The end of a great radio team….
I was saddened to hear last Friday that Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo of the Mike & The Mad Dog sports radio program was leaving to pursue other opportunities. Chris and his on-air partner, Mike Francesca, had been broadcasting from WFAN (660 AM) in New York for nearly 19 years. This pair of middle aged men presented sports talk, along with occasional commentary on culture and other news, in a professional manner for nearly two decades. They did their jobs thoroughly …. without resorting to the locker room humor that has left a stain on the radio industry.
I can remember listening to their afternoon show (1 PM – 6:30 PM) on numerous occasions when driving home from work or taking a long drive. Their FOOTBALL FRIDAY theme always gave me an in-depth preview of the upcoming games. Russo’s explosive rants (without profanity) on a certain athlete or team were better than a jolt of caffeine at 1 PM.
The Mike & The Mad Dog program expanded to reach a national audience in 2002 when it began a simulcasting arrangement on the YES Network. Mike and Chris didn’t need to prove their merit to me, but their success on TV cemmented their status as America’s most successful sports talk show.
I understand that 20 years is a long time to spend with any employer. Mad Dog Russo has young children and is likely looking for a radio gig that would allow him to broadcast part or all of the time from his New Canaan, CT home. Similar arrangements have been in existence for years as hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Bruce Williams do their shows in their PJ’s regularly. However, due to the fact that Mike and the Mad Dog is simulcast on television – both hosts being in the NYC area studios was a pre-requisite for the job.
Mike Francesca will continue on WFAN as a solo act indefinitely or until he finds a new partner. It has been speculated that Christopher Russo will sign a multi-year contract with Sirius XM satellite radio. With 18.5 million customers subscribing to the recently merged Sirius and XM companies …. its clear that this competitor to good old AM and FM is here to stay. I wish the Mad Dog the best of luck.
**BREAKING DEVELOPMENT** It has just been reported that Christopher Russo has just signed a multi-year agreement with Sirius XM and will oversee 2 of their sports channels that will be renamed MAD DOG RADIO ….