Andrew Marchand of The New York Post led off his weekly “Media Mailbag” column with a question about New York’s heritage sports talk radio brand.
Reader Vincent asked why WFAN would broadcast Yankee games and spend so little time talking about the team during its shows. “Most hosts are Met fans and don’t hide it. I believe the ratings have fallen because people are tired of it,” he wrote.
Marchand noted that there is no evidence that the number of Mets fans on the air at WFAN has effected the station’s ratings, though he did add that plenty of people have shared Vincent’s observation about the makeup of the WFAN lineup’s baseball allegiances.
“Yankees officials have also felt for a long time that FAN’s hosts have skewed too much toward Mets fans, according to sources,” Marchand wrote.
He went on to clarify that it is not so much the lack of die hard fans on the air that has disappointed the Yankees. Maggie Gray, Boomer Esiason, and Gregg Giannotti all support the Mets, but they are able to present their coverage of both teams as neutral. Gray’s partner Marc Malusis is a Yankee fan, which probably makes it possible for that show to please fans of both teams.
Mike Francessa’s exit from afternoon drive has really changed the sound of that day part. WFAN replaced the Sports Pope with Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts, who are outspoken Mets fans. Marchand says the duo sounds “as if they are doing a chore talking about the Yankees.” He says that WFAN is never going to hire or fire someone based on their favorite baseball team, but “it does not make the Yankees happy.”
Mark Chernoff: ‘I Didn’t Believe Mad Dog Was Going To Leave WFAN’
“I wish they hadn’t separated, because it was the most amazing team.”
Mark Chernoff offered some great stories and insight on the latest episode of The Jason Barrett Podcast. The former program director of WFAN in New York began his appearance by paying tribute to the station’s three soon-to-be Hall of Famers.
He reflected on Jeff Smulyan’s vision in creating sports radio, Suzyn Waldman’s gravitas and versatility as a reporter and talent, and all of the success he shared with Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo.
Russo and his long time radio partner Mike Francesa split up in 2008 after Russo left WFAN for Sirius. Chernoff admitted that even as he was told it was about to happen, he still didn’t believe it.
“You know, I misread a little bit the situation with Mike and Chris,” he admitted. “Mike said ‘Dog’s gonna leave. I know he’s gonna leave.’ He even intimated that he had spoken to Mel [Karmazin, the then-CEO of Sirius], not Mike but Chris, and it was likely he was going to go over to Sirius. And I just couldn’t believe it.”
Mike and the Mad Dog is as dominant a show as local sports radio has ever produced. The duo was together from 1989 until 2008. When they split up, Mark Chernoff says that he took it personally.
“I was sad for a really long time. I was angry too.”
The move hurt his relationship with Russo for a while. The two did not speak for a long time.
He told Barrett that that is over now. They share occasional texts and always hug and catch up when they see each other. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t still some lingering disappointment.
“I wish they hadn’t separated, because it was the most amazing team,” Chernoff said of Mike & the Mad Dog. “But both [Chris] and Mike were certainly successful on their own.”
New episodes of The Jason Barrett Podcast are released each Tuesday morning.
Eli Gold To Miss Start of Alabama Football Season
He’s faced his share of health challenges recently. His streak of 409 consecutive Alabama football games was broken in 2020 after a COVID diagnosis.
Legendary Alabama play-by-play announcer Eli Gold will miss the beginning of the 2022 football season with health issues.
Jim Carabin, Vice President and General Manager of Crimson Tide Sports Marketing announced the news Wednesday. The school did not elaborate on Gold’s ailment, only saying he would be sidelined to begin the season.
Chris Stewart, who handles play-by-play duties for Alabama’s basketball and baseball teams will fill in during Gold’s absence. Stewart will also host The Nick Saban Show and Hey, Coach until Gold returns.
The 68-year-old Gold is a 2014 inductee to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Gold, who’s contract runs through the 2023 season, has been the Voice of the Crimson Tide since the 1988 season.
He’s faced his share of health challenges recently. His streak of 409 consecutive Alabama football games was broken in 2020 after a COVID diagnosis. Gold also had both shoulders replaced that same year.
In addition to his work with the Crimson Tide, Gold has served as an announcer for NASCAR, NFL, NHL, and the NBA G-League, among others.
Andrew Marchand: Mad Dog Has Surpassed Mike Francesa
“Russo, you could probably make the argument, he’s the best sports talk show host of all time. And the reason is he’s missing a screw.”
Chris “Mad Dog” Russo has been in the limelight recently after the announcement he’ll be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame later this year, and on the latest edition of the Marchand and Ourand Podcast, Andrew Marchand said Russo might have surpassed his former co-host in the annals of sports radio history.
“I feel like when you look at Russo and Francesa, Russo has surpassed Francesa,” The New York Post sports media columnist surmised. “He’s kinda Tom Brady’d to Peyton Manning of Francesa. They had their legendary, iconic, run in New York. They came up at the right time when sports radio exploded. They had tremendous chemistry and it was a great show. And so they’ll always have that, and that’s what they’ll always be most known for.”
While Francesa has bounced back and forth between retiring and hosting a show on WFAN, his digital show Mike’s On, and The Mike Francesa Podcast, Russo has hosted his afternoon show on his SiriusXM channel Mad Dog Radio. He also started a weekly appearance on ESPN’s First Take, and that, according to Marchand has put Russo past Francesa.
“A new generation is seeing Russo at work with Stephen A. (Smith). Russo, you could probably make the argument, he’s the best sports talk show host of all time. And the reason is he’s missing a screw. But for sports radio hosts, it’s a good screw to be missing,” Marchand joked.