For 19 years, Mike Francesa and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo took over the WFAN airwaves talking sports in the only way New Yorkers would understand: honest, to the point, and with attitude.
Now, the godfathers of sports radio are getting the ESPN 30 for 30 treatment.
“Mike and the Mad Dog,” the documentary that debuts on ESPN at 8 p.m. Thursday, tells the story of how two guys from Long Island changed sports radio.
“When they first came to me [about the documentary], it made sense,” Francesa told amNewYork. “I think there’s a lot there. So, from that standpoint, I think it works.”
The hourlong documentary, directed by Daniel Forer, introduces the early days of what sports radio was in the mid 1980s before addressing the early battles between Francesa and Russo, the rise of sports radio as we know it, and their split after 19 years on-air together.
“I thought they did a tremendous job,” Russo said. “I think they captured it. They captured the essence of WFAN and they captured the essence of Mike and Chris. It’s funnier than you think.
“It’s one of those movies, you don’t want it to end.”
Both Francesa and Russo became fan favorites in the New York metropolitan area and, eventually, nationally due to their back-and-forth, attitude-filled commentary. “Mike and the Mad Dog” was the first radio show to be simulcast on television on YES in 2002.
With the documentary set to air, everyone still awaits a potential reunion between Francesa and Russo. As shown in the film, Russo was a guest with Francesa at the annual Francesacon last year. Both addressed the possibility of a reunion during the SiriusXM Town Hall held at SiriusXM headquarters on Friday.
“First, someone has to make an offer, which no one has yet,” Francesa said. “But if something comes up, I’ll always listen.”
Russo envisions doing shows together, but not necessarily five days a week.
“I think we both know we could easily do shows together,” Russo added. “ I think it would be sporadic — maybe one day a week, maybe something around big events.”