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Chris "Mad Dog" Russo

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Chris "Mad Dog" Russo

Born October 18, 1959 (1959-10-18) (age 50)
Syosset, New York, U.S.
Show Mad Dog Unleashed
Station(s) Sirius XM
Time slot 2 pm - 7 pm ET
Style Sports radio
Country  United States

Christopher Michael Russo (born October 18, 1959), known as the "Mad Dog," is an American sports radio personality who is best known as the former co-host of the widely popular Mike and the Mad Dog sports radio show with Mike Francesa, which was broadcast on WFAN in New York City and simulcast on the YES Network. Russo has joined Sirius XM Radio and is in charge of his own channel, Mad Dog Radio. He now hosts an afternoon radio show, Mad Dog Unleashed.

Contents

Background

Russo was born in Syosset, New York.[1] He went to Darrow School in New Lebanon, New York, and Rollins College near Orlando, Florida graduating with a degree in history.[2] He also spent one spring at the Cranleigh School south of London, England (Russo's mother is English) and one semester at Sydney University 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 trouble understanding his accent, the station sent him to see a speech therapist twice a week. He got the "Mad Dog" nickname from New York Daily News Sports TV and Radio critic Bob Raissman.[3]

Russo is known for his quick manner of speaking, the expressiveness of his voice, and his trademark greeting of "Good day everybody!"[4] 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."[5] Russo's voice is also described as "Donald Duck on steroids."[6]

Russo has done his shows from the US Open and the Jersey Shore on many occasions. However, he has made no secret of his dislike for NASCAR, despite his previous on-air work in Orlando.

Rise to Prominence

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Mike and the Mad Dog

Russo's rise in popularity happened rapidly. Russo joined WFAN in December 1988 as an overnight, weekend and fill-in host.[7] He caught the attention of former WFAN Morning Show Host, Don Imus. Imus brought Russo on-board the Imus in the Morning show as the Sports Reporter. The attention Russo received on Imus was enormous. 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 p.m. to 7 p.m. 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 launched on September 5, 1989 at 3 p.m Eastern Time.

The combination paired up Francesa's hard-hitting style with Russo's unorthodox and humorous style and proved to be a huge success. Francesa and Russo's show quickly became the signature show for WFAN, as well as among the most influential sports talk shows in the country.

On August 14, 2008, Russo reached a mutual agreement with WFAN to let him out of the remainder of his contract.[8][9][10] 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."[10] On August 15, 2008, Russo phoned Francesa on the show to say goodbye. A highly emotional Russo began to break down on air as he talked about his partnership with Francesa.[11][12]

On October 16, 2009, Russo joined Francesa on his show for a 1-hour reunion show at Yankee Stadium, where both were scheduled to be broadcasting in adjacent booths. Francesa joined Russo on his Sirius XM show later in the day.

Sirius XM Radio

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.[13] Russo will host the channel's anchor program, Mad Dog Unleashed, live from SIRIUS' New York studios every weekday afternoon from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET. The exclusive show began airing daily on SIRIUS Channel 123 and XM Channel 144 on September 15, 2008.[14]

Russo said there was nothing WFAN could have done to keep him[15] after Sirius XM provided him an opportunity to not only do a show, but have his own channel, which he could not pass up. His own channel contains sports talk personalities from all over the country.[16] Russo's 5-year deal was worth about $3 million per year and Russo can actually run his channel and hire the on-air staff, too.[17]

On July 9, 2009, during a ten minute rant, Russo reacting to his station being ranked outside the Top 100 stations on satellite radio, berated his entire staff, which included bring on nighttime host Andy Gresh for an in-person dress-down. Russo concluded his rant by firing his program director. This was done before Russo left for a week's vacation.[18]

Personal

Russo is the only child of Anthony "Tony" and Vera "Molly" Russo, from Flushing, Queens and England, respectively. Russo married Jeanne Lavelle on May 6, 1995[19] and they have four children. He resides in New Canaan, Connecticut. He is a registered Republican,[20] although he often criticizes the party, particularly over the Roger Clemens Congressional hearing.

Books

  • Russo, Christopher; Allen St. John (2003). The Mad Dog 100 : The Greatest Sports Arguments of All Time. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-50898-0.  
  • Russo, Christopher; Allen St. John (2006). The Mad Dog Hall of Fame: The Ultimate Top-Ten Rankings of the Best in Sports. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-51746-7.  

References

  1. ^ Steve Zipay. "Long Island history: Mike Francesa and Chris Russo". Newsday. http://www.newsday.com/community/guide/lihistory/ny-hometown_mike,0,2342693.story?coll=ny-lihistory-navigation. Retrieved 2006-10-12.  
  2. ^ Dave Darling (2007-06-29). "'Mad Dog' a fan who has the gift of gab". Orlando Sentinel. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/orl-darling2907jun29,0,3059492.column.  
  3. ^ Nick Paumgarten (2004-08-30). "The boys: what Mike and the Mad Dog talk about when they talk about sports". The New Yorker. http://www.mikefrancesa.com/wordpress/?p=73.  
  4. ^ ademakid212. "Chris' famous intro to the Mike and the Mad Dog show". youtube.com. http://youtube.com/watch?v=BXOzkOuS6mg. Retrieved 2006-11-15.  
  5. ^ George Vecsey (1991-02-17). "Mad Dog is a preppie!". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE5D6153EF934A25751C0A967958260.  
  6. ^ Jeff Pearlman (2004-02-24). "Mike and the Mad Dog make nice". Newsday. http://cache.zoominfo.com/cachedpage/?archive_id=0&page_id=613328834&page_url=%2f%2fwww.newsday.com%2fentertainment%2ftv%2fny-p2two3682479feb24%2c0%2c7322840.story%3fcoll%3dny-entertainment-headlines&page_last_updated=2%2f24%2f2004+12%3a03%3a57+AM.  
  7. ^ "Sports radio 66AM WFAN marks 20th anniversary". CBS Sportsline.com. http://www.sportsline.com/cbssports/story/10230568. Retrieved 2007-06-28.  
  8. ^ Neil Best (2008-08-14). "After 19 years, Russo leaves 'Mike and Mad Dog'". Newsday. http://www.newsday.com/sports/ny-sprusso0815,0,4065290.story.  
  9. ^ Richard Sandomir (2008-08-14). "Radio Alert: It’s Now Mike Minus Mad Dog". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/15/sports/15wfan.html.  
  10. ^ a b Dave Ruden (2008-08-15). "Mad Dog: 'Today is a tough day'". The Stamford Advocate. http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/ci_10215144.  
  11. ^ "Mike & the Mad Dog say goodbye". New York Post. 2008-08-15. http://www.nypost.com/seven/08152008/sports/mike__the_mad_dog_say_goodbye_124618.htm.  
  12. ^ Mike Francesa and Chris Russo (2008-08-15). "Mike & the Mad Dog farewell". WFAN.com. http://podcast.wfan.com/wfan/1269912.mp3.  
  13. ^ "Sirius XM hires Russo for new sports talk channel". The Associated Press. 2008-08-19. http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/apwire/a9dadaaa17f5ef7a39c7349317874558.htm.  
  14. ^ Press release (2008-08-19). "Chris 'Mad Dog' Russo Joins SIRIUS XM Radio". Sirius XM Radio. http://investor.sirius.com/ReleaseDetail.cfm?ReleaseID=328592&cat=&newsroom=.  
  15. ^ Justin Terranova (2008-08-19). "Chris Russo Joins Sirius XM, will debut September 15". New York Post. http://www.nypost.com/seven/08192008/sports/mad_dog_returns_sept__15_125152.htm.  
  16. ^ Bob Raissman (2008-08-19). "Sirius XM to launch Chris Russo channel, 'Mad Dog Radio'". New York Daily News. http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/2008/08/19/2008-08-19_sirius_xm_to_launch_chris_russo_channel_.html.  
  17. ^ Bob Raissman (2008-08-20). "Sirius XM's 'Mad Dog Radio' signals huge payday for Chris Russo". New York Daily News. http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more_sports/2008/08/19/2008-08-19_sirius_xms_mad_dog_radio_signals_huge_pa.html.  
  18. ^ Barry Petchesky (2009-07-11). "Mad Dog Goes Rabid, Needs To Be Put Down (SECOND UPDATE)". Deadspin.com. http://deadspin.com/5312470/mad-dog-goes-rabid-needs-to-be-put-down-second-update.  
  19. ^ "WEDDINGS; Jeanne Lavelle, Christopher Russo". The New York Times. 1995-05-07. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CE0D8173AF934A35756C0A963958260.  
  20. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZtE4huz7RM&feature=related

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