WFAN host Bart Scott, who returned to the air on Friday with Maggie Gray, addressed “the elephant in the room”: the sudden ouster of former co-host Chris Carlin.
Scott and Gray opened their afternoon show on a day they called “weird” and “sad” with an emotional tribute, thanking Carlin and saying he’s still part of “CMB.” Carlin announced Wednesday he was out at the radio station.
“The elephant on the room, of course, right, is Chris Carlin’s not going to be with us anymore. But this is CMB. Maggie Gray, Bart Scott and Chris Carlin,” Scott said in opening the show. “He’ll be part of this show at least until the contract is over with in January. I still consider this show CMB, but it is awkward.”
That point was driven home when the show started with its familiar theme music, which then moved into the sounds of crickets and a voice saying “awkward.”
Gray touched on that awkwardness, and praised Carlin for his efforts in making it less so for a pair of outsiders who walked into WFAN – a place she admitted can be foreboding.
“We have to laugh to keep from crying. … Man, I’ll be honest with you: It’s weird and it is sad today, because Carlin honestly…,” Gray began, before a momentary pause. “I don’t want to get choked up. … He’s is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had.
“Bart, you’ve actually been part of a professional team. This is so difficult because he is such a good guy. You guys know Chris is so talented as a broadcaster, he makes it look easy, and it is not. And behind the scenes he’s even better than behind the mic, and we’re going to miss hanging out with him every day. This is a trio, and now we’re down to two.”
Carlin was perceived as the most in jeopardy after Mike Francesa’s return in mid-2018 displaced CMB from the afternoon show to an abbreviated 1-3 p.m. slot – a perception that was proven correct. Carlin had the most radio experience of the trio, and helped ease Gray’s and Scott’s transition.
“Let’s be completely honest – I’m going to talk for myself, but I think Bart you echo the sentiment also – this is not an easy place to walk in the door if you’re an outsider, and I’m talking about WFAN,” Gray said. “Especially the way we came in, under a lot of scrutiny and really under a huge microscope.
“Having Chris Carlin is like having a WFAN passport. It’s like going to a foreign county where he speaks the language, and he brought us in. He made it so that we were accepted around here and then by extension the audience at large because they knew him and he was familiar to them and then they got comfortable with us.”
Gray and Scott are expected to stay at WFAN, but their exact roles are up in the air until Francesa decides what he wants to do. Scott said he considers Carlin a part of CMB until their contracts run out in December, and he is determined to help his former partner get a bonus for a No. 1 finish in the ratings.
“I’m eternally grateful for him,” Scott said. “I’ve worked with some special hosts before, and James Brown [of CBS] I would put in that category. But now I put Chris Carlin in there as well, because it takes a lot of humility and you have to really be comfortable in who you are to try and shine the light shine on other people like Chris did with me and you and allowed us to be us.
“He handled so much of the technical work – the transitions, the reads, the in and out of breaks, the reminders, the structure of the show – that he allowed us to be able to – especially me – just to run around crazy and do my thing and say crazy things, the tutu and all the fun stuff.
“So Chris, I know you’re listening big fella because you love us, and I know you’ll still tune in. Thank you for everything, and we’re going to make sure we get you that bag. We’re going to make sure we get you that No. 1 spot, because you’re still on the payroll. We’re gonna get this bonus for you, big fella.”