Along his journey as a sports talk show host, Chris Carlin has carried a personal motto with him to each job that he’s had.
“I will thrive if you let me be an idiot,” said Carlin who will team up with former NFL defensive end Chris Canty for ESPN Radio’s new national afternoon drive show starting on April 25th.
Carlin is all pumped up and a big reason why is because his new partner should be able to embrace his personal motto.
“I think he can put up with my stupidity and that will be where he will earn his paycheck to be sure,” said Carlin.
All joking aside, Carlin is very much looking forward to this new opportunity on a national stage. He’s been the local evening host on ESPN Radio’s New York affiliate since 2019 and before that, he was a host on WFAN Radio in New York, a host and anchor for Sports Net New York and also made a brief stop as a sports talk show host at WIP in Philadelphia.
It was at ESPN New York 98.7 where Carlin and Canty initially had the chance to work together a little bit. Right from the get-go, Carlin could sense that it could eventually be a full-time partnership.
And he was right because in his mind, Canty “gets it” when it comes to great radio.
“He’s just incredibly smart and engaging and gets what sports talk radio is all about,” said Carlin. “I’m just really impressed with him. I kind of felt like the first few times that we did shows together solo that there was something there. The folks up in Bristol agreed so I was really excited when they offered me the job and I’m thrilled to be working with him. It’s an incredible opportunity.”
It’s one thing to host a daily sports-talk show in New York for a local audience, but it’s another thing to then entertain a national audience with a greater scope of topics. The daily conversation won’t just be about how Yankees manager Aaron Boone is handling his lineup and bullpen, who the Jets are going to take with picks 4 and 10 in the NFL Draft and what direction the Knicks are going to take in the off-season.
As a network host, Carlin will have to appeal to everybody around the country and have his finger on the pulse of national storylines.
“You have to make it as engaging and smart and give people the angles on the big stories of the day that they haven’t necessarily thought of,” said Carlin, a two-time winner of the New Jersey Sportscaster of the Year Award.
“It’s definitely a different type of sports radio but it’s still something where it’s just a medium for me where you can really have fun, you can make people think and hopefully, you connect with them.”
And teamed with Canty, Carlin believes the listeners will enjoy the product.
“Chris and I are two guys that are extremely passionate but don’t take ourselves too seriously,” said Carlin. “I think that hopefully is going to resonate with the fans.”
Something that definitely resonates with national sports fans is college football and Carlin will have no problem checking that box. He has been part of the Rutgers Football broadcast team for twenty years has been the play-by-play voice of the Scarlet Knights for the last 17 seasons. Carlin has called college football bowl games nationally for ESPN Radio and he was also a host on the Sirius XM college channel.
Carlin’s experience with college football will certainly be a benefit for him with the national show.
“I obviously know the Big Ten very well right now and follow everything nationally,” said Carlin. “I’ve been a Heisman voter for several years so you always pay attention to everything going on. It’s always been something that I’ve paid a lot of attention to.”
Aside from working, Carlin has been dialed into college football on Saturdays but he always spends plenty of time watching late-night games on television with his wife Sheryl.
“My wife is from the west coast and so we watch a lot of Pac 12 football and basketball,” said Carlin. “I come home from a game and we’re getting locked in on Stanford vs USC.”
Carlin’s rise within the ESPN family came as a result of a difficult day in his career a few years ago.
Early in his career, Carlin joined WFAN Radio in New York as a producer and eventually went on to produce the iconic Mike and the Mad Dog show. Carlin also anchored sports reports on Imus In The Morning and Boomer and Carton while also serving as a fill-in host on weekends. After his time with SNY and WIP, Carlin returned to WFAN to co-host CMB with Maggie Gray and Bart Scott, but things didn’t go according to plan.
On a December day in 2019, Carlin was let go by WFAN.
A short time later, Carlin’s phone rang. It was Tim McCarthy and Ryan Hurley calling from ESPN New York.
“It was amazing,” recalled Carlin. “They called me on one of the worst days of my life. You get fired from a job and a half-hour later, they’re on the phone saying ‘when can you start?’”
Less than three years later, after some fill-in stings and other network opportunities, Carlin is now set for a full-time national gig with ESPN.
“Those four letters are everything in the sports world,” said Carlin. “For me, it was incredibly exciting to get chances to do stuff for the network and kind of build something there, and now to get this chance to be on the network every day is something that if you’re in this business you never know is ever going to be in the cards but boy it’s a pretty special feeling.”
And it will certainly be a special feeling for Chris Carlin, a self-proclaimed “idiot” to bring, by his own words, his “stupidity” to his new show with Chris Canty.
It’s something that has worked for him in the past with great success.
“The places that have let me do that…we’ve been able to do that and I’ve been very fortunate,” said Carlin. “I’m excited. Chris has been great and Amanda Gifford and Justin Craig and everybody at ESPN has been absolutely amazing so I can’t wait to get going.”
He won’t have to wait much longer. The new show debuts in just a week.