Steve Somers signed off of WFAN late nights for the final time on Friday night, and he said one final goodbye on Monday from 1-2 p.m. ET.
WFAN began 34 years ago, and Somers has been there every step of the way, a consistent lighthouse guiding nighttime listeners in the city that never sleeps. ESPN Monday Night Football play-by-play voice Steve Levy paid tribute to his old friend.
“I just wanted to thank you for how you treated me when I was so young and knew nothing,” Levy said as he called into Somers’ final hour. “You taught a lot of people about the industry. How to respect your audience, how you treated them, and the last thank you, Steve. You were a piece of the success in the first-ever all-sports radio station in the country.”
Levy got his start in the industry doing score updates on WFAN. He parlayed that into success at ESPN and the eventual MNF gig.
“I travel around a lot now,” Levy continued. “You see these all-sports radio stations, and they go to network programming at night, and it’s awful. You need the local flavor. You were one of us.”
Chris “Mad Dog” Russo couldn’t wait to give Somers his praise. Russo chatted with Somers during his final scheduled show this past Friday.
“Yours is a little different because I was gonna still work,” Russo said about his transition from WFAN. “I was just gonna do it in a different venue and look for a new challenge. You’re gonna go into a retirement scenario where you can do whatever you want. You can wake up at 2:00 in the afternoon…go see a movie, you can do anything you want. For the first time in your life, you’re not constrained to a time schedule.
“Your situation is more about making the adjustment to keeping busy and keeping your mind active when you don’t have a place to hang your hat every day. For anybody that’s worked as hard as you have for as long as you have, that’s probably an adjustment that’s going to take a little while.”
Before taking the airwaves for one final sendoff thanks to Marc Malusis and Maggie Gray stepping aside to let the Schmoozer connect with fans and special guests from 1pm-2pm ET, Somers was honored by the radio station. In a video posted to social media, Gregg Giannotti and Craig Carton thanked the longtime WFAN host for being a class act, great teammate, and leaving an unforgettable mark on the radio station and industry. The station announced the break room inside the building would be renamed in Somers’ honor.
For his final hour, Somers welcomed longtime friend and nationally recognized comedian Jerry Seinfeld to the show, as well as WFAN’s longtime afternoon show staple Mike Francesa. Additional appearances were made by former New York Yankee Bernie Williams, and WFAN past and present members such as Mark Chernoff, Eddie Scozzare, Rich Ackerman, and Paul Arzooman who Somers credited for some of the exceptional production which had been done for his show. John Minko also returned to reunite with his longtime friend and colleague.
Seinfeld told Somers during their on-air discussion he was one of the greatest sports voices in New York. He then thanked Steve on behalf of all NY sports fans who enjoyed his rhythms, humor, and humanity. Seinfeld concluded by telling Somers ‘Nobody put the work into openings like you did.”
During his chat with Francesa, the former afternoon king told Somers he was ‘as big a part of it as anyone who has ever stepped through the doors.’ Francesa praised the impact Somers made on the station to which Somers added afterwards ‘I’m surprised Mike didn’t refer to me as a compiler for lasting 34 years.’
Upon signing off, Somers mentioned that the attention has been overwhelming, and some could make the argument that it’s been over the top, but it’s been absolutely appreciated. He thanked the audience for making the last 34 years, the happiest of his life.
Russ Heltman is a daily news writer for BSM. He is the morning host and producer for 89.3 WMKV in Cincinnati, OH. He also works in gameday communications for FC Cincinnati and additionally contributes to the AllBengals blog for Sports Illustrated. Russ can be found on Twitter @RussHeltman11 or you can reach him by email at Heltmandm@yahoo.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.