While no one tunes into a game to listen to the announcers, the men and women in the sports media are a key part of the experience. Whether it’s Jim Nantz welcoming you to the broadcast or Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth breaking down a key play, certain sounds always ring true. For generations of New Yorkers, one of those sounds is Mike Francesa holding court on the radio.
While sports talk radio was once considered a foreign concept, Francesa helped take the medium to new heights, becoming an icon in the process. Unsurprisingly, that status also came with a nice paycheck.
Mike Francesa’s rise to the top of sports radio
These days, Mike Francesa is a larger than life figure. Long before he became the Pope, however, he cut his teeth behind the scenes.
Francesa got his start at College and Pro Football Newsweekly, before making the jump to CBS Sports, where he served as a researcher. There, he became known as “Brent Musberger’s brain;” despite that title and his eventual role as an on-air analyst, his transition into the spotlight didn’t happen overnight.
When New York’s WFAN launched, Francesa tried to land a spot on the air; he was told, however, that the network was looking for bigger-name talent. Eventually, he got his foot in the door as a part-time host. With each passing appearance, though, his reputation grew.
In 1989, everything changed. WFAN needed to fill it’s afternoon drive timeslot and decided to pair up Francesa with Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo. The pair initially mixed like oil and water but, before long, they turned into a radio juggernaut. If you were a sports fan, you knew to turn into Mike and the Mad Dog.
Mike and the Mad Dog lasted until 2008, when Russo left WFAN; the show then became Mike’s On, with Francesa taking center stage. There have been some additional changes over the years—the show bounced between TV simulcasts, Francesa retired then mounted a comeback, and the show eventually moved to a mostly online format—but Big Mike still stands as an iconic figure.
Becoming a larger-than-life figure, for better or worse
When you’re in the public eye for more than three decades, it’s almost impossible to avoid becoming part of popular culture. For better or worse, Mike Francesa has experienced that reality first hand.
For generations of New Yorkers, Mike Francesa came to represent sports. No matter what happened in the world—barring his summer vacations—he took to the airwaves every weekday; if you had a question or an opinion, you knew where to turn. Francesa might have been bombastic and curt in equal measure, but he played his role to a tee. Like a grumpy grandpa or an old-timer in a bar, he was there to tell you what he thought, whether you liked it or not.
At the same time, though, Francesa was far from infallible. As the Internet made knowledge more accessible, cracks started to emerge in his facade. The seemingly all-knowing host didn’t know everything; that reality, however, didn’t stop him from claiming he “never said that,” reminding listeners that “he was there,” and handwaving away those who he disagreed with.
Mike Francesa turned his radio career into a sizable fortune
Whether you love listening to Mike Francesa or think he’s become less relevant in an era of Twitter and analytics, it’s tough to argue with his success. Not only did he transform sports radio, but he made plenty of money doing it.
While it’s impossible to know exactly how much money Francesa made during his media career, we do have some numbers. Before his first retirement, which began in December 2017, he was reportedly earning roughly $4 million per year; according to the New York Daily News, his salary was cut to $2 million when he returned to the station. While he occupies a much smaller role on the air these days, the host is still under contract with Entercom for three more years.
Regardless of what he’s currently being paid, Francesa has an estimated net worth of $16 million. That’s not a bad fortune for simply getting New Yorkers the sports anyway that he could.
What is Mike Francesa doing now? His Bio: Wife, Salary, Net Worth, House, Family
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Who is Mike Francesa?
Born Michael Patrick Francesa, Jr. on the 20th of March 1954, in Long Beach, New York USA, Mike is a 64-year-old Caucasian radio talk show host and TV commentator. He is perhaps best known to the world for his long-term presence on the radio as the host of the “Mike and the Mad Dog” show on WFAN in New York City, but has also had a number of other successes over the course of his sometimes lucrative career since the late 1970s.
What is he doing now?
Mike currently hosts the talk show entitled “Mike’s On: Francesa on the FAN” on the WFAN radio station. Although he previously had the same job, he retired and was succeeded by Chris Carlin, Maggie Cray and Bart Scott on December 15th 2017. On the 27th of April this year, WFAN announced that he would return to the station for a three-and-a-half-hour show.
