Mike Francesa is letting everyone know not to call him, he’ll call you if he’s interested in a co-host. At the same time, his ex-partner, Christopher Russo made it clear to WFAN, Mike and the Mad Dog reunion is off the table.
Every couple of years, rumors about Russo returning to WFAN pops up. With Francesa recently stating his interest in adding a second voice to the show and Russo’s SiriusXM contract nearing expiration, it seemed like a good time to reignite the reunion rumors.
“I thought there was a chance, maybe a couple of years ago when that 30-for-30 came out.” Russo told The Michael Kay Show, referring to the 2017 ESPN Mike and the Mad Dog documentary. “I thought there was a chance there a couple of years ago that that could occur. That did not, so I would say probably safely that ship has sailed,” Dog said regarding a possible return to WFAN.
Michael Kay’s co-host, Don La Greca pressed the issue, wondering what Russo would do if WFAN and its parent company, Entercom asked him to return. “They won’t ask, No. 1, so it’s a hypothetical, I probably at this point in my life I would not.”
Kay chimed in on the hypothetical, presenting the “what if” Entercom offered Russo for $5 million for a return to terrestrial radio.
“They won’t,” Russo said. “If they did, I would probably say no.” Russo went on to compliment his current company, SiriusXM, stating he likes the content he can do on the satellite platform.
“First off, let’s be fair: I’m not that important,” Russo added. “Entercom, Mark Chernoff or anybody else, or Mikey, they’re not going to come back and say, ‘hey Chris, by the way, we love you so much, here’s five million, let’s topple ESPN Radio with the ratings.’ They are not going to tell me that. It’s a nice hypothetical, Mike. I know you’re trying to get me in a little trouble. I would say they wouldn’t want me and I wouldn’t go.”
This wasn’t the first time Russo joined The Michael Kay Show, but it was probably the most controversial as the segment came on the final day of the winter ratings book. With Kay and Francesa neck and neck in a ratings battle, one that the iconic WFAN host has never lost, it appeared as if Russo was rooting against his former partner.
“Believe it or not, I didn’t even realize that this was sort of the end of the ratings period, this day. . . I can see I’m a pawn and a sacrifice,” Russo said.
“That would not have been my intention, because obviously FAN was my home for 20 years with Mike. So I did not think that, but listen, the fact that there’s still people who care in New York is a good sign.”
Although the winter book closed on Wednesday, the ratings won’t be revealed until mid-April, when both hosts are likely to claim victory. ESPN includes streaming numbers in their rating, while WFAN does not, allowing them to sell digital advertising separately from terrestrial radio. If Francesa’s stream was included, it’s likely he would have a higher number than Kay, but Nielsen will not report the ratings that way.
And by the way, Dog did talk sports while joining The Michael Kay Show. Dolan, the New York Football Giants, Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame and free agency were all on tap in the 20-minute interview which can be heard by clicking here.
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
Nick Wilson: Deshaun Watson Press Conference ‘Insulting’ To Local Media
“You — neither Deshaun, his lawyers, or anybody involved in this — get to dictate what those reporters get to say, ask, or think.”
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson met with the media for the first time yesterday since being reinstated by the NFL after the league ruled he was guilty of violating the Personal Conduct Policy due to improper sexual advances towards more than two dozen massage therapists. 92.3 The Fan afternoon host Nick Wilson called Watson’s press conference “trash” and “insulting” to local media.
Watson told reporters he would only answer football related questions from the assembled media members, which Wilson took issue with.
“You can’t bury this story simply by saying ‘I won’t talk about it’,” Wilson said. “It is insulting to the media who covers this team. This is not about Nick Wilson, I promise. This is about the beat reporters who cover this team. It is insulting — intentionally or not — to say ‘You know what, guys? I love y’all, but I’m going to dictate what you ask me’.
“You don’t do that. You dictate when you speak, your opening statement, or how you respond. You — neither Deshaun, his lawyers, or anybody involved in this — get to dictate what those reporters — who work very hard day in, day out covering this organization, covering Deshaun Watson, covering this town — get to say, ask, or think. That was trash.”
Co-host Dustin Fox added the whole job of the media is to bring information to fans, and Watson wouldn’t allow reporters to do that Thursday, and may never do that.
