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Mark Chernoff never thought WFAN team would split

(Credit: Watchdog)

Late in my conversation with Mike Francesa in his WFAN office last week, operations manager Mark Chernoff joined us and added his insights into some of what we had been discussing, and added an anecdote about the worst Francesa vs. Russo war he ever witnessed, back in 2000.

Chernoff thought the show was finished then, which is why he thought if it survived that, it would survive anything.

Click below for a transcript of a back-and-forth between Francesa and Chernoff.Chernoff: “It still amazes me it came down this way. I really thought with all the ups and downs they’ve had over the years, and there have been very high highs and very low lows, that they’d still be together doing the show, that there always was a way.

“[In 2000] we were upstairs in the general manager’s office and the two of them, who I’d never really even heard curse before about anything, were now screaming at each other. I put my hands on my head and said, ‘I’m done. You guys won’t see each other over the summer. You let me know when you’re coming back which one is doing mid-day and which one is doing afternoons.’ Didn’t I say that? Almost those exact words, because this can’t go on like this.’’

Francesa: “True story.’’

Chernoff: “Then Mike’s wedding broke the ice.’’

Francesa: “We weren’t going to invite him to the wedding, then Roe said, ‘We have to invite him to the wedding.’ When we invited him to the wedding in July, 2000, it broke the ice. We didn’t do a show together for almost two months except Giants camp. The rule was we would stay away from each other all summer. Then we were going to split up.

“Obviously neither one of us wanted to go to the midday. We weren’t smart enough to know if they pay us to go to the midday it’s an easier show.’’

Chernoff: “I figured if we can survive that, we can survive anything. But the timing was bad.’’

On whether it bothered him or the station how Russo handled the breakup:

Chernoff: “I don’t want to make any comments on that. Chris did what he thought he either needed or wanted to do. It’s personal to him and that’s what he decided to do. I was just very unhappy that it happened.’’

On the delay in naming a Francesa sidekick:

Francesa: “They kept telling me, you better start thinking about it, and I said, ‘I will not discuss it and I will not talk to anyone,’ because I never wanted it said that I talked to anyone while Dog was still my partner. I refused. I hung up on them.

“They did what they were supposed to do as management, start thinking about it and start thinking about who you want to work with, and I said, ‘Absolutely not.’ That’s why we never did anything. If people said to me, ‘Why weren’t you prepared, why didn’t you have jingles?’ We acted like it wasn’t going to happen until it happened. I had 20 years with this guy I wasn’t going to act disloyal or have him ever say I was disloyal. It was important to me not to be disloyal in any way.

“You know, we just said we’re staying out of this. One time I did say to him, ‘Cherny, are we ever going to find out?’ And he said, ‘You’ll find out when we find out.’ We were in limbo for months. It was tough. I’d call up, and I’m on vacation, and say, ‘What’s going on?’ He’d be like, ‘I don’t know.’ Cherny was adamant he’d never leave.’’

Chernoff: “Until the last second. I just didn’t think it would happen.’’

Francesa: “No one ran him out of here. Dog would tell you that.’’

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