Tue. Dec 1st, 2020

Mad Dog Never Thought WFAN Could Succeed

“How many females were going to listen to sports talk all day? I didn’t know if WFAN could survive by doing that. I was dead wrong.”

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo sat down with Mike Greenberg for a long form interview as part of Greeny’s I’m Interested podcast this week. Mad Dog is referred to by Greenberg as “the godfather of two-man sports talk” and mentioned that he didn’t know if there would have been a Mike & Mike without Mike and the Mad Dog. 

At the beginning of the interview, Greeny asked the former WFAN host and host of Mad Dog Unleashed on SIRIUS XM’s Mad Dog Radio how he feels when people say that Mike and The Mad Dog was an inspiration to people across the country.

“I think the thing you like the best of all is that it was a duet sports talk. There wasn’t a two-man sports show in the mid-80’s. When Mike and I began, it was the two-man feature. It’s the fact that we were the first to do it together and to convince sports stations that you can put sports talk on in the middle of the afternoon. Mike and I showed you can do that kind of format in the middle of the day on an all-sports talk radio station. I take more out of it from the standpoint of a two-man team than I do for the individual sports talk.”

Russo says that he never thought WFAN would be a success, but he is happy that time has proved him wrong.

“I just did not think you could survive if half your clientele was not going to be necessary going into it. And that obviously would be females. How many females were going to listen to sports talk all day? I didn’t know if WFAN could survive by doing that. I was dead wrong.”

Greenberg and Russo were able to dive into the positives and negatives between hosting a national and local radio show since both have experience in doing each. Russo said that he didn’t think he would like doing national radio when he just started out, but learned that it came with some advantages that allowed him to avoid beating topics to death the way he did on local airwaves.

“I think I did local radio for so long and then got a little tired of it. Trading deadline, it gets old after a while. Going into the national thing, we don’t have to do as much of that nonsense. I think I enjoy that more. The thing you have to be careful of is I rely on calls. I’ve got to make sure I get an accord where the national audience cares and sometimes that can be a little tricky. The challenge of national radio is more enjoyable than local radio.”

This podcast brings its share of reminiscing on great 1990s New York sports moments while also providing great insight into what goes into national and local radio between two men who have done a great job in both areas. 

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