Mike Francesa first went public about his frayed relationship with CBS Radio seven months ago. On Wednesday, he made it clear that time has not healed any of the wounds.
The WFAN host called his relationship with executives at CBS Radio, which owns WFAN, “very poor,” “awful” and “terrible” and said it has “never been worse.”
Speaking during a break in his show at the Hard Rock Cafe in Manhattan, Francesa said that for legal reasons he cannot go into detail about the nature of the dispute.
But he acknowledged one source of tension is his ongoing frustration over his often pre-empted simulcast on Fox Sports 1 and 2, and CBS’ inability or unwillingness to find a contractual solution.
“We have a difference of opinion on a number of issues now, and Fox is one of them, yes,” he said. “But I’ve been asked not to discuss it in any detail and I’m going to abide by what I was asked not to do.”
In September, he said on the air that he had received a letter from CBS threatening to sue if he continued complaining about the simulcast. CBS said there had been no discussion of a lawsuit, causing him to fire back and insist there had been.
Francesa continues to produce strong ratings and is under contract for another three years, but he appears to be in an unhappy business marriage.
“My relationship with the people who I deal with is awful right now; it’s terrible,” he said. “We don’t agree on philosophy. Nothing’s changed. It’s what it is. I do my show. They didn’t have any interest in fixing what I wanted fixed.”
The simulcast situation has been helped somewhat by the improved distribution and channel position of FS2. But pre-emptions continue, usually for international soccer games that draw good ratings.
Francesa did not name the executives with whom he is at odds, but he excluded CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves, who was a target of harsh criticism from him after Moonves fired Don Imus in 2007.
What does Moonves make of Francesa’s status with CBS in 2015?
“We love Mike,” he said. “He’s done a great job . . . Let him keep doing what he’s doing and getting the ratings he’s doing and I’m very happy with him.”
Moonves said he is no stranger to criticism from employees, including Howard Stern and David Letterman. “What makes these the interesting personalities that they are is it’s important to take shots at ‘The Man,’ ” he said. “It just sort of goes with the territory.
“Howard Stern went on the David Letterman show when they were both working for me wearing a picture of me and my wife and underneath it said, ‘I hate Les Moonves’ on his T-shirt. It doesn’t get much worse than that.”
Francesa said he always will be indebted to Moonves, whom he called a “genius in this business.” He credited Moonves for meeting with him for three hours to discuss the Imus firing and for “doing things for me on my contract two times ago [in 2008] that no one had ever done for me in my life.”
He added, “This has nothing to do with Les Moonves. As far as with the guys I deal with [regularly], my relationship has never been worse.”