It has now been about three months since the end of the Mike and the Mad Dog radio program...a few months since Francesa and Russo split and went their own ways. Since the holiday season is upon us - a season for giving - I have decided to give my Mike'd Up Report Card. Here goes:
SHOW NAME - GRADE: D
After Dog bolted from FAN studios, Mike made it clear that the Mike and the Mad Dog name would be retired. Just like the surviving members of the Grateful Dead can never tour again using that name, Francesa realized he too would have to rebrand himself. So what did he do? He reached into his NBC handbag and grabbed the name from his Sunday night show "Mike'd Up." This did not happen instantly. If you recall, there were "teams" of lawyers involved. Eventually, the big man got his way. But the problem is that Mike has consistently called the show "Mike'd Up, Francesa on the Fan." Mike, which is it? Mike'd Up or Francesa on the Fan? It can't be both. That's too long and clunky. Much like your questions to guests. But anyway, thank God the lawyers were able to come to an agreement on the use of the title "Mike'd Up." Because it has made all the difference in the world. Or not. You decide.
JINGLE - GRADE: F
After Mike embarked on his new show, much like President-Elect Obama, Francesa promised change. And that change started with a new jingle. No longer would listeners hear "They're talking sports going at it as hard as they can..." A new jingle would be gracing Mike'd Up. This was big news. This was exciting. Could this new jingle possibly rival the old one? Would I find myself humming it to my wife on Sunday afternoons? At first, Mike reported on the progress of the jingle on a daily basis. But then days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months. There were lots of excuses. The jingle company is out West, so it takes longer to get stuff from them. The company is on vacation. Okay, maybe the company is not so good. Okay, maybe we are willing to take jingles that callers create at home. But not some crap that you record on your I-phone. These need to be professionally recorded. Then there were days where Mike would play a few contenders on the air. They were awful, but he seemed to like one or two. Then the jingle talk died, just as quickly as the Jets hopes of a Francesa-guaranteed 2 seed in the AFC. So here we are. No new jingle.
CO-HOSTS - Grade: F
With the new show Mike'd Up, Francesa promised that there would be some new blood in the studio with him. While he initially said he would never again have a co-host, he did say he would put together a few sort of revolving regular guests. He even opened the process up to the Fans, holding auditions at the debacle of a show that was known as the Bar A Disaster. Mike tried out several different people that summer day. They were mostly terrible. Mike's experiment failed miserably. So what did Mike do next? He just pretended that the Bar A auditions never happened. He never spoke of them again. Instead, he moved on to bigger targets. At least, that's what he hinted at for weeks and then months. There were BIG discussions going on. These were COMPLICATED folks. Just give us some time. It takes time to work these things out. We gave you time Mike. And instead of rewarding us, you tortured us with shows featuring Kim Jones, Chris Carlin, Evan Roberts, Joe Benigno and any other Daily News or Post writer you could assemble. This was not what you promised. This was not revolutionary. Now, almost three months later, you told us yesterday that were will be 2 weeks of Legends shows coming up, where legendary New York sports figures will be co-hosting with you. Mike, that's a nice gimmick, but it doesn't solve the issue that you cannot exist doing this show solo. You need another voice in that studio with you on a daily basis. Not for 2 weeks. And not another WFAN staffer. You promised fresh blood. You promised something new. You have not come through in a big spot.
HANDWAVE - Grade: A
Despite every aspect of his show falling to pieces, the one staple that has remained and appears stronger than ever is Mike's dismissive handwave to dump a caller from the line. It's almost as if, in a post Dog world, that this handwave has become more ferocious than it ever was. It's even got to the point where Mike has discussed the handwave on air with a caller. The handwave, in many ways has become the last line of defense for Francesa.
HOST/OVERALL SHOW GRADE: D -
Since Dog went packing to Satellite radio, Mike Francesa has promised a lot. A new jingle. A new format. A new set of co-hosts. A completely new show - one that would make loyal listeners forget one Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo. He has delivered on none of these promises. Instead, he has bemoaned the lack of positive media coverage he received after the break-up, continued to come to work unprepared, launched a war with one of his old-time callers Mike from Montclair, and bored the rest of the audience to death on a daily basis. Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this post Mike and the Mad Dog world is that Francesa seems somewhat oblivious to all of this. He continues to exist in his cocoon of arrogance. He talks and boasts of number 1 ranked shows. He continues to fancy himself as the one and only authoritative voice on sports. He still considers himself the General Manager/Coach of all New York sports teams. To quote my good friend, Colonel Nathan Jessep "You can't handle the truth!" There is no getting around this - Mike'd Up, Francesa on the Fan has failed miserably in its first term. Hell, if it wasn't for the handwave, I would have given the show an "F."
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