Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo is a sports radio and WFAN legend. Russo, Mike Francesa and the late Don Imus helped build WFAN into some of terrestrial radio’s most prime real estate. But after a caller asked Dog about the current state of The FAN, the iconic radio host quickly noted how different it is.
“It’s a much different place than it used to be, much different.” Russo said during his Wednesday show on SiriusXM, noting the departures of Craig Carton and Don Imus before him. Russo also referred to current morning co-host Boomer Esiason as being “new to it,” even though the former MVP quarterback has been with WFAN for almost 13 years. In fact, most of WFAN’s weekday hosts are not “new to it.”
It’s true, WFAN is very different than they were when Russo left a dozen years ago. Ownership is different, the studio location is different, the lineup is different. Still, it should also be noted that outside of Maggie Gray, everyone in WFAN’s current weekday lineup worked as a full-time employee while Russo was there. That stat depicts a lot of continuity for a radio station over the course of 12 years.
Boomer Esiason was co-hosting mornings, Gregg Giannotti was behind the glass in the midday, Marc Malusis just started transitioning from producing Mike and Chris into an on-air role and Joe and Evan were in the 10am – 1pm timeslot. And beyond their weekday lineup, WFAN still boasts station icons Mike Francesa and Steve Somers in the evening.
The caller also noted 66-year old Joe Benigno’s tendency of telling the audience that he plans on retiring soon.
“Joe shouldn’t be doing that,” Russo responded. “The audience doesn’t want to hear about Joe’s golf plans in 2024, you gotta do a show. It has changed. I don’t know how you want me to respond to that.”
It’s not the first time Russo brought up Benigno’s affinity for retirement. In February, Russo called Joe and Evan on WFAN to discuss the NFL expanding their playoff format. The former WFAN afternoon host ribbed the new duo for taking vacations in February, less than two months after landing the drive time slot. He later commented on the prime radio real estate they now own, to which Benigno said “there’s no way I’m doing this when I’m 70 years old.”
“You have had a great career here, let’s not talk about the end,” Russo responded. “The average guy does not want to hear Joe say I gotta get out in two years. They may want you there for ten years.”
Russo added that Benigno’s focus and goal should be beating Michael Kay and being the best sports talk show in New York City.
“There’s nothing left to prove for me,” Benigno said defiantly, while also stating that it may have been a focus 15 years ago, but not now. “I came from nowhere to do this, out of nowhere. There is nothing left to prove.”
Benigno might not have much left to prove, but it’s hard to imagine ratings aren’t at least slightly important for WFAN’s afternoon show.
Greg Hill to Jeff Van Gundy: ‘You Sounded Like You Were on the Bucks’ Payroll’
“After a pregnant pause, Van Gundy answered through laughter, throwing a zinger right back at Hill and crew.”
They are nothing if not blunt in Boston. That was the case Tuesday morning when The Greg Hill Show welcomed ABC/ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy to the program to preview the Eastern Conference Finals.
Overall, it was a cordial visit. Questions mostly focused on the headlines related to officiating throughout the playoffs and what the Celtics would have to do to make it to the NBA Finals, which Van Gundy thinks will happen.
“I think Boston’s been the best team in the league,” he said. “I think they’re gonna win it all this year.”
Greg Hill said after the conference semi-finals matchup with Milwaukee, he was surprised to hear Jeff Van Gundy felt that way.
“Jeez, I’m glad to hear you say that,” Hill told Van Gundy. “It almost sounded like you were on the Bucks’ payroll at times during that last series.”
After a pregnant pause, Van Gundy answered through laughter, throwing a zinger right back at Hill and crew.
“You know what? I get used to that and then the Bucks people say I want Boston to win. Not that you guys would be homers or anything.”
Jeff Van Gundy will join Mike Breen and Mark Jackson at the broadcast table for the Eastern Conference Finals on ABC and ESPN. Game 1 between the Celtics and Heat is scheduled for Tuesday night at 8:30 in Miami.
99.7 The Fox Becomes New Carolina Panthers Flagship
“The new deal represents a return to The Fox for the Panthers. The station was the team’s flagship from 2000 through 2004.”
The Carolina Panthers are on the move in Charlotte. The team is leaving WBT. Their new radio home will be 99.7 The Fox, iHeartMedia’s classic rock station.
The station will carry all Panthers game broadcasts, the Panthers pregame and postgame shows as well the team’s weekly coach’s show. There will also be an on-site presence for every home game at Bank of America Stadium.
“We are thrilled to increase iHeartSports NFL partnerships with the addition of the Carolina Panthers. The passion between a sports team and its fan base is one-of-a-kind, and we’re thrilled to expand the Carolina Panthers’ reach to their passionate supporters with our new multi-media deal,” Kevin LeGrett, President of iHeartMedia Sports, said in a press release. “iHeart’s reach in Charlotte is unprecedented, meaning more fans will hear their favorite team than ever before. The partnership will include broadcast, streaming, podcast, events, marketing and promotional elements which will drive results for the Panthers!”
“The team at 99.7 The Fox is delighted to once again be the broadcast home of the Carolina Panthers, bringing best-in-class content from the team to its dedicated and passionate fans,” Dave Carwile, President of iHeartMedia Multi-Platform Group – Charlotte, added. “We know how special the relationship and connection between the city of Charlotte, the Panthers and the fan base is, and we’re thrilled to enhance that bond with an expanded coverage area reaching more fans on 99.7 The Fox. We can’t wait to get started.”
The new deal represents a return to The Fox for the Panthers. The station was the team’s flagship from 2000 through 2004. Every other year of the franchise’s existence, their games have been heard on WBT.
“The Panthers are incredibly grateful for our partnership with Radio One, and the role that WBT has played in sharing some of the greatest moments in franchise history for 22 seasons, including each of the past 17,” Jake Burns, Chief Commercial Officer for the Carolina Panthers, said.
Indiana Sports Talk Station Set To Flip Formats
“The promos say that station owner Woof Boom Broadcasting is “building a new radio station for Muncie and Delaware County”.
Sports fans in Muncie, Indiana may soon lose their favorite sports station. Listeners to Muncie Sports 92.5 have heard promos teasing a new station coming to the frequency.
The promos say that station owner Woof Boom Broadcasting is “building a new radio station for Muncie and Delaware County”. The station has also changed its call letters. What was WXFN is now WMUN.
Muncie Sports 92.5 airs on two signals. 1340 AM is a 1000 watt station. 92.5 FM is a translator signal.
The station airs an hour-long local show hosted by Mark Foerster on weekdays at 4 pm. It carries syndicated programming from FOX Sports Radio and is the local affiliate for the Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Pacers, Cincinnati Reds, IndyCar Series, Ball State University football and women’s basketball, and three local high schools.
ESPN 680 is still available from nearby Marion,IN. Two Indianapolis sports talk stations are strong enough to be heard in the town as well according to Radio Locator.