Early Life and Education: Growing up in Long BeachMike was raised alongside his older brother John Francesa and his younger brother Marty Francesa (who unfortunately committed suicide on the 27thof November 1990), by their father Michael Francesa, Sr. and his mother of unknown name and profession. That said, his upbringing was mostly his mother’s, since his father left them when he was eight years old. As for his education, he attended Maria Regina High School – now Kellenberg Memorial High School – in Uniondale, New York, from where he matriculated in 1972, then enrolled into the University of Florida, where he remained for a year prior to transferring to St. John’s University, where he majored in communications and athletic administration, graduating in 1977. Mike was hired by CBS Sports in 1982 as a researcher, having spent six years at College and Pro Football Newsweekly, with a main focus on college sports. Although he was initially a behind-the-scenes assistant, he was later promoted into a studio analyst for college basketball and football, because of his deep knowledge on the required subject; he was soon nicknamed ‘Brent Musburger’s brain’ by The New Yorker magazine. During his time on the job, he said that the most common complaint he got was related to his New York accent. When the WFAN radio station was launched in 1987, he thought he could make a better career on radio, and applied for a hosting job. He was rejected at first, but his persistence earned him the weekend host job, on which he addressed college football and basketball. Mike was offered the position of studio expert on college football, college basketball and the NFL by ESPN in 1991, but he rejected it for unspecified reasons. He and his colleague Ed Coleman then got their own talk show at the said radio station, entitled “Mike and the Mad Dog”, and kept this show going for the next 19 years, which in 2000 earned them the Marconi Award for Major Market Personality of the Year. From 2008 to present-day, Mike also hosted “Mike’s On: Francesa on the FAN”, “The NFL Now” and “Mike’d Up: The Francesa Sports Final.”
Love Life: Married to Rose Francesa
As for Mike’s romantic involvements, it is known that he date Kate Francesa for a few years before marrying her in 1983. The marriage lasted 11 years, but it eventually fell apart and their divorce became official in 1994. At some point in the late 1990’s, he started dating Rose Francesa, who became his wife in July 2000. Together, they have fraternal twins named Emily Grace Francesa and Jack Patrick Francesa, while their third and youngest child is called Harrison James Francesa. It is known that Mike likes to refer to his wife Rose as ‘Roe.’ Together with their children, they live in Manhasset, New York; there hasn’t been any controversy surrounding their union.
Thanks to his numerous contributions to the world of sport, Mike Francesa is the proud holder of several awards. First off, he was in 2012 ranked No.1 of the top #100 most important sports and radio talk hosts in the US by Talkers Magazine. Additionally, he was ranked the No.1 sports talk radio host again in 2013, and one more time in 2014. In 2018, he received the Invention of the Year award from “Pardon My Take”, for inventing fantasy sports.
In the first week of June 2006, Mike actually skipped a few days on the radio. Upon returning, he told the audience that he needed to change his diet due to excess weight problems.
What is Mike Francesa’s Net Worth?
Have you ever wondered how rich Mike Francesa is, as of mid-2018? According to various authoritative sources, it has been estimated that the total of Mike’s accumulated wealth is close to $16 million, made mainly as a radio talk show host and sports pundit, the most from his long-term presence in the media as the host of “Mike and the Mad Dog.” As his career continues, the said amount can be expected to increase.
Concerning the physical attributes of the experienced commentator, his hair is light blond and his eyes are light blue, while his body shape is now generally described as regular.
Social Media Presence
Due to the major influence of social networks, it is nowadays a regular thing for active celebrities to nourish a close and active relationship with their fans, for the sake of increasing the popularity of the projects they’re working on, and thus their own net worth. Mike himself doesn’t seem to be too interested in keeping up with this celebrity trend, as his presence on most of the popular social media networks is all but ubiquitous. He doesn’t have Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts.
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Mike Francesa, Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo Reunite On SiriusXM
Just days after Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo told me he missed the discourse he had with his former partner of 19-years Mike Francesa, the dynamic duo reunited for a segment on Dog’s SiriusXM radio show.
The hour-long conversation wasn’t exactly a throwback to classic Mike and the Mad Dog shows of decades ago, as the two featured little debate and disagreement. It was instead a rapid-fire Q&A between Mike and the Mad Dog with Russo dishing out the questions on a wide-ranging array of topics.
Francesa opened the conversation after just having the worst day of his life, a two-and-a-half-hour surgery to repair an impacted wisdom tooth.
They discussed the COVID vaccine, which Francesa said he already received both shots, and Russo adding that he’s scheduled to get his first soon. The Last Dance, Fernando Tatis Jr., the NCAA Tournament, ovah/undahs, Jordan vs LeBron, Zach Wilson, the Super Bowl and plenty more would follow.
Russo asked Francesa how he would’ve fared hosting during the pandemic and the Sports Pope believes he would have ticked off his audience with too much political talk. Francesa added that he hated working Februarys during his solo tenure without Russo, and the last year would have featured an extended version of that. Although he was relegated to a greatly reduced evening timeslot, Francesa did do four-months of shows for WFAN during the pandemic, spending little time on politics.
After the reunion, Russo joined Spence Checketts on ESPN 700 in Salt Lake City. The longtime Utah radio host is the son of former Knicks president Dave Checketts and grew up in the same town that Russo resides, New Canaan, CT.
Checketts quickly asked about his conversation with Francesa and Russo acknowledged he viewed it as an interview more than the two-way sports talk listeners are used to. The audience can hear Russo’s opinions everyday throughout the year, whereas Francesa has been mostly quiet in recent months, so he felt it was important to give his former partner the time and spotlight to talk.
