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A Recap of Francesa On Garbage Time with Katie Nolan

Jason Barrett

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Mike Francesa joined Katie Nolan’s “Garbage Time Podcast” and I had a chance to listen to the entire conversation. If you haven’t listened to it, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s very insightful, covers a ton of different subjects and delivers some riveting opinions on the media industry. Here are some of the key takeaways from the conversation.

If you were starting out in broadcasting now, what would you do to stand out?

“First, I would do a local show. I would never do a national show because there’s no way of knowing if you’re doing well or badly. You are just taking input from some executive who might not even know what he’s doing and may not know a good show from a bad show if it showed up and bit him on the rear end, but you’re going to get judged by something you have no control over. Be somewhere where you can do a local show and you have ratings or revenue that you produce where there’s a tangible way of saying “I’m either doing a really bad job or a good job”. I need a way to keep score. When you do it nationally or do it in any way where there’s not ratings or revenue to judge, you’re in trouble. Because then there’s no objective way to determine if you’re doing a good job because ratings and revenue are how you’re judged if you’re doing a good job. That’s all that counts.”

On whether or not being simulcast is important:

“It’s not necessary anymore. We did a simulcast for 12 years. The FOX thing didn’t work out for anybody and it wasn’t anybody’s fault. The thought of us was better than us. What FOX thought of me and what I thought of FOX were better than when we were together. They had plans for me and I had plans for them but the plans didn’t mesh with what reality was. So it never worked out. I went after them because they came after me very hard and gave me a lot of money and also it was intriguing to do something different. They had a plan but they changed their plans so many times that it never had a chance to work. So we were both in the wrong place at the wrong time so we just needed to end it as quickly as we could and we did. I’m not against the simulcast but it is not a necessary part of my show where I am right now.”

On monitoring his show’s ratings and analyzing which content on his show does and doesn’t work:

“It doesn’t affect how I do my content but do we tweak things? Yes. Is there a game to it? Yes. Do we pay attention to it? Enormously. My producers and the people who work for me pay attention to it because they get paid for finishing first. They don’t get a bonus if we don’t finish first. They tackle me when the ratings come out. If I don’t finish first I’m not breathing. I don’t get paid on the ratings. I did in the beginning but not anymore. They stopped after three years of giving us bonuses because we were finishing first every time so they paid us to be first. I had one guy call me once when I finished second and tell me “I pay you to be first” and then hung up the phone. I understood the message. I’m never happy if I don’t finish first. We’re not trying to beat the sports station, we’re trying to beat every station.”

On why he chose to reunite with Chris Russo on March 30th:

“It was the right person who asked and it took The Garden to put it together. There were a lot of components. CBS had to say yes. They owned the rights to the name “Mike and The Mad Dog”. We thought we needed the name. They had to go ask for permission from Sirius. Sirius was a little more leery of it than my guys were. Jim Dolan and The Garden have a lot of clout and they were able to pull all of this together. He called Les Moonves and the guys at Sirius and after two phone calls it was done in two minutes. Dog and I both agreed to do it because the guy who asked us, Barry Watkins, has been a good friend of ours for a long time. He asked Dog first and then asked me. We thought it was for a good cause. Radio City was also very appealing. That’s the big time. I never fathomed being at Radio City Music Hall. That’s a big place.”

On his current relationship with Chris:

“It’s probably bad to say, we’ve been apart 8 years and I’ve seen him 5 times. We morph right back into who we were though. He’ll start telling me secrets. We know so much about each other that we can talk about business, our lives, and morph right back into that when I haven’t seen him in two years. It’s weird that we have that relationship. It’s like we’re related but we never see each other. We are kind of tied at the hip because we owe our careers to each other. I have had great success since we split up but I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for “Mike and The Mad Dog”. I’m not an idiot. I know that. Dog knows it too. We put something together that was iconic and gave us a chance to do everything we do. I’m very protective of “Mike and the Mad Dog”. It’s the best sports show of all time.”

