Last Friday, my brother and I were chatting about Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, the former radio partner of Mike Francesa on WFAN. The two of them pretty much invented modern sports talk radio (for good or ill). Then, last year, he left WFAN to start his own channel on Sirius XM and fell off the face of the earth. Except when he busted on his former partner with fellow satellite radio prisoner Howard Stern during the Super Bowl, Russo has not been heard from in the mainstream sports media world since he jumped ship.
We both laughed at his hubris and short-sightedness. Because if people didn’t buy satellite radios to follow Stern, why were they gonna do it to follow Mad Dog?
Then, this weekend, Deadspin alerted the public at large to an epic on-air meltdown Mad Dog had on his show last Thursday (which, like everything else Mad Dog’s done in the last year, would have otherwise gone unnoticed). Deadspin pretty much covered the whole thing, and there’s no real need for me to rehash the incident, other than to just pile on. So let’s pile on, shall we?
Anyone who ever heard the old Mike and the Mad Dog Show should recognize this as a mostly-staged Chris Russo Rant. He’s just trying to rile up some excitement from what little audience he has left. This angry spiel making the rounds on the intertubes is probably the best thing that ever happened to a channel that ranks next-to-next-to-last
on satellite radio (which, after the Sirius/XM merger, has no competition, either).
But towards the end of the clip, Mad Dog comes genuinely unhinged. He screams about how he needs hosts who remember the ’62 Giants and the ’57 championship game. He must be convinced of this fact, because he repeats it at the top of his lungs five or six times.
As if the only thing keeping his ratings down are guys who won’t discuss sporting events that happened 50 years ago. Sometimes it’s fun to discuss Games Gone By, but most passionate sports fans would rather discuss last night’s game. If you really want to keep on talking about Juan Marichal, Mad Dog, you shoulda stayed on a medium that skews older, like terrestrial radio. But I guess you got too big for them britches.
Then, bizarrely, Mad Dog insists he needs hosts on his channel who can discuss old
movies. On the face of it, this is not that weird, since he and Francesa used to discuss film and TV all the time. Granted, it was always a nightmare when the two of them talked about anything but sports. But not unprecedented.
What makes this part of the rant weird is that he gets waaaaaay old for some reason. Sixties? No. Fifties? No. Forties? Not even close. Mad Dog goes to the dawn of moving pictures and says he wants hosts who know all about hoary cinematic touchstones like “Cecil Dee [sic] Demille” and Birth of a Nation.
Yes, Chris, silent movie talk is what will save Mad Dog Radio. Why don’t you get a Daguerrotype Correspondent while you’re at it? Maybe a fashion consultant who could let you know about the latest trends in spats? Even Joe Franklin would think, “I dunno, don’t you think that stuff’s a little old timey?”
Of course, one of the stipulations of Mad Dog’s Sirius XM deal is that he has total control over his channel–the hosts, the lineups, etc. So if it’s a big steaming pile, as he (loudly) insists it is, it is a big steaming pile of his own making.
Witness this audio, in which Mad Dog runs through all the other hosts on his channel and
poops on each of their heads in turn, as if someone has foisted these incompetents on him. You don’t hear him lay any blame at his own doorstep. Nope, it’s all everyone else’s fault for not stepping up to the plate.
I have a lot of fun with Mike Francesa on this here site. And by fun, I mean “try my best to destroy him verbally”. I think he’s pompous and arrogant and agenda driven, and he has no time for anyone who disagrees with him. But god help me, I would take Francesa any day of the week over Mad Dog.
Because Francesa has two things going for him: he actually knows sports, and he doesn’t
sound like he got slapped in the mouth with a yardstick before going on the air.
The gaps in Mad Dog’s knowledge are Grand Canyon-esque. He made it to the top because whatever he has to say, he SAYS IT LOUDLY!!!!1! We have him to thank for the career paths of hundreds of mouthy jerkoffs who litter the ESPN schedule, idiots like Woody Paige and Skip Bayless and (once upon a time) Steven A. Smith.
And he can’t talk! You’ve heard of “a good face for radio”? Mad Dog’s got a good mouth for a street mime. Good christ, the man can neither form a complete sentence nor spit his sentence fragments out in any comprehensible way. It would be easier to list the words he doesn’t mispronounce. It’s like hearing one end of a conversation between creepy twins who share their own language.
Any sane person who had risen to such heights despite such deficiencies–in the biggest media market in the country, no less–would probably just count their blessings. Not Mad Dog. When he wasn’t bragging about his tropical vacations or his awesome weekend tennis game, he was plotting his escape from the insufferable prison that was 5 hours of The Mike
and the Mad Dog Show.
And despite the fact that he always screamed at athletes for signing big free agent contracts, he jumped at the first big money that came his way, turned his back on the people who made him famous, and jumped to a shiny new technology.
Now his channel’s ranked 121 of 123, he’s not even a blip on the sports media radar, and he’s convinced himself he can escape this hell by talking about D.W. Griffith movies. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving douchebag.
I was going to make a Keyboard Cat video for Mad Dog, but I think this clip is just as humiliating.