As Joe Benigno rose to stardom, his beloved New York sports teams fell in the toilet.
Benigno made official at 2 p.m. Wednesday what already had been reported by The Post: He is retiring after a 25-year career as a full-time sports talk voice on WFAN. The final “Joe & Evan” afternoon-drive show co-hosted with Evan Roberts will be Friday, Nov. 6.
“It’s time to go for me,” Benigno told listeners. “I don’t think there is any question about it. What else can you say? It’s been a great run. It’s been a stellar 25 years.”
Benigno, 67, has teased retirement for months and his plans are no surprise: Playing golf, moving to Florida and agonizing over losses by the Mets, Jets, Knicks and Rangers.
“Twenty-five years on the air, bro, and not one of my teams won a championship,” Benigno said. “Saw everybody but the Jets in the final … but 25 years, no title. It’s unbelievable.”
Benigno really became the voice of frustrated Jets fans everywhere. Want some symmetry?
“My first year on the air, 1995, the Jets go 3-13. They are as bad as can be. It’s the [Rich] Kotite era,” Benigno said. “Now in my final year I’ll have gone out with the Jets being 0-8 because we all know they have no shot to beat the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Absolutely none. So, my team will be 0-8 as I exit stage left and, who knows, they will probably end with a winless season.”
There’s not going to be a Mike Francesa-like goodbye tour for Benigno during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just tons of usage of his calling card, “Bro!”
“Joe from Saddle River” was a caller to the station and the “Mike and the Mad Dog” program for years before he got his shot on the air. After carving out a niche and building a loyal fan base working the overnights, he stabilized WFAN’s midday show from 2004-19, first with Sid Rosenberg and then with Roberts beginning in 2007.
“I think we took the midday to places nobody else had done it,” Benigno said. “That was always the place where places would come and go like the wind. It’s almost like Jets coaches. Every time you turned around there was a new midday show. Nobody did 15 years of the midday.”
Benigno teased Roberts’ future with “bigger and better things,” which The Post has reported includes co-hosting the new afternoon drive show with the return of Craig Carton to WFAN after his stint in prison.
“All the heavy-duty Jets fans that are out there,” Benigno said, “all I want to see is, for me, another Super Bowl and, for all you guys that have not seen one, a championship. I can’t imagine what that would be like.”
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