NYC Sports-Talk Pioneer Mike Francesa Sets Last Regular Radio Show On WFAN

Mike Francesa attends the "Uncut Gemsr" premiere at the 2019 New York Film Festival. The sports talk radio host is stepping away from his daily show on New York's WFAN. Sipa via AP Images

Mike Francesa, a pioneering figure in sports talk radio and host for 30-plus years on WFAN, said Friday will be his last regularly scheduled broadcast on the New York station.

Francesa, who made his acting debut as Adam Sandler’s bookie in Uncut Gems, plans to continue making occasional appearances on the station but will discontinue “Mike’s On.”

Although he has been a solo host for more that a decade, Francesa is best remembered by listeners for his longtime teaming with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo. “Mike and the Mad Dog” perfected the nascent format of drive-time sports talk, with the hosts sparring and picking apart games for a steadily growing audience. The pair were profiled in an installment of ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary franchise. Russo now hosts a daily show on SiriusXM and one on TV’s MLB Network.

“Tomorrow night will be my last regularly scheduled broadcast on the FAN,” Francesa said. “I have been discussing this with the company for a while. We agreed I would stay until sports came back. The reason – I have cut back dramatically. This has been a very strange year. It has made me think about different things and do different things.”

Chris Oliviero, SVP and market manager of Entercom New York, called Francesa “the heart of WFAN for over 30 years,” adding that despite the end of the line for his daily show, “that bond happily will continue. He has earned the right to make this very personal decision and will always have our respect, support and appreciation. The future of WFAN as the premiere sports platform in New York is bright, and that is in large part to the foundation that Mike has helped build.”

The move follows a previous retirement in 2017. After accepting days of farewell wishes on the air, Francesa then opted to reconsider when his replacements floundered in the ratings. More recently, he had pared back his schedule to just a half-hour each weekday. In 2018, he had set plans for a digital venture guided by CAA and Entercom, which was designed to expand his audience via subscription offerings. The app shut down within a year.

WFAN was the first 24-hour sports station in the U.S. when it went live in 1987. It was quickly followed by hundreds of others, with TV soon emulating the chat-show format first introduced by Francesa and Russo.

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