From one of radio's former loudest, orneriest, most beloved, and highest-rated sports radio personalities, a bold and hilarious memoir of sports, manhood, and what it is to be a fan.
In 1991, fresh from college, Craig Carton drove a crappy 1980 Buick to Buffalo, New York, to interview for a job at WGR radio. The station manager who hired him was the first to recognize his considerable on-air talent, and helped start what has become a legendary radio career. Often compared to Howard Stern, Carton has hosted a series of highly rated shows, and in 2007 he joined WFAN, where he and Boomer Esiason hosted an eponymous show every morning for four hours out of a studio in New York City.
In this debut book, Carton invites the reader to join him as he recounts tales from his suburban youth, defends his long-held love affair with the New York Jets, reminisces about the shenanigans of some of the highest paid and most celebrated athletes playing today, and reflects on his work as one of radio’s craftiest, most hilarious personalities ever to get behind the microphone.
Six-oh-three—nice job, Eddie! Welcome, welcome, welcome! Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton ohhhhhhhhnnnn The Fan, and we have a great show for you today.
The first time I said that line was on September 4, 2007. It was the single most rewarding professional sentence I’ve ever spoken. I have been blessed to say it every day now for five years in a row. Some said I would be an “overnight success”; others said I’d never make it. “What a terrible choice,” the columnists wrote. “The show has no chance,” bloggers predicted. And some listeners complained that I was arrogant and full of myself. I not only remember every negative word written, spoken, and blogged about that first show, I remember every single person who said each thing. I use them and their comments as fuel to drive me to be the best, most successful radio host in the world.
Overnight success, huh?
I was an intern at WFAN Radio twenty-four years ago when they celebrated their first birthday—at a time when most radio experts thought they would never see a second.
“He’ll never make it”—okay, asshole, perhaps you forgot to check my background. I was mentored by the legendary Bob Wolfe, the man who called Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, when I took a class at Pace University while still enrolled in high school. Maybe you didn’t realize that I was a major ratings success in Buffalo, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Denver. “What a terrible choice,” they said—but did they know that I was the single most-listened-to afternoon radio host in America, or that I was the host around whom an entire syndication company started, which would be heard in more than forty cities?
I was, and am, confident—but hardly cocky or full of myself. Not when I grew up with parents who never fostered self-confidence, but instead locked me in traction to try to knock the Tourette’s out of me, or kicked me off the varsity sports teams in high school so I could spend more time studying and join the marching band. My parents were so involved in my life that I was guarded more viciously than the gold at Fort Knox.
I laugh at all of it now. All of the skeptics who said I would never amount to anything in radio. I laugh at the way I was raised. I laugh on the outside, and I put on a good show. Life is like day camp to me. That’s my personal mantra, and I try to live up to it as much as I can. But on the inside, I’m still a somewhat insecure child who worries about ratings, about when my show will come to an end, and about not being good enough for my boss, my partner, my wife, and my family.
I can’t believe that I host the most-listened-to morning radio show in all of New York, even though I know I’m good enough to do it. I can’t believe that I replaced Don Imus and, along with my partner Boomer Esiason, have better ratings every month than Imus had in more than twenty years on the radio. Yet I also believe that there was nobody better in America to replace him than me.
Deep down, I am conflicted. I can’t have a basic one-on-one conversation without getting fidgety and uncomfortable, yet I can stand on a stage with a microphone in my hands and perform in front of thousands of people without breaking a sweat or raising my heartbeat. Radio is my salvation; it’s my escape from reality. On air, I can be anyone I want to be, and I have chosen to be a super self-confident, fun-loving guys’ guy. Off the air, I’m an introverted loner who has no problem staying in the house or avoiding interaction with people. Radio is my drug. I need a microphone and an audience, even if I can’t see them, to release my demons—both real and imagined. It’s no wonder I picked the most insecure profession in the world to be my life’s calling.
Sports and radio: what a wonderful combination. As a kid, the field or the court was my salvation, or my release from reality. From sunup to sundown I was outside playing. As an adult, I did what came most naturally, which was to keep sports in my life by talking about them. The more I get to talk about other people, the less I have to focus on myself. I therefore rarely take days off.
For five years now, the Boomer & Carton radio show has been number one in the ratings, and yet I still sweat out my Monday noon phone call with Mark Chernoff, my boss, when he tells me the weekly ratings. I sweat tenths of a point. I get depressed if our lead dwindles by even a fraction of a point, and then celebrate being number one, moments later.
I host the number-one show in radio, and yet my greatest professional satisfaction is being able to tell the naysayers to fuck off. Proving people wrong is a side job for me.
Yet I live every day as if it can all end tomorrow. That being said, when the haters continue to write malicious things about me, one fact cannot be denied: I may be bald and broken, but I made it to the top.
Craig Carton is the former cohost of the Boomer and Carton radio show on Sports Radio 660 WFAN and the former host of "MMA Uncensored Live" on Spike. He has hosted shows at WGR Radio in Buffalo, WWWE in Cleveland, 610-WIP in Philadelphia, KKFN and KBPI in Denver, New Jersey 101.5 in New Jersey, and WNEW in New York City.
"After working with Craigy for six years, I have seen all 50 shades of him. It is my job to not only keep him in line on the air, but to also keep us from killing each other. And it is one of the best jobs I have ever had. So now, I welcome you to the 50 Shades of Craig Carton."
– Boomer Esiason, The Boomer and Carton Show
“I listen to this guy every morning. Why I want more of him and in book form… I don’t know. But I do. Hilarious.”
– Jon Stewart, The Daily Show
"Craig Carton is funny, insightful, tough and a great family man and friend. You are going to love him even more after you read this book!"
– Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey
“[Carton] is a veritable and imposing encyclopedia of sports arcana.”
– Hunter Atkins, Men's Journal
"In the same loud, irreverent style of his radio show, Carton broadcasts the story of his life in sports and radio through a series of vignettes on topics ranging from his father's intolerance and authoritarian manner to the night he lost his virginity, his encounters with hookers, and his ascent to radio stardom through various stints in Buffalo, N.Y.; Cleveland, Ohio; and Philadelphia."
– Publishers Weekly
It’s been said that someone in Craig’s business needs to have “POKE” – meaning they must have “Personality, Opinion, Knowledge and provide Entertainment.” Well, Carton’s got all that – and then some...a very funny read – full of juicy stories and view-points."
"Loudmouth delves deep into what drives a 'fucked up kid' like Craig Carton to eventually strive to be number one in radio....CC let's it all hang out... [Loudmouth]surely will be a bestseller."