I don’t watch soap operas or wrestling, and my reality TV consumption remains pretty low, but that’s OK, because I get my guilty pleasure fix of drama from WFAN. Once a model of stability, New York’s heritage sports radio station has struggled to find continuity with their lineup recently.
In the last three years, WFAN saw one mainstay host go to jail, their iconic afternoon host retire twice, the replacement afternoon show move to middays and later lose two hosts to ESPN. Their long running midday show was then moved to afternoons, and now it’s likely to change again with the formerly imprisoned host set to make a triumphant return. The longest running weekday spot for WFAN is currently Craig Carton’s former show, hosted by Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti in morning drive.
And if Giannotti has one piece of advice for station management, it’s stick to their next lineup.
On Thursday, Gio shared with listeners the recommendation he made to program director Mark Chernoff regarding more pending changes at The Fan.
“Whatever you guys decide, and don’t tell me anything, I don’t even care anymore,” Gio told Chernoff. “Whatever you guys decide, keep it that way. Unless somebody has had a major illness or something horrible happens, god forbid. But keep it that way”
Carlin, Maggie and Bart had four months in afternoon drive, but they were punted for Mike Francesa who had no plans on staying much longer than a year. Francesa was later replaced with Evan Roberts and Joe Benigno, even though Benigno similarly did not want to stay more than one year. Now afternoon drive is on the verge of changing again.
After reportedly striking out on Barstool’s Willie Colon and ESPN’s Bart Scott, Evan Roberts is becoming a heavy favorite to remain in afternoon drive with the soon to be returning Craig Carton. So whether it’s pairing Carton with Roberts, or finding a former professional athlete for Craig to work with, let this be the move that lasts.
Carton and Roberts seem like an odd pairing. Despite having a background hosting on the old Sirius Maxim Radio channel, Roberts likes to stick to sports, while Carton attempts to take every exit and detour he can possibly find. But despite a recent lineup in flux, and rumors being leaked, WFAN has smart people making its decisions with track records of building successful shows. Similarly, Carton won’t put himself in a situation with a co-host that he doesn’t believe he can win with.
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
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.