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Chris 'Mad Dog' Russo on K&C: I am 'shocked' that Mike Francesa is returning to WFAN

Alex Reimer
April 25, 2018 - 9:24 am

Mike Francesa’s sudden return to WFAN is the biggest story in sports media. Nearly four months after the culmination of his prolonged Derek Jeter-esque retirement tour, the most nationally recognized name in sports talk radio is jumping back behind the microphone.

Chris Russo, Francesa’s former co-host on “Mike & the Mad Dog,” criticized his ex-partner this week for the bait-and-switch. In an interview on “Kirk & Callahan” Wednesday, Russo said he was surprised to learn Francesa was coming back to WFAN.

“I was shocked. I think you have to be surprised,” he said. “I saw Mike in late March down at the MLB Network, and I could tell he wanted to work. The weather was lousy, he had been to Florida a few times, and he wanted to work. He’s got those young kids. I don’t know what he had in the mix. I knew he could’ve come to Sirius if he wanted to, but I knew he didn’t really want to do that –– on a part-time basis at Sirius. Yeah, I’m surprised. I did not think he would go back to FAN. You could argue he had nothing else available, you could argue FAN needed him.”

Francesa will reportedly host from 3:00 p.m. — 7:00 p.m., an abbreviated time slot compared to his old five-hour window. Boomer Esiason announced Wednesday that Francesa is expected to return to work next Tuesday. 

The trio that replaced Francesa –– Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott –– are slated to remain at WFAN in a midday role. “CMB” struggled out of the gate and didn’t find its place as the winter progressed. The program lost to Michael Kay’s show on ESPN Radio in the last ratings book, which Francesa never did. 

Russo said he wasn't impressed with “CMB,” which was centered around an abundance of guests and apparent fake laughter. 

“It wasn’t for me. I wouldn’t have done it,” Russo said. “Bart is not going to be able to talk baseball. That’s a major problem with the Yankees and Mets. They had a little trouble finding their way. I think they wanted to cut their losses –– I think you’re 1,000-percent correct. I think Mike is dying to come back to work, they realized they can salvage some economics with the revenue, and they decided to put Mike back on. I know a lot of people will say three and a half months is not a long time, but you can also tell pretty quickly.”

Though Russo understands why WFAN would be willing to make the switch, he questions Francesa’s decision to retire in the first place. On Tuesday, Russo called Francesa’s a “horse’s fanny” for the stunt. He stood by his statement on K&C. 

“It was a long goodbye –– 83 guests on Mike’s last show, from Lawrence Taylor to John Calipari saying goodbye to him,” Russo said. “And then all of a sudden, four months later, Mike is back on the air. It is a little weird.”