After months of speculation, sports fans around the Big Apple will now have to turn elsewhere for an afternoon shot in the arm as Chris "Mad Dog" Russo will no longer be on-air to give his daily intro call of "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAnnnnnnnnnnnd good afternoon, everybody! How are you today?" Last night WFAN announced that Russo will leave the station immediately with no farewell show, thus breaking the most successful duo in sports talk radio.
Russo now looks to be the owner of a contract worth around 3 million a year at Sirius, where all signs point to him heading next to host his a show by himself. While many chalk the split up to the relationship between the two hosts dissolving over the years, last night Russo denied it saying, "This might be the last chance I'm going to get for a challenge if I want to take it."
Meanwhile WFAN will let Francesa host the afternoon slot on his own, meaning for 5 1/2 hours a day, FAN callers like Jerome from Manhattan and Dennis from Yonkers will be the only ones to challenge the often rigid host. "Mike's a strong personality who brings an awful lot to the table," said WFAN VP Mark Chernoff after the announcement last night. Whether he'll be able to step up to Russo's constant challenges over the years to "say something funny, Mike" now remains to be seen.
(Poll and more on Mike and the Mad Dog after the jump)
Mike and the Mad Dog has been a drive home fixture since they were first paired together in 1989. For the last four years, portions of the show have also been televised on the YES Network. Like Lewis & Martin or even Siskel & Ebert, the pair built a reputation on frequent bickering that seemed grounded in mutual admiration. Don Imus, the host they stepped in for when he was taken off WFAN last year, once dubbed them "Fatso and Fruit Loop."
As his name suggests, Mad Dog played loose cannon to Mike's often inflexible straight man. His on-air persona been described as "Jerry Lewis on acid" and "Donald Duck on steroids." He was notorious for riling up New York sports fans by taking a contrarian stance to many of the local favorites, most notably the Yankees. A lifelong San Francisco Giant fan, he once said if they could win the World Series "one time," he would give up everything he owned, including his three children.