A sneak peek of the HBO documentary on Craig Carton reveals that a deal for his return to radio is all but done. The text “Craig has negotiated a radio comeback,” appears on the screen at the end of the film. “He vows to be as outrageous as ever on air.”
“Wild Card: The Downfall of a Radio Loudmouth” chronicles the rise and fall of Carton. At the height of his career, hosting mornings on Entercom sports WFAN-AM/FM New York (660/101.9), the sports talker was charged and convicted on federal charges for running a Ponzi-like ticket selling scheme. Carton was using money from investors to pay for his gambling debts. After serving just over a year of a three-and-a-half-year sentence, Carton was released from jail in June.
Besides the teaser at the end of the documentary, the piece also details Carton’s thoughts of suicide, the New York Post reports. While on vacation in British Columbia, Carton says he thought of jumping to his death from a ski lift chair. “I lifted the bar up and I’m now inching closer to the edge of the seat. I got very upset and started crying,” Carton reportedly says in the film. “I had this out-loud conversation with myself, ‘Don’t do it! Don’t do it! You are better than this. You are not jumping.’”
The episode happened a month before he was arrested in 2017. A phone call with former radio show producer Charod Williams helped Carton calm down. “He was truly in a desperate situation,” Williams says. “Just as he was getting off the ski lift, he said, ‘Go F yourself, I’ll talk to you about this later.’”
In the film Carton also speaks of being molested as a child at a summer camp, something he said was to be included in his book, “Loudmouth: Tales (and Fantasies) of Sports, Sex, and Salvation from Behind the Microphone,” but publisher Simon & Schuster said it didn’t fit the context of the book.
His gambling addiction is also detailed in the documentary, which premieres Oct. 7 on HBO. Carton says he led two lives, the on-air host and family man and someone who was addicted to playing blackjack. His initial success at the tables led to investors giving him money to try and win more. “There were times when I met a buddy on a street corner in New York City and he would hand me a knapsack and inside that knapsack was a million dollars,” Carton says. He claims to have once won $325,000 in nine minutes. “Blackjack became a drug to me,” he continues.
Carton also speaks about his relationship with former WFAN morning co-host Boomer Esiason. The two grew close over their ten years on air together but Carton’s arrest fractured that relationship. “He ruined what we all had,” the former NFL quarterback says. They have since made up, but if Carton does return to radio, and WFAN in particular, it won’t be alongside Esiason. Now paired with Gregg Giannotti, the WFAN morning show has continued to succeed without Carton.
Speculation is that Carton would be placed in afternoons on “The Fan,” teamed with another former athlete-turned-broadcaster, after Joe Benigno retires. Benigno currently hosts afternoons with Evan Roberts, who would likely be teamed with Maggie Gray in middays, NJ.com reports.
Chris Oliviero, recently named VP/Market Manager of Entercom’s New York cluster, hasn’t ruled out a possible return to the station. Oliviero has a long history with Carton, having served as producer for the “Boomer and Carton” morning show early in his career. He was also one of the friends and co-workers who attended Carton’s trial.