Chris Russo
Chris Russo Jan 2019.jpg
Russo in 2019
Born (1959-10-18) October 18, 1959 (age 62)
Years active1984–present
Spouse(s)
Jeanne Lavelle
(m. 1995)
Career
ShowMad Dog Unleashed
Station(s)Sirius XM
Time slot3 pm – 6 pm ET
StyleSports radio
CountryAmerican

Christopher Michael Russo (born October 18, 1959), also known as Mad Dog, is an American sports radio personality best known as the former co-host of the Mike and the Mad Dog sports radio program with Mike Francesa,[1] which was broadcast on WFAN in New York City and simulcasted on the YES Network. Russo joined Sirius XM Radio in August 2008 and operates his own channel, Mad Dog Sports Radio. He also hosts an afternoon radio show, Mad Dog Unleashed, SiriusXM Ch. 82 Mad Dog Sports Radio.[2] Russo also joined MLB Network on March 31, 2014 and operates his own show High Heat, and as of 2021, joins Co-Host with Alanna Rizzo. He also frequently appears on ESPN’s First Take.

Background

Russo was born in Syosset, New York on Long Island.[3] He went to Darrow School in New Lebanon, New York, and Rollins College near Orlando, Florida graduating with a degree in history.[4] He also spent one spring at the Cranleigh School south of London, England (Russo's mother is English) and one semester at the University of Sydney in Australia studying Australian history and literature.

Prior to joining WFAN, Russo worked for WKIS in Orlando, Florida between 1984 and 1987 and WMCA in New York City between 1987 and 1988. During his career at WKIS, when it became clear that the people of Central Florida were having difficulty understanding his accent, the station sent him to see a speech therapist twice a week.[5] He received the "Mad Dog" nickname from New York Daily News Sports TV and Radio critic Bob Raissman, who said Russo's approach to radio reminded him of former professional wrestler Maurice Vachon, who was also known as "Mad Dog."[6]

Russo is known for his quick manner of speaking, his whistles, and his trademark greeting of "Good afternoon everybody!"[7] at the start of the Mike and the Mad Dog show. George Vecsey of The New York Times described his voice as "a bizarre mixture of Jerry Lewis, Archie Bunker and Daffy Duck."[8] Russo's voice was also described as "Donald Duck on steroids" by Don Imus.[9]

Career

Mike and the Mad Dog

Main article: Mike and the Mad Dog

Russo joined WFAN in December 1988 as an overnight, weekend, and fill-in host.[10] Former WFAN Morning Show Host Don Imus brought Russo on board the Imus in the Morning show as the sports reporter. Imus also later helped promote Russo's nickname. By early 1989, his work on Imus led to Russo getting his own regular weekend show on Saturday Mornings. When Pete Franklin's drive time Show from 3 pm to 7 pm was not renewed by WFAN station management, WFAN paired up Russo with Mike Francesa, who at the time was a co-host on the mid-morning show. The show was dubbed Mike and the Mad Dog and officially launched on September 5, 1989,[11] at 3 PM Eastern Time.

On August 14, 2008, Russo reached a mutual agreement with WFAN to release him out of the remainder of his contract.[12][13][14] Russo insisted it was solely a personal decision and said, "This has nothing to do with Mike and I hating each other... This is about doing something different. I'm 48 years old and there are not going to be too many more opportunities to break away. It's time to try something else, but it was a tough decision to make."[14] On August 15, 2008, Russo phoned Francesa on the show to say an emotional goodbye.[15][16]

On October 16, 2009, Russo joined Francesa for a one-hour reunion show at Yankee Stadium,[17] where both were scheduled to broadcast in adjacent booths. Francesa joined Russo on his Sirius XM show later in the day.

On March 30, 2016, Russo joined Francesa for a Mike and the Mad Dog reunion at Radio City Music Hall.[18]

Mad Dog Unleashed

On August 19, 2008, Russo signed a five-year contract with Sirius XM Radio to headline a new sports talk channel called Mad Dog Radio on both Sirius and XM satellite radio.[19] Russo hosts the channel's anchor program, Mad Dog Unleashed, live from Sirius's New York studios every weekday afternoon. Russo brought aboard long-time WINS anchor Steve Torre as the new program director of "Mad Dog Radio" and hired Bill Zimmerman (known on the air as "Billy Z") as the executive producer of his show. The show began airing daily on Sirius Channel 123 and XM Channel 144 on September 15, 2008.[20] The show now airs on Sirius and XM Channel 82.

Russo said there was nothing WFAN could have done to keep him,[21] after Sirius XM provided him his own channel, hosting American sports talk personalities.[22] Russo's 5-year deal was worth approximately $3 million per year and Russo operates the channel himself, and hires the on-air staff.[23]

On July 9, 2009, Russo reacted to his station being ranked outside the Top 100 stations on satellite radio by berating his entire staff, which included bringing on nighttime host Andy Gresh for an in-person dress-down. Russo concluded by firing his program director, Steve Torre. Torre was later re-hired and it is unknown if the incident was legitimate or a radio skit.[24] On August 28, 2013, Russo announced that he had been signed by Sirius XM for three more years, commencing in September 2013.[25]

High Heat

Russo's Sirius XM deal also included daily hosting of an MLB Network TV show, High Heat, which began on March 31, 2014 (and was simulcasted on MLB Network Radio).[25] He signed a new three-year contract, in September 2016. Russo renewed his contract for four more years, in April 2019.[26] On February 15, 2021, Russo announced that the show's producer Bruce Schein, who appeared daily on-air, has been let go by MLB Network.

Personal life

Russo is the only child of Anthony Michael "Tony" (1931–2013) and Vera "Molly" Russo, from Flushing, Queens and England, respectively. Russo married Jeanne Lavelle on May 6, 1995,[27] and they have four children, Timmy, Kiera, Colin, and Patrick.[28] Colin made his radio debut in his father's old time slot on WFAN on December 30, 2020, cohosting with Sonny Carton, son of long-time host, Craig Carton. He resides in New Canaan, Connecticut. He is a lifelong, avid San Francisco Giants fan.

Published work

References

  1. ^ "Mike and the Mad Dog No More: Chris Russo Leaves WFAN, Mike Francesa to Fly Solo". Archived from the original on March 26, 2011. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
  2. ^ "Chris Russo Sports Radio". SiriusXM.com. Retrieved December 3, 2021.
  3. ^ Steve Zipay. "Long Island history: Mike Francesa and Chris Russo". Newsday. Archived from the original on August 13, 2006. Retrieved October 12, 2006.
  4. ^ Dave Darling (June 29, 2007). "'Mad Dog' a fan who has the gift of gab". Orlando Sentinel.
  5. ^ "Chris Russo'82 | Alumni Profile | Fall 2010 | Rollins Magazine". Rollins.edu. Retrieved December 3, 2021.
  6. ^ Nick Paumgarten (August 30, 2004). "The boys: what Mike and the Mad Dog talk about when they talk about sports". The New Yorker. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  7. ^ "Chris' famous intro to the Mike and the Mad Dog show". YouTube. Retrieved November 15, 2006.
  8. ^ George Vecsey (February 17, 1991). "Mad Dog is a preppie!". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Alex French and Howie Kahn (July 11, 2012). "The Sound and the Fury – The fall and rise of the first all-sports talk station, WFAN". Grantland.
  10. ^ "Sports radio 66 am WFAN marks 20th anniversary". CBS Sportsline.com. Archived from the original on February 1, 2008. Retrieved June 28, 2007.
  11. ^ "Mad Dog leaves WFAN leaving Mike as solo act". ESPN.com. August 15, 2008. Retrieved December 3, 2021.
  12. ^ Neil Best (August 14, 2008). "After 19 years, Russo leaves 'Mike and Mad Dog'". Newsday.
  13. ^ Richard Sandomir (August 14, 2008). "Radio Alert: It's Now Mike Minus Mad Dog". The New York Times.
  14. ^ a b Dave Ruden (August 15, 2008). "Mad Dog: 'Today is a tough day'". The Stamford Advocate. Archived from the original on February 8, 2009.
  15. ^ "Mike & the Mad Dog say goodbye". New York Post. August 15, 2008.
  16. ^ Mike Francesa and Chris Russo (August 15, 2008). "Mike & the Mad Dog farewell". WFAN.com. Archived from the original on September 10, 2008.
  17. ^ Terranova, Justin (October 16, 2009). "The Mike & the Mad Dog reunion". New York Post. Archived from the original on May 28, 2012.
  18. ^ "Mike and the Mad Dog 2016 Radio City Music Hall Reunion". Bobsblitz.com. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  19. ^ "Mad Dog Radio With Chris Russo Launches On Sirius XM". SiriusBuzz.com. August 19, 2008. Retrieved December 3, 2021.
  20. ^ Press release (August 19, 2008). "Chris 'Mad Dog' Russo Joins SIRIUS XM Radio". Sirius XM Radio. Archived from the original on August 21, 2008.
  21. ^ Justin Terranova (August 19, 2008). "Chris Russo Joins Sirius XM, will debut September 15". New York Post.
  22. ^ Bob Raissman (August 19, 2008). "Sirius XM to launch Chris Russo channel, 'Mad Dog Radio'". Daily News. New York. Archived from the original on August 21, 2008.
  23. ^ Bob Raissman (August 20, 2008). "Sirius XM's 'Mad Dog Radio' signals huge payday for Chris Russo". Daily News. New York.
  24. ^ Petchesky, Barry (July 11, 2009). "Mad Dog Goes Rabid, Needs To Be Put Down (SECOND UPDATE)". deadspin.com. Deadspin. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  25. ^ a b "Albany Press Releases". August 28, 2013.
  26. ^ Bucholtz, Andrew (April 23, 2019). "Chris "Mad Dog" Russo signs a new four-year deal with SiriusXM". awfulannouncing.com. Awful Announcing. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  27. ^ "WEDDINGS; Jeanne Lavelle, Christopher Russo". The New York Times. May 7, 1995.
  28. ^ Neil Best (October 3, 2012). "Dog's day: A day in the life of Chris 'Mad Dog' Russo". Newsday.