On why he hasn’t kept in touch with Chris:

“We never socialized together. We spent 30 hours on the air. If you take in the time before and after, or if we were traveling, we’d spend 50-60 hours together, every week, for twenty years. That’s more time than you spend with anybody. There were times, and this is why we were so good, where we would do a show, five and a half hours a day, and one time we did it for six months, where we never spoke a word off the air. We were that mad at each other. And we would go in and do a show for five and a half hours and nobody would know we were fighting. We’d leave and go our separate ways. We’d show up at the studio at 1:03 and we’d do a show and leave and never speak a word even during the commercials.”

On the possibility of “Mike and the Mad Dog” reuniting permanently:

“I don’t think we would be the obstacle. I think the business is the obstacle. I think now, at this stage of our lives, everything has to be right. The business is shrinking, not expanding. There’s no way they can afford a show as expensive as ours. I don’t think economically it would be feasible. I don’t think either one of us would work for the amount of money that it would take for us to work for to do it. There’d be no reason for us to do it. If they could pay us like we are both used to being paid then do I think it could work. Do I think there’d be other obstacles? No. I think the obstacle is economic purely. The business is shrinking. I timed it well for this reason. They don’t want guys like me in this business anymore. They don’t want stars. They don’t want guys who are making a lot of money. They want a bunch of cookie cutter people who they can control that aren’t any trouble. Let the events, the packages, and the games be the stars. ESPN is doing that. They want a bunch of nameless faceless guys. If I asked you right now to give me the names of all the ESPN SportsCenter anchors you think you could do it? There was a time when everyone could do it. If they were here right now I wouldn’t be able to name two of them. They’re a bunch of nameless faceless people. That’s what the business wants now. They don’t want to pay anybody. They want people to be interchangeable. They want the events and the rights fees to carry the day, and make the sportscasters and the people interchangeable and I think they don’t want to pay anyone anymore. That makes it a tough business.”

On who called and was under consideration as a possible partner when Chris left:

“One person who called was a former Governor. It was a varied group. Chernoff and I had 200 people call us. Some of them you would not believe. They could have made the funniest tandems of all time. I’ve never revealed a name. I made one phone call. I called Bill Simmons and in typical Bill fashion, he said “you can’t afford me”. I said “Bill, get real”. He said he was tied up in LA and would love to do it but couldn’t do it. He’s the only one I ever called. I thought it would be fun. I’ll tell you who I would’ve taken with me if I could’ve taken him was Mike Breen. It would’ve been great. He was obviously busy with his broadcasting. Breen is great. He is funny and he would’ve been great doing that show and I would’ve loved doing a show with him but he was busy with the Knicks and already signed a contract to do the NBA for all those years. He couldn’t have been around every day but he’s a guy I would have taken in two seconds.”

On doing an upcoming “30 For 30” for ESPN:

“It’s being done. We’ve agreed to do it. It’ll be next year but they’ve already started doing work on it. They told me it’s going to be sixty minutes and it’s going to be a “30 For 30” and on our impact on the sports culture. Those things are really well done and I really believe that “Mike and the Mad Dog” did change a lot of stuff. It changed radio dramatically but I think it also at the right time it changed the sports culture a little bit in some different ways. So I think it really has its own niche. Dog and I are going to sit down together and individually for them, I believe in the summer time. They’re actually taping FrancesaCon this weekend and starting to do everything else we do in the next year. I believe they’re going to show it next January.”

