Francesca was a pioneer. Along with his former co-host Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo, he set the standard for afternoon sports talk radio that is now a fixture in stations across America.
Russo’s departure for Sirius XM Radio in 2008 marked the end of the “Mike and the Mad Dog Show.” Francesa hosted “Mike’d Up”, his own show, for nine years. Both shows were ranked number one in the drive-time ratings.
Francesa could be tough on callers, and some called him a bully. Mike would call it arrogance. He was an opinionated host, all of which made for good listening.
Bottom line, Francesa generated interesting, entertaining radio in the New York market for 30 years.
Francesa had his detractors, most notably Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, who referred to him as “pompous, boastful and hypocritical” and more, right up until Mike’s final day on the job.
On a personal note, there was rarely a day I didn’t tune in to listen, at least for a while and especially if there was a hot topic about New York sports and one of my teams. My son, who was just an infant when Francesa started his run, would agree with me completely.
I was never the type to call in and voice my own opinions. But if I were to phone in, it would be to take umbrage with a statement Francesa made a few weeks back about Willie Mays being surly and unapproachable. I met Mays once on a flight from San Francisco to New York, and he couldn’t have been nicer.
We’re gonna miss you Mike. Thanks for all the good radio, and best of luck in the future.