Mike Francesa is ready to broadcast once again. But this time, he’ll be sharing his hard hitting opinions on a different platform, and in a brand new role.
Barrett Sports Media has learned that the former WFAN afternoon drive time host has agreed to a multi-year deal with Rush Street Interactive to become a brand ambassador for BetRivers Sportsbook. As part of the new relationship with BetRivers, Francesa will host a new weekly podcast titled The Mike Francesa Podcast.
An official announcement is expected to be made Tuesday morning around 9am ET. The first episode from Francesa is scheduled to be released either next Monday, March 28th or Tuesday, March 29th. Episodes will run up to one hour each in an audio-only format – for now – as video could come into play in the future. Francesa is expected to release two episodes per week as part of the deal.
To help make Francesa’s transition into podcasting a smooth one, he’ll turn to longtime producer Brian Monzo. The two men spent years working together in afternoon drive at WFAN. Also providing a blast from the past to Francesa’s new show will be former New York Mets manager and fellow BetRivers Sportsbook ambassador Bobby Valentine. Bobby V, who provided appointment radio on Francesa’s show on The Fan, will join the show weekly throughout the 2022 Major League Baseball season.
In addition to hosting his new podcast, Francesa will voice commercials for BetRivers. He’ll also make a few appearances at major sporting events where he’s likely to contribute a few short videos.
Francesa began his career with CBS Sports before joining WFAN, where he rose to fame alongside Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo. The duo formed Mike and the Mad Dog, the industry’s most successful sports radio program for 19 years, consistently producing high ratings and revenue for New York’s sports radio leader. After Russo left to launch his own channel on SiriusXM, Francesa went solo, launching Mike’s On. He continued to produce big ratings on radio for WFAN until stepping away from the radio station at the end of 2017. Then just a few months later, Francesa returned to afternoons, remaining there until signing off in July 2020.
Since leaving FAN, Francesa has shared his sports opinions on Twitter, and appeared on a few shows as a guest. In fact, Francesa and Russo reunited at the 2022 Barrett Sports Media Summit in New York City to accept BSM’s introduction of the Mike and the Mad Dog Award, which was presented to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s afternoon drive show Felger & Mazz featuring Mike Felger and Tony Massarotti. The popular New York sports talk show host has said publicly he wasn’t interested in full time radio work since retiring from daily duty. However, he did leave the door open for a return to broadcasting in some capacity during a conversation with Newsday in December.
It appears Francesa has found the right broadcasting fit, and BetRivers Sportsbook has secured a high profile ambassador and host to help them penetrate the New York market. Given Francesa’s passion for New York sports, picking games, and the audience and media’s appetite for his opinions and content, expect the new weekly podcast to generate attention.
BSM’s Jason Barrett contributed to this article and report
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.”