On the surprise of him partnering up with ESPN on the project:

“I despise ESPN. They got so big that they forgot how to do sports with any touch. Just the silly stuff they got into. They stopped allowing any guests to be on my show. Some of those people are good friends of mine and they’re not allowed on my show. That was petty and stupid. It wasn’t going to help their local ratings with their ESPN shows. If they wanted to fix that radio station they’d have fixed it a long time ago. They obviously know nothing about radio we understand that. They don’t want to fix it. It’s there for what it’s there for. To make all those guests, many who are friends of mine, and a lot of them have gotten in trouble because they said “I’m going to go on” and they’ve been told “you’ll be fired if you go on”. So they actually have taken it to that level. From that standpoint I don’t like how they go about everything now. I hate what they did with the ESPY’s. I hate what they’ve done with a lot of sports. I used to go up there in the beginning and I almost worked there but I couldn’t think of living there. I did some work for a guy named Bill Fitz. Guys like Wildhack were BA’s in those days. You’re talking about the 70’s when that place was nothing. It was one little building in the middle of nowhere. So I’m a kid from Long Island who loves New York City, I couldn’t see being up there. But they had talented people, and they hit it right, and they built an empire. They are the mothership. Now it looks like their day is done. If they don’t continue to have the advantage they have, the cable payment system the way they have it, all the sudden things are going to change for them. But they had this advantage for a long time and it was one no one else came close to doing. They were double dipping. They were getting paid and charging for commercials. So they had more money and they were overpowering everybody. I just don’t like the way they do certain things. Fox is clearly going after them and the way they’re doing it, they’re not going to show a lot of success, but if they stick to it and pound the rock, 7-8 years from now they will catch ESPN. It will take them that long but if they continue it, and it’s going to cost them a lot of money to do it, they will catch ESPN.”

On his relationship issues with Boomer and Carton:

“I don’t really feel like I know Craig. We got off on the wrong foot. There’s no love lost between that show and my show. None. We probably weren’t very accommodating to them when they first got there because we were very loyal to Imus. If I did anything wrong I probably just ignored them. I didn’t promote them, I didn’t try to sabotage them, I don’t do negative things to people. I don’t sabotage anybody. The worst I’m going to do is ignore you. I don’t try to get anybody fired or run anybody down. I’ve never done that in my life but I will ignore them. I ignore a lot of people. And I’m sure they didn’t like that but there’s never been anything positive between that show and me and that’s just the way it’s been. We have no relationship. I guess there was a time when we could have salvaged it but I think it’s way past salvaging. I don’t think that’s possible now. I think they don’t like me and I don’t really care for them. I think that’s fair. I think a lot of stuff from my standpoint is misunderstood. I’m hard headed and I admit that. But I’m never out to hurt anybody else and I don’t go after anybody else. I just try to maintain my business. Don’t interfere with my show and I don’t interfere with anybody else’s. I show up and do my show and that’s my job. That’s it. I do my job.”

On leaving WFAN at the end of 2017:

“I’m not saying I’m leaving the business. I’m leaving Monday-Friday, five and a half hours, FAN, I am bringing the curtain down on that part of the show. I am not saying I’m not going to work again. I’m not saying I’m not going to do anything ever again. What I’m saying is, that part of my life is ending at the end of 2017. I’ve agreed to stay through the end of 17. We talked about me leaving earlier. We discussed it. They didn’t really want it. They didn’t give me a chance to get out. They never offered me a reasonable way out. So 17 it is. At the end of 17 there will be no more FAN. That I promise.”

Francesa also shared his thoughts on the loyalty of Mongo Nation, the growth of FrancesaCon, dealing with critics, how social media influences today’s decision making, being rejected 15 times while trying to pursue an on-air career, the reasons why he and Chris Russo would argue while they were together, the chemistry they had as a show, discovering new talent and getting involved in the digital world in the future plus more.

To hear the entire interview, click here.

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Mike Florio: Giving Teams Too Many Prime-Time Games ‘Compromises the Integrity of the Game’

“At some point it’s just going to be whatever we think every week is going to lead to the biggest ratings and the biggest numbers and the most money, that’s what we’re going to do and it’s unfair to certain teams to do that.”

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Mike Florio
Courtesy: Denny Medley, USA TODAY Sports

Mike Florio spent time on his Pro Football Talk Live show talking about the NFL schedule which was released in full earlier this week. The focus of the discussion was on the New York Jets schedule, however the topic related to many of the top teams in football. With the league wanting to maximize revenue there are more stand-alone games, which Florio says have “an extra layer of stress and strain.”

