Michael Kay on “Centerstage” book, ratings war with Craig Carton “I can’t go that low”
Anyone who watches the YES Network knows "Centerstage" and its host Michael Kay who also broadcasts the New York Yankee games.
What started as an "Inside The Actors Studio" show about sports is now one of the best interviews shows on television with so many A-list celebrities and athletes that Kay has written a book called "Centerstage: My Most Fascinating Interviews-From A-Rod to Jay-Z. Among them, Billy Crystal, Alan Alda,Joe Namath, Jon BonJovi,Bob Costas, Snoop Dogg, and Charles Barkley
I had the opportunity to speak to Kay about the book, the Yankees, and his radio competition former New Jersey 101.5 host and now WFAN personality Craig Carton who's been beating him in the ratings.
First the book. Kay's favorite interview out of all the ones in the book. "Probably the favorite is Larry David, I was worried about the because I love Seinfeld and I love Curb and I didn't know who I was going to get if I was going to get "Curb Your Enthusiasm" Larry and you did get him but he's not as nasty as he was in Curb, and since that interview, we've kind of become friends and he'll text me during games"
The other was Mike Tyson's interview. "That was weird," says Kay 'He got on stage and he's crying at times, he's laughing uproariously, sad, happy, there was a point during the hour where I though he was going to hit me. People were on the edge of their seats. It was raw, It was visceral" and it lead to something that Kay reveals in this conversation which is not in the book;
"The show airs on YES and Spike Lee was watching and Spike Lee picked up the phone at the end of Centerstage and called up Tyson and said That's a one-man show on Broadway, I want to produce that show on Broadway and that's how that show got started"
Who would Michael Kay love to have on Centerstage? "There's a few of them, Springsteen, Billy Joel, Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Jordan.
in 2019 Michael Kay had Craig Carton on his show after he was sentenced for to federal prison for fraud. What does Kay think of Carton, who's he actually tried to get ESPN to hire? What does he think of Carton who he's now competing against?
"I certainly don't dislike him and after the interview that we did, he asked me to go to lunch with him," says Kay " So we had a long lunch about a 2-hour lunch at PJ Clarkes in Manhattan' Kay goes on to say about Carton "He's funny, he's smart, I think he's a tremendous broadcaster. He knows exactly what buttons to push, He knows how to ignite an audience, I think he's really great at what he does"
As for competing with Carton;
"Competing against him is a little difficult," says Kay "because Craig could do whatever he wants, he can go as low as he wants, he can be nasty about people, and the two brands that I work for are kind of like Tiffany brands, the Yankees and ESPN Disney, I can't go that low"
Kay assures me that off the air he can definitely go that low.
"Now Steve if you ever met me in real life, I can go about as low as anybody, I really can," says Kay, "But you have to keep a certain level of decorum for the people where you work, you're representing people. It's not just you, and so if it comes down to who's going to be able to go the lowest, and who's going to be able to make fun of the other the most, Craig's going to be able to do that and I'm not"
No disrespect says Kay "I'm not knocking him for it, That's how he's been extraordinarily successful in his career. He's made a lot of inroads in ratings and it's disappointing for me. I'm always pushing ESPN Can I go here? Can I go there? says Kay "but they're very reticent about it because that is Disney.
Kay also went so far up the ladder as he could to try to get Craig hired at ESPN.
"It's funny when he was getting out of jail, I think everyone deserves second chances I really do and I said, you guys should hire him, I said no really he's an excellent broadcaster, you guys should hire him and put him on ESPN national, make him a national figure. but they wouldn't bite so now the competition has him and I have to go up against him every day".
To get Michael Kay's "Centerstage: My Most Fascinating Interviews-From A-Rod to Jay-Z click here.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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