Geared up from the interview, Russo even acknowledged to Checketts he would be interested in doing some part-time work with his former partner, or at least listening to the offer if legalities aligned. Today, Mike and the Mad Dog appear to be in a great place, both sounding as if they miss the other. Tomorrow? Who knows?
Mike ‘Sports Pope’ Francesa’s exit means WFAN can finally stop living in the past
By Bob Raissman
New York Daily News|
Jul 25, 2020 at 8:00 AM
On Thursday, while making his second retirement announcement in three years, Mike (Sports Pope) Francesa listed many of the same reasons for quitting WFAN that he did the first time around in December 2017, like wanting to spend more time with his family.
Absent from his list was a key (perhaps the most important) reason:
Entercom, owners of WFAN, were not going to pay him the kind of money they were shelling out since he returned in May 2018, after only five months on the shelf. From his Think Tank in Philadelphia, Entercom boss David Field wound up paying Francesa about $1.6-$1.7 million per year, which also included the company’s purchase of the Pope’s failed app.
If Francesa could have continued collecting that kind of coin while doing an hour WFAN show (which also was accessible on Francesa’s Radio.com app) from the comfort of his home studio he would have.
There is nothing in his history providing evidence Francesa, even while under fire for mailing it in, would have walked away leaving that kind of money on the table.
But with the radio industry economy in the toilet, even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, there is no way Entercom, or any other outlet, was going to continue over-paying Francesa for his past accomplishments.
Field made a mistake bringing Francesa back in the first place. He didn’t really know Francesa or the destructiveness of his megalomaniac personality. Field and his crew panicked. Entercom was not satisfied with the ratings generated by WFAN’s new afternoon-drive team (Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray, Bart Scott), and believed Francesa could do better. He didn’t, eventually losing to ESPN-98.7′s “The Michael Kay Show” in the afternoon-drive ratings race.
Worst still, Field & Co. didn’t know Francesa would continue being a cancer in the clubhouse, so to speak. Even in the ground-breaking times, when he worked with Christopher (Mad Dog) Russo, Francesa was a disruptive force, an I-Me-My, kind of guy. It only got worse when he went solo.
Instead of magnanimously embracing his fellow Gasbags upon his return from “retirement” and trying to steady shaky morale, Francesa ripped into his former producer Carlin, who was eventually fired (he landed at ESPN-98.7). Francesa used his show to blast morning-drive co-host Gregg Giannotti, saying he is short on talent. Even before his first “retirement,” the Pope aimed insults at Craig Carton and Norman Julius Esiason, creating more turmoil.
So, was Entercom exec Chris Oliviero, who now runs WFAN, serious, or holding his nose, when he said: “He [Francesa] has earned the right to make this very personal decision and will always have our respect and appreciation.”
No matter Oliviero’s saccharine spin, it’s clear that with the exception of WFAN’s morning show, tornado-like winds of change will, by the end of this year, whip through WFAN. Francesa is the first to be blown out the door.
Without him around, WFAN can stop living in the past and finally go looking for its future.
Seamheads can’t continue hyping how every game is crucial in this sprint of a 60-game season of COVID-19. Not with the postseason expanding from 10 to 16 teams.
The big winner here are TV outlets involved with baseball. If a team gets off slow, Regional Sports Networks, like YES and SNY, don’t have to worry about viewers bailing on the product. The eyeballs will hang in longer knowing a team with a mediocre record still can squeak into the postseason.
On the national side, ESPN and TBS will have more playoff advertising inventory to sell, with the Bristol Clown Community College Faculty holding exclusive rights to seven of the eight new postseason games.
Of course, the two networks will be shelling out additional dough to MLB for the right to air these added playoff games.
Considering the owners have agreed to offer players a $50 million bonus to agree to the added playoff games that TV money must be awfully big.
Maggie Gray’s back must be hurting.
That’s what can happen when you’ve been carrying Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez’s water for at least two weeks.
Maggie Mouth bought into the theories that the “glamour” generated by J-Rod, along with their international marketing reach, could not only be beneficial to the Mets, but appeal to Rob Manfred and the other owners.
Sorry, but this theory has all the substance of cotton candy. You take a bite and there’s really nothing there. When it comes to the end of the road, the owners of the Mets (the Wilpons do own the team, right?) should only be interested in the cash coming out of the highest bidder’s pocket.
Ownership should act in its own best interest. And fans would best be served by a new owner with deep pockets rather than the J-Rod group, that spends too much time trying to convince the media they have the dough to purchase the Mets.
Despite what should be a bizarre and condensed training camp, HBO’s “Hard Knocks” featuring the Chargers and Rams is still on.