The Jets will have six prime-time games over the team’s first 11 weeks of the season. This includes an opening week Monday Night Football road game on the other side of the country against the San Franciso 49ers, two Sunday Night Football games, a Thursday Night Football game, one other appearance on Monday Night Football and a trip to London to play the Vikings.

Florio believes it is unfair to have teams with this much travel and this many featured games. “See, this is a TV show,” he said. “This is where the pursuit of money, the pursuit of maximum ratings, laying the foundation for putting all of the TV contracts out to bid again after the 2029 season, it gets in the way of giving teams a fair shake.”

He later added, “The truth is, the broadcast partners are clamoring for Aaron Rodgers…so they loaded it up early before the Jets have the wheels come off…The problem is they’re kicking the wheels off by doing this. By having them hopscotch the country and play short weeks twice and all of these prime-time games. There’s an extra layer of stress and strain that goes into all of these stand-alone games and all of this travel early in the season.”

Rodgers is coming off missing an entire season due to an Achilles injury and will turn 41 in early December. “Let’s be realistic about it, you’re putting him in a position where this 40-year-old body is going to be strained beyond reasonable limits from all these games on short [rest],” Florio said. “…It’s dangerous to Aaron Rodgers and its disadvantageous to the Jets and it compromises the integrity of the game.

“You still have an obligation to balance things out. It can’t be ‘let’s have the best possible TV audiences, that can’t be the driving factor…It should be a fair balance for all teams…At some point it’s just going to be whatever we think every week is going to lead to the biggest ratings and the biggest numbers and the most money, that’s what we’re going to do and it’s unfair to certain teams to do that.”

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Marv Albert Talks Retirement, Play-by-Play and OJ Simpson Chase with Dan Patrick

“I must say retirement has been great.”

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Marv Albert
Courtesy: PDA Speakers

Three years ago on Friday, legendary play-by-play announcer Marv Albert announced that he would be retiring from his role as the lead voice of the NBA on TNT. This concluded a 55-year broadcast career during which he called 13 NBA Finals matchups, eight Super Bowl championships, eight Stanley Cup Final series and countless other memorable games across a variety of professional sports. Albert is the former television play-by-play announcer for the New York Knicks and appeared on the Dan Patrick Show where he discussed his takeaways of the team. In fact, Albert divulged that he was at Madison Square Garden during the team’s first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Patrick wanted to know from Albert how he was enjoying retirement, a reality that he himself will be facing in three years. Last summer, Patrick announced that his final show would take place on Dec. 24, 2027 and inked a four-year contract extension with NBC Sports and iHeartMedia. Patrick’s show currently airs on FOX Sports Radio and can be live streamed through NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service. Albert has not been behind the microphone for approximately three years, but he is still keeping in tune with what is going on around the sports world.

“Life is good, Dan. How are you doing?,” Albert asked. “I must say retirement has been great. I do miss the preparation and the people I work with, and we do stay in touch, but I am Mr. Binge TV, and I do a lot of reading, work out, all those kind of things, but all is good. I’ve been enjoying the playoffs also.”

Earlier on Friday morning, PGA Tour professional golfer Scottie Scheffler was arrested and charged with a felony and other counts after he allegedly injured a police officer. Scheffler was driving by the scene of a fatal crash and was charged with felony second-degree assault on a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding signals from officers during traffic. Scheffler was released from jail in the morning and played the second round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Course in Louisville, Ky. Patrick mentioned the police chase involving O.J. Simpson that lasted for two hours following Simpson being charged with murdering his ex-wife and her friend.

Albert was in the midst of calling Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals between the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks. He vividly remembers players going to the press table at Madison Square Garden, which had televisions, and trying to see the latest action going on during the car chase.

