Sports Radio

A couple of days ago, the NY Post reported that Mike Francessa – of Mike and the Mad Dog fame – wants “desperately” to return to the radio and that a return to WFAN in NY is possible.  I have exactly no reason to doubt this report or to put any faith in it; I take it for what it says.

Mike Francessa and his former radio co-host Chris “Mad Dog” Russo are significant cultural figures.  WFAN was the first 24-hour all-sports radio station in the country; it hit the airwaves in 1987.  Imus in the Morning got good ratings for the station but the show that solidified the sports-radio identity for the station began in 1989 when Mike and the Mad Dog took over the afternoon programming.  Their success led to the overall success of WFAN and that spawned the myriad sports-radio stations that now populate just about every major market in the US.

Francessa and Russo had a messy split several years ago and Francessa retired last year after hosting the afternoon show as a solo act for several years.  In place of Mike and the Mad Dog – and later Francessa’s solo act – WFAN has a trio of hosts for the afternoon drive slot.  I have not been to NYC recently, but I have taken some time to tune into that program over the Internet just because I was curious to see how the new hosts would follow this iconic act.

  • Spoiler alert:  It is not pretty.

The new hosts are Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott.  The best thing I can say about this trio is that they minimize the time that they talk over one another on the air.  Here is my assessment based on listening for a total of 7 or 8 hours in bits and pieces:

  • Chris Carlin:  He is the adult in the room, but he does not seem to bring any personal passion to the program.  He is facile with stats and trends, but he does not come across as a guy who is on top of “sports stuff”.
  • Maggie Gray:  She is obviously an accomplished broadcaster, but I have no idea why she is part of this program team.  Other than the fact that she possesses a doubled-X set of chromosomes …
  • Bart Scott:  Let me channel the late Dick Enberg here; Oh my!  There is a style of radio known as “Easy Listening”; Bart Scott defines the genre of “Painful Listening”.  During one of my listening segments, I was starting to root for him to incur a virus that would bring on laryngitis.

Mike and the Mad Dog was vintage sports radio; it was appointment listening.  When Francessa went solo, the show was still good – – but not as good as when he and Russo were behind the microphone.  The current afternoon programming simply recalls the Biblical verse:

“How the mighty have fallen …”

The NFL Draft starts tomorrow night.  In this morning’s Washington Post, there is evidence that every story about the ramp-up to the draft has been written and there is no more to say.  On the front of the sports section, there is this headline:

“Redskins lay out plans as NFL draft approaches”

The sub-head for that article says:

“[Doug] Williams says selecting running back early, trading down on table”

I hope you agree that there is nothing in those headlines that would draw your interest at this late stage of draft prep.  Of course, the team is finalizing its plans; of course, the Skins would have to consider taking a running back; of course, they would consider trading down depending on the circumstances.  There is no indication of any “news” in this report.

Then, on page 3 of the sports section – after the jump – here is the next headline for that article:

“Williams says available players, other teams’ offers will dictate Redskins’ course”

And in an even semi-rational world, how might it be otherwise?

Fortunately, the draft is tomorrow night; and that means we can shift the focus from the now threadbare fabric of what teams will do in the future as the draft unfolds and begin the next meaningless exercise of giving grades to various teams’ draft hauls before any of the draftees ever sets foot on a practice field.

One quick note about the NBA Playoffs…  I watched most of the fourth game of the Jazz/Thunder series and have this to say:

  1. The Jazz are fun to watch.  They move the ball on offense and they play aggressively on defense.
  2. Donovan Mitchell has made the transition from college basketball to NBA basketball in his one-year in the league.
  3. Ricky Rubio still can’t shoot – – but he controls the offensive flow of the game for the Jazz.

Finally, since I mentioned the Utah Jazz above, let me close with an item from Brad Rock’s column, Rock On! in the Deseret News:

“International soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic is now with the L.A. Galaxy — and he wants everyone to appreciate it.

“The Swedish striker bought a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times that said: ‘Dear Los Angeles, You’re welcome.’

“LeBron James is thinking, ‘Rats! Stole my line’.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………