NYC’s all-sports radio outlet WFAN celebrated a 25th anniversary earlier this month, and some aspects of the station’s history have been chronicled here and there, no one has tackled the subject with nearly as much depth and perspective as Grantland’s Alex French and Howie Kahn. “The Sound and the Fury : The fall and rise of the first all-sports talk station, WFAN” is an oral history that’s only a few hundred pages short of rivaling Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller’s “Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live”. OK, perhaps that’s a bit of crazy hyperbole on my part. Would you believe “Please Kill Me”?
Perhaps there’s not enough to the WFAN tale to flesh out an entire book, but I wouldn’t mind seeing French and Kahn give it a shot. In the Grantland piece, there’s ample praise for CSTB fave Steve Somers, considerable ridicule over the sad Queens tenure of Dino Costa’s artistic influence, Pete Franklin, a suggestion that Jim Lampley was drunk on the job, and at least one gratuitous diss of Suzyn Waldman. Right up my alley so far, but best of all is the way one-time WFAN cash cow Don Imus burnishes his hate-fuck reputation.
Len Berman (sports anchor): I agreed to do a show for the station with Mike Lupica, but I immediately had remorse and I called up the general manager and said, “I just don’t know if I can do this.” And, of course, news was — and still is — a leaky sieve coming out of WFAN, so Bob Raissman broke the story in the New York Daily News. Raissman started calling me Achy-Breaky Contract in the paper and Imus, on his morning show, had one of his characters in a German accent calling me Lenny the Jew. Afterward, when I was on with Lupica, I said on the air — on Imus’s radio station — that I thought it was anti-Semitic, and then it just blew up. It became the front and back page of the Daily News and Imus claimed he wanted to punch me, and, you know, Lupica hardly talks to me now to this day, and on and on it goes.
Joel Hollander: He called Len a “boner-nosed Jew.”
Jeff Smulyan: I’m obviously a pretty well-identified Jew and I never felt that Don was ever anti-Semitic or anti-anything. He just liked to poke fun at everybody.