“Dick Ebersol, the president of NBC Sports, was sitting to our left in the stands, but he had an earpiece so he heard exactly what was going on, and he was kind of directing the activity also,” Albert recalled. “‘Send it back to Tom [Brokaw]; go over to Bob [Costas],’ all this stuff. ‘By the way, there’s Charles Smith with the jump shot.’ It really was the most unusual situation I have been in on the air.”

Patrick was curious to know what has changed in terms of play-by-play announcing since Albert has retired, to which he replied that things largely remained the same in basketball. In other sports though, Albert has observed that there is more talking than there was in the past, articulating that he watches a lot of baseball and has noticed it during the broadcasts. Patrick added that he enjoys the usage of silence within a call and believes it is a lost art with the ostensible need to consistently speak when they are describing something, a sentiment Albert agreed with and explained was more compatible with television broadcasts.

“There’s no question,” Albert said. “You can use the crowd – the crowd is very important, particularly at times like this during the playoffs where the crowds are at another level.”

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Gregg Giannotti: Emmanuel Berbari Needs to Do a Little Better Than ‘Gone, Goodbye’

“I just know as a listener, it’s not doing it for me.”

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Gregg Giannotti
Courtesy: Peter Ackerman, Asbury Park Press

The New York Yankees are entrenched in the upper pantheon of the Major League Baseball standings to begin the new season. The team has won eight of its last 10 games, including a three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins and looks poised for a deep postseason run, but there have been hardships the organization has had to overcome to get there. Additionally, longtime Yankees radio play-by-play voice John Sterling retired from the broadcast booth in mid-April, ending an illustrious 36-year run calling the team’s games. Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti talked about one of Sterling’s replacements on Boomer & Gio.

Occupying the play-by-play announcing role throughout the regular season has been Justin Shackil and Emmanuel Berbari, both of whom have filled in for Sterling in the past when he had to miss games. Berbari worked alongside analyst Suzyn Waldman for the team’s series against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field, broadcast on the team’s flagship station, WFAN. Shortstop Anthony Volpe hit a leadoff home run to commence the final game of the series, and Berbari gave a home run call of ‘Gone, goodbye!’ on the air. WFAN host Gregg Giannotti, however, believes that there is room for improvement for the young announcer.

“I am fascinated by these guys that are now filling in for John Sterling, and John has retired, because you have to kind of thread a needle because you don’t want to be too over the top but you don’t want to be too boring, so how do you figure that out,” Giannotti said on Friday morning’s edition of Boomer & Gio on WFAN. “If I were giving Emmanuel Berbari advice, I would say we go to to just do a little bit better than ‘Gone, goodbye.’”

Giannotti ultimately compelled Berbari to try and find a middle ground between his ‘Gone, goodbye’ call and Sterling’s signature call for home runs by Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. Co-host Boomer Esiason asked Giannotti to give Berbari an example of what he would be satisfied with, to which he replied that he was not a play-by-play announcer.

“As a consumer, as a listener, I don’t know,” Giannotti said. “I’m not the one who has to think about it. I just know as a listener, it’s not doing it for me.”

Esiason proceeded to remind Giannotti of the time that they called a New Jersey Devils game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He wanted to know if Giannotti had thought about his call if the Devils scored a goal, off which he stated that he had not. Anchor Jerry Recco, who also works as a play-by-play announcer, explained that he perceives it to be a different situation when calling a baseball game.

“Yeah, you do think about it,” Recco said. “I’ve never really done baseball, but there are different home runs as well though. You’ve got the little line drives that you don’t know are going to get out and you kind of react to it. You’ve got the Judge one the other night that was a moonshot.”

From there, Esiason added that if he were calling the games, it would be difficult for him to manufacture excitement in a mid-May matchup that the Yankees are expected to win. In fact over the last five years, the Yankees have a 19-8 regular-season record against the Twins and have also defeated them during the postseason.

“John figured out a way to do it for a million years – 162 games,” Giannotti replied.

“Yankees-Marlins on a Tuesday night, he was fired up,” Recco added.

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