Posts Tagged ‘Chris Russo’


August 15, 2008


The pioneering “Mike and the Mad Dog” sports talk radio show is finished.

Radio station WFAN in New York announced late Thursday that Chris “Mad Dog” Russo was leaving the station. Mike Francesa will continue to host the show’s time slot solo.

Neil Best of Newsday broke the story. Best first reported in June that the ground-breaking duo was likely to break up.

WFAN first paired Francesa and Russo together for “Mike and the Mad Dog” in 1989. The show was two weeks short of its 19th anniversary.

“Mike and the Mad Dog” was the best known and most successful talk show in sports talk history. The duo won a Marconi award in 2000 as “Personality of the Year” for a major market. They were the first sports talk hosts ever to win the award.

They were also a hit financially. WFAN is almost always the top billing radio station in the country. Ironically, money was probably the reason FAN let the 48-year-old Russo go. He made $1.3 million dollars a year and under inept management the station was drowning in red ink. WFAN’s parent company reportedly ran up $150 million in debt. That wasn’t Russo’s fault. “Mike and the Mad Dog” took in a reported $15-17 million dollars every year in ad revenue. Even in a soft advertising economy this year.

Rumors have Russo joining Sirius satellite radio.


June 22, 2008


There is a disturbing trend going on in sports talk radio these days. Stations throughout the country are firing big name sports talk show hosts in their never-ending effort to slash salaries.

In the latest piece of stunning news from the industry, Newsday has the story today that WFAN may be getting rid of longtime sportstalkers Mike and The Mad Dog.  The article is not some tabloid piece of idle speculation. It’s author, Neil Best, is the top sports media writer in the country.

Best calls the Mike Francesa and Chris Russo show “the most successful, influential show in sports talk radio history.” Yet, Best says, the show itself could soon be history.

Best writes about a rumored rift and conflict in personalities between Francesa and Russo. However, it’s highly unlikely that either host would simply walk away from million dollar plus salaries while still under contract. The bottom line for scumbag radio companies is always the bottom line.

According to the lastest figures available, Francesa made $1.4 million a year and Russo $1.3 million.

That shouldn’t be a concern since WFAN raked in over $20 million in sales last year and the ratings for Mike and The Mad Dog are up 26 percent since last year. Unfortunately it is. Why? Because the guy who heads the company that owns WFAN is a blithering moron.

Jeff Smulyan is the former owner of the Seattle Mariners baseball team. While he was the M’s owner the team almost became the first club in MLB history to not have enough money to make payroll. Since Smulyan is too stupid to get a job in any respectable business he started his own radio company. Emmis Broadcasting now owns seven radio stations including WFAN.

Today’s New York Times business section has an article that says Smulyan may be selling off one of his Boston Jazz stations in an effort to pay off some of the company’s debt which is reported to be over $150 million.

I have a lot of respect for Neil Best, but if Francesa, Russo or both get fired it’s not because of a “personality conflict” or to “pursue other media interests.” It’s because another cheap, evil, stupid, monolithic corporation is looking to cut salary.