New York radio host Craig Carton suddenly found himself receiving national attention on Wednesday morning when news broke that he’d been arrested by the FBI. Though his radio show is simulcast on cable TV, Carton is far from a household name and many people might not know anything about the subject of today’s most shocking scandal in sports media. So who is he?
Carton, 48, has hosted Boomer and Carton with former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason for the last 10 years. (The show recently celebrated its 10th anniversary at an Atlantic City casino.) He’s the fast-talking, high-volume, confrontational complement to the more even-keeled Esiason, and is known for occasional animated rants.
Carton grew up in the suburbs of New York City where, he wrote in his autobiography, he ran a “gambling den” out of his parents’ living room. The scheme involved the early-80’s video game console “Intellivision,” which came pre-loaded with a casino game. Carton started inviting neighborhood kids over to bet on the Intellivision’s roulette, craps and blackjack games. He collected plenty of baseball cards, gum, cash and sporting goods until a kid had to admit to his father that he lost his new baseball glove in a wager, putting an end to young Craig’s run as pit boss.
Carton went on to graduate from Syracuse’s renowned broadcasting program and work his way up the local radio ladder, from Buffalo to Cleveland and eventually Philadelphia. It was in Philly where he rose to prominence as a host on WIP, breaking the news of the Eagles’ sale to Jeffrey Lurie. After stops at FM stations in New York City and Trenton, N.J., WFAN hired Carton and paired him with Esiason to fill the timeslot vacated by Don Imus.
Boomer and Carton has become one of New York’s most popular radio shows, attracting the top rating in its timeslot this winter. After three years on the air it began being simulcast locally on MSG Network and moved to a national broadcast on CBS Sports Network in 2013.
The future of the show is question now, though, following Carton’s arrest on fraud charges. Carton and his associates stand accused of bilking two investors out of at least $5.6 million. The investors believed their money would be used to purchase blocks of concert tickets that would then be sold at a markup on the secondary market. The criminal complaint against Carton quotes him as saying in an email last year that he had accumulated $3 million in gambling debts.