WFAN host Craig Carton overslept the start of his shift on Tuesday. But there was no dead air. Gov. Chris Christie was ready to open the sports radio talk show as the clock struck 6 a.m.
Filling in for Boomer Esiason on Boomer & Carton, Christie has been a regular guest on the morning sports show in recent months. For a few minutes on Tuesday, it was the governor’s radio show. And when his term in Trenton is up in January, Christie may well land a lucrative hosting spot as his next full-time job.
Longtime station host Mike Francesa has announced that he’s leaving WFAN next year, and the governor’s name has been flying around as a potential replacement for the afternoon slot.
“Sitting to my left is Jerry Recco,” Christie said in his opening. “So it’s going to be Recco & Christie this morning.”
Christie has been on a WFAN kick lately and has not ruled out taking Francesa’s spot if it were offered. Tuesday was the second straight day he guest-hosted Carton’s four-hour drivetime show.
And the WFAN crew aren’t hiding their interest in Christie, a lifelong Mets fan with a big personality that could make him a natural fit for talk radio. Carton and others on WFAN made passing references to a possible afternoon show for Christie during the last two days. (“This will be like your afternoon try out,” Carton said at one point.)
The part seems to come naturally for the boastful, tough-talking governor. Just as he does with his political opponents and combative constituents, Christie will lob insults at athletes, coaches, co-hosts and callers. He’s a sports hound, offering sharp analysis and recalling stats and historical tidbits.
And he gamely tries to roll with the punches he wouldn’t usually get in politics. Christie sang the Flintstones theme song at one point on Tuesday and carefully punted on a discussion about a sex toy.
“You’re desperate to try to get me to make news,” Christie told Carton, dodging the talk about a phallic implement colloquially called a five-letter word that starts with a ‘D.’
“Sports talk radio is about ragging on and making fun of those people who are a lot better athletes than you, and Christie is certainly good at that aspect,” said Matt Hale, a political science professor at Seton Hall University. “I think he roots for the wrong teams, but I think he has talent.”
Christie’s love for the Mets made him an easy villain for all the Yankees fans calling in on Tuesday. All morning long, he mocked Yankees fans for fawning over Aaron Judge, the 25-year-old outfielder who has started this season with 22 home runs. He sarcastically said the team should make Judge captain and retire his jersey already, and teased the young player for a gap between his front teeth.
“Let me ask you a question: do you think Judge will get braces?” Christie said. “We’ll call him Captain Gap.”
Christie’s comments about Judge elicited strong reactions from callers, almost all of whom directed their remarks at Christie. Some attacked the governor’s record in office.
“You kept emphasizing Judge had his best 85 days,” a caller named Danny told Christie. “You know, a lot of New Jerseyeans are still waiting for you to have your best 85 days.”
A move to New York City sports radio could take the sting off of Christie’s recent slump. His approval ratings have hit historic lows, his presidential campaign ended early and he was passed over for top positions in President Trump’s administration. A radio gig, on the other hand, could help Christie make millions while keeping him in the public eye for a potential political comeback, Hale said. “It’s kind of a way for him to go away, but not really go away,” he said.
In a gesture of goodwill toward his next potential employer, perhaps, Christie said he would let Carton throw a pool party at the governor’s mansion in Princeton with 75 people, so long as Christie can approve the guest list and Carton pays for the catering. Carton, who asked for the Aug. 26 party on air, wanted to bring an outdoor DJ, but Christie shot that down.
“We live in a neighborhood. It’s not isolated like the White House,” Christie said. (He and his family actually live in their own home in Mendham.) “We’re going to have a lot of off-air conversation about this.”