While coverage of the training camps will be dictated by the coronavirus, sources said it will present a challenge producing unique storylines, ones never imagined, developing in both camps. With the rosters down from 90 to 80, it may be harder to find the usual undrafted rookie who comes on the scene to either make, or just miss, sticking with the team.
And without preseason games, “HK” will lose its traditional part of the reality show, where individual players featured in the program, can be tracked and miked on the field. Yet with the coronavirus currently raging in California, the 2020 edition of “HK” could turn out to be something more important; an historical document on how two NFL teams handled it.
Hilarious hearing VOS Gasbags rip Jamal Adams “for jumping to conclusions” about Woody Johnson’s alleged sexist/racist comments. Jumping to conclusions? That’s what sports talkies do every day! ... ESPN-98.7′s Chris Canty talking out both sides of his mouth while discussing three Astros being hit by pitches thrown by Royals pitchers. “I’m not a fan of weaponizing the baseball,” Canty said. “But I have no problem with the Astros being hit by pitches all season long.” Sorry, you can’t have it both ways. … Anyone else have no doubt ESPN’s Fan Poll about sports returning was going to turn out positive? ... On his Wednesday show, FAN’s Joe Benigno proclaimed: “There is far too much politics in sports, but I don’t want to get into it?” Why, because you are concerned you actually might bring an interesting topic to the table? ... Anyone else think Pete Alonso wearing a microphone during games is not going to end well? ... Advertisers are getting back into baseball on TV. SNY’s first few games are sold out and available inventory is selling fast.
DUDE OF THE WEEK: CLINT FRAZIER
For wearing a mask. In putting safety first, the Yankees outfielder is not just paying lip service to keeping himself and his teammates healthy. Frazier is not only setting a good example, but showing baseball can be played at the highest level while wearing a mask.
DWEEB OF THE WEEK: MIKE TYSON & ROY JONES JR.
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During their illustrious career, both fighters raked in millions and, for the most part, were widely admired by fight fans. Now they want to stage a cheesy 8-round PPV exhibition in attempt to grab some quick cash? Very lame. The only way to make this fiasco righteous is for Tyson and Jones to donate every dollar they make from the “fight” to charity.
What Rob Manfred said: “We look forward to a memorable postseason concluding a year like no other.”
What Rob Manfred meant to say: “We look forward to receiving millions in extra TV money we will get by expanding our postseason.”
Francesa where now mike is
Don’t call it a comeback ...
WFAN’s Mike Francesa gave a lengthy interview to Brandon Contes from Barrett Sports Media, in which the pair discusses what (if anything) could be next for the former drive-time king.
“I’m still under contract with FAN, so I wouldn’t be allowed to do certain things for a little longer. But my FAN career is completed, that goes without saying. And the idea of me doing a Monday to Friday show again, I couldn’t see that ever being possible. As far as the career I had, that career is completely closed.”
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On re-building his digital media footprint
“I don’t know. I’ve had a steady stream of offers, but I’m taking my time. It’s a very difficult time in media right now, all you’ve seen is consolidation and cutbacks. If you bring me a vehicle where there are other people on the show and I could be part of it, but not the whole thing, I might do it. I just don’t want to be committed to producing an enormous amount of content anymore.”
As for those much-discussed rumors about reuniting with “Mike and the Mad Dog” co-host Chris Russo? That isn’t even on the table:
“It came up briefly when I left FAN the first time. We discussed a couple of things, but it never went anywhere. Companies came after us with offers, but we never got to a serious stage with any of it.”
And of course, Francesa couldn’t help but take another shot at ESPN’s Michael Kay. Here’s what Francesa had to say when asked if he was bothered by losing his final ratings book to Kay.
“Absolutely, because it’s the only one he ever won. I beat him every book for 20 years. I give them credit for their persistence and resiliency because they took a beating, they lost every single book for 20 years. Some configuration of that show was up against either Dog and myself or just me for 20 years and it was that last book that they finally won. They beat me fair and square, do I wish they didn’t? Sure, I wish I left undefeated, absolutely. I give them credit, but I was probably something like 60-1 lifetime, so I’d rather have my record than theirs.”
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Mike Francesa at peace in retirement from WFAN, except for the big events
Mike Francesa still listens to WFAN when he is in his car, which he is frequently in his current role as "part Uber driver" for his three teenaged children.
He might also listen to music or political talk, but, he said, "I’ve never turned on the other station," referring to ESPN New York. "I will not do that."
So Francesa, who joined WFAN in 1987 and left in July, is on board as a mere fan of the FAN?
"That’s the only team I’ve ever known" he told Newsday in a phone interview on Thursday. "That will always be my team. I’ll always root for them, absolutely."
This is a pivotal time for the station, which after saying goodbye to Francesa, 66, also did so last week with one of his afternoon successors, Joe Benigno, 67, who retired.
