Perhaps there will never be a reunion between Mike Francesa and Chris Russo. But I think if you ask most longtime WFAN listeners, they would clamor for the duo to put aside their differences and join forces once again. But could it ever happen? Neil Best had a good interview with Russo the other day. For those that missed it, take a look below at some of Doggie's comments. Sure he points out some of the things he doesn't miss about WFAN, but it certainly sounds to me that he feels nostalgic about his old gig. I can't go too crazy with the idea that he's happy at SIRIUS/XM talking Nebraska football and Carolina Hurricanes hockey. Sounds to me like he misses the pace and the fervor of the FAN time slot he shared with Francesa for almost 20 years. But what's your take? Here's Neil's story:
Chris Russo misses local slant, but likes new life
For most New York sports radio listeners, Chris Russo's trademark cackle is but a memory - other than in those spot-on imitations by WFAN's Craig Carton.
It is a reality Russo knew he was accepting when he left the FAN for Sirius XM, a pay satellite service with 18.6 million subscribers nationwide but a far lower profile among tri-state fans than WFAN.
Still, Russo said Wednesday that while he does not regret the move and enjoys many aspects of his new gig, he sometimes misses the impact of being on a local, 50,000-watt powerhouse.
"There are times, I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it,'' he said, a feeling more pronounced now than in the fall because of the national scope of the NFL.
The baseball is so much more local. Those are the days where you definitely feel a little pang, like, 'Boy, Mike [Francesa] has got to be at Citi Field today, or Mike's got to be at Yankee Stadium.'
"I guarantee you when the Mets and Yankees first play [June 12] I will definitely sense it, because I won't be part of that. There are times you miss that.''
He added, "When the Yankees are [losing], I have to assume fans are more attuned to what Mike is saying, or Kay than myself. I do feel that pang. Not all the time, but I've felt it.''
As for Francesa, he said, "I don't care if you had the worst divorce in your life. When you're married to someone for 19 years there is going to be an element of that marriage you'll miss,'' he said.
"That byplay between me and Mike, I miss that occasionally," Russo said. "I can't deny it. But overall, I don't have any regrets.''
Francesa still has neither hired a new sidekick nor ruled out doing so eventually. The urgency has been eased by the fact his ratings have held up well.
What about Russo's? There are none on satellite radio, and Sirius XM says there is no reliable way to measure his audience.
Instead, Russo said his feedback comes mostly from callers. There are more of them than in the early days of "Mad Dog Unleashed,'' which premiered eight months ago Friday, but Russo estimated 70 percent still come from the tri-state area.
The best part of the new job, he said, is the freedom he has to discuss what he wants and go where he wants, including a number of road trips that never would have happened at WFAN.
"Nobody looks over my shoulder and tells me I can or cannot do this or that,'' he said.
From 2 to 7 Wednesday he covered a broad range of topics and took calls from Manhattan to Maui. He led with Magic-Celtics - On Dwight Howard: "Keep your big, fat trap shut!'' - but he dealt with the Mets and Yankees and had guests from Charles Barkley to Ed Olczyk to Len Berman.
"One thing I don't miss is nine million calls a day about whether Joba should be in the rotation,'' he said. "Or nine million calls in the wintertime about how the Mets have to sign Manny Ramirez.''
With only four ad breaks per hour, Russo has the luxury of more time, but that puts a greater burden on his voice, which gave out for a week in November. He said he did a "terrible job'' of taking care of himself but now is more careful.
Russo's deal is believed to be worth $3 million a year, but Sirius XM has been in a precarious financial state. Is he concerned?
"I think we're going to make it,'' he said. "I don't go to work every day wondering if this place is going to collapse. And don't forget, CBS Radio ain't doing that great, either. If we're doing bad we've got a lot of company.''
"Mad Dog Radio,'' for which he is executive producer, now is a 24-hour sports talk outlet. He said he would give himself a better grade for doing that part of his job than for his own show.
Meanwhile, at his old home, he is gone but not forgotten.
Russo said he had heard about Carton's imitation but not heard much of it himself.
"I don't think it's malicious," he said. "I take it as a compliment.''
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