Mike Francesa and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo shook up the sports talk radio airwaves with their “Mike and the Mad Dog” show on WFAN for nearly two decades. The legendary duo are considered icons of the industry and pioneers in the format because of how they interacted and ran their show. Due to this, ESPN Films’ “30 for 30” series approached the duo about doing a documentary on their partnership and the show that launched sports talk radio as we know it today. The “30 for 30,” titled “Mike and the Mad Dog,” is slated to air at 8 p.m. Thursday on ESPN.
Francesa and Russo recently dropped by the CBS Local studios to discuss their partnership, the documentary and how it came about. Francesa began by saying that the partnership didn’t get off to the best start.
“We had a tough beginning,” he said. “It was a shotgun marriage. We didn’t get along very well, and we were kind of thrown together. Although, I think the thing that changed everything was how quickly the ratings were off the charts. By spring, nine months into the show, we were No. 1 — and No. 1 in a big way — and we realized that no matter what we did, we weren’t going to get away from each other.”
“I like the ’96 Yankees, too. I think that was important,” said Russo when asked what the tipping point was for the pair. “Mike and I were in that studio every night until midnight. When the Yankees won a World Series out of nowhere, I took the anti-Yankees stance, as I always would. Mike was a big Yankee fan. Nobody thought they would win. So you had a tremendous championship out of nowhere. They were down in a lot of those series, and we’re on every single night. You’ve got 50,000 people walking out of Yankee Stadium putting on their car radios, and there’s Mike and Chris.”
When it came to the documentary, the guys said that it was an honor to be asked by ESPN to do the film and the fact that they knew both of the producers attached to the project helped. To hear more of what the guys had to say, check out the video above.