WFAN ("the FAN", the NYMets radio station)

Wilson Gray hwgray at EARTHLINK.NET
Thu Aug 5 19:32:28 UTC 2004

On Aug 5, 2004, at 2:52 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: WFAN ("the FAN", the NYMets radio station)
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------
> At 11:21 AM -0400 8/5/04, Alice Faber wrote:
>> George Thompson said:
>>> My previous adventure into Mets Land was in early July, when I
>>> caught the broadcasters passing the time during a rain delay.  It
>>> was about the time of the 25th (?) anniversary of the conversion of
>>> an earlier station with different call letters and a different
>>> format to WFAN, a 24 hour sports talk station.  One of the
>>> broadcasters had in fact been with the earlier station, recalling
>>> having participated in the mournful get-together of the broadcasters
>>> laid off from the old station, then walking down the hall to join
>>> the celebration of the broadcasters hired by "the FAN".
>>> His recollections of the earliest months of the FAN was that it
>>> achieved direction and acceptance among NYC listeners when it made
>>> it a policy that all its on-air moderators should be from NYC.
>>> (Presumably this involved firing some of the celebrants of a few
>>> months before.)  The new policy was based on the thought that when
>>> NYC sports fans heard NYC accents they would accept that this
>>> moderator understood their fanaticism for their local teams.
>>> Those of you who come unglued when you hear an interesting regional
>>> accent ought to check it out.  I suppose that the broadcasts, except
>>> for the game broadcasts, are to be heard through the web.
>> Last I checked, FAN wasn't on the web. But I've pretty much stopped
>> listening to them, for a variety of reasons, mainly that their
>> competition is better. But the best regional accents were always from
>> the callers, not the hosts, and I'd imagine that's true for any local
>> call-in station. And it helps that callers typically identify
>> themselves as, e.g., "Joe from Floral Park" or whatever.
> I was just discussing off-line with Alice my impression, which she
> confirms and extends, that several current and past WFAN hosts have
> indeed been non-New Yorkers, including at least Eddie Coleman and
> Suzyn Waldman (Boston) and Steve Somers (San Francisco).  Presumably
> Mike Francesa and Chris (Mad Dog) Russo, both from Long Island, count
> as New Yorkers, although the latter is from Syosset, which is a ways
> out (unlike Long Beach, Mike's hometown).  I've always been partial
> to Mad Dog's malaprops, proper name manglings, and set expressions
> (e.g. "until the absolute cows come home").
> I'm sure the FAN hasn't logged 25 years yet; I remember when they
> debuted, replacing an old country AM station (up the dial at 1050),
> and I've only been in range since '81.  Maybe it was a 15 year
> anniversary.
> My favorite NY-dialect-bearing-host moment on the FAN came after a
> typically up-and-down Knicks game in March 1997, which they
> eventually (barely) won.  The speaker was Joe Benigno, the overnight
> host who started out as "Joe from Saddle River", before winning his
> job through a competition among callers.  Imagine this passage (which
> I was fortunate enough to capture on tape and have playing in class
> during discussion of "positive _anymore_" ever since) spoken with a
> heavy New York Metro accent
> "Another agita special.  The Knicks are a different team from quarter
> to quarter [KWAWduh duh KWAWduh] anymaw."
> When I first posted this here in '97, I commented 'Somehow the
> combination of the indigenous
> vocalic clusters and the very much non-indigenous use of "anymore"
> struck me as
> particularly incongruous', but since then I've heard (on 10/4/01)
> another positive "anymore" from another WFAN host whom Alice informs
> me is also a native (albeit rhotic) New Yorker, Jody McDonald.  Jody
> Mac's reference was to the Mets' pitcher Steve Trachsel:
> "He's getting three, three and a half mil, that's what you've got to
> pay for a fifth starter anymore."
> Larry

This reminds me of an old story of Bill Labov's [modified by memory
faults and the need to update it]:

Researcher: Do you see anything the matter with this sentence?
"Cigarettes are really cheap anymore."
Informant:      Yes.
R.                    What's the matter with it?
I.                       It's wrong. Cigarettes aren't cheap. They're
really expensive anymore.

-Wilson Gray


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