On Wednesday night, Mike Francesa and Christopher Russo, the sports radio duo once known as “Mike & The Mad Dog” on WFAN in New York, reunited for one night at a charity event held in Radio City Music Hall. By all accounts the reunion was great, leading once again to speculation that the pair may someday reunite.
Don’t hold your breath.
On Thursday morning, Francesa was a guest on “The Dan Patrick Show” and explained why the greatest sports radio duo of all time will not be getting back together.
“I don’t think it ever happens on a regular basis, I’m going to be honest with you,” Francesa told Patrick. “I really don’t. Part of it, Dan, is our business has changed dramatically and I don’t think our show is economically feasible anymore.”
Francesa reportedly makes $4 million per year at WFAN, according to the Washington Post, and Russo likely makes something in the same neighbourhood. Russo was making $3 million per year at SiriusXM before he negotiated a new contract. There are very few outlets that can afford to pay both hosts of one radio show those type of salaries and it would have to be a national program, not something local in New York.
While Francesa was emphatic that he can’t see a reunion happening, he insists it is not because of how they feel about each other. Despite the clash of styles and personalities that often led to friction on the show, Francesa insists that the show did not end because of animosity.
“There was no anger or problem when he left,” Francesa continued. “He left because he had an opportunity that intrigued him and he thought it was time.”
Francesa does point out that the two have not remained close, noting that they have seen each other more in the last two months preparing for their reunion show than they had in the previous eight years. Despite that, Francesa insists that the two are cordial to each other and that is not what would keep a reunion from happening.
Still, in addition to the money, it sounds like another big hurdle would be ego. Here is Francesa explaining what the real issues were between himself and Doggy.
“What would eventually become a problem is, he has gotten very used to now calling all the shots about what he wants to do. I’ve gotten used to calling all the shots about what I want to do. And I think that’s where you run into problems, is when you want to push direction. ‘You want to do this, I want to do that. You want to do this, I want to do that.’ That was always the issues. It was more about philosophy. Do we go to this event? Do we not go to this event? Do we do this? Do we do that? Those were always the things that became the issues. It was never the on-air stuff. It was always the other things that became the issues.”
Rumours of a possible reunion hit full-throttle last summer when both Russo and Francesa were asked about getting back together in the future. Russo said “Yeah, I would, definitely; I would consider it . . . Why not? I miss the camaraderie.” Francesa was less committed, but did say “Yes, I would listen.”
In both cases, it seemed as if the questions caught the individuals by surprise. But now that Francesa has had time to ponder a response, a reunion seems less likely than ever.
For those outside of the New York area, it is impossible to overstate the importance of “Mike & The Mad Dog,” and the influence they had on sports media throughout the country.
In 1989, WFAN in New York became the first 24-hour sports radio station. Shortly thereafter, the station paired Francesa and Russo together, two personalities that were as opposite as they were large. While many doubted the success of the format and the pairing, the show became the top-rated radio show in New York in a matter of weeks and stayed there for years.
However, in 2008, Russo left WFAN and joined SiriusXM to host his own national sports show within his own channel, “Mad Dog Radio.”
For those who were fans of the show, we may never get the reunion we really want. Instead, we will have to settle for hearing his trademark “ANDDDDDDDDDDD GOOD AFTERNOON, EVERYBODY!” one more time from Wednesday night.
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