Mike Francesa and Chris Russo, better known as Mike and the Mad Dog have called it quits. Two New York Sports Radio Legends decided to part ways today with Russo reportedly having a deal already in place with Sirius radio.
I served as their engineer for about 5 years and loved working on the program. They are exactly the same way off the air that they are on the show. Mike is gruff and alwaqys gets right to the point. Chris is zany and always full of enthusiasm. They both did me tons of favors when I was just a young kid trying to break into the business. One of my highlights was being on their show as a reporter from (of all places) the Gaucho Gym in Harlem covering (of all things) Felipe Lopez's (the basketball one not the baseball one) press conference on where he was going to attend college (St. John's).
It was interesting being behind the scenes with those guys. Bob Gelb was their longtime producer and he was a great guy too. We saw all the fights between them and their disagreements with those in the sports world. They broke tons of stories. It was exciting to be there when Magic Johnson told the world that he was HIV positive and every Fall Saturday and Sunday when they were by themselves, there was no better place to be during Football season...well, except Friday night when they made their football picks together.
One memory stands out. Chris was a really good natured guy and we used to tease him about being a San Francisco Giants fan. Because I had interned at WFAN and was later hired by them, he'd tease me and say--"Have they promoted you from intern yet?"
Anyway, the Braves were playing the Giants in a crucial game and Russo was touting the Giants all day long on the air. We'd play Giants highlights everytime something good would happen because he'd be in the newsroom screaming at us for them. So we got revenge. The Giants had two men on and were down a run. Russo yelled to me, "I want the next highlight on the air ASAP, Mikey!" I had just about had it with him, to be honest--but it was hard not to like the guy's enthusiasm for his team. So when the next play was a 6-4-3 double play--I did exactly as he asked. That double play for the Braves was on the air as fast as possible followed by the Braves theme song--the Tommohawk Chop.
Later in the evening the Braves were pretty much in commmand and I called Russo at HOME and played the chop song down the phone line!
He immediately hung up on me.
Next day on the air:
Russo: "Everyone's killing me. You're killing me. Gelb is killing me. Spitz (executive producer) is killing me. That dope intern Mike Hayes is killing me calling me up and playing the tommohawk chop down the line last night. I can't win!"
I think this is a good move by Russo who will bring hundreds of sports fans to Sirius. If Mike is smart he'll sign an NFL deal with them too.
Your humble blogger is Mike Hayes, a well-known expert in the world of young adult ministry (20s and 30s) in the Catholic Church. Mike is the author of Googling God (Paulist, 2007) where he explores both the chaotic world that young people live in and their religious reactions to that world. He also explores the age of instant gratification and how churches can respond to the needs of the young adult age by using technology alongside more traditional ministry methods.
Mike founded the award winning BustedHalo.com® in 2001 and continues to contribute to it as the editor of their catechetical section appropriately named Googling God.
Recently, he left BustedHalo® to focus on more direct ministry with young people at St Joseph University Parish as a Campus Minister for the South Campus at the University at Buffalo.
He has only two loves: his adorable wife, Marion and a nine pound chihuahua named Haze, who still find him amusing enough to let them live in their home.