Mike and Mad Dog were originals in sports talk radio

Jul 18, 2017 3:00 AM

You may have caught ESPN’s latest 30 For 30 about sports talk radio icons Mike and the Mad Dog. If not, track it down on line. You’ll be entertained.

I grew up listening to Bill Mazer in New York City and was able to get the strong radio signals at night from Pete Franklin’s show in Cleveland along with the Sports Huddle in Boston.

Chris Russo and co-host Mike Francesa were unique and what launched WFAN into national prominence along with the hiring of Don Imus. They represented the passion of New York fans starved for an outlet to let their thoughts be heard.

That show ran for nearly 20 years and you could make a strong case that VSiN radio here in Las Vegas with Brent Musburger at the helm is what WFAN was back then. When a radio show can create the public outcry that pursuaded the New York Mets to acquire Mike Piazza you know they’re influential.

Mike and Mad Dog were originals in an age when the internet was in its infancy and talk radio was still a growing industry where you could make inroads. Today that’s virtually impossible because we are full of imitators – and mostly bad ones.

Las Vegas had a number of talk radio shows before VSiN arrived and almost all of them sadly did not take advantage of their greatest resource – the listening public. Phone calls make for good radio. To hear two or three people yelling over each other to make a point not many people care about is not my idea of talk radio.

VSiN wants to go 24 hours eventually, and we’re sure with Brent at the helm that’s an attainable goal. The network has been a breath of fresh air not only to its home base at South Point, but to all of Las Vegas and beyond on satellite radio and the website.

But not everyone has SiriusXM in their car radios. That was the beauty a generation ago where you simply turned AM radio on and heard Mike and Mad Dog in NYC for free from 1 to 6 p.m. weekdays.

Imagine a Mike and Mad Dog show about sports betting! That’s the perfect outlet for a reunion – are you listening VSiN? Francesa could reunite with Musburger and have the solo show he long campaigned for. According to the 30 For 30 show his contract with WFAN runs out in December.

And while we are on the subject of talk radio, there certainly is a need for more shows that get into the betting aspect and not what so and so did for fun over the weekend.

GamingToday has been around for 40-plus years and we have lived by Chuck DiRocco’s motto, “News You Can Bet On.” And I have no qualms giving a shout out to all our writers past, present and future who say the right things to make our weekly paper still sell like hotcakes every Tuesday morning.

I feel blessed to be a part of the industry and to have a voice each week. I will always be a New Yorker. I went to grade school with Howie Rose, the current broadcaster for the New York Mets. I won the Dream World Series contest as an 11-year-old on the Mazer drive time show. Sports has always been my passion.

The Mike and Mad Dog documentary hit home as a viewer to a time when sports radio was innovative and not in its current state of parity that’s too often boredom. Maybe some ideas will emanate from that 30 For 30. I sure hope so.