TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison interviews WFAN sports talk superstar Mike Francesa on this week’s installment of the international hit podcast series, “Up Close and Far Out.” In an exclusive 30-minute conversation, Harrison and Francesa cover a variety of fascinating topics including authenticity in broadcasting, internet critics, digital era audiences, radio versus television, changes in pop culture, the phenomenal growth of sports and the future of radio in a world of screens.
Francesa credits the authenticity, for which Harrison praises him, in part, to being on the air an unusually long five-and-a-half hours per day, pointing out that you can’t be live on radio that long every day without being your real self. According to Francesa, one of the big changes faced by hosts in both sports and general talk programming today is the audience has as much, if not more, access to information as you do – which means merely presenting news is not enough.
A host’s success is dependent on having an interesting “take” on the events of the day. He says the internet has made it much easier to break into broadcasting but much more difficult to get noticed. Of his critics, he states the worst thing that can happen is to be ignored. “If you are ignored, you are dead.”
Francesa tells Harrison that he very seldom responds to his critics – refusing to give them the exposure of his larger platform that they seek. In addition to having a growing national following due to television and radio syndication, Mike Francesa has long been one of the highest profile media figures in New York and has been ranked by TALKERS magazine for the past two years in a row in the #1 spot on its “Heavy Hundred” of sports talk radio (“The 100 Most Important Radio Sports Talk Hosts in America”).
After several years of being carried by the YES Network, Francesa’s daily local radio show is presently simulcast nationally on Fox Sports 1. In comparing radio to television, Francesa says, “Television is a director’s medium. Radio is a performer’s medium.” He explains, “Radio is unvarnished. It is visceral. It is emotional. Television is more packaged and homogenized.” Regarding the survival and future of radio, Francesa states, “Radio will be here long, long past us. People have been trying to kill radio since the first days of television. They’ve tried to kill radio 40 different times in multiple generations. They will never kill it because its appeal of being live, local, personal and mobile will never be equaled.”
Francesa sees the rise of mobile digital media as actually being a good thing for radio, acknowledging that “radio will change.” He confidently says, “It will be enhanced because of the smart phone. It is the new transistor radio. Who carried a transistor radio for the past 30 years? Now everyone does. THAT is an opportunity!”
To listen to Mike Francesa on “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison,” please click here or click on the special player box in the right hand column of every page on Talkers.com and RadioInfo.com.
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.”