This from Neil Best...
October 24, 2008
Is Joe Benigno new sidekick for Mike Francesa?
October 24, 2008
If Joe Benigno lands the gig as Mike Francesa's WFAN sidekick, they ought to put up a historic marker to commemorate the occasion in the station's third-floor men's room.It is there, Benigno informed the world on Oct. 10, that he spends an hour or more before dawn most days, reading newspapers, seeking solitude and, um, getting his game face on."We've learned too much new," Francesa said, speaking for all of us as Benigno described his morning routine in their first segment together - and everyone in the studio vowed never again to borrow a tabloid from him.Gross, yes, but also good radio, and reminiscent of another quirky character who used to sit across from Francesa in Astoria.
Will that sort of thing be enough to land him in Chris Russo's old seat? Quite possibly, yes.Until I can get Francesa or Mark Chernoff to confirm it, it doesn't count, but the buzz around the station is that Benigno is the favorite in a sweepstakes that likely will conclude within a week or so.No further guest co-hosts are scheduled after Ron Darling today, and barring a late entrant from outside the station, the choice will come from those who already have been paired with Mike.There are shortcomings in each candidacy, but Kim Jones left Francesa and Chernoff with an interesting contrast to ponder after her session with Francesa on Wednesday worked better than the crowded sessions with Chris Carlin two weeks ago.Jones brings a non-male, non-fan, non-native New Yorker sensibility that tends to elevate the level of discussion - assuming that's allowed on sports talk radio.Most importantly, Francesa seems comfortable with her, as in an amusing exchange as the show ended Wednesday:"You can never be too rich, too thin or have too much pitching; that's all you have to know about life," Francesa said."Amen," Jones said. "I wish I knew the first two. I don't care about pitching."Let's just say that line wouldn't have worked as well from Benigno. (Much as the third-floor bathroom story would not have come out quite the same if Jones had told it.)And that hints at the only real negative of going with Joe.It would be a widely popular pick, preserve some of the "Mike and the Mad Dog" vibe and allow for a seamless transition in the afternoon from midday, where Carlin would be a logical pick to replace Benigno opposite Evan Roberts. But it also would represent a missed opportunity.Francesa originally hoped for a creative solution, such as finding someone younger to broaden the show and to develop a potential successor. He explored several possibilities, none of which worked out before he began his guest host parade three weeks ago.So, here we are. Benigno is older than Francesa and is at his best ranting about the Jets and Mets, which often is entertaining but can wear thin over 5 1/2 hours.And a new lineup with Benigno in the afternoon and Carlin in midday would have the following effect on the diversity of the hosts on the three most prominent shows post-Russo:It would evolve from six white guys (four who grew up on Long Island, one in New Jersey and one in Westchester) to six white guys (three from the Island, two from Jersey and one from Westchester).Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with that. Benigno would be a safe pick for our risky times, and there is something to be said for that.
And Now, A Note From Brian Powell
7 years ago