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16 August 2008

Part of my childhood ended yesterday when Dog got out

Yesterday, part of my childhood died.

On a September day in 1989, like may others who fell quickly in love with sports radio, I was tuned into WFAN to listen to the first-ever Mike & The Mad Dog program. I had usually tuned into the Fan at that time slot because I always enjoyed Mike Francesa and Chris Russo's predecessor, Pete Franklin. But even when Pete unceremoniously left WFAN, I was still going to listen after school—to Mike, who had been in an earlier timeslot with Eddie Coleman, and Mad Dog, who was a weekend favorite of everyone who listened to the station.

So yesterday morning, when I received a text message from a buddy of mine that it was official that Mike and Chris were no more, I honestly felt like part of my childhood died. From age 14 to now 33, Mike and Chris were always a part of my life—they were always part of my daily routine. I even made a habit of listening to them when I lived in Newport, R.I., though the signal wasn't as good. 

Still—from 9th grade to this very day, two people came into my living room, car, bathroom ... wherever. They were always on. 

I have been critical of Mike often. Heck, even yesterday, as people called to say their farewells to Chris, Francesa took time to demonstrate his usual arrogance, by adamantly assuring us there would be no new partner for him on the radio. But that was inconsequential.
The bottom line is that something that had been a staple of this area for a few weeks short of 19 years was gone—never to return.

It wasn't hard to see Mike and Chris were not the same pair they once were earlier this year, when it was obvious they were angry with each other. That "chat" about whether the Yankees needed a new stadium [see Youtube] demonstrated a lot of anger on both their parts. 

It wasn't hard to see they weren't the same when Neil Best wrote a story about information he knew about Chris leaving.

It wasn't hard to see they weren't the same when in the months leading up to their 19th anniversary, there was little talk about them entering their 20th season.

Yes, it was rather easy to see they were on a path to different places. And boy did it come sooner than most could have dreamed. And, as usual, CBS Radio did a horrendous job by enforcing its rule that an outgoing personality—ask Don Imus about this—doesn't get a last horrah show. Instead, Chris spent seven minutes or so on the air with Mike—from a telephone at his place {or hotel ... wherever it is he's staying] on the Jersey Shore.

Months ago, I took a shot in the dark and wrote a column on this site saying I thought the jingles would have to be changed. But I honestly thought that was because of Mike's arrogance—and I really thought he'd have been the one to go. Instead, it's Chris.

Like many fans of the show, I'll miss the show. I'll miss the malaprops Chris speaks on a regular basis. I'll miss Dog poking fun of the Yankees. I'll miss Mike and Chris screaming at each other. 

I'll miss something that was more a part of my life than almost anything else I can think of. In those 19 years, friends came and go. Relatives died. Friends moved away. Hell, I even lost my cat, Metsy, who was named after—well you get the idea.

But now comes the fun part: Watching whether Mike can handle this show alone. Ask me, the answer is no way in hell. But there's a lot of talent out there—and without writing it, it doesn't take a brilliant person to know who I'd like to see paired up with Mike come September or sometime thereafter. I can hope.

But until that time, I say thank you to Mike and Chris for together being a part of my life for nearly two decades. You set the standard by which every sports talk radio host should follow. You set the format that truly works—and that fans demand. Good luck, Chris Russo. Wherever you go, you will do well.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand WFAN will never, ever be the same without you.

Be sure to post comments about Mike and Dog's split. Have a favorite moment? A favorite Chris Malaprop?  Mine is when Chris would call "Mets Extra With Howie Rose," Mets and Howe Extra....mmmmmmmMets Extra and Howie Rose...


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