New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took to the airwaves of New York’s WFAN on Monday and Tuesday, filling in for legendary sports talk show host Mike Francesa. Rumors of Christie replacing Francesa, who’s near retirement, have swirled since 2016. With the don of New York sports radio on vacation, the governor finally got his much anticipated audition.
Everything went smoothly for about a half hour into his first show. Then this happened.
Christie still has sand in his shoes from his family beach excursion on July 3, a day after he closed New Jersey’s state beaches. On Monday, Monmouth University released a new poll that had Christie with 15 percent approval in the state, his lowest ever. And let’s not forget BridgeGate, more than $2 billion in public worker pension cuts and the ‘Race to the Top’ blunder, among other things. Plus the fact that he’s a vile blowhard.
Still, the embattled governor is no stranger to the sports world. He’s rooted for the Dallas Cowboys in Jerry Jones’s personal box in Dallas, spent more than $82,000 on concessions in New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium. In theory, he’s a perfect candidate for the job—an overweight, blustery, middle-aged white guy with too much time on his hands.
Christie wasn’t bad at talking shop. He hit the right notes, criticizing the Knicks, lauding the upstart Yankees and Home Run Derby champ Aaron Judge, and imploring the Mets to move on from the oft-injured David Wright. But don’t give him too much credit: anyone who follows New York sports could have put in a comparable performance. But throw in Christie’s natural talents for complaining, arguing and blowing up over tiny details and he’s a perfect fit.
As in his previous job, politics remains his biggest problem. Christie’s unpopularity with callers made some exchanges with his co-hosts downright awkward. Should he remain on the air, there will be plenty more calls from “communists” like Mike in Montclair waiting.
That just might be what WFAN wants. Christie has the name recognition and polarizing personality that drives ratings. If the soon-to-be ex-governor is decent enough at talking sports, station brass would probably be happy letting him yell at 10-15 liberal callers per week. Francesa’s show has been No. 1 in New York for almost 30 years, and Christie would likely keep them there, at least for a short while.
But maybe after eight years in office, it’s time for Christie to do something other than talk.