Unless something changes, sports radio talk show host Tony Paige will retire this week after 16 years of broadcasting late nights on WFAN, 66 on the AM dial, 101.9 FM.
It’s his decision. “I’m not being forced out, forced to retire. It’s my call. I just want to do some other things,” said Paige who celebrated his 66th birthday yesterday, Wednesday, Sept. 11.
Since Paige announced his retirement the first week of June, callers to his program have prefaced their comments with tributes to Paige’s character and his ability as an on air communicator, of not just sports, but of humanity and of common sense.
“I’m gonna miss you. Just being able to listen to you, your calming voice, your knowledge of sports all these years. It’s been wonderful.” The caller then began complaining about the Mets.
Paige answers calls from the New York tri-state area and from across the country. A caller from Maryland and one from Michigan got through back-to-back on Wednesday morning. The Michigan caller, a woman, also explained how she transitioned there from Long Island, and how she was able to continue tuning in to Paige and the station.
He even has regular callers like CJ from Mount Holly who calls multiple times during the week and seems to have watched every football game that’s been televised.
“There are even listeners that call who don’t come on the air,” noted Paige. “They’ll call, talk to the producer or call screener and correct something that I said, then just hang up.”
While istening to Paige talk about sports, you get a sense of civility and selflessness. There’s no loud, over the top, look at me, unnecessary obnoxiousness. Even if he’s the smartest guy in the room, and some of the things that some callers say makes that apparent, it’s uncharacteristic of Paige to offend a caller, make them uncomfortable.
“Hey Tony, it’s been an honor and a pleasure,” said another caller. “There’s been a few talk show host that I’ve had the pleasure to talk to, and you’re one.”
Paige has never had a problem staying up all night, though he has found himself yawning a few times while listening to a few of the calls.
He doesn’t have a social life. He likes to travel with his wife Teri during their vacation time. Working the late nights doesn’t interfere with their life. “She understands.” They find time to go out, have dinner, listen to some jazz, but Paige looks forward to one thing after his last shift on Saturday morning. He plans to take a nap in the afternoon.