Mike Francesa has been fodder for plenty of prank calls, been caught falling asleep on live television, allegedly received a police escort in order to hold up a plane to New Orleans for the Super Bowl earlier this year, yelled at numerous callers and has made countless handwaves to producers, but it all doesn't matter. After speculation that he would leave New York sports radio powerhouse WFAN when his current contract expires comes word from CBS Radio that the long-time afternoon drive host will remain in his timeslot for many years to come.
Newsday's Neil Best says the deal runs through 2017 and will pay Francesa $5 million annually which would be on the same terms as his current deal that would have expired after Super Bowl XLVIII.
Under the new deal, Francesa's NFL Now show which runs Sunday mornings on WFAN during football season will be aired nationally on CBS Sports Radio.
Francesa started with WFAN in 1987 and began as a midday host with Ed Coleman. Then in 1989, he was partnered with Chris Russo in afternoon drive to create "Mike and the Mad Dog." The show became the template for other sports radio stations across the country and the pair skyrocketed in popularity. But in 2008, their relationship soured and Russo left for SiriusXM while Francesa remained with the FAN hosting his show solo.
Without Russo, Francesa has not missed a beat remaining number one in afternoon drive in New York fending off challenges from ESPN Radio – most notably from New York Yankees TV voice Michael Kay. So Francesa will remain at WFAN at least through the middle of the current decade. After that, who knows?
There are a few questions that remain with Francesa. First, will his TV simulcast on YES Network continue? According to Best, that agreement will expire this year. If CBS Radio and YES cannot come to terms, the other New York regional sports networks, MSG Network and SNY, would be most willing to pick up the show, And one would wonder if corporate partner CBS Sports Network would pick up the simulcast filling at least five hours of afternoon programming on the channel.
But what about his old partner Russo? There are rumors that he's willing to make a return to terrestrial radio when his SiriusXM contract expires next year. It's doubtful that there would be a Mike and the Mad Dog reunion right away, although Russo has not totally ruled it out. However, it appears that Francesa is enjoying working solo and is not in any rush to return to the old days.
We will have Mike Francesa for at least four more years on WFAN and that will mean some good news for fans of the "Sports Pope."