Kay is a native of the New York City borough of the Bronx, and a nephew of actor Danny Aiello. Kay began reporting as a youth at the Bronx High School of Science and then at Fordham University for WFUV. Receiving a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Fordham, Kay is part of a successful line of WFUV alumni sportscasters including Vin Scully, Sal Marchiano, Bob Papa, Mike Breen, Charlie Slowes, Chris Carrino, Jack Curry, Spero Dedes, Ryan Ruocco, Gary Stanley, Ed Randall, and Tony Reali.
Kay started his professional career with the New York Post in 1982 as a general assignment writer, with sports-specific assignments to college basketball, the National Basketball Association and the New Jersey Nets coming over time. He received the Yankees' beat writing assignment in 1987. In 1989, Kay left the Post for the Daily News, still primarily working on the Yankees. At this time, Kay also served as the Madison Square Garden Network Yankee reporter starting in 1989. From 1992 to 1999, he also served as MSG's locker room reporter for the New York Knicks. He had previously worked for the network as a contributor on the news-format sports show MSG SportsDesk. Kay left the Daily News to host a sports talk show on WABC in 1992, briefly returning to write "Kay's Korner" for the News in 1993, before taking the microphone job for radio broadcasts New York Yankee games beside John Sterling. In 2008, he served as a play-by-play for ESPN Radio during the 2008 NLDS.
Kay spent a decade partnered with Sterling as the radio announcers of the team on WABC. Kay and Sterling also paired together in 1998 for Sports Talk with John Sterling and Michael Kay, a nightly radio show which aired on WABC. During the baseball season, the duo hosted Yankee Talk, a weekend pre-game radio show. From 1992 to 1993 Kay hosted his own show on WABC. Kay continued during that time as a spot reporter on ABC Radio, doing off-season shows with Sterling and as a fill-in sports reporter on WABC-TV. When ESPN Radio began leasing (and later purchasing) WEVD radio in 2002, Kay was chosen to host a daily radio show on the newly rechristened "1050 ESPN Radio." (See below)
When WCBS acquired the radio rights to the Yankees broadcasts in 2002, Kay moved to the debuting YES Network on television and Sterling remained on the radio. Kay has been the Yankees' lead television play-by-play announcer since this time.
Kay has worked with a series of partners on YES, often with three or four different partners in the same season. Most have been former professional players, including Ken Singleton, David Cone, Al Leiter, Paul O'Neill, Jim Kaat, John Flaherty, Joe Girardi, Lou Piniella, and Bobby Murcer.
In 2008 MLB invited Kay to call the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium during that year's All Star festivities.
Since the late 1990s, Kay and Sterling have co-emceed the Yankees' annual Old-Timers' Day ceremony (following in the tradition of the late Mel Allen and Frank Messer), players' number retirements, and the City Hall celebrations after Yankees' World Series victories.
Kay and Sterling also provided play-by-play commentary for Nintendo 64's All-Star Baseball video games from 1999 to 2001.
On September 21, 2008, Kay joined Jon Miller and Joe Morgan to call the seventh inning of ESPN's broadcast of the final home game at Yankee Stadium against the Baltimore Orioles. According to Miller, Kay was brought in because ESPN felt that they should include the local aspects of broadcasting for the Yankees for this special game, as YES Network was not allowed to cover the game.
Kay was selected to call one of the 2008 National League Division Series for ESPN Radio.
In 2002, he began hosting a drive-time talk show on WEPN (the former WEVD). He also hosts the YES Network's CenterStage, a sports and entertainment interview-format show.
During baseball season, Kay frequently broadcasts live from the vicinity of the stadium that the Yankees are playing in that evening. (Contractual exclusivity prohibits him from hosting the show from inside Yankee Stadium.) From 2009 until 2011, the 6:00 hour had been co-titled New York Baseball Tonight throughout the baseball season. Kay did not usually appear during that hour if he was broadcasting a Yankee game that evening. Don La Greca often hosted this segment and appeared with Kay on the rest of The Michael Kay Show.
When Kay is on the air for the end of his program, he usually signs off with the following: "In the words of Billy Joel, Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes, I'm afraid it's time for good-bye again," before promoting the following program.
Kay opened his first ever simulcast on the YES Network on February 3, 2014 by dumping a bottle of Diet Coke into the garbage, a move meant to poke fun of the channel's former occupant Mike Francesa. The canned action was widely criticized.
Kay married television journalist Jodi Applegate on February 12, 2011. Officiating was former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Guests included former Yankees such as Al Leiter, Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neill and his uncle Danny Aiello. The couple have two children: a daughter, Caledonia Rose, born on January 5, 2013 and a son, Charles Applegate, born November 12, 2014.
On radio and TV, Kay has been best known for yelling "See-ya!" during his home run calls (no matter the team, though his enthusiasm is at its obvious highest when a Yankee hits the home run) and noting the time of the game during the recap, often using the word 'unmanageable' if the game was longer than three hours. (After Joe West was critical of the length of Yankee-Red Sox games, Kay often says that "Joe West isn't happy" when a game lasts longer than three hours.) As a radio broadcaster one of Kay's best known trademarks was describing the uniforms of the Yankees and their opponent, this description typically ended with him describing the back of the Yankees' jersey as having "no name, of course."
When announcing the Yankees' starting lineups, Kay always gives the full name – first, middle and last – of the Yankee starting pitcher (such as "Andrew Eugene Pettitte", "Carsten Charles Sabathia", etc.).
In 2007, Kay was nominated for a number of New York Emmy Awards for his work with the YES Network, both for Yankees broadcasts and for his highly rated interview program Centerstage. Kay won one New York Emmy for his work on the YES Network as part of the team of the NYY broadcast: New York Yankees Baseball “Manny vs. NY – Yankees/Red Sox- 5/24/06.” (YES Network).
In 1998, he was on the MSG team that won an Emmy for Outstanding Live Sports Coverage—Series. In 1996 and 1997 he was a member of the MSG team that won Emmys for Outstanding Live Sports Coverage—Single Program for Dwight Gooden's no-hitter and The Battle for New York: Yankees vs. Mets.
Kay was also awarded the Dick Young Award for Excellence in Sports Media by the New York Pro Baseball Scouts in 1995 and the award for Best Sports Reporter at the 2000 New York Metro Achievement in Radio Awards.
That is drilled deep to left field, going back Joyce, looking up, See ya! 3000.. history, with an exclamation point!
Jeter on the run, makes the play and flies into the stands! Oh, what a play by Derek Jeter!
Popped up...Castillo...dropped the ball, he dropped the ball! Here comes Teixeira, and the Yankees win! Oh my goodness! He dropped the ball! What an ending!
Swung on and drilled to right field. Going back Sanders, on the track, at the wall, See Ya! See Ya! See Ya! A game winning, walk-off home run by Derek Jeter. He is Mr. November!
Base hit to right field! Here comes Richardson! Here's the throw from Markakis! Richardson is safe! Derek Jeter, ends his final game, with a walk off single! Derek Jeter: where fantasy becomes reality! Did you have any doubt!?
Let's do it here in the Bronx
Let's do it in (opposing ballpark and city names or city nicknames)
High fly ball, deep right, Martinez's back, track, WALL! SEE YA!! He did it in style! He joins 3000th hit club with a home run!