Mike Francesa and Chris Russo, former sports-talk radio partners who ruled the format for nearly 20 years on WFAN in New York before parting for solo careers in 2008, are reuniting to host a live-broadcast one-night performance on March 30.
The event sold out within 24 hours after tickets went on sale in December. “The idea that we sold out nearly 6,000 seats in such an incredibly famous venue is overwhelming,” said Mike, sitting with Chris, better known as Mad Dog, at a recent Rangers game at Madison Square Garden.
“There has always been a very large reaction to everything that Dog and I have done, and there’s always been a clamor for us to get back together,” said Francesa, who has hosted his own show on WFAN since the breakup and is known to many of his fans as the Sports Pope for his brash, know-it-all-style. “People like the idea of reunions, especially if it involves entertainers who have influenced their lives.”
“Right up until the time they went off the air, Mike and Chris were first in our demographic of males, ages 25 to 54, and that’s what made their breakup so heartbreaking,” said Mark Chernoff, vice president for programming at WFAN and CBS Radio in New York. At their peak — thought to be from the late 1990s through 2000, the year the Mets met the Yankees in the World Series — the pair’s weekly cumulative audience was two million, he said. “They set the tone and brought sports-talk radio to a whole new level,” he said. “So many other duos began emulating them.”
But very few talk hosts have come close, including Mike and Chris after their split.
“Since we broke up, neither of us has been able to find a replacement for the other— what does that tell you?” said Russo, who now hosts “Mad Dog Sports Radio” on Sirius XM. “It tells me that we had a once-in-a-lifetime chemistry.”
That rapport was evident when the two met before the Rangers game to discuss a potential format for the reunion, which will be broadcast live on MSG Plus television and on WFAN and Sirius XM.
Francesa hinted at what the audience might hear on March 30.
“We’re going to morph back into our old selves and do the stuff that made our show great and kept us on top all of those years,” he said. “When people go to see a favorite group perform, they don’t want to hear anything new, they want to hear the greatest hits.”
At one point in their meeting, Chris, whose contract with Sirius XM expires in August, raised the subject of getting back together on a regular basis with Mike, whose contract expires at the end of 2017: “Hey Michael, is this reunion show a final farewell to Mike and the Mad Dog, or the start of our resurgence together?”
Francesa put his old partner on hold.
“You know me better than anyone, Dog,” he said. “I always keep my options open.”
To read more visit the New York Times where this article was originally published.
Tony Bruno Relives Favorite Moments With Angelo Cataldi on 94 WIP
“I loved every day. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that.”
Tony Bruno has been a staple of the sports radio business for decades. Bruno is from Philadelphia and was teamed up in the early nineties with a duo still dominating the local airwaves there today, Angelo Cataldi and Al Morganti. The three reunited Thursday morning on 94 WIP to remember the glory days of their partnership and friendship.
One of the first moments Cataldi asked Bruno if he remembered was the update he did from a tree outside of their studio and the answer was an emphatic yes.
“Absolutely, it’s one of the highlights of my life – other than interviewing four Presidents and every sports athlete in history – there’s no bigger moment than me climbing up in the tree, which was obstructing our view of William Penn and the city skyline. That’s what I do, I was a man of action. I’m not one of these guys that talks the talk, I climb the tree to do whatever is necessary.”
More frivolity followed when Cataldi harkened back to a segment of ‘Damsels in Distress’ and a time in which Bruno was sent on the street during a snowstorm to help shovel people out of their driveways. Bruno quickly recalled, “Man of the people. I should run for – I should of run for Governor of Pennsylvania or Senate or something.”
Bruno added that his favorite rant (and one that Cataldi loved too) wasn’t about the Cowboys or sports at all. “My favorite was my Infinity Broadcasting rant where I went on one day and even ripped our bosses, all the way up to the top of Infinity Broadcasting.” Cataldi cackled and praised Bruno’s rants more before being interrupted by Bruno saying, “yeah, my only regret is I never really ripped Al (Morganti) the way I should have ripped him. I let him of the hook so many times.”
An insightful moment came at the end of the call when Cataldi asked rhetorically if Bruno ever thought they (Cataldi & Morganti) would still be doing this thirty years later and then asked if Tony ever regretted leaving.
“It was a tough decision, Ang,” Bruno answered. “I was given an ultimatum. When I came to work with you guys, I loved every day. Every day we had fun. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that. It wasn’t one of those, ‘oh I got to go; I’m too big for these guys’. I even turned the ESPN job down a couple of times.
“My kids were still younger then, I didn’t want to move. I didn’t have to move. They said just come up here on weekends and that’s how ESPN Radio started. So I was doing weekends and Tom Bigby (Program Director) didn’t like that either, told me it wasn’t going to work. It was a philosophical thing. When he told me, ‘you should go because we are not going to pay you what they’re paying you,’ I said ok.
Cataldi began to sign off with Bruno with genuine thanks: “I got to tell you something Tone, we are indebted to you for the rest of our lives because we both learned so much from you and you are one of the great talents that radio has ever had.”
Dodgers Temporarily Pull Broadcasters Off Road
“If the broadcasters’ are not dealing with severe cases of Covid and they have cleared health and safety protocols, it appears the team is open to sending them back out on the road.”
When the Los Angeles Dodgers visit the East Coast later this week, the men that call the action on TV and radio will not be with them. The games will instead be broadcast on AM570 LA Sports and SportsNet LA from their respective studios.
“Due to a few members of the Dodgers’ broadcast team having recently tested positive for COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, the Dodgers have decided to not travel their broadcasters to upcoming games in Philadelphia and Washington,” the Dodgers announced in a statement. Similar to the 2020 and 2021 MLB seasons, the games will be broadcast from Los Angeles,” reads a statement on the team’s Twitter account.
No further details are available, so the severity and the number of cases remain unknown.
Last September, both members of the Dodgers’ television play-by-play crew were forced into quarantine. Joe Davis was the first to test positive, followed later that month by Orel Hershiser.
On Wednesday, manager Dave Roberts told the media that the Dodgers’ roster and coaching staff are not effected.
“There’s there’s no symptoms in the clubhouse. I think that as far as the upstairs, as an organization, we’re all just trying to be very cautious. But as far as in the clubhouse, coaches, training staff, nothing like that.”
If the broadcasters’ are not dealing with severe cases of Covid and they have cleared health and safety protocols, it appears the team is open to sending them back out on the road. 2022 was supposed to be a return to normal for the Dodgers and many other teams after not letting broadcasters travel in 2020 and 2021.
Pat McAfee: ‘No One Will Disrespect Jim Rome On My Show’
“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle.”
Jim Rome is a sports radio icon and Pat McAfee recognizes that.
On The Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday, McAfee was talking to co-host A.J. Hawk about how Rome trended recently on Twitter.
This happened after news of Tom Brady’s FOX Sports deal surfaced, and a list of the top paid sports media personalities was compiled. Rome came in behind Brady at number two making a reported $30 million a year, and many were surprised by that number. McAfee wasn’t.
“That’s because you need to respect the f–king jungle,” he said. “I have nothing but respect for Jim Rome.”
McAfee gave props to Rome, 57, saying he’s been doing sports talk probably longer than anyone. He’s one of the most widely distributed hosts in the country. Pat said he won’t tolerate anyone talking smack about the Smack-Off King.
“No disrespect will be said on this show of Jim Rome, ever,” he said. “Love that man.”