Your insomnia’s buzzing. It’s June 30, 1987. 3 a.m. No shot at sleep, no shot at sex. You’re up, awake, obsessing over the sudden dip in Wally Backman’s batting average or what the Yankees are going to do about their third starter. Normal, nightly stuff for a New York sports fan. Then you get pensive. About why the Knicks suck; and why the Rangers suck; and why the Jets and the Giants suck even if it’s the wrong season to think about their suckitude. You want to talk it all out. No, you need to talk it all out. But there’s no one there to listen. You can fix this. HoJo’s stroke, Rasmussen’s slider — well, OK, maybe not the Knicks. You’re alone in the world with all this knowledge until, suddenly, you are not.
On July 1, 1987, WFAN, a 24-hour sports talk radio station, broadcasting out of a sub-basement in Queens, hit the air. It didn’t come out of nowhere, exactly. The format had been evolving. Marty Glickman, long-ago voice of the Knicks and Giants, first took questions on air in the 1940s at New York’s WHN. He listened to calls and relayed them to his audience since the technology didn’t yet exist to patch in a caller. Howard Cosell advanced the genre in the ’50s by openly chastising coaches during broadcasts. In the ’60s, Bill Mazer pioneered the current sports talk template, bantering with callers, letting their voices be heard, and then, in the ’70s, John Sterling crystallized it by lambasting them. Enterprise Radio attempted all-sports programming in 1981. They went out of business after nine months.