Howard Stern and Chris Russo

Howard Stern just learned about Chris “Mad Dog” Russo’s pairing with Stephen A. Smith on First Take, and the King of All Media immediately put his broadcasting expertise to good use by asking, “is it too much screaming?”

Four months ago, when ESPN announced Russo would be making weekly appearance alongside Smith on First Take, sports fans nationwide collectively asked, “will it be too much screaming?” Stern may not be a sports fan, and he may not have heard of First Take or Stephen A. Smith, but even he knows, pairing Chris Russo with someone who yells just as much as Chris Russo is a combination that can be tough on the ears.

Wednesday morning, Russo joined Stern on SiriusXM to promote his candidacy for the Radio Hall of Fame, and during the nearly 90-minute chat, he also attempted to boast about his weekly appearances on First Take.

“Have you been paying attention to this First Take stuff on ESPN?” Russo asked proudly, assuming Stern was aware of the show.

“The first take?” Stern asked after a pause. “Listen, I don’t know anything about sports.”

Russo seemed stunned and disappointed by Stern’s lack of interest in the show, but that didn’t stop him from bringing it up again later in the interview.

“How come you haven’t followed this – I’m so proud of this! How come you haven’t followed this First Take thing on ESPN?” Russo asked.

“I don’t know First Take from Second Take or Third Take,” Stern said before asking his producer Gary Dell’Abate if he knew about the show. Dell’Abate, who is more of a sports fan, explained that Russo’s appearances on First Take are a big deal and they’re especially interesting because Stephen A. Smith, “who kind of like, makes Chris seem calm at times.”

Russo may have been surprised to learn that Stern never heard of First Take or Stephen A. Smith, but Stern was even more shocked that ESPN had the gall to partner Dog with another screamer.

“Why go on with another screamer?” asked Stern. “Let me ask you from a broadcasting standpoint. Gary says you’re a screamer, this guy’s a screamer. Is it too much screaming? Don’t you need a calm, collected co-host much like Tom Francesa or whatever his name is?”

The answer is yes. It’s too much screaming. And that’s why, thankfully, Russo remains just a (well-compensated) weekly contributor to First Take. My television couldn’t handle Russo and Smith screaming about lists and Mount Rushmores five days a week. Also, I don’t know about Tom Francesa, but Mike Francesa can yell with the best of them, he just needed someone or something to agitate him first.


About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to