NEW YORK (WFAN) - In the third hour of the 25th anniversary show, President and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Radio Dan Mason joined the program alongside Don Bouloukos, a Senior Vice President for CBS Radio. The two executives brought in a proclamation from a listener named “Mike from Manhattan.”
Who’s that? None other than Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Mason went into detail about how WFAN has captured the heart of the city, and is a very emotional radio station.
“In some ways you can say that the all-sports radio format saved the AM dial,” Bouloukos said. “And what it is about WFAN is the longevity of the on-air personalities.”
Following Mason and Bouloukos was Art Shamsky, who won a World Series with the Mets in 1969 and hosted a show on the station early in its existence.
Shamsky discussed his remote show out of his restaurant, 17 Murray, and the Mets’ improbable first World Series title.
“I though WFAN was a brilliant idea,” Shamsky said. “It allowed fans to get involved and voice their opinions.”
As for the Miracle Mets, “We were the most incredible team to win a World Series,” Shamsky said.
Following Shamsky on the program was legendary New York sports broadcaster Spencer Ross, who currently is a sportscaster for 1010 WINS.
“[WFAN] exploded,” Ross, who was a WFAN old-timer, said, “You and Chris exploded on the scene, and we’ve had so many great people.”
After Ross was another WFAN original, Dan Lovett, who worked with Francesa early on in Mike’s career.
Richard Neer was up next, and Francesa complimented him by saying that he is the most underrated voice on the station.
“I thought [WFAN] could work, I thought it was a terrific idea,” Neer, who has been with WFAN for 24 years, said. “I think I was in the minority there.”
When offering his opinion as to why the station was so successful, Neer gave a thoughtful response.
“You won’t believe how many stations don’t take phone calls,” Neer said. “It’s called the FAN because we take phone calls. Fans are the lifeblood of the statement, and management gives us free reign.”
After Neer were original WFAN sports anchors John Minko, John Cloghessy and Ed Randall. But things really spiced up when former WFAN host Sid Rosenberg joined the program.
Rosenberg, who worked for WFAN off-and-on for ten years and now works in Miami, said that he he’s 84 days sober and is happy, healthy, joyous and free. Rosenberg and Francesa enjoyed a respectful dialogue, and the conversation ended with Rosenberg asking,”Will you say ‘I love you?’”
Mets owner Fred Wilpon was the next to speak with Francesa. The two reminisced about their past lunches, and Wilpon commented that he “misses the lunches and the ribs.” The longtime owner said that his reaction to a 24-hour radio sports talk show was a question mark, but that he’s gotten a great deal of pleasure in seeing the station’s success.
Former WFAN Program Director Mark Mason joined Francesa in the studio after Wilpon got off the phone. Mason is famous for hatching the idea of putting Francesa and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo in the afternoon-drive slot. Mason said that it became clear that WFAN needed to put on a great afternoon show, and though he trusted Francesa and Russo, he certainly doubted his idea.
“At the start I thought it was a career-ending decision,” Mason said. “I couldn’t understand a word Chris was saying.”
When Francesa asked Mason when he knew that the two partners clicked, Mason responded, “I can’t pick a time, but the chemistry just clicked. You guys got into a rhythm. Who knew it would last for nearly two decades?”
He also added that of his long career in radio, putting “Mike and the Mad Dog” together is what he’s most proud of, and that it certainly changed his life.