06.30.12

The McLean Stevenson Of Sports Radio Isn’t Totally Opposed To Having An Audience Again

Posted in New York, New York, Sports Radio at 4:11 pm by

OK, perhaps Andrew Ridgley would’ve been a better analogy. On the occasion of WFAN’s 25th Anniversary, Mike Francesa’s former co-conspirator, Chris Russo tells the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman that he’s not ruling out a return to the New York terrestrial station, though given their success without him (and the commercial/artistic failure of Sirius/XM’s Mad Dog Radio), who’s to say he’d have an opportunity?

“You never want to say never. You know how the radio business is. So, you never say never, but I haven’t thought about it in my crystal ball, let’s put it that way,” Russo said. “But I’ll tell you right now, if Mike and I did shows together we would have no trouble picking right up where we left off.”


Russo knows the business. He knows Francesa, as a solo act, has maintained the kind of ratings the two of them produced. He also knows through all those years together he figured out a way to deal with Francesa’s mood swings, using humor to soften his rough edges and oversized ego.

“I am who I am. My nuttiness cannot be duplicated. They miss my nut sensibility,” Russo said. “They miss the things that just came out of my mouth. From that standpoint I had some impact.”

The decision to part ways with Francesa was the biggest one of Russo’s life. It’s one he made himself. To this day he still asks, “You think I did the right thing?” Yet, when asked to reflect on his years at FAN he’s fuzzy.

“It’s almost like in the last four years, it’s almost like I’ve forgotten I was at FAN for so long. This (Sirius/XM’s ‘Mad Dog Radio’) is a different kind of element, a different kind of show. It’s all-consuming. It’s so different than what I was used to,” Russo said. “You forget what you accomplished in that 20-year period. It’s almost like I forget I was at FAN for 20 years.”

When Russo’s deal is up in 2013, I suspect he’ll find gainful employment somewhere on the radio dial. Conversely, it’s probably gonna be overnights (at 7-11) or podcast-city for the man with more pseudonyms than cogent thoughts that follows him on weekday evenings.

2 Responses to “The McLean Stevenson Of Sports Radio Isn’t Totally Opposed To Having An Audience Again”

  1. Nick says:

    Simply put, Russo never did what he promised. He told everyone he was going to build a station but he quickly handed the car keys off to someone else and just concentrated on doing his own show. Apparently, he had no idea what the concepts of management or leadership are. He never invested himself personally or professionally in this endeavor. Never listened nor tracked the goings on of any of the other shows on his station. Never attempted to do anything different than the same old formula. Never worked with his hosts, trained them or encouraged them.

    In fact, he’s done the opposite. Starting with his infamous rant where he fired the whole station, he’s been pulling while the rest of the station has been pushing. Yes, his schtick to knock the other hosts may have worked at WFAN but here he needed to be something more. He needed to champion these guys, build the brand, promote his talent.

    He has no management skills whatsoever, surely no leadership skills and has a vision that extends no further than his right hand. He wasn’t the guy equipped to build the channel because he simply has no ideas and abandoned that part of his job within months.

    Speaking of building the brand, there’s none of that. Even check out his Sirius website. There are no interview clips, no podcasts (even for subscribers) or anything of immediate relevance. Russo has no use for social media and fights against change instead of using it to his benefit.

    Being hands off is one thing but Russo takes this to another level for someone in a management position.

    The hiring of Dino Costa was a Human Resources miss as someone with that checkered a past would never be hired by a big time station but to allow this experiment to continue as more and more evidence surfaces (through his shows or Twitter rants) that the former Ryan Patrick is an unstable man who should not have access to the public airwaves. Thankly, it’s Channel 86 on Sirius which has virtually no listeners. Soon Costa will dissapear when the channel folds but this is another example of Russo not doing his homework.

    This could have been a nice alternative but as was joked about constantly on WFAN last Friday, no one knows where Russo had gone and this is no one’s fault but his own. It was to take effort and a managerial skill set to build this channel but Russo had his pay day and was not interested or did not know that he needed to make that happen.

  2. GC says:

    “The hiring of Dino Costa was a Human Resources miss as someone with that checkered a past would never be hired by a big time station”

    I just wish i could hear that sentence being read aloud by Steve Phillips.

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