Craig Carton on Monday joined Benigno’s former partner, Evan Roberts, as part of what the station hopes will be a long-term solution in afternoons following a period of instability.
Francesa declined to discuss the fact Carton, an old intramural adversary, now is working in his former time slot — and in a studio named for him.
"I will not comment on him," Francesa said. "I never have, I never will. I don’t have any comment. That’s their decision. Fine, that’s it. Move on, that’s it. We’ll see what happens."
But he did endorse the broader notion of it being a time for change at the FAN.
"The station had to move on," he said. "Whether you’re the Pittsburgh Steelers or whoever you are, you have to move on from Terry Bradshaw and Joe Greene and whoever. You have to move on to the next generation.
"That station needs to find some shows and leave them in place and have enough confidence to leave them in place for a period of years."
That did not happen with Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott, whose show was displaced when Francesa returned to WFAN in 2018 after a four-month hiatus, nor with the show that replaced Francesa after he left a second time.
But after decades at the heart of the local sports talk drama, Francesa has the luxury of watching it all from afar. For the first seven months of this year, he had a limited role on WFAN and now, none. He mostly is fine with that.
"Will I miss it on a big Monday? Yes," he said. "Do I miss it on a big event? Yes. Do I miss it day-to-day? No."
The time he felt it most was late this summer when Tom Seaver died.
"Those are the days I miss not having a platform, because I thought I had something special to say," he said. "There are a couple of days where I felt, ‘Boy, I really need to be on the air today,’ and I can tell you the one that hit me the hardest was the Seaver thing."
As for the day-to-day sports mundanity, though, not so much.
"I’ve killed the Jets for so long, that got tedious," he said. "I mean, how many times can you kick the same team that’s down?"
Not that he is without sports thoughts. Francesa watches as much as he always has and has things to say, only now his primary outlets are his family, friends and Twitter.
He posted a tweet time-stamped at 5:04 a.m. Thursday weighing in on new Mets owner Steve Cohen.
Why so early? Was he that desperate for a forum? Not exactly. He was on "puppy patrol" for his daughter’s 4-month-old Goldendoodle, who still is being house trained, so why not fire off a Mets thought in the process?
During the interview with Newsday he weighed in on Cohen’s Mets: "I would be stunned if they weren’t absolutely contenders to win it all every year."
And on the Giants’ general manager: "The bottom line is [Dave] Gettleman’s been hideous. The Giants have been a total embarrassment."
And on the Jets’ chance at drafting Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence: "This kid would have to get hit by a truck not to be a star, OK. That’s how good he is. They have to take him."
Oh, and this on Jets’ ownership: "The Jets are a perfect example of bad ownership and how it can ruin a franchise, and that’s what they’ve done. They have terrible ownership."
So maybe he misses it a little. But Francesa, who lives in Manhasset, said. "It was time to go. I needed a change." He said his focus is on his family, with two sophomores and one freshman in high school, and college looming in the near distance.
He said he is "overjoyed" with the career he had and left with nothing more to prove or accomplish. But what about giving up that platform for his sports opinions?
"Now I say it to my wife," he said. "I argue with my kids. I argue with whoever. I give commentaries while I’m playing golf. People stop me on my way to the first tee and ask what I think.
"That’s how it is now. My audience is a little more limited. But I’m fine."
By Neil Best[email protected] @sportswatch
Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, returned in 1985 after a detour to Alaska and has been here since, specializing in high schools, college basketball, the NFL and most recently sports media and business.
Share on Facebook Share on TwitterSours: https://www.newsday.com/sports/media/mike-francesa-wfan-retirement-1.50064288
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Michael Patrick Francesa (born March 20, 1954) is an American sports radio talk show host. Together with Chris Russo, he launched Mike and the Mad Dog in 1989 on WFAN in New York City, which ran until 2008 and is one of the most successful sports-talk radio programs in American history.
On December 15, 2017, Francesa retired from his own show, Mike's On: Francesa on the FAN, which had been airing in the afternoon drive slot formerly occupied by Mike and the Mad Dog. He was succeeded by Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray, and Bart Scott in the same time slot for the first ratings book of 2018.
On April 27, 2018, WFAN announced that Francesa would return to the station for a 3+1⁄2-hour afternoon show, a shorter shift than his original slot. Francesa hosted this shortened afternoon drive WFAN slot in a tumultuous tenure through the end of 2019 before he retired for a second time, moving to a half-hour evening slot on WFAN while also producing content for the Entercom-owned Radio.com platform, which began in January 2020. On March 24, 2020, Francesa was tapped to return to the station for a daytime slot on Sundays, and on May 26, 2020, he began returning to WFAN on weekdays for an hour each day. On July 24, 2020, Francesa retired for the third time citing the desire for more time with his family.
