Mad Dog Put to Sleep: Chris Russo released from WFAN
“AAAAAANNNNNNNDDDDDDD GOOD AFTERNOON EVERYBODY! HOW ARE YOU TODAY?”
The signature opening of the Mike and the Mad Dog radio program, heard everyday between 1 and 6:30 on WFAN in New York City will never be heard again on the stations airwaves as long time afternoon host Chris “Mad Dog” Russo was released from his contract after nearly 20 years of co-hosting one of the most successful radio shows in history.
Living in New York, Mike and the Dog, or as I (along with others) more lovingly refer to them as Fatboy and Fruitloops, spent the last 20 years becoming as big a fixture in New York sports as any of the teams they spoke about.
Their unique combination of ferociousness (Francesa) and lunacy (Russo) captured the ears of New Yorkers and made them households names for any true New York sports fan.
Despite their flaws, which are probably too many to count, they had an indescribable appeal which had listeners (and viewers following their simulcasts on the YES network) tuning in day after day, suffering from what I would best describe as “trainwrecks disease”, as no matter how much one couldn’t stand them, day in day out you found yourself listening to what they had to say, regardless of how much you agreed or disagreed with them.
As one of their fans, going to school outside of the area forced me to see much more of them than I probably ever should have been subjected to, but watching them on YES every day up in Syracuse kept me touch with the sports scene back home, and allowed me to get inside access to athletes, managers and coaches I couldn’t get anywhere else.
It really is the end of an era and sad day here in New York, of course while trying to keep things in perspective- nobody died and both men will certainly continue to live secure lives financially (both pull in well over 7 digits a year), however drives home will never be the same without Dog’s ranting and raving about anything and everything, and Mike’s know-it-all, condescending remarks that drove you crazy yet still left a smile on your face.
While they would have you convinced otherwise, these two guys hardly knew what they were talking about all the time, but their distinctively different personalities are what made the show so addictive, and while you never really knew a whole lot about their personal relationship, hearing them argue with one another only created the sort of on air awkwardness that had you coming back for more.
Over the years, including many before I ever heard of either of them, they had their issues including a time when Mike was away and Russo came on the air and started the show by introducing it as the Mad Dog and Mike show (or something to that effect) which resulted in Francesa calling in and demanding an apology.
The tension always seemed to be there yet was sort of like the big elephant in room, and only recently got to the point of no return, as after nearly 20 years, Mike and the Mad Dog are no more.
Reports say that Mike Francesa has signed a new multi-year deal with WFAN and will host the show solo, while Russo was released from contract under “mutual” terms. There have been rumors that he was seeking a new deal with Sirius satellite radio.
Personally, I can’t think of any aspect of the media more synonymous with sports here in New York than Mike and the Mad Dog, and not having the two of them together anymore is disappointing.
We’ll see if the FAN decides to replace Russo in any capacity, although for the time being it appears as though they wont, leaving Mike without his partner of the last two decades.
And listeners without their favorite dog.
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