|Show||Mad Dog Unleashed|
|Time slot||3 pm – 6 pm ET|
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, 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. 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.
Russo was born in Syosset, New York on Long Island. He went to Darrow School in New Lebanon, New York, and Rollins College near Orlando, Florida graduating with a degree in history. 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. 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."
Russo is known for his quick manner of speaking, his whistles, and his trademark greeting of "Good afternoon everybody!" 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." Russo's voice was also described as "Donald Duck on steroids" by Don Imus.
Main article: Mike and the Mad Dog
Russo joined WFAN in December 1988 as an overnight, weekend, and fill-in host. 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, 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. 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." On August 15, 2008, Russo phoned Francesa on the show to say an emotional goodbye.
On October 16, 2009, Russo joined Francesa for a one-hour reunion show at Yankee Stadium, 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.
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. 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. The show now airs on Sirius and XM Channel 82.
Russo said there was nothing WFAN could have done to keep him, after Sirius XM provided him his own channel, hosting American sports talk personalities. Russo's 5-year deal was worth approximately $3 million per year and Russo operates the channel himself, and hires the on-air staff.
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. On August 28, 2013, Russo announced that he had been signed by Sirius XM for three more years, commencing in September 2013.
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). He signed a new three-year contract, in September 2016. Russo renewed his contract for four more years, in April 2019. 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.
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, and they have four children, Timmy, Kiera, Colin, and Patrick. 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.