Ever since Chris “Mad Dog” Russo left WFAN for SiriusXM in 2008, there have been rumblings that he could return to terrestrial radio whenever his contract nears expiration.
With Russo’s SiriusXM contract set to expire next year and rumblings of Michael Kay considering retiring from his daily show on 98.7 ESPN New York, we have a double whammy of reasons to speculate on Dog’s return to terrestrial radio.
The reasons don’t stop there, Russo has a budding relationship with ESPN thanks to Stephen A. Smith putting him on First Take one year ago. ESPN New York is also owned by Mel Karmazin, Russo’s old boss at WFAN and SiriusXM. But in an interview with Newsday’s Neil Best, Russo quickly squashed those rumors, saying any idea of him replacing Kay is “probably not realistic.”
“I’m not going to leave Sirius, let’s put it that way,” Russo told Best. “I love Sirius so much. They’ve been good to me.
“I’m not ruling out the idea somebody takes an hour of Sirius and puts it on terrestrial radio.That would be different,” he added. “But Sirius in the afternoon, I’m going to do that as long as they’ll have me, to make a long story short.”
And just like that, Russo cemented an unfortunate reality for New York’s sports radio audience. The 63-year-old Radio Hall of Famer ain’t coming back.
Even if Russo was interested, he would probably tread lightly knowing that Kay hasn’t announced plans to retire, and if he does, ESPN New York still has two hosts in its afternoon slot with Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg. But Russo didn’t even seek to put an ounce of pressure on SiriusXM by hinting at having interest in replacing Kay.
“I would never sit there and say, ‘You know what, I’ve had enough Sirius, I’ll go back to terrestrial,’” Russo said in his interview with Newsday. “I would not do that.”
Don’t get me wrong, I love Russo on SiriusXM, but more than a return to terrestrial radio still having appeal, watching him go head-to-head with WFAN would have been epic. Currently, WFAN’s Craig Carton and Evan Roberts are crushing ESPN New York in the afternoon ratings battle. It’s at the point of dominance where Carton is more likely to go to war with Andrew Marchand of the New York Post than he is The Kay Show.
Russo vs WFAN would have been different. But at 63 years old, Russo probably isn’t interested in worrying about ratings again, and ESPN New York should be focused on developing fresh talent to replace Kay, even though that mindset doesn’t fit radio, an industry that tends to prefer recycled hosts.