If you love Sports Radio and live in the Tri-State area you have two choices when it comes to your morning commute – WFAN’s Boomer & Carton or ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike. Here at The Empire Writes back we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what shows you should be listening too, and which ones can be taken off your presets in our 3 part series, New York Sports Radio Face off.
Boomer & Carton
By the numbers Boomer & Carton is the most popular morning radio show amongst the young male demographic (18-34) in New York City. Like similar shows Boomer & Carton’s popularity comes from the combination of level-headed straight man Boomer Esiason and funny man Craig Carton, who play off of each others strengths and generally keep the show light hearted and comedic. The two biggest differences between Boomer & Carton and their ESPN Radio counterparts are the fact that they take live callers during the show, and generally focus on regional sports talk.
Although opinions vary greatly, most listeners would share similar opinions on the two hosts. For me the only thing that makes the show worth listening too is Boomer’s perspective. As a former NFL player, Boomer almost always has a very good grasp on where he stands on an issue, and how it relates to his past experiences as a professional athlete. Make no mistake about it, Boomer is the one driving the bus.
Carton on the other hand is the more polarizing figure of the two hosts. Usually people are going to fall into one of two camps when it comes to Craig Carton – Love him or Hate him. At his best, Carton has natural comedic timing, and offers great perspective on the New York sports scene. At his worst Carton can be a bit annoying at times, and even come across as arrogant.
Coverage of National sports stories: B+
Knowledge of local sports scene: A
Mike & Mike in the Morning
While ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning shares some similarities with Boomer & Carton, generally the shows follow a much different format. As opposed to the straight man/funny man dynamic that the Boomer & Carton show centers around Mike Greenberg & Mike Golic generally have more of an Odd Couple dynamic to their show, with Mike Greenberg serving as the resident “nerd” and Mike Golic taking the role of the average man. Besides the relationship between the hosts, the major differences around Mike and Mike’s format is that they do not take live callers during the show, and although the show is certainly New York-centric, it really is a national radio show. The topics on Mike and Mike center around the New York sports scene, but because the show is simulcast nationally they cover topics from across the country, regardless of sport. Besides Mike Greenberg being slightly less annoying than Craig Carton the real strength of Mike and Mike is in the top notch guests the show attracts. Being a national show, Mike and Mike always get the Dick Vitale’s, Mel Kiper Jr’s, and Buster Olney’s of the world. I wouldn’t say that this necessarily makes Mike and Mike in the Morning the better show, but they definitely boast more accomplished guests.
Knowledge of overall sports landscape: A-
Knowledge of local sports scene: A
This is a tough one.
I don’t know if I just tend to enjoy the midday and afternoon shows more or if everyone feels this way, but I generally get annoyed by the silly sounds, and overall whackiness of morning radio. When I tune into sports talk, I want just that: Sports talk.
Perhaps thats why I regularly go back and forth between both of these shows. I’ll have a six month run where the sound of Craig Carton’s voice is the most annoying and objectionable sound in the world, then I’ll feel that way about Mike Greeneberg for the next six months. I have basically bounced back and forth between these two shows over the last five years and will most likely continue to do so.
Overall I think the edge goes to Mike and Mike in the morning for the following reasons.
1. Mike Greenberg has a humility about him, which makes him a great host even if his nasally voice makes you want to change the station.
2. Craig Carton can seem arrogant at times, and certainly lacks the humility and self deprecation that makes Greenberg pleasant to listen to.
3. Both shows have very good former players as co-hosts, making Mike Golic and Boomer essentially a wash. In a perfect world these two would host a show together and make the radio listeners of the world very happy on their daily drive into the office.
Mike and Mike in the Morning
While both shows have their strength the personality of Craig Carton, coupled with the superior roster of guests of Mike and Mike push the ESPN duo over the edge.
Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of our New York Sports Radio Face-off when we examine the midday shows.