After months of speculation, it’s now official – the nearly 20-year radio partnership between Mike Francesa and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo is no more. Russo reached an accord with WFAN (and corporate parent CBS) wherein he agreed to stop showing up and they agreed to stop paying him, while Francesa signed a new multi-year contract and is for now the sole host of the show formerly known as Mike and the Mad Dog. Honestly, I think WFAN is getting the raw end of the deal. While Francesa is definitely the more polished broadcaster, and is measurably more knowledgeable about sports in general, he is also half as fun to listen to. Russo, for his numerous flaws, is more likely to be able to carry a show by himself. But since Russo is likely headed to a satellite radio gig, he’s pretty much off my radar at this point as I don’t have a Sirius/XM subscription. That leaves Francesa, whose “new” show will be rechristened shortly and will hopefully avoid some awful play on “Mike/mic”. I’ll probably check it out for the same reason I listened to Mike and the Mad Dog on occasion: FM radio is a wasteland, and I can never seem to get a strong signal from ESPN’s radio station. But I fear that without the – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – restraining influence of Russo, Francesa will be free to indulge in his most annoying tendencies. Listeners can probably expect to hear the following:
- Two-hour segments on what Bill Parcells had for lunch, what color underwear Bill Parcells is wearing, and what Bill Parcells thinks of Francesa.
- All on-location shows to be held at Belmont Park.
- Francesa will have to quiz himself on the weekend’s sports TV ratings, leading to the debut of his colorful cast of voice characters.
- Callers will be cut off in mid-sentence so Francesa can explore the lyrics to obscure Bruce Springsteen songs.
- With no more tennis coverage or discussion, there will finally be some time to talk about baseball!
My prediction is that Russo finds moderate success in his satellite radio role, while Francesa is either forced to take a new partner within a year or is out of the afternoon slot.
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