in downtown Manhattan) I called him up and recapped our face-to-face encounter.
During that conversation, we discussed why I was inspired to call him incessantly in the first place — a barrage of unfortunate bullying that I desperately wanted to escape — which, to my delight, garnered me the invite I had been seeking.
So there I was, on a Thursday — just a normal Thursday in June — riding through the typically terrible traffic of New York City on my way to WFAN’s home offices at 345 Hudson Street.
As I walked in and got my ID from security, Francesa himself — clad in a dark orange shirt and summer shorts — entered the premises.
“HEY MIKE!” I exclaimed.
“Hello,” he calmly replied.
And then we parted ways, only to cross paths a short while later.
After making my way up through the elevator to the 10th floor, Brian Monzo, one half of Mike’s producing team, lets me in.
After a quick tour of who’s who, where everything is, and how it works, I chat with CBS Sports Radio’s Damon Amendolara about my career (and his). Just as the conversation began to shift from a simple introduction to a pleasant Q&A, out comes none other than Joe Benigno.
As Monzo introduces me Joe’s eyes grow wide and a smile from ear-to-ear breaks out.
“OOOOOOHHHH” he exclaimed in excitement.
“Do you wanna have him on? I don’t mind bro,” Joe says to Monzo.
Three good minutes of radio with a couple guys who’ve been nothing but nice to me whenever I’ve called them? Check.
But I had one more appearance I was really hoping to make.
As Mike made his way in to the studio, I asked: “So what’s gonna happen?”
“What do you mean what’s gonna happen?” He responds.
“Am I gonna be on the air?” I reply.
“We’ll see” he says, before promptly entering the studio to begin his show, opening it with his thoughts on Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
Off the air — during one of quite a few commercial breaks that saw Mike enter the control room where I was seated and watching all unfold — he asked what time I’d be leaving.
“Four,” I said.
I must’ve asked him if I could be on the air at least 50 times.
“I may throw you on before then, but if you promote it you’re dead” he shot back.
A few minutes later just as WFAN programming director Mark Chernoff entered the control room to ask me if I was enjoying the show, came the words I’d been dying to hear: “Monz send him in”.
“OH MAN!!!” I shouted, it was finally going to happen.
Then came these 10 golden minutes (if you don’t count the interview with Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia that briefly interrupted it):
The feedback after my appearance was both overwhelming and wonderful:
Sure, I have some haters too. Haters who’ve ultimately tried to dismiss me and mock my appearance on the show. Those haters are the same ones upset because I chose to block them rather than deal with an online version of what I braved in middle school: bullying.
Yet, no matter what those haters may say, nothing will top both the wonderful feeling and time I had throughout my day at WFAN.
Never in a million years could I have predicted having so much fun. Thanks to everyone on the WFAN staff for being so hospitable, thanks to everyone for listening, and thanks to both Joe And Evan and Mike Francesa for giving this bright-eyed dorky kid from the Elm City a chance to live his dream and feel like a king, even if it was for only one day.
I’ll always be grateful.