Mike Francesa’s final regularly-scheduled show on WFAN is just hours away, and it will officially end a legacy that began as soon as the FAN did, and kicked into gear in earnest when he joined Chris Russo to host “Mike and the Mad Dog” on Sept. 5, 1989.
Mike and Dog “went at it as hard as they can” for 19 years, and indeed, nothin’ got by ‘em until Russo left WFAN in 2008, leaving Mike solo for a decade-plus as the host of “Mike’s On: Francesa on the FAN.”
That first solo run ended in 2017, rebooted soon thereafter, and now comes to a close again on July 24, 2020, leaving a hole in the sports-talk radio world that will be filled, but never replaced.
WFAN celebrated an hour of the “Best of Mike and the Mad Dog” over the July 4 weekend holiday celebration, and to celebrate those two decades again, we now present five much-remembered moments from the show that turned WFAN into the standard-bearer.
April 19, 1999: Goodbye, Great OneOn April 16, 1999, perhaps the greatest hockey player of all-time announced he was calling it a career, revealing that he was retiring in a tear-filled press conference at Madison Square Garden. Two days later, he played his final game at MSG, and the next afternoon, Wayne Gretzky joined Mike and the Mad Dog for a lengthy goodbye interview over the airwaves, one of the many memorable times the duo went from sports-talk dissenters to investigative journalists.
March 19, 2002: Talk comes to TVFor nearly 13 years, Mike and Chris burned up the airwaves on 660 AM – but in March of 2002, they set another standard as one of the first local sports radio shows to be simulcast on TV, joining the fledgling YES Network for five-plus hours a day of programming. We can’t prove there were thousands of people who tuned in to hear Russo’s “Good Afternoon Everybody” in stereo on the radio and TV, but, yeah, we know you did.
2002: The Mad CallerAs Joe Benigno says at the end of every show he does, “I want to thank the callers, we can’t do it without you.” Those callers were the lifeblood of the machine that Mike and Dog were the backbone of, and perhaps the most memorable (that didn’t want to talk about Al Albuquerque) was Jerome from Manhattan, who called in during the summer of 2002 and literally threatened Jason Giambi on air.
Nov. 21, 2006: How Could You Not Vote For Jeter?Mike and Dog were at their best when they were going at it, but they were pretty damn good when they were in agreement and grilling someone else who disagreed – take it from those they took to task in November 2006 when Derek Jeter didn’t win the AL MVP Award.
Nov. 17, 2008: Omar got the 1 and the 2Omar Minaya’s “you have a one and a two” interview is memorable as one of the WFAN morning show’s favorite audio drops over the years, but from a Mike & Dog perspective, perhaps their best interaction with Omar was this one – doing exactly as we mentioned above, the pair took Minaya to the limit talking about his late-night firing of Willie Randolph as Mets manager.