I can’t help but wonder if my interview with Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo last month turned out to be a uniter of radio legends.
During our conversation, Russo said he missed the discourse he had with his former radio partner Mike Francesa. A week later, Mike was on his SiriusXM radio show for an hour. He also told me how much he enjoyed going on The Howard Stern Show despite it being a few years since his last appearance. Less than one month later, Russo joined Stern for almost two hours.
“I’ve been totally into it. But it’s almost like when he gets Mike from Mahopac (Sour Shoes), he feels like he had Chris Russo on, so it’s been awhile, but I love going in there,” Dog told me as he tried to theorize why it’s been so long since he joined Stern as a guest.
But Stern quickly nixed the theory to Dog, “I want to correct something right away,” Stern told Russo. “You have this feeling, I heard, that I haven’t had you on in a while because Sour Shoes does such a great impression of you…that I feel like I’ve had you on. But that’s not true.” Stern added that he waits for Russo to reach out, figuring he’ll come on whenever he’s ready.
Shortly after clearing up why it’s been years since Russo was on the show, Stern dove into Dog’s relationship with Francesa. In Stern’s expert radio opinion, he believes Francesa should have fought harder to keep Russo from leaving WFAN for SiriusXM in 2008.
Not only would it have kept an iconic sports radio duo together, but Stern also thinks it would have helped Francesa’s career near the end. Stern believed Francesa began to get paranoid of prank calls and social media looking to catch him making a mistake, but Russo could have provided protection from that.
It was Russo’s decision to go and Francesa’s ego was never going to allow him to beg his partner to stay. If Russo was being forced out, Francesa might have fought harder, but that wasn’t the case.
Ultimately, they each found success as solo acts. Russo’s solo work took a little bit longer to hit stride and Francesa’s flamed out slightly quicker than his former partner. But there’s no question a side of sports radio will always wish Mike and the Mad Dog never split.