Gregg Giannotti: Biggest Issue With Craig Carton, Jon Jastremski Feud Is “Mole” At WFAN
“The thing that bothers me the most about this is the leak from within the building. Someone here is sending this audio out to a former listener…to cause problems.”
A feud has sprung up between WFAN afternoon host Craig Carton and former WFAN host John Jastremski. Boomer & Gio discussed the spat on Friday morning’s show, with Gregg Giannotti being troubled by a revelation.
During his New York New York podcast, a voicemail left for Jastremski asked about Carton’s comments, but the caller said a WFAN employee sent him the clip of Carton’s criticism.
“So that means we have a mole,” Boomer Esiason said.
“That right there is a problem,” Gregg Giannotti added. “‘We both have a mutual friend that still works over there’ and that person shared a link of Craig talking about JJ (Jastremski). So, clearly, that person is on JJ’s side and they’re still working here. That’s a mole! That’s someone going against the team! And I think know who that is!”
Esiason then asked if he knew the person, to which Giannotti said he did. He then asked if he would be upset by who it was, which Giannotti affirmed as well.
The show then played the final portion of Jastremski’s rant, which included him saying to Carton “I’m not listening to a crook. So you know what? Go take a f—ing hike.”
“Jesus!” Esiason exclaimed. “Good for JJ, though. Standing up for himself.”
“I like both of these guys. I do. I got respect for both of them,” said Giannotti. “Everybody doesn’t have to go to the jail, crook thing with Craig every single time. Do they? It’s low-hanging fruit. Everybody goes there. There’s no way he can defend himself in that way because everybody saying ‘You went to jail’ didn’t go to jail, and it’s not apples and oranges. But the business stuff is apples-to-apples.
“So when I hear that, I’m just like ‘Ok, you went there. Be a little more creative than that’. As far as I listen to legend things, please, nobody has given me worse advice in my life than Mike Francesa did. Nobody. I would still be out in the newsroom cutting Islander highlights if I listened to that guy. And the only reason why Mike liked JJ was because he didn’t feel he was a threat. The only people Mike likes is the people he feels non-threatened by. And that’s where that comes from.”
After concluding Jastremski’s rant was a “little over the top”, Giannotti then turned his attention to the “mole” inside the station.
“The thing that bothers me the most about this is the leak from within the building. Someone here is sending this audio out to a former listener…to cause problems. That — to me — is an issue. The guy on the voicemail said ‘We may or may not have a mutual friend that still works at the radio station’ and this guy just slammed the radio station. And he’s friends with the guy who slammed the radio station and then slammed Craig and this guy’s on their side?! And this guy that works here is on their side?! That to me is a major, major problem.”
Dan Dakich: Craig Carton is ‘The Way Talk Radio Should Be’
“If you’re being critical because you want to be the guy that’s always critical I don’t think you can do that either. I think you gotta be honest. And criticism comes with it.”
Craig Carton has prided himself on being one of those hosts who tells it like it is, especially when talking about New York’s pro sports teams.
That willingness to call a spade a spade and levy criticism on teams like the Jets and Giants, especially when things are not going well on the field, is something Dan Dakich has always seen as a recipe for success in the industry.
Interviewing Carton on Thursday on his Outkick show Don’t @ Me, Dakich praised the WFAN afternoon host for essentially creating a blueprint for how sports talk should be done.
“In Indianapolis I’m the bad guy right, because I say look the Colts stink, this regime is 46-49-1 – why are you telling me the GM is the best in the country – why are you telling me Frank Reich can really coach?” Dakich said. “New York’s different, though, right? I mean, New York they expect you to say look if you ain’t any good then you ain’t any good. Yu don’t sugarcoat nothing, and I think that’s the way talk radio should be.”
Carton noted that what’s key in how you critique a team or a front office, executive or owner is finding a balance. He said you can’t as a host be the ultimate homer and blow smoke up everyone’s behind.
“You have to be able to be critical when it’s warranted,” Carton said. “If you’re being critical because you want to be the guy that’s always critical I don’t think you can do that either. I think you gotta be honest. And criticism comes with it.”
Carton pointed out that the fan bases in both New York and in Indianapolis are ultimately the same, because at the end of the day it’s all about making sure you have competent people calling the right shots. He added that the organizations are the same too because of how sensitive they can be to criticism, which he said if they don’t like it, “too bad.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.