1982–1993: CBS Sports
Francesa started his career by spending six years at College and Pro Football Newsweekly. He was hired by CBS Sports in 1982 as a researcher, focusing primarily on college sports. At CBS Sports, he was initially a behind-the-scenes, statistic-wielding editorial assistant, but network executives were so impressed by his knowledge that he was made a studio analyst for college basketball and football and acquired such a reputation that The New Yorker termed him "Brent Musburger's brain."
When he was a studio analyst at CBS Sports, he said the most common complaint he heard was about his New York accent.
ESPN tried to lure Francesa, as its studio expert on college football, college basketball and the NFL in 1991, but he declined their offer.
Francesa announced on the radio that he quit CBS on April 1, 1993, before the 1993 Final Four began.
1989–2008: Mike and the Mad Dog on WFAN
See also: Mike and the Mad Dog and Mike's On
When WFAN was launched in 1987, Francesa applied for a host job. However, station management was looking for top-shelf types rather than someone with no experience, and he was only offered a producer's job, which he ended up rejecting. With his then-wife Kate's encouragement, Francesa continued to pursue WFAN. Finally, WFAN gave him a job as a weekend host talking college football and basketball in August 1987. Because of the positive reviews, Francesa began to guest-host other shows.
Because of his initial success as a weekend and fill-in host, he was teamed with local New York City host Ed Coleman, and the duo had a popular show on the 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. slot. In 1989, WFAN was looking for hosts to replace the controversial Pete Franklin in the afternoon drive time period between 3 and 7 p.m. Station management decided to team the knowledgeable, but somewhat dry Francesa with the young and vibrant Chris Russo. While Francesa's brand of sports commentating was considered hard-hitting and serious, Russo's was lighter, unconventional, and more entertaining. The show was dubbed Mike and the Mad Dog. The show quickly gained popularity and was a staple of the New York sports scene from 1989 to 2008. The duo won the 2000 Marconi Award for Major Market Personality of the Year. They were the first sports-talk hosts ever to win the award.
Francesa also hosted a weekly radio show called The NFL Now, which originated from WFAN and aired from 1987 to 2016. It eventually became syndicated and at one time was simulcast on MSNBC and later via video Webcast on NBCSports.com. The NFL Now became a syndicated program again when WBZ-FM in Boston started airing the show, a few weeks after the station's launch.
Francesa also provided the nightly "Sportstime" commentary on the CBS Radio Network and Westwood One. Francesa regularly contributed to the Imus in the Morning program with his views on sports while it aired on WFAN and Westwood One.
2008–2017: Solo career
On August 14, 2008, it was announced that Russo had decided to leave WFAN, and thus ended the Mike and the Mad Dog show two weeks shy of its 19th anniversary scenario. This ended two months of speculation of whether the show was going to make it to a 20th season. At the same time, Francesa signed a five-year deal to stay at WFAN. September 8, 2008 officially marked the kickoff of Francesa's new solo WFAN program, which he announced on air would be called Mike'd Up, the same name as his former weekly television program on WNBC. Francesa on the FAN was seen on the YES Network from 2008 until 2014.
On January 17, 2012, the show was renamed Mike's On. After Francesa left the show Mike'd Up: The Francesa Sports Final on WNBC, the television station retained the rights to the name of the show. NBC and CBS did not reach an agreement for the rights and WFAN changed the name.
During his show's time on the YES Network, Francesa's trademark intro to a show hosted by himself was "From the studios of WFAN in New York and simulcast across the country on the YES Network, this is Mike's On: Francesa on the FAN."
On September 10, 2012, Francesa fell asleep live on air during a segment with Yankees beat reporter Sweeny Murti. He later denied he had fallen asleep after national ridicule and mockery including fans calling into the show.
On March 24, 2014, Francesa's show began broadcasting nationally on Fox Sports 1. He changed his trademark intro to the show to "From the studios of WFAN in New York and simulcast across the country on Fox Sports 1, this is Mike's On: Francesa on the FAN". The relationship with Fox Sports was tumultuous at times, so Francesa and Fox Sports did not renew the contract to continue simulcasting his radio show effective September 11, 2015. Francesa took primary responsibility for the relationship not succeeding. During his entire solo run, Francesa hosted the top-rated drive time sports talk show in the New York market.
On March 30, 2016, Francesa and Russo hosted the Mike and the Mad Dog reunion show at Radio City Music Hall.
On December 24, 2016, Francesa said goodbye on his last Mike Francesa Football Sunday after CBS didn't renew it for 2017.
On January 19, 2016, Francesa stated that he planned to leave WFAN when his contract with the station expired at the end of 2017. On May 3, 2017, WFAN announced WFAN Presents: Mike Francesa, A Night to Remember, to be held at the LIU Post Tilles Center on November 15 at 7:30 p.m.WFAN held Francesa's Next-To-Last WFAN/New York Show Live From The Paley Center for Media. Mike's final day on the air on WFAN was December 15, 2017. Mike signed off at 6:26pm EST on December 15, 2017, with these final words:
"I want to thank you guys, the listeners, the audience. Because without you—we don't last a week. We don't last a month. So, what I'd like to say to you is, 'I will miss you. I thank you. And, from the bottom of my heart, I love you. Good bye.'"
Return and launch of app
On April 24, 2018, just over 4 months after having retired from WFAN, Francesa announced his intention to return there. The station confirmed the decision stating that he would return to afternoon drive, albeit with a shorter show running from 3:00–6:30 pm Monday through Friday.
On August 23, 2018, Francesa launched a subscription-based mobile app known as Mike's On, which provides a live video stream of Francesa's daily show on WFAN, archived interviews from previous shows, exclusively hosts Francesa's Sunday NFL show and Saturday college football show during their respective seasons, and occasional live reactions to sporting events. The $8.99 per-month price tag of the service was widely criticized by the media.
After returning to WFAN, Francesa won the fall 2018 ratings book, the first since his return, with an average of 6.4 percent of the listening audience over The Michael Kay Show's 5.8, the show opposite his time slot on the New York ESPN affiliate WEPN-FM. The total included both the over-the-air radio listening audience and WFAN's online streaming audience, which has traditionally been included in the total audience rating because WFAN has different advertising on each format. Without the stream, Francesa would have still won the fall 2018 book during the time slot by a share of 5.9–5.8 over Kay's show.
In the winter 2019 ratings book, Francesa received a 6.2 percent share of the listening audience compared to the 5.9 received by The Michael Kay Show during the same time slot. The total included both the over-the-air share as well as the WFAN online streaming. However, Kay beat Francesa 5.9–5.5 in the radio segment, and both hosts claimed victory on their respective shows. After hearing that Kay was celebrating victory over the disputed ratings book, Francesa said on his April 15, 2019, show that "I have nothing but sadness and pity for you that you would actually claim a victory that wasn't real” as well as saying that "you're ESPN, and you get beat like a rented mule for 20 years, it's got to hurt". Francesa later tweeted that "there was only one possible way to read [the ratings]" and that "anyone, and that means anyone, who says differently is either a fool or a liar." Francesa also felt the stress of a close ratings battle for the first time in his NYC sports radio career, and got in a heated argument with WFAN management about the availability of a Craig Carton post-sentencing interview on the last few days of the book, after Carton was interviewed by Kay.
On April 28, 2019, Francesa became the center of controversy yet again, appearing to shame both the New York Giants and their 2019 6th-round draft pick Corey Ballentine after Ballentine was wounded in a drive-by shooting the day before. Francesa said that the incident contrasted with the "great character" of the draft class the Giants claimed to have picked, despite evidence that the shooting was completely randomized. After some media members picked up on the comments, such as Francesa's fellow WFAN hosts Boomer and Gio, Francesa did walk back the opinion on his next day's show, but not before tearing into his FAN counterparts in a fiery rant on their morning show the same day, accusing them of purposely distributing misinformation about him and his comments.
On May 16, 2019, Francesa fell asleep on the air again while taking a call from a listener.
On September 3, 2019, it was announced that WFAN's owner Entercom had acquired the intellectual property of the Mike's On app, and that its content would be integrated into the company's Radio.com platform instead, with no additional subscription required. The Mike's On app was discontinued by the end of September, with its content having been made available for free in the meantime. Francesa never revealed the number of paying customers to his app, which was roundly criticized by the media throughout its existence.
While delivering his "5 Minute Morning" recording on November 4th, 2019, Francesa appeared to deliver flatulence on the air, which was picked up and turned into a mainstream news story on several online publications, including the New York Daily News. Francesa later denied the incident occurred, saying on his afternoon show the same day that it was "fake news" and that the media was desperate for a headline.
In the fall 2019 ratings book, Francesa's third full book since his return, his WFAN show lost to his ESPN rival The Michael Kay Show in direct head-to-head ratings, dethroning Francesa from the top of the New York sports ratings for the first time in his career, spanning back to 1989. In the book, Francesa was outrated by Kay 7.4–5.5, with Francesa's total share rising to 6.0 after including streaming. In response to his first-ever ratings book loss, Francesa criticized Kay and his co-hosts, claiming that "celebrating [their] success now would be the same as spiking the football after finally scoring a TD in a game that is 77–0!"
During his radio comeback, Francesa's show was the target of criticism for reasons ranging from his frequent inaccurate predictions to his treatment of callers. His show was described as "grumbles and contentious conversations with callers on a regular basis" by Deadspin, and Francesa was particularly noted for responding negatively to a caller who told him that Stan Lee died. Video clips of Francesa making inaccurate predictions often went viral on Twitter, with players like Virginia basketball's Ty Jerome coming onto the show to specifically address them. Francesa also received attention for maintaining that Tiger Woods had "nil" chance after the second round to win the 2019 Masters Tournament, which Woods later won, and then later claiming that the video clips in question that showed the inaccurate predictions were doctored or altered.
In a November 2019 interview, Francesa's former Mike and the Mad Dog co-host Chris Russo called the bombastic radio comeback "unhealthy". Russo revealed that he and Francesa had not spoken since March 2018 and in a direct criticism of his un-retirement, said “Mike should never have come back. He should have stayed retired.", while conjecturing he may have realized towards the end of his second afternoon drive run that it was a mistake.
Second retirement and second return
On November 5th, 2019, Francesa announced his retirement from WFAN for a second time, announcing he would leave the station that December. On December 6th, 2019, he hosted his final afternoon show, giving thanks to both the station and the listeners.
Francesa's departure left WFAN looking for a replacement to their afternoon drive slot, which they eventually filled with Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts, who formerly hosted the midday show on the same network.
After Francesa left afternoon drive, WFAN announced he would not be leaving the station altogether and would instead host a shortened show in a later timeslot. On December 16th, 2019, Francesa revealed he would host a 30-minute show on WFAN from 6:00 to 6:30, with an additional hour on Radio.com. Francesa announced that the show would be mostly freeform, saying that "I can do whatever I want. I don’t have to do sports. I can do politics. I can do whatever I want" in terms of content.
Third Comeback and Retirement
On January 6, 2020, Francesa debuted the first show on his new format, hosting a half-hour show on WFAN nights during the week while also hosting on Entercom's Radio.com platform. Francesa announced plans to branch out to more than New York sports, talking about national sports as well as political discussions. On the first day of his new show, Francesa announced that his political coverage would be "played down the middle", claiming to provide an unbiased centrist perspective.
On March 24, 2020, Francesa returned to daytime sports radio at WFAN for the first time after his second retirement, taking a temporary weekends gig from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Sundays. Downsizing at the station due to Coronavirus concerns played a part in WFAN's hiring of the longtime host, who had retired for a second time in December 2019. In May 2020, WFAN announced a revamp to their afternoon plans, slotting in Francesa in his first weekday show on the network since his second retirement, giving him a 6:00–7:00 p.m. time window.
On July 24, 2020, Francesa retired from broadcasting his daily WFAN and Radio.com show for the third time citing the desire to spend more time with his family.
Francesa played a bookie in the 2019 film Uncut Gems, starring Adam Sandler. He also had a role playing himself in the 2003 TV movieUndefeated.
Francesa was born and raised in Long Beach, New York. He is the second son of Michael Anthony Francesa, who abandoned the family when Francesa was eight years old. He has an older brother, John and a younger brother, Marty, who committed suicide on November 27, 1990. He attended Maria Regina High School in Uniondale (now known as Kellenberg Memorial High School), and graduated from St. John's University in 1977 (transferring there after one year at the University of South Florida), majoring in communications and athletic administration. He first married Kate in 1983 but divorced in 1994.
Currently a resident of Manhasset, New York, Francesa married his current wife, Rose (whom he usually refers to as Roe), on July 14, 2000, and they have three children, fraternal twins Emily Grace and Jack Patrick (16) and Harrison James (14). In November 2019, Francesa bought a home in South Florida, reportedly due to his desire to pay less tax.
In April 2007, Francesa criticized Democratic presidential nominees Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton after they called for the resignation of Don Imus, following comments Imus made about the Rutgers women's basketball team.
In 2016, Francesa came out as a supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, supporting him as early as May 2016 and voting for him in the 2016 presidential election. He has previously expressed support for Trump's national anthem perspectives, tweeting that the "NFL has lost its way" by allowing players to kneel for the playing of the national anthem. Francesa also brushed off reports that President Trump's finances were in trouble, pointing out that he was still able to win the 2016 election.
Despite voting for Trump, Francesa claimed in January 2020 that he would be providing an "unbiased" moderate political perspective on his Radio.com show.
In March 2020, Francesa criticized Trump's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the first week of June 2006, Francesa missed a few days on the radio for what was termed as "personal reasons.” Soon after returning on the June 8, 2006, show he revealed that following medical tests, he needed to change his diet due to his weight struggles. He also admitted to going to the hospital to get an angioplasty done. Francesa had emergency knee surgery on August 31, 2006, to repair his shattered kneecap when he played golf the day before in Westhampton Beach, New York.
Francesa owns horses through his JEH Racing Stable. His two-year-old High Oak in 2021 won the Grade II Saratoga Special Stakes.
In 2012, Mike Francesa was ranked No. 1 of the 100 most important sports talk radio hosts in America by Talkers Magazine. Francesa credited colleagues at WFAN for his success, with a special salute to Russo. He remained the No. 1 sports talk radio host by Talkers in 2013 and 2014. Additionally, Francesa won the 2012 Marconi Award for Major Market Personality of the Year
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