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Mad Dog Says WFAN Is ‘A Much Different Place’

“Ownership is different, the studio location is different, the lineup is different. Still, it should also be noted that outside of Maggie Gray, everyone in WFAN’s current weekday lineup worked as a full-time employee while Russo was there.”

Brandon Contes

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Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo is a sports radio and WFAN legend. Russo, Mike Francesa and the late Don Imus helped build WFAN into some of terrestrial radio’s most prime real estate. But after a caller asked Dog about the current state of The FAN, the iconic radio host quickly noted how different it is. 

“It’s a much different place than it used to be, much different.” Russo said during his Wednesday show on SiriusXM, noting the departures of Craig Carton and Don Imus before him. Russo also referred to current morning co-host Boomer Esiason as being “new to it,” even though the former MVP quarterback has been with WFAN for almost 13 years. In fact, most of WFAN’s weekday hosts are not “new to it.” 

It’s true, WFAN is very different than they were when Russo left a dozen years ago. Ownership is different, the studio location is different, the lineup is different. Still, it should also be noted that outside of Maggie Gray, everyone in WFAN’s current weekday lineup worked as a full-time employee while Russo was there. That stat depicts a lot of continuity for a radio station over the course of 12 years. 

Boomer Esiason was co-hosting mornings, Gregg Giannotti was behind the glass in the midday, Marc Malusis just started transitioning from producing Mike and Chris into an on-air role and Joe and Evan were in the 10am – 1pm timeslot. And beyond their weekday lineup, WFAN still boasts station icons Mike Francesa and Steve Somers in the evening. 

The caller also noted 66-year old Joe Benigno’s tendency of telling the audience that he plans on retiring soon.  

“Joe shouldn’t be doing that,” Russo responded. “The audience doesn’t want to hear about Joe’s golf plans in 2024, you gotta do a show. It has changed. I don’t know how you want me to respond to that.” 

It’s not the first time Russo brought up Benigno’s affinity for retirement. In February, Russo called Joe and Evan on WFAN to discuss the NFL expanding their playoff format. The former WFAN afternoon host ribbed the new duo for taking vacations in February, less than two months after landing the drive time slot. He later commented on the prime radio real estate they now own, to which Benigno said “there’s no way I’m doing this when I’m 70 years old.” 

“You have had a great career here, let’s not talk about the end,” Russo responded. “The average guy does not want to hear Joe say I gotta get out in two years. They may want you there for ten years.”

Russo added that Benigno’s focus and goal should be beating Michael Kay and being the best sports talk show in New York City. 

“There’s nothing left to prove for me,” Benigno said defiantly, while also stating that it may have been a focus 15 years ago, but not now. “I came from nowhere to do this, out of nowhere. There is nothing left to prove.”

Benigno might not have much left to prove, but it’s hard to imagine ratings aren’t at least slightly important for WFAN’s afternoon show.

Sports Radio News

Andrew Fillipponi: Peter Burns Made ‘Innocuous Joke’ To Ben Watson

“So wait a minute? Because you believe in Jesus Christ you care about your wife more than other people? What are you talking about?”

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The on-air spat between SEC Network host Peter Burns and analyst Ben Watson continues to be bandied about in sports media circles, with 93.7 The Fan hosts Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller discussing the topic Tuesday.

“I’m on Team Burns,” Fillipponi said.

“Forget who’s team you’re on,” Chris Mueller said. “I think you’ve do have to keep the wives and children out of this.”

“What are you talking about, keep the wives and out of it?!,” Fillipponi asked.

“Do we believe this is work or shoot here?,” Mueller wondered.

“Oh, I think this is real,” Fillpponi added, which Mueller agreed.

“Do you think a close fist from Ben Watson hit Peter Burns?,” Mueller asked.

“No, I think he picked him up by the lapels,” Fillipponi said.

When the subject of Watson’s religion was brought up, Fillipponi then pointed out the absurdity of the situation.

“So wait a minute? Because you believe in Jesus Christ you care about your wife more than other people? What are you talking about?”

“I think he might have a shorter fuse and not taking in humor that Peter Burns was giving out,” Mueller said.

“It was an innocuous joke!,” Fillipponi stated. “It wasn’t a joke! Why is it in bad taste?”

Mueller then added the idea of Watson’s wife texting Burns insinuates there’s an inappropriate relationship.

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Sports Radio News

Craig Carton: Booger McFarland’s Zach Wilson Analysis ‘An Embarrasment’

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Craig Carton

ESPN NFL analyst Booger McFarland raised eyebrows on Monday Night Countdown this week by saying New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson has never been held accountable for his actions because he was a “young man who grew up with a lot of money”. WFAN afternoon host Craig Carton called out McFarland’s comments Tuesday as outlandish.

“It was an embarrasment,” Carton said. “Someone should ask Booger McFarland if his kids — who grew up with amazing wealth — have accountability in their lives or if having a little bit of money in your pocket immediately discounts the possibility to have accountability. He’s an idiot and we learned that last night.”

“It’s funny that Steve Young was on the other side of it,” Evan Roberts noted. “Because a long time ago, Steve Young criticized Chris Simms because he’s the son of a famous quarterback.”

“You don’t have to invent reasons for why Zach Wilson isn’t playing well,” added Carton. “Just watch his tape. He’s not playing well. Maybe he’s just not good!”

Carton later said NFL reporters “will try to make a name for themselves by putting out a story” about quarterbacks who take responsibility for their teams failures, while Wilson wouldn’t accept the blame.

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Sports Radio News

Greg Hill: Ben Watson, Peter Burns Drama Was A Bit

“Be careful when you’re talking about somebody’s wife and their kids. ‘Cause not everybody jokes the same way.”

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Peter Burns and Ben Watson shared an awkward exchange during the halftime show of an SEC Network football game over the weekend, and many are still debating whether Watson walking off the set was serious or not. Count part of the cast of The Greg Hill Show on WEEI as doubters.

“That was a a bit,” Courtney Cox said. “That was absolutely a bit.”

“Yeah, unlike the Chris Rock/Will Smith thing, I assume that was a bit,” Hill said. “I can’t believe that Ben Watson is really angry about that.”

“I dunno, man. There’s been a lot of speculation that it isn’t,” Jermaine Wiggins added. “There are people who are very sensitive about you clowning on them or joking with them. Especially with joking about their wife. Some people can’t handle jokes like that.”

After a back-and-forth with Cox about the legitimacy of the joke, Wiggins concluded by saying for some folks family is off limits.

“I’ve learned something in my 47 years on this Earth: be careful when you’re talking about somebody’s wife and their kids. ‘Cause not everybody jokes the same way.”

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