New York radio became a poorer place when Steve Somers finished his last air shift on WFAN last Friday night. Somers had been part of “the FAN” since the station debuted on July 1, 1987, and he quickly became one of its most popular air personalities even though he held down the overnight shift much of his tenure.
Somers good-naturedly called himself “Captain Midnight.” He made his listeners, which included insomniacs, feel like extended family. Since he was broadcasting in the wee hours of the morning, when commercials were infrequent, he could engage in humorous conversations with his callers which he referred to by the Yiddish term “schmoozing.” He made it clear you can love sports and be able to laugh about them too. It was that attitude which made Queens College alum Jerry Seinfeld a longtime listener and occasional caller.
When the New York Islanders were irrelevant because of poor management and even worse players in the 1990s, Somers routinely referred to them as “the New York Icelanders” and their home arena as “the Nassau Mausoleum.” Rather than get upset, Islanders fans appreciated the attention he gave their team, even if it was for the purpose of gallows humor.
He enjoyed discussing our Flushing baseball heroes, whom he always referred to as “the New York Metropolitans.” I owe him a thank you for the shout-outs he would give me. Whenever the Mets would do something screwy or just embarrassing, which is their wont, Somers would say, “You can be sure Lloyd Carroll will be writing about this in the Queens Chronicle!”
At age 74, Somers has earned the right to enjoy more free time. I just wish he was able to go out on his own terms. Last week he told Newsday sports media columnist Neil Best he would have been happy to keep doing his show in one of its current two slots, weeknight evenings when WFAN wasn’t broadcasting a game or 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. when it was.
The FAN’s owner, suburban Philadelphia-based Audacy Communications, wanted that primetime slot to go to younger, less expensive talent. The company announced last week it had hired podcaster Keith McPherson to host weeknights from 7 to midnight.
Audacy wanted Somers to go back to the graveyard hours, but he wasn’t interested. His departure continues Audacy’s changing of the guard, which saw the exits of longtime programming czar Mark Chernoff and legendary afternoon drivetime voice Mike Francesa. Ed Coleman, who covers the Mets, is the last original WFAN air personality. Let’s hope Audacy executives leave him be.
See the extended version of Sports Beat every week at qchron.com.
Tickets for individual Mets games go on sale tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 19. Keep in mind there is a risk early season games could be postponed because of a work stoppage as the Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement with the players union expires on Dec. 1.
The New York Knicks, who started the NBA season on fire, have hit a recent slump. The main culprit is the streaky shooting of guard RJ Barrett and forward Julius Randle. The team has also shown a disturbing tendency to break down on defense in the second half of games.
The New York Islanders will finally get to open their new home, the UBS Arena, located a stone’s throw from Queens Village in Belmont Park, this Saturday. They spent the first six weeks of the current NHL schedule on the road because authorities had to sign off on the safety of the building, especially considering the condominium collapse in Surfside, Fla., this past spring.
Part of the fun of watching New York Jets games is seeing them find new levels of ineptitude. In the first half of their Sunday game with the Buffalo Bills, the Jets were losing 10-0 and found themselves with a fourth down and inches to go for a first down. The Jets were called for an unforgivable delay of game penalty as quarterback Mike White couldn’t get a play off in the allotted time. The Jets would go on to lose by a score of 45-17. That unforced error, however, was the turning point of the game.
Life and style
Noted NASCAR fan Brian Williams announced he is leaving NBC News after 28 years there. Williams was removed from the anchor’s chair of “The Nightly News” in 2015 when it was revealed he had embellished stories relating to his coverage of combat when in Iraq years earlier. To his credit, he was able to resurrect his career as the host of MSNBC’s popular late night news show, “The 11th Hour.”
Just as Fox News’ Chris Wallace is not afraid to criticize Republicans on that right-leaning cable outlet, Williams has done the same to Democrats on left-leaning MSNBC. We would have less polarization if more journalists would have the gumption to ruffle feathers instead of regurgitating what they believe their viewers or listeners want to hear.
The CW Network will be doing an updated version of “The Waltons: Homecoming” in honor of the 50th anniversary of the film that launched the popular CBS Thursday night series. Richard Thomas who played the focal character, John-Boy, in the series is back for this reboot in the role of the narrator. “The Waltons: Homecoming” airs Sunday, November 28.
In another sign of business life returning a bit closer to normal, Kosherfest, the annual kosher food trade show, returned last week to the Meadowlands Convention Center, after being canceled last year because of Covid-19.
The range of cuisine in the kosher genre continues to expand in surprising ways. Universal Frozen Foods was promoting its line of beef eggrolls while Fiber Gourmet was doing the same for its line of pastas. New Jersey’s Gevina Farms (gevina.com) produces lines of kosher Greek yogurt. Entrepreneur Yoni Siletski hopes to become the kosher answer to the Philly Pretzel Factory with his company’s pretzel challah (pretzelchallah.com). Maple syrup is a Vermont specialty and Cary & Main Co. (caryandmain.com), from St. Johnsbury, Vt. was doling out samples of its sinfully delicious maple cream, which can be used as a topping, or as a dessert.
Such traditional kosher powerhouses as Manischewitz and Streit decided to skip this year’s Kosherfest, but Atlanta’s Inland Seafood highlighted a wide array of kosher comfort food such as smoked salmon, lox and whitefish. Inland’s retail division is Domestic Seafood (domesticseafood.com).
Good Raz (goodraz.com) was an unexpected exhibitor at Kosherfest because it is a manufacturer of water-soluble Vitamin D3 as opposed to being a food purveyor. Research studies have shown D3 helps strengthen immunity, circulation, cardiac health and bone strength.
Three cheers to KISS guitarist and frontman Gene Simmons, who grew up in Jackson Heights, for attacking anti-vaxxers and their misguided notions about “freedom.” Simmons has articulated conservative principles even though he claims he is not a Republican.