Mike Francesa escalates Michael Kay feud over ratings ‘lie’

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With five months left in his iconic WFAN career, Mike Francesa sure is getting caught up in trivialities.

The sports radio icon dedicated a portion of his Monday show to try to clarify the ratings battle between him and rival host Michael Kay, who last week questioned the popularity and attacked the quality of Francesa’s show. Days after the numbers came out for the spring months, which reportedly saw Kay’s ESPN show beat Francesa’s for the month of June (but not the overall three-month period), Francesa wanted his audience to hear the “truth” from him.

“You may have seen some stories that were fabricated, and I mean fabricated, that the other sports station somehow beat me in the ratings,” said Francesa, who returned to the airwaves Monday after a vacation and didn’t dare deign to use Kay’s name, via. NJ.com. “As you know, they never have. They put out some information that they won the ratings. Well, that is a complete fabrication. I care because of this: Because it’s just a lie.”

What he seems to believe Kay lied about is unclear. Kay certainly celebrated his one-month victory on Twitter, announcing the battle win and the war loss, but his pronouncements jibed with Francesa’s account of the ratings results.

Francesa, whose 30-year run at WFAN is set to come to an end on Dec. 15, was keen to point out his show maintained its ratings supremacy over Kay’s, finishing in fourth and thus two spots ahead for the three-month, spring book (April through June). Kay’s singular victory within that timeframe wasn’t enough to impress the 63-year-old Francesa.

“They lost the game 48-20, and won the fourth quarter, 10-9, and declared victory. It doesn’t work that way,” Francesa said. “Tell the truth.

“But to claim victory, when really all they did was win the last portion on what was a quirky statistical thing, and they won the June month by a tenth of a point,” he added. “Now, I don’t know if this is the first time they’ve ever won a month before. I have no idea, because we don’t go by months. We go by books.”

Kay reignited a long-standing feud last week when he called his show “quantifiably better” than Francesa’s. He admitted he was once a fan of “Mike and the Mad Dog” — which Francesa and former co-host Chris Russo celebrated last week with the release of ESPN’s 30 for 30 on the show — but that he wasn’t buying Francesa’s own WFAN show held a stranglehold on the current ratings.

“One thing that’s angered me is the No. 1 stuff [in the ratings] that Mike always talks about,” Kay told NorthJersey.com. “I was told in radio, turnaround is like turning around a cruise ship. It’s never hairpin. Also, ratings are bogus. If you watched Leno and Letterman head-to-head, Leno always beat him, but Letterman had the better show.

“There’s no way that if Mike started today, he would be No. 1 in the market.”


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