I tip my hat to Newsday sports media writer Neil Best for this scoop.
Mike Francesa, the longtime afternoon drive host at WFAN in New York, has disclosed to Newsday that he is “leaning toward leaving” the station when his contract expires in two years. It was originally set to expire next year, but he agreed to continue up until at least February of 2014 – when New York (or, if you prefer, New Jersey) hosts their first Super Bowl.
“That could be an interesting backdrop if that was going to be it,” Francesa said upon his final radio show possibly being broadcast amid the big game at MetLife Stadium. “It would be a fun way to leave if that’s the end.”
And it most likely would be the end for Francesa on the New York radio dial. When asked by Newsday if he would consider taking a job at WFAN rival WEPN “ESPN New York 1050,” Francesa said he “would never do that.”
For close to two decades starting in 1989, Francesa was paired with Chris Russo on the “Mike And The Mad Dog” radio program that was so popular, not only did it enjoy a video simulcast on YES Network, the regional sports network owned by the New York Yankees, but for a time, it was also syndicated regionally in markets such as Albany and Tampa.
When Russo left WFAN to embark on a new journey with Sirius Satellite Radio (now known as SiriusXM) as a personality and program director of the “Mad Dog Radio” channel, Francesa remained on WFAN in the same time slot, and the show, renamed “Mike’d Up” – which remains on YES Network – still achieves ratings success.
But there are three reasons why Francesa would gladly give it up – three young children that he is raising with his wife, Rose: twins Jack and Emily, who will turn 7 later this month; and 5-year-old son Harrison James (no word if a popular Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker inspired that kid’s name).
Yet Francesa remained steadfast that retirement is but a thought, and not set in stone. “I’m leaning [toward it],” says the 57-year-old Long Island resident. “I’m not here making any proclamations. I have a lot to think about… But I don’t see me doing nothing. I don’t think I’m cut out to do nothing. I just don’t know what I see me doing.”
One may get the feeling that this premature retirement talk from Francesa might be a ploy for his employer, CBS Radio – which owns WFAN – to put together a juicier contract with more money, and perhaps more vacation time – time that can be used spending with his three kids.
And there is always the possibility of Francesa receiving an even juicier offer from satellite radio – where his former on-air partner now makes a living.
As far as a possible reunion with Russo on SiriusXM, Francesa said bluntly, “I would say there’s a better chance that the Mets win the pennant.”
Certainly, the person WFAN eventually hires to fill Francesa’s shoes had better be amazin’.