After nineteen years with his bromantic-comedy partner Mike Francesca on WFAN’s “Mike And The Mad Dog,” Chris Russo is now officially his own rabid canine. On Monday, Russo’s show on Sirius Radio debuts, with his “Mad Dog Radio” station launching in October. Russo talked to us about suddenly having to care about sports in Arkansas, whether he misses his old friend, and the shock of providing the soundtrack to Harvey Keitel’s penis.
So, how much do you miss Mike?
I have not talked to Mike. I think I’ll give it a little time. I’ve stayed away from FAN, I haven’t really called that much. I think there’ll be a little bit of a friendly rivalry. I’m a little curious about what Mike does over on FAN. But it’s not like I’m looking back. I’m looking forward. I’m a little bored stiff sitting around not doing shows.
You’ve talked almost exclusively about New York sports for twenty years now. Are you really going to be able to be a college football expert now? Are you in a room poring through media guides, cramming, like Sarah Palin on the Middle East?
I have been studying up on college football. I mean, finding out who's the offensive lineman for the Hogs of Arkansas … can I handle it? We’re gonna find out. My job today is gonna be making sure on a day-to-day basis that I find a niche from a national perspective. Getting a talk show on the train tracks and moving it in the right direction is not easy, whether you’re doing it locally or nationally. But yeah, it’s now a little harder nationally.
And no co-host. Just you.
Yep. Not gonna do a co-host. I’m gonna have an update person, but as far as the show is concerned, I’ll do the show Monday through Friday solo. Now, sidekick is different than co-host. But will I have a guy in there taking calls with me? That’s not gonna happen. Yeah, it’ll be an adjustment. There’s gonna be some growing pains. It could take me six months to find what works and what doesn’t. I don’t dispute that.
Hey, it’s satellite radio. You can curse now!
Oh, I can curse, but I won’t. I’ve never done it in twenty years, and I got to this channel without having to do it. I don’t see me doing that. Maybe the occasional “hell” and “damn,” but I mean, as far as bad language — I mean, I got kids listening. That’s not my way.
Didn’t you provide a voice-over soundtrack in that Harvey Keitel movie where he was the masturbating cop?
I did not know how rough [Bad Lieutenant] was. I did the soundtrack to that, because the guy was a big sports fan, so he was in his patrol car a lot, listening to sports talk. And I was the host he was listening to. I did not realize that it was gonna be that violent throughout the film. You would be amazed how many people watch that film. I still get a royalty check out of the damn thing! $10 a month, but I still get it.
A lot of people think you’re gonna do this for a while, then come back to New York radio, like you’re just kidding.
This is a new endeavor. I’m going into it hard, really into it. I can’t wait to get started. But, I mean, can I tell you for sure that when I’m 54 years of age in the year 2013 that I will completely be in love with it? I’m certainly hopeful! But I can’t say. Will I miss that local passion? I’m sure that’s possible.
Elsewhere in the sports media bubble…
Will Someone Let Michael Kay Know How Mad He's Allowed to Get? Today, the media columnists for both Newsday and the Daily News discuss the Yankee announcer, who earlier this week referred to the Yankees as "disgraceful and an embarrassment." Newsday's Neil Best explains that YES brass is fine with Kay criticizing the Yankees, presumably because there'd be three hours of dead air if he couldn't. But Bob Raissman argues that Kay wouldn't dare mention the name Joe Torre, or sufficiently "spread the net of accountability." So basically, Kay is allowed to criticize the Yankees, as long as he doesn't? We'll say it again: This only ends with Kay crying, on the air, à la Suzyn Waldman.
This One Time, at Broadcaster Camp… Bruce Beck and Ian Eagle have started a camp for kids who'd like to become sportscasters when they grow up. This actually sounds like a total blast. Sessions include Eagle's presentation, "Marv Albert Will Steal Your Job One Day," and "How to Fill in for Mike Francesa for Twelve Straight Weeks," with NBC's Beck.