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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Let's Go Simulcast F-A-N!

And you remember
The jingles used to go
—The Buggles

Sunday afternoon September 29 should be earmarked for nostalgia, a state our 52-year-old franchise embraces sporadically and reluctantly. The Mets resist embracing their past as if they don’t have enough of it or they doubt a substantial proportion of their loyalists treasure it. In this month when we’re exactly 40 Septembers removed from perhaps the most dizzying rush any team has ever put on toward achieving a league title, the organization charged with tending its legacy has mostly ignored it.

But September 29 has potential, no matter how little 1973 gets mentioned at Citi Field these nights. It will be Closing Day and all that implies. It will be Mike Piazza Hall of Fame Day, rightly honoring the signature star of the last certifiably sensational epoch of Mets baseball. And it will be the final day when a game is brought to you on the WFAN Mets Radio Network.

That last one is both a milestone and something of a technicality. In one sense, all that’s happening when Mets baseball stops airing on WFAN is a contract expiring and not being renewed. Mets baseball will air somewhere in 2014, it is universally agreed, and the chances are as rock-solid as can be that the game broadcast itself will sound 99.99% similar on a frequency to be named later. Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner changed stations more often than the Mets changed pitching coaches during Rube Walker’s long reign as arms chief (1968-1981), but come the top of the first, it was still Lindsey, Bob and Ralph telling us who threw what. Likewise, there will still be books and Howie Rose will still command positive results be put in them after a successful last pitch is thrown.

Yet it is a milestone, one someone as historically inclined as I am may not have completely appreciated upon the announcement that 660 and 101.9 won’t add up to Mets baseball anymore. For me and my 45 years of fandom, WFAN represented the longest pause I ever took tuning up and down the dial in search of the game, yet for others somewhat less tenured (but certainly fully vested) in the ways of Metsdom, WFAN has been it. If you took up the Mets as your cause 26 or fewer years ago, you poor bastard, you’ve never known a world championship and you’ve never known anything radiowise but WFAN.

I have to confess I was surprised by how many people I’ve heard from who tell me they’ll miss this: “LET’S GO METS! F-A-N!” It’s been aural wallpaper to me, a signal that I have a couple of minutes to think about something else while Remax is trying to sell me a house or somebody else wants me to donate my K-A-R to KIDS, but radio is so deceptively personal a mass medium that its most inconsequential elements worm their way into your bloodstream before you can receive inoculation against their effects.

Hence “LET’S GO METS! F-A-N!”…I get it.

More tangibly, the Mets in the WFAN era have been about a handful of voices describing moments great and small. Bob Murphy’s voice led the way when, on July 1, 1987, 1050 AM stopped taking listener requests to hear Reba McIntire and began taking listener calls demanding to see Randy Milligan. Murph was just doing what Murph had always done; he was simply doing it under new call letters, and he’d do it full- and part-time clear to the end of 2003.

Murph is obviously no longer on the air, but his two greatest acolytes remain vocal and vibrant. They are — with nods of appreciation to Gary Thorne, Ed Coleman, Josh Lewin, Jim Duquette and, what the hell, Todd Kalas, Ted Robinson, Tom McCarthy and Wayne Hagin — the living voices most associated with 27 seasons of Mets baseball on the FAN. Howie Rose still anchors the radio broadcasts. Gary Cohen, who was slowly but surely handed the microphonic baton from Murphy, has slid over a few feet to handle the same responsibilities on television.

What I’m wishing for on September 29 is that the two thriving flagship voices of Mets baseball, each connected by deep roots to the flagship station of Mets baseball, are paired once more on WFAN.

And SNY.

Let’s get a simulcast going on Closing Day. Let us, for one hopefully sunny Sunday afternoon, make at least part of experiencing a Mets broadcast listening to Howie Rose and Gary Cohen together, the way we did regularly for a couple of golden years in the mid-’00s (Piazza’s last ones as a Met, as it happens), the way I assumed we would for decades to come before the invention of SNY in 2006.

It is the understatement of the 21st century to declare Gary, Keith and Ron (with a helping of Kevin and a dash of Jerry) have been a boon to the TV side. Their telecasts are the best show on television most nights, no matter how full of holes the plot down on the field can be. It was for the best that SNY as we came to know it between 7 and 10:30 every evening emerged as it did, even if it broke asunder the perfect Mets radio team. Meanwhile, starting in 2012, a beautiful radio rapport blossomed between Howie and Josh. I’m very glad Mr. Lewin came aboard to join Mr. Rose when he did.

But if a nostalgic Mets fan had his druthers, if not a time machine, Howie and Gary…well, you can’t exceed perfect synergy. Not on September 29 you can’t.

Status quo would suffice on Closing Day, FAN contract expiration or not, but the status quo will not be in effect. Josh Lewin, I’m assuming, will be off to San Diego to take care of his autumnal business as he does every Sunday this time of year. So that opens up nine innings alongside Howie, space which I assume will be filled, as it was this past Charger Sunday, by Ed Coleman. Eddie C has been an intrinsic part of the Mets radio experience, too. He’s hosted the pregame and the postgame, he’s reported trades and injuries and he’s filled in for everybody dutifully as needed. His FAN-employed voice is the one that I suppose is in a bit of limbo as the FANless future encroaches.

Fine. Let Eddie do most of the game with Howie. And let Gary do his usual TV with Keith and Ron (assuming they’ll both be on hand for the finale). But for let’s say two innings — one to get used to the idea, one more so we don’t spend the whole thing caught up in the novelty — let’s simulcast. Let’s have Gary come on over to the Bob Murphy Radio Booth and sit next to Howie. Let’s plug in SNY’s transmitter. Let the TV audience — the people who watch every Mets game as if it’s the last Mets game they’ll ever see— in on a chunk of the final WFAN broadcast. Read the commercials that need being read, let the billboards and the bumpers take their course, service the advertisers and promotional considerations as needed. At the top or bottom of the hour, tell us we’re listening to the WFAN Mets Radio Network even as we’re watching SportsNet New York.

But mostly give us, the fans, a couple of innings of Howie and Gary.

While the Mets and Brewers wind down their 2013s, let Rose and Cohen reflect on what it meant for the Mets to be on America’s first all-sports radio station for 27 years and what the connection might have meant to their listeners. Let them reminisce a bit about Murph; about Piazza; about Coney and Fonzie and Endy and Dickey; about working with Eddie and the immortal Chris Majkowski and filling rain delays with the Schmoozer Steve Somers and each other. Let them each call some balls and strikes and invoke their childhoods with transistor radios under the pillow and their later loathing of Richie Hebner.

Then Gary can return to the Ralph Kiner Television Booth and finish out the proceedings with Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling, and Howie and Ed can put a button on the Met days of 660 AM.

And then, when it’s over, we can, in the immortal advice of Larry Sanders, flip. At the close of baseball on September 29, I imagine many of us will channel Laraine Day from 1948 when it comes to our personal relationship with the FAN. When she was informed by reporters that her husband Leo Durocher was transferring his managerial abilities from Brooklyn to Manhattan, Mrs. D considered her radio, which was at that moment airing the Dodger game, and asked, “Then why am I listening to this?”

At which point Laraine turned off the damn thing.

But we can be Laraine Day when Closing Day concludes. When it commences, give us a wisp of well-earned nostalgia. Give us Howie and Gary on radio and TV for a couple of innings. If the Mets and affiliated parties can’t untangle a couple of details and get something like this done on Closing Day, then somebody’s just not trying.

18 comments to Let’s Go Simulcast F-A-N!

  • 5w30

    Interesting. But the Mets went a whole year without commemorating the 1973 National League pennant. Would they actually make note of what most people are calling bad news – the Mets off WFAN? Jay Horwitz Dave Newman etc. are quirky that way ….

  • The Jestaplero!

    It’s a nice idea, but they won’t do it.

    Am I the only one who cannot stand the sound of Josh Lewin’s voice. I can only describe it as an extreme metrosexual twang. It’s a voice that is just not pleasing to the ears and it’s totally wrong for a baseball announcer.

    • I don’t know if you’re the only one, but I’m not with you there. Lewin’s voice is fine and his thoughts, feel for the game and rapport with Howie are a whole lot better than fine. Very glad to have him.

      • Penacious H

        Agree with Jason on this; Josh and Howie were often hysterical this past summer (and they needed to be to help keep them, AND US, wain), with movie, tv and other asides during dreary offense-less series… Kudos to them for a job very well done, and to Gary, whose anniversary #25 WAS recognized with a very nice nostalgic bit of chat and video during the Wed night game vs SF. (And by the way, Gary seemed to go out of his way to chat up the 73 team, as well as the 99 team…) #LETSGOMETS-W???

    • vin

      agree as do many I speak with

  • 9th string catcher

    I think Lewin’s a great add, even if I find “wave and a miss” a little annoying. He brings good baseball knowledge and a really needed sense of humor to the booth. And he doesn’t sound like an ESPN drone, you know, the ones who have to trill their D’s. I want to smack those guys. Best of all, he’s not Wayne Hagin.

    I like the idea a lot – as much as I enjoy the GKR triumverant on SNY, still a little sad that Gary and Howie didn’t get a longer stay in the booth together. I’d tune in for it. You could even go old school and have Keith and Ron join Eddie in the radio booth for a couple innings.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    Know you’re too young to remember but I still miss Bob, Ralph and Lindsey taking ten seconds for station identification and hearing Don’s brother say “Hi, this is Jim Amechi, inviting you to join me to the sound of beautiful music on WHN, 1050, New York”.

    And then there was Marv Albert doing the Mets pre and post game shows. I refuse to acknowledge Howard Cossell and the old WABC radio ever since he accused the Mets of being a fraud.

  • Dave

    I think Lewin does a good job, knows the game, a little weird but not in a bad way. But his voice and delivery remind me of the character Will Forte played on SNL in those sketches with Jason Sudeikis where they were ESPN announcers, Forte’s character always had to eventually admit he had no idea what was going on, and they would do these way too descriptive commercials for tampons.

    And I don’t care what the call letters are or what the station’s format is outside of Mets games, it’s still Howie and Lewin (or whoever becomes Howie’s next sidekick) and it’s still the Mets. The crossover between the TV and radio crews is an interesting idea and would be fun, but do it any time. I don’t think the last game on WFAN is such a monumental occasion that it needs to be observed in any special way. The jingle will be replaced by something else that will become very familiar, I’m sure “Lets Go Mets…F-A-N!” will make the rounds as an MP3 if it hasn’t already. And it’s not like it’s Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suites or John Coltrane playing My Favorite Things or Odessey and Oracle by The Zombies or some similar masterpiece anyway.

    Life didn’t change when we stopped being on channel 9 and moved to channel 11. I do feel badly for out of town fans who might have a hard time listening if the replacement station doesn’t have as strong a signal, but airwaves radio is not exactly the way most people follow games anyway.

    • I don’t know if this would actually happen, but I can’t think of a better or, for that matter, another occasion that would serve as a platform for a Howie-Gary pairing…unless it was to celebrate Gary completing 25 seasons as Mets play-by-play voice…which is also what’s happening on September 29. And while the Mets will be the Mets game will be the Mets game on whatever station, I do believe a 27-year association with one station — a station that was built on a foundation of defending world champion Mets baseball — is significant in the life of a franchise.

      There’s always a reason not to do something worthwhile with this team. Here’s a reason to do something.

  • sturock

    >> it’s still Howie and Lewin (or whoever becomes Howie’s next sidekick) <<

    Has there been talk of Josh not returning? That would be too bad. I'm not crazy about his voice either, but his rapport with Howie is great, he knows his stuff, he gets the Mets and their fans (the somewhat unjustly maligned Wayne Hagin never really did). His flow is actually a bit Steve Somers-like, kind of mellow and old-fashioned hipsterish. Howie brings the energy, Josh brings a bit of the cool and the corny when he's of the mind. And I agree with all who praise him for what he is not: a microphone-in-the-throat generic network drone of the Joe Buck/Thom Brenneman variety. Thank God we haven't been stuck with one of those voices.

    Ends of seasons are tough. I'm going to miss the broadcasters all winter long.

    • Dave

      Stu – no, haven’t heard anything about Josh leaving, I just figured Howie is there for the duration and the guy next to him eventually moves on at some point.

  • kd bart

    Nowadays, the Mets are on Ch 11 and the Yanks are on Ch 9. When it was the opposite way what seem like for forever.

  • Kevin Canessa

    What a lot of people have forgotten is that that “Let’s Go Mets, F-A-N” jingle is actually just a snippet of a much longer jingle that WFAN used to use to open Mets games. I want to say it was around 1992 that it was introduced.

    If my memory serves me, it was something like “Stand up and Shout, Let’s go Mets,” etc. etc. And the part that we hear now, Let’s Go Mets, F-A-N is actually just the end of the song.

    I’m going to make some calls and send some e-mails to see if I can get an MP3 of the entire thing.

  • […] From the bloggers … Faith and Fear in Flushing would like Howie Rose to reunite with Gary Cohen on the season’s final […]

  • 5w30

    Someone on Twitter brought up a good point. Final Mets game is same time as NY Football Giants at Kansas City. Mets will most likely be bumped to alternate radio station.

    • Considered that (Mets were bumped to 1130 AM on Piazza’s final day in 2005), but doubt it. Giants have been using CBS-FM right next door to 101.9 for conflict games since preseason and get joined in progress on FAN-AM and FM when Mets are done. Too confusing to suddenly change — and doubting CBS Radio wants to out of nowhere stick